History seems to repeat itself once in a while; it’s just that during the intervening time the weaker side might have gotten stronger. A children’s book on Evolution which could not be published in the United States, has just won an award in Canada for best science book for children. Evolution: How We and All Living Things Came To Beby Daniel Loxton has won the 2010 Lane Anderson Award in the young reader category in the field of science. It was also a finalist for the Silver Birch Award for non-fiction, one of the most prestigious book awards. Loxton is Canadian.
Kids Can Press Webpage for the book: http://www.kidscanpress.com/Canada/Evolution-P5913.aspx
Teaching a Scientific Fact
Loxton’s book speaks of evolution and intends to explain it to children between the ages of 8 and 13. This follows a string of wonderfully accessible books for the public written by eminent evolutionary biologists, like Richard Dawkins’ The Greatest Show on Earth’ and Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution is True’. The decision to not publish this book in the US is due to the powerful Christian creationist lobby sitting in the various corridors of power. They are well-funded, politically powerful and extremely motivated, ready at a moment’s notice to take steps against anything deemed remotely anti-Christian.
No Rabbits in the Pre-Cambrian
Evolution has sparked many debates since the time of Darwin, who explained the mechanism using Natural Selection as the primary (but not only) driving force in his ‘Origin of Species’, published in 1859. It was immediately slammed by religious apologists, who believed that the Genesis Creation story was literally true. Despite Darwin not responding in kind to the insults hurled at him, evolutionary theory has continued to grow, just as scientific truth does. Darwin’s 30 years of evidence collection supporting his own hypothesis was followed by 150 more years and counting. Not one piece of evidence has disproved evolutionary theory, despite there being extremely easy ways to do so (Just find a fossil rabbit in the Precambrian, as J.B.S Haldane put it). Evolutionary theory is as grounded a theory as Newton’s gravitational theory. Creationists are worried that a book aimed for the young minds will be indoctrination rather than science training. Seriously? Indoctrination?
“We Have Fossils, We Win” Wait, we have the Genes, too
Loxton discusses the concept of fossils in his book, giving importance to the geological time scale. The fact that fossils of increasingly complicated creatures are found in increasingly new rock strata provides compelling evidence for evolution. But, evolutionary theory would still be complete were the entire fossil evidence to disappear off the face of the Earth suddenly. Loxton explains DNA, mutations and genetic structure, which tell us more about the relationship between species than fossils have ever did. Using these, he explains the meaning of ‘drug resistant’ microbes (superbugs) and why the influenza vaccine needs to be renewed every couple of years. Even the genetic family tree constructed would be impossible had evolution been false.
Being Plain Wrong
This is not new. Creationism, along with its rechristened avatar Intelligent Design’, has tried to tacitly enter school classrooms and curricula numerous times. Well funded and politically backed, creationists have been rooting for public debates’ on the science for evolution. Their motto is simple and effective – “Teach the Controversy”. A quick look at these debates reveals the fact that these are merely attempts to malign the scientists who participate in them. As Dawkins said, the very format of a debate means that two sides have some equally respectable point of view. That’s not true in this case one side can be plain wrong.
Loxton has reported receiving hate mails asking as to why his book doesn’t give equal timeto Intelligent Design. Loxton, an editor of the Skeptic magazine, has the answer ready the book is about science and not religion.
No, the Jesuit priest saying Give me the boy and I’ll give you the man’ is indoctrination. This is opening children’s minds and teaching them science.