Evolution? The Fossils Say Yes: A Book Review of Donald Prothero’s “Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters” (Columbia University Press 2007)

The earth is old, and animals and plants have changed over time.

If you know somebody who doubts these two well-established propositions, Donald Prothero’s Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters (Columbia University Press 2007) is the book to share with them.

I remember, as a teenager, in the early 1980s, reading Duane Gish’s Evolution: The Fossils Say No, as well as the other standard texts of creationism, and Prothero’s book would have helped me think through (and past) creationism a lot quicker than I did.

Prothero’s book might have been aptly titled, Evolution: The Fossils Say Yes. It is a lavishly illustrated, thoroughly readable, and authoritative dismantling of creationism.

Because of the patient work of contemporary scientists writing accessible popular texts on evolution, no thoughtful 21st century young person need be intellectually derailed by creationist literature. Dr. Prothero’s is perhaps the best of the current spate of these types of books. I especially liked the chapter on the origins of life, and the chapter on the Grand Canyon.

One of the strengths of this book is that Dr. Prothero does not dodge difficult questions, but attempts to address them directly. It is always refreshing to read somebody who does not obfuscate or downplay contrary lines of evidence, and who is willing to say “I don’t know” when something is uncertain. The book is thus, in addition to its overt purpose, also an excellent model of sane and measured reflection.

A good companion volume to Dr. Prothero’s book might be The Counter-Creationism Handbook, by Mark Isaak, recently published by the University of California Press.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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2 Responses to Evolution? The Fossils Say Yes: A Book Review of Donald Prothero’s “Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters” (Columbia University Press 2007)

  1. Tony Sidaway says:

    It’s good to know that there are books out there. It’s a shame that in America (but not fortunately in Europe to any extent) there are people who espouse a theory that no reputable geologist has held for well over a century: the young earth.

  2. Tony Sidaway says:

    By the way I know Mark Isaak from his excellent work on the talk.origins archive. Maybe I’ll check that one out.

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