Item description for Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for America's Soul by Edward Humes...
Overview What should we teach our children about where we come from? Is evolution good science? Is it a lie? Is it incompatible with faith? Did Charles Darwin really say man came from monkeys? Have scientists really detected "intelligent design"-evidence of a creator-in nature? What happens when a town school board decides to confront such questions head-on, thrusting its students, then an entire community, onto the front lines of America's culture wars? From bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize- winning journalist Edward Humes comes a dramatic story of faith, science, and courage unlike any since the famous Scopes Monkey Trial. Monkey Girl takes you behind the scenes of the recent war on evolution in Dover, Pennsylvania, the epic court case on teaching "intelligent design" it spawned, and the national struggle over what Americans believe about human origins. Told from the perspectives of all sides of the battle, Monkey Girl is about what happens when science and religion collide.
What should we teach our children about where we come from?
Is evolution good science? Is it a lie? Is it incompatible with faith?
Did Charles Darwin really say man came from monkeys? Have scientists really detected "intelligent design"—evidence of a creator—in nature?
What happens when a town school board decides to confront such questions head-on, thrusting its students, then an entire community, onto the front lines of Americas culture wars?
From bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Edward Humes comes a dramatic story of faith, science, and courage unlike any since the famous Scopes Monkey Trial. Monkey Girl takes you behind the scenes of the recent war on evolution in Dover, Pennsylvania, the epic court case on teaching "intelligent design" it spawned, and the national struggle over what Americans believe about human origins.
Told from the perspectives of all sides of the battle, Monkey Girl is about what happens when science and religion collide.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 1.5" Width: 6.75" Height: 9.5" Weight: 1.35 lbs.
Release Date Feb 1, 2007
Publisher Harper Collins Publishers
ISBN 0060885483 ISBN13 9780060885489
Availability 0 units.
More About Edward Humes
An author and journalist, Edward Humes received the Pulitzer Prize for specialized reporting in 1989 for his coverage of the military. Since then, he has written a series of acclaimed and award-winning nonfiction books, including the bestselling Mississippi Mud, No Matter How Loud I Shout, Force of Nature, Garbology and Eco Barons. No Matter How Loud I Shout was named best research nonfiction book in 1996 by Pen Center USA, and Best Book that same year by the Investigative Reporters & Editors organization, while his Mean Justice was named a best book of 1999 by the Los Angeles Times. Humes is distinguished by his unique meld of immersion journalism and narrative storytelling.
Edward Humes currently resides in Seal Beach, in the state of California.
Reviews - What do customers think about Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for America's Soul?
Detailed and fascinating Mar 26, 2007
This book is a enjoyable read that provides great perspective on an issue that "both sides" assume to know well.
From the beginning to the end, this book provides nearly continual discovery about the facts surrounding an issue that often completely upturn one's expectations about the teaching of evolution in public and private schools. Anyone wishing to learn more about the subject or just enjoys a good read will find great pleasure and knowledge.
For example, Evolution was not commonly taught in the public schools until the 1950's. Each year it is taught less and less as textbooks remove "the controversy" to increase the range of schools which will use their books. The Scopes Monkey trial rled against the teaching of evolution.
All in all, a great read.
Lies, Damn Lies and Creationism Mar 23, 2007
Few areas of American public life are as fascinating at the continuing struggle between evolutionists and creationists. It's a struggle that involves Science and Religion, Theology and Philosophy, Politics always, and, more often then not, the Law.
Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District was the latest in a long series of trials about the teaching of evolution in American Public school. The first one was the famous "Scopes Monkey Trial", in which a replacement science teacher was prosecuted for teaching evolution against state law. The teacher, John Scopes, lost, and anti-evolution laws remained on the books in many US states until the Supreme Court ruled them unconstitutional. Ever since, the shoe was on the other foot - Kitzmiller, dubbed scopes II (or III, or IV, or V, etc), went the other way around - it featured a group of parents, upset about a legislative attempt to sneak the newest repackaging of creationism - a glossed up version marketed under the moniker of "Intelligent Design" - into biology class.
