evolution

In “Evolution’s Fatal Flaw”, a carefully researched and well written book, author Lawrence Wood sets out to validate two controversial and often debated claims:  that evolution is the proper explanation for our origins; and that evolution is all about the survival of the species, not as one might suppose, about the survival of the individual.  It is a monumental undertaking fraught with scientific and philosophical mine fields, all which he traverses with caution and ease.

Wood lays out the core issue early on in the book by quoting the results of a recent Gallup poll which shows that our society is still fairly evenly divided between three different explanations of our existence: creationism, intelligent design, and evolution.  Why do such mutually exclusive explanations still compete in this day and age, he wonders.  He decides that the culprit, or culprits as it were, are a set of “illusions” that have been around since the dawn of mankind: “1) the apparently solid earth; 2) the apparent motion of the sun and planets around the earth; 3 ) the apparent same size of the sun and moon and the apparent closeness of the sun and moon; 4) the apparent motion of the stars around the earth and the apparent closeness of the stars; and 5)  the apparently unchanging physical and biological features of the earth.”  As the first order of business, Wood shows how science has explained these illusions and basically made them go away.

As the book works its way through science’s role in demystifying the five illusions and into more complex scientific and philosophic issues, the reader is taken on a delightful and educational journey that could almost be described as a history of science and philosophy throughout mankind, although this is certainly not the book’s purpose.  All the usual characters are present from Aristotle and Copernicus to Darwin and Einstein plus a host of brilliant thinkers largely unknown in the nonscientific community. At the same time, there are discourses involving all the major scientific disciplines, including but not limited to, physics, chemistry, biology, geology and astronomy.   All this is served up in a package of eighteen concise chapters, each ending with a summary of the main points covered along with a preview of what’s to come in the chapter that follows.

By the middle of the book it becomes obvious where all this is going; that evolution is going to win the debate hands down.  This is okay with me as I am one who prefers his reality served up in a logical and scientific fashion.  But some of the arguments are probably going to make die hard proponents of creationism and intelligent design squirm a bit.  So be it.  It all makes for a healthy debate.

The book’s title suggests that there is a fatal flaw in the evolutionary process which is that humans are overpopulating the earth thus creating a tremendous demand on available natural resources.  It is on this note that Wood ends the book stating, “While the overwhelming desire for sexual activity cannot be realistically controlled, there are readily available means for preventing the results of sexual activity from producing too many offspring.  If we are unable and/or unwilling to exercise this option, the devastating population growth plaguing the earth today will continue and, as mentioned above, ultimately doom evolution’s greatest achievement.

“Evolution’s Fatal Flaw” by Lawrence Wood has the potential to be controversial, if not explosive, and should be taken very seriously.  Once it is read, however, it should be set aside and revisited periodically just to browse through its pages to marvel at the accomplishments of the mind and spirit throughout the history of mankind.

Ron Standerfer is a novelist, freelance writer, book reviewer, and journalist whose articles have appeared in numerous news publications including online editions of the Chicago Tribune, USA Today,and the Honolulu Star Advertiser. For more information on this or other posts he has written please contact him at bookreviews@ronstanderfer.com or visit http://www.ronstanderfer.com/.

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