Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Tornado in a Junkyard: The Relentless Myth of Darwinism

Author: James Perloff

This book was not quite what I expected, especially for the first ten chapters. Perloff is more of a journalist or a reporter than anything else so instead of gathering evidence and presenting it himself he relies almost entirely on a collection of quotes, many of them lengthy, to state the evidence for him. This isn't always a bad thing, but I think it makes his text somewhat disjointed. In addition, his first ten chapters are mostly his treatment of evolutionary theory as a whole and why, according to the numerous quotes he has collected, it is invalid. Since he treats the theory as a whole and relies almost exclusively on various quotations to combat it, the reader only really learns that the field has a high degree of disagreement within it, not so much that any certain idea has been proven false. Up to this point, I found the book disappointing.

Things changed with chapter eleven. At this point he treats the big bang, radiometric dating, and the age of the earth. Although he still relies largely on quotes, his evidence is more positive than before. Chapter 15 is where things really got interesting. It is here that he changes modes from scientific quotes to an examination of some fascinating historical evidence. Now, instead of discussing natural selection or genetic mutation, where a journalist is somewhat out of place, he investigates history, where a journalist can truly shine.

He begins with the historical accounts, from a multitude of cultures covering every inhabited continent, of the great flood. While the accounts certainly differ, there are striking similarities and common facts that they share. Some of the Chinese versions are stunningly close to the Biblical account, so much so that the name of Noah is Nuah and the details of the flood (the wickedness of the earth, God's punishment, a great boat with the "seeds of life" with eight people on board, even a rainbow as God's sign of a promise afterward) are beyond coincidence. But even if the accounts were all completely different except for the detail that a massive flood once covered the entire earth, it challenges credibility to label the accounts as simple mythological coincidences. There is a reason why the story of the flood is universal: it really happened.

For that matter, why is modern science so adamant in denying the flood? What do they gain from this assertion and on what evidence do they base their conclusion? It becomes rather silly when you think of it this way. What is the problem with acknowleding an event that cultures from every inhabited continent remember? Other than the fear that it would lend to faith in sacred texts like the Bible, why challenge such an account of history? In fact, Perloff points out that some scientists simultaneously theorize that Mars (a planet without a definitive water mass) once had a global flood while completely denying that Earth (a planet covered in ice, water, and water vapor) could ever have possibly had one! Their denial is clearly ideological.

Perloff also covers some positive evidence for a catastrophic world-wide flood and then moves on to dinosaurs; or perhaps I should say dragons. I had known that a large number of cultures have dragon legends, but I wasn't quite aware of how matter-of-fact many of the dragon accounts were or how truly universal the stories are. It seems that even more cultures remember dragons than remember the flood. Not only that, but their description of the dragons, in many cases, is so similar to our modern reconstructions of some dinosaurs that it becomes clear that these people once saw and lived alongside these creatures. Add to this the evidence from cave paintings, burial stones, and other ancient depictions all clearly of dinosaurs and you have a phenomenal amount of evidence that man and dinosaurs very obviously coexisted for a great length of time.

But what really caught my attention was how recent some of these accounts were! Some very serious and careful descriptions of "dragons" are as modern as 1793 (Scotland), 1856 (Britain), and 1890 (America - Arizona). I was shocked at these accounts and am convinced that they are more likely legitimate than hoaxes. They are well worth a read and I may post them here after this review. There are also numerous reports from ancient historians on dragons, many of them not as fanciful as legend has it. This was by far my favorite chapter in the book.

It seems that, for whatever reason, the flying dragons (what we call pterosaurs or pterodactyls) survived the longest in history. This is probably why the famous dragon accounts are all of flying monsters. The Americas have a fantastic and terrifying legend of a flying monster called the Piasa that constantly attacked humans and animals. It is of flying monsters that all of the recent accounts I previously listed describe. It seems reasonable that flying creatures could survive longer than the larger land lizards. But even the larger land creatures have accounts from the 15th century in Ireland and even Marco Polo's travels (in which he calls them lindworms), among others. Much like the flood, it becomes clear that denial of these accounts is ideological; science is so deathly afraid that any evidence might encourage creationism that they betray their own objectivity.

Perloff ends his book with a thorough description of the actual Scopes trial versus the popularized play and hollywood accounts of the event; and then he wraps up the work with a chapter on God and how to become a Christian. I enjoyed this book from about the middle on and I especially enjoyed the dragon and flood discussions. This book is clearly a young earth creationist work (one of the very few, contrary to popular belief).

I would recommend this book, with the caveat that the first 10 chapters aren't so hot compared to many of the other books available.


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