Journalist Edward Humes wrote a fascinating account of the Dover Trial, setting it in context of the historical creation/evolution divide, recent development, and the general approached of the religious right and the Bush administration - memorably described as a "War on" - science.
Early in the century, a group of newly elected members of the Dover school board decided that the then current biology curriculum was unsuitable. The reason? It was "laced with Darwinism". Those board members knew little about science, evolution, or "Intelligent Design", and cared less. What they cared about was that "[2000 years ago] a man died on a cross. Can't someone stand up for him"? Standing up for him meant bringing creationist viewpoints to "balance" evolution. It meant bullying Board members who disagreed by branding them atheists. Finally, it meant lying under oath to hide the religious motives behind what they have done.
I have followed the developments of the trial as it took place, but the book exposed the board members as more dishonest, incompetent and ridiculous then I could have imagined. Judge Jones's reference to "breathtaking inanity" is apt. Witness the testimony of Board member Heather Geesey under cross examination (abridged from pp. 318-319):
Q: "You supported the change?" A: "Yes" Q: "And the policy talks about gaps and problems with evolution?" A: "Yes" Q: "You don't know what those gaps and problems are, do you? A: "No" Q: "Is it fair to say you didn't know much about Intelligent Design in October 2004? [When the Creationist policy was adopted]?" A: "Yes". Q: "And you didn't know much about the book 'of Panda and People' [The creationist test book supported by the board and the ID movement]? A: "No" Q: "You never read the book?" A: "No" Q: "So you didn't really think much about Intelligent Design?" A: "No"
This was entirely typical. The leader of the Board Creationists, Bill Buckingham could not differentiate between the origin of life and the origin of species (p. 15), nor could he explain what either evolution or intelligent design were in any terms approaching coherence (p. 219). Clearly, the Board didn't promote the Intelligent Design policy in order to improve scientific education, as they had claimed. They wouldn't know science if it hit them in the face. Their motivation was entirely religious.
The other setback for Intelligent Design, the one even its more sophisticated advocated (such as biochemist Michael Behe) could not disguise, was that it simply is not science. In order to make Intelligent Design into a science, Behe had to redefine science in such a way as to include Astrology (p. 301). The plaintiff's attorney, Eric Rothschild, effectively challenged all of Behe's assertions, disclosing that his best selling ID book, "Darwin's Black Box", received scantly any peer review, that Intelligent Design could not reveal the mechanism through which design was supposed to work (p. 303), and that the only scientific paper published by Intelligent Design was entirely irrelevant, making a calculation too complex by a factor vastly exceeding 10 billion (p. 305).
The end result is well known, Conservative Republican Judge John E. Jones, appointed by George W. Bush, ruled that the board had a religious purpose in enacting its pro- Intelligent Design policy, and that Intelligent Design was not science. I find it encouraging that the Judge in the case was a Republican and a Bush appointee. In a time when we are seeing extremists taking over the Republican Party, it's good to know that a there is still a moderate, rationalist wing to it. I hope that with the failure of the "Faith Based Approach" to foreign Policy, crisis management, the economy, science, and civil rights, the US Republican party would return to its roots as a moderate, non radical party.
Perhaps most depressing in Hume's account is the revelation of how little evolution is actually taught in America's schools. As Hume described it, even before the change, evolution was briefly mentioned, minor issues about it were explained, and in less then 90 minutes, the heresy was forgotten. Indeed, the Science teacher's most popular biology book (nicknamed "The Dragonfly book" for the picture on its cover), was popular precisely because it virtually ignored the "E" word, and the latest edition, the one purchased by the school, and supposedly still used as I write these lines, marginalized the subject even more then the previous edition. In a sense, the creationists should never have worried about the teaching of evolution - they had won that battle before it ever started.
