Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Summer Reading 2013

I've been asked again about what books I recommend, so I thought I'd revise and republish my previous summer reading post.  Please remember that a recommendation is not an endorsement.  Sometimes you ought to read books you just don't agree with, for a variety of reasons.  For some of those books on this list, I recommend them because it would be irresponsible not to read them (like Origin).  Don't consider it an "exercise in critical thinking" either.  Read these books to understand what their authors want you to know.  You don't have to believe it of course, but you need to be aware of it.  Anyway, on with the list, in no particular order.

1. The Creationists, by Ron Numbers - This will give you an inside look at the emergence of the modern creationist movement but from a biased perspective. Numbers wants to reduce creationism to an aberration of SDA theology. You might remedy that bias by reading my own paper "Species variability and creationism," which you can find here: http://www.grisda.org/origins/62006.pdf

2. Darwinism and the Divine in America, by Jon Roberts - excellent introduction to the varied responses to evolution among Protestants in America. I'm really enthusiastic about this book. It really helps you to understand why the USA became the hotbed of modern creationism. (Sorry, you'll have to read the book to find out.)

3. Evolution, Creation and Science, by Frank Lewis Marsh - In my opinion, this is a classic in creationist biology. Marsh got a lot of things wrong and his logic was muddled in places, but his work is one of the first really thoughtful responses to evolution by a thorough creationist. I'm a big fan.

4. Earth's Catastrophic Past, by Andrew Snelling - This is a worthwhile, modern take on creationist geology, and it sets the stage for our understanding of what happened during the history of biology. It's also a massive, two-volume set.

5. The Genesis Flood, by Whitcomb and Morris - The text that revived a widespread interest in creationism in the last half of the twentieth century. Another book that is primarily of historical interest, but it should be read by anyone interested in the creation/evolution debate.

6. Faith, Form and Time, by Kurt Wise - Modern take on the creationist model as a whole. First real attempt to articulate a complete model, and not just a refutation of evolution or an apologetic for creationism. The approach Wise takes is really, really important, and more creationists need to adopt it.

7. Understanding the Pattern of Life, by Wood and Murray - So this is my book, and I'm tooting my own horn. I will also tell you that it's terribly dated, but I think the ideas presented are still worth thinking through (even if I don't agree with everything I wrote here ten years ago).

8. Darwin on Trial, by Johnson - We can't ignore the antievolutionists, even if I'm not a fan. This is the antievolution book that is better than most.

9. On the Origin of Species, by Darwin (get The Annotated Origin by James Costa - it's very good) - Find out what Darwin's argument actually was. It's a long, detailed book, but Costa's version has lots of great notes which will help you understand what you're reading.

10. Natural Theology, by Paley - Lots of folks are still enamored with this book. I think they would be less enamored if they actually read it. This is the zenith of functionalist design, and you should be aware of it for historical purposes.

11. Faith, Reason and Earth History, by Leonard Brand - another great modern creationist book that takes a bigger picture look, like Wise's Faith, Form, and Time.

12. The New Creationism, by Paul Garner - a readable summary of the modern creation model, like Wise's and Brand's books.

13. Summer for the Gods, by Ed Larson - Forget the odious Inherit the Wind. This book will give you the real history of the Scopes trial

14. Did Adam and Eve Really Exist? by Jack Collins - Another book that I don't completely agree with, but I sure do like it a lot more than I don't like it. He's got important things to say about the theology of Adam and Eve, and you should read it. You might also be interested in my own review of the book: http://www.coresci.org/jcts/index.php/jctsb/article/view/18

Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com.