It may be only the first account of this trial, but it will always be important Mar 23, 2007
In Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for America's Soul, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Edward Humes produces what I am certain will prove to be one of the defining accounts of the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial of 2005. Rather than produce an obtuse recitation of facts, Humes really manages to breathe life into the personalities the rest of us only heard about via the newspapers, the television, and the Internet. From Tammy Kitzmiller, a mother from the Dover area and the namesake plaintiff of the lawsuit, to William "Bill" Buckingham, a former police-officer turned community volunteer and activist after a terrible back injury forced him to leave the police force, they all come to life as living, breathing, thinking and feeling people. Ultimately, while it is quite clear that Humes comes down firmly on the side of John E. Jones III and those who opposed the teaching of Intelligent Design, he nonetheless manages to portray those who did not in a human light.
While this certainly won't be the last book on this landmark case, the information contained inside of it shall prove an invaluable tool in the fight to keep concepts such as Intelligent Design out of places they do not belong.
Defining the Controversy Mar 23, 2007
"In the time of Galileo it was argued that the texts, 'And the sun stood still ... and hasted not to go down about a whole day' (Joshua x. 13) and 'He laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not move at any time' (Psalm cv. 5) were an adequate refutation of the Copernican theory." Alan Turing, Computing Machinery and Intelligence, Mind 59 (1950), 443.
Pulitzer Prize winning Ed Humes delivers this comprehensive review of 2005's Dover, Pennsylvania controversial trial, Kitzmiller. vs. Dover Area School District.
You may think you know this controversy, but you'll never get a more thorough and up-to-date treatment of the Dover trial than this. You may be as surprised at some of the newest developments as I was. This is one of the latest episodes of the seemingly never-ending struggle for the hearts and minds of public school students between those who feel that Science describes nature pretty well and those who believe that anything other than a strict literal interpretation of the Bible deserves a trip to hell and excommunication from polite society. It is my personal opinion that those who ridicule the scientific method and mock Darwin's work while refusing to read it, do not deserve to benefit from the fruits of science (such as a computer and the internet), much less influence science curriculum in public schools. Ed Humes didn't go as far as I just did in his book, but you'd think he did from all the whining I've read about it in forums dedicated to the subject.
It's enough to make you miss the Cold War. I still remember how Math and Science were emphasized if only to remind us that we needed to compete with the Soviets. I'm thinking it kept some of this sort of nonsense out of Science Ed. I was in AP Biology in 1988, in Midland, Texas, where fundamentalists feel right at home. In fact, many kids and teachers openly carried Bibles with them at all times, and didn't hesitate to talk about it. At the time, our Biology teacher gave us the little speech prepared to soothe those who feel that their religious beliefs clash with the teachings of Biology in public schools. He told us that the textbook had nothing to do with the origins of life, nor the descent of mankind and other primates from a common ancestor. He also told us something that I still believe to this day. He said that the question of "How" belongs to Science, and that the question of "Why" belongs to Religion. He also said that while he was not going to talk to us about religion at all (not his job as a Biology teacher) he himself had very strong religious beliefs and did not find them to be in conflict with what he taught. He told us that if any of us found any of our beliefs in conflict with the content of the class we could feel free to discuss it with our parents, and with him after class. Until reading this book, I assumed that all but the most extreme religious fundamentalists were fine with this truce-for many years public school biology books limited discussion to a small description of evolution as "changes over time" in high school biology. I was wrong.
While the book mostly focuses on the Dover trial, Humes also takes us to the nearly parallel trial in Kansas (which produced the sharp parody of the Flying Spaghetti Monster), the controversy in the Grand Canyon Giftshop (where Creationists have had some success in censoring information about the geological age of the national monument), and the pseudo-scientific think-tank which excludes any science in conflict with Christian Scripture. I couldn't be certain, but they probably conveniently ignore the scripture at the top of the page regarding the sun going around a stationary earth.
The Dover Trial is full of drama and bad debate, A Scopes Monkey Trial for the 21st century, or Inherit the Wind, Redux. Humes shows in the Dover case how Creationism in public schools, having been defeated in courts during the late 20th century under the Separation of Church and State clause of the First Amendment, evolved (pun intended) into the virtually identical Intelligent Design movement, to Dover, Pennsylvania among other places. Some of the most shocking moments of the trial feature the ironic displays of dishonesty which ultimately brought down the school board members who were trying to bring religion into the local biology classrooms, and had designs on bringing it into the history and government classes as well.
This very book elicits criticism from those whose definition of "Fair and Balanced" have been warped to Orwellian proportions by Fox News and today's most hyperbolic propagandists. Humes compassionately portrays how the plaintiffs' religious beliefs in this case, were attacked and their children mocked at school out of ignorance. The Dover case pitted one kind of Christians against another. Those who favored the separation of Church and State were attacked as "not Christian enough", in a great example of how the separation of these two functions protects freedom of religion. Another surprising turn of events showed how the presiding judge, a Bush-supporting Republican was branded as a liberal judicial activist for defending the constitution.
While it is clear which side Humes' sympathies lie, the reader is necessarily confronted with the heart of the controversy: regarding extreme religious views which by definition do not tolerate any opposing views, what are the limits of tolerance in society? How can a democracy defend pluralism from those whose religious beliefs clash so vehemently with the definition of reality itself by the rest of the world, both secular and religious? The Framers of the Constitution were historically not far away from centuries of religious wars in Europe which constantly threw governments into turmoil. They saw the value of the separation of church and state to both church and state. Back in those days religious persecution meant death or incarceration because of one's beliefs, not what passes for persecution these days in the minds of some.
One gets the strong impression that this latest version of the old Darwin-vs.-God controversy is the product of the removal of Critical Thinking skills from the mainstream public school curriculum, and the lack of a Cold War Era push towards developments in Math & Science, supported by all but the most outspoken of Bible literalists, who constantly attempt to couch the debate as "God vs. Darwin", when in fact, most religions don't require people to choose between the two. In my opinion, this is a clear case of the old adage, "Those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it". Young-Earth Creationists might benefit from not ignoring the history of the Catholic Church's censorship of Copernicus and Gallileo hundreds of years ago, and ask themselves why the Pope doesn't have a big problem with Darwin's theories today.
If only all reporters could write so well... Mar 15, 2007
This book is simply breathtaking. The Dover trial, in the mind of the public, has already lost its true details and has become little more than a rallying cry for polemicists on both side of the 'evolution war'. Humes strips away the misinformation and the sensationalism and erects in their place a well researched picture of human beings with families, goals and principles, all trying to do what is right.
Despite Humes bending over backwards to portray the full complexity of the school board members, they do not come out of this looking good - their frailties, arrogance and mendacity are on display for all to see and judge. Humes, however, successfully avoids turning them into caricatures of ignorance and backwardness - something other commentators have not been so successful with.
Other areas in which the book excels are its presentation of background details such as other trials and related controversies, its coverage of the science (showing an ability all too lacking in modern journalism - the ability to follow an argument from beginning to end) and its portrayal of the litigants, the legal team and Judge Jones who, along with Kitzmiller et al, certainly earns the title of hero in this book.
One review has claimed that Humes was biased, based on statements like this:
"Jones concluded -- correctly -- that the evidence in favour of evolution is convincing and compelling, and that the counterarguments are far less so" (page 340) . . . . . . "Arguably, evolution has been more rigorously tested, and enjoys more evidence in its support, than any other theory in the history of science." (page 346)
Let us be clear - following evidence is not bias. Ignoring evidence while hiding behind claims of objectivity and fairness IS bias. If there is a bias in this extremely well written (despite its occasional typo) book then that bias is towards true investigation - true in the sense that one is willing to follow where the evidence leads and be convinced.
This book is an excellent account of 'the' trial of the decade and a great primer on the truth behind creationism's latest mask, Intelligent Design.