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For the Rock Record

For the Rock Record: Geologists on Intelligent Design

Jill S. Schneiderman
Warren D. Allmon
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: 1
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    For the Rock Record
    Book Description:

    According to the idea of intelligent design, nature's complexity is the result of deliberate planning by a supernatural creative force. To date, most scientific arguments against this form of creationism have been made by evolutionary biologists. In this volume, a team of earth scientists reveals that the flaws of intelligent design are not limited to the biological sciences. Indeed, the geological sciences offer some of the best refutations of intelligent design arguements.For the Rock Recordis dedicated to the proposition that the idea of intelligent design should be of serious concern to everyone. Editors Jill S. Schneiderman and Warren D. Allmon have gathered leading figures from the geological community with a wide range of viewpoints that go to the heart of the debate over what is and is not science. The purveyors of intelligent design theories and its kindred philosophies threaten the scientific literacy that our society needs by confusing faith and the practice of science. This collection offers a much-needed response.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94371-1
    Subjects: Geology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    It seems so long ago. In the fall of 1982, we were both new graduate students in the same geology department, and all the talk was about a federal court case which just a year before had pitted young-Earth creationists against scientists (including one from our department), teachers, and clergy from many denominations. In his decision in that case,McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education, U.S. District Court judge William R. Overton offered a detailed definition of science as distinct from religion. His argument seemed to us so clear and convincing we assigned it to the undergraduates in the lab...


    • ONE Charles Darwin Was a Geologist: Inorganic Complexity and the Rock Record
      (pp. 11-20)

      The Earth’s fossil record registers the changes in life on this planet over time; similarly, the Earth’s rock record preserves complex structures that record the changes in rocks and minerals over time. Consequently, all the aspects of living things that trouble intelligent design (ID) creationists—their complexity and what seem to be the abundant traces of long and contingent evolutionary change—also apply to all the Earth’s materials, whether once living or not. Therefore, one could also ask, if a supernatural power designed living things, what about nonliving things? Did the Earth’s interior, crust, and surface evolve naturally, according to...

    • TWO Creationist Perspectives on Geology
      (pp. 21-38)

      Probably no scientific discipline has been more contentious among creationists than geology. At the time Darwin published hisOrigin of Species, the concept of an old Earth with a complex history had been widely accepted among Christians. The threat that this alternate theory of origins posed to theism did not spill over quickly into geology, and even many antievolution preachers supported a harmony between the book of Genesis and long geological ages. Two prominent, competing reconciliations were popular: that the “days of creation” in Genesis were actually long geological periods (the Day-Age Theory) and that there were multiple creations and...

    • THREE Missing Links Found: Transitional Forms in the Fossil Mammal Record
      (pp. 39-58)

      The books of the intelligent design (ID) creationists are filled with examples and critiques of evolution from a biological or philosophical perspective, but they pointedly avoid discussing the fossil record or its implications. The longest and most widely read ID book (Behe 1996, p. 27) mentions paleontology only in a few paragraphs (focusing mostly on a common misinterpretation of the Cambrian Explosion). Johnson (1991) repeats many traditional creationist misstatements and lies about the fossil record but does not introduce any new arguments or evidence. The rest of the ID books are similarly silent about the fossil record. Jonathan Wells’s (2000)...

    • FOUR Pigeonholing the “Dino-birds”
      (pp. 59-74)

      One of the central claims of the intelligent design movement is that certain features of biological organisms are “irreducibly complex,” with such tightly integrated components that removal of any one part renders the system incapable of functioning (Behe 1996). The existence of irreducibly complex structures has been repeatedly put forth as evidence against evolution via natural selection, on the grounds that such a system could not be assembled incrementally over time. Although most irreducible complexity arguments deal with the molecular and cellular levels, such as the vertebrate blood-clotting response or the bacterial flagellum (Behe 1996), a common organismal-level target has...


    • FIVE Pangloss, Paley, and the Privileged Planet: Parrying the Wedge Strategy in Earth Science Education
      (pp. 77-92)

      When our ’85 Vanagon broke down not far from our house during the summer of 2006, I didn’t expect it to lead to a discussion about intelligent design (ID). Believing the problem to be the fuel pump and hoping for a quick fix, I called for a tow to the only nearby VW shop open on Saturdays. Not five minutes after picking me up, the tow-truck driver brought up the topic of intelligent design. He had discovered I was a science teacher, and expressed the hope that I wasnothaving to deal with it in my classroom. We had...

    • SIX It’s Not about the Evidence: The Role of Metaphysics in the Debate
      (pp. 93-116)

      Scientific and religious accounts of human origins are founded on very different philosophical approaches to knowledge. In particular, the apparent conflicts between science and religion with respect to human evolution owe their origin to the different roles that metaphysics plays in the two approaches to knowledge and to understanding what it means to be human. At their most divergent, these perspectives place humans in a very different place within their explanatory framework and define what it means to be human in very different ways. For many evolutionists, humans are merely one of a vast number of well-adapted but fundamentally natural...

    • SEVEN The Misguided Attack on Methodological Naturalism
      (pp. 117-140)

      Recent efforts by antievolutionary advocates have focused not so much on science content but on changing the definition of science itself. These efforts are expressions of widely held misunderstandings of the nature and limitations of science. Science is a methodology that provides a limited, but very fruitful, way of knowing about the natural world. This method works only if science confines itself to the investigation ofnaturalentities and forces. Scientists seek to understand observations of the natural world only in terms of natural cause-and-effect processes. This self-limitation is sometimes referred to as methodological naturalism. It is the basis for...

    • EIGHT On the Origin of Species and the Limits of Science
      (pp. 141-160)

      Currently the United States is home to a small but mobilized grassroots effort to have the model of intelligent design (ID) integrated into public school science curricula. What might seem strange is that many of the leading advocates for ID are well aware that by most current definitions, ID does not qualify as science (CSC Top Questions). Many ID advocates admit that their methods and conclusions go beyond what are conventionally accepted as the limits of appropriate scientific explanations; but this, they claim, betrays a flaw in our current conceptions of science. Truth, they say, lies beyond the arbitrary rules...


    • NINE Teaching Evolution during the Week and Bible Study on Sunday
      (pp. 163-179)

      I am a geologist who has spent her thirty-year career studying the evolution of fossil molluscs (clams and snails) preserved in sediments up to 80 million years old from the U.S. Gulf and Atlantic coasts. My knowledge of the fossil record in general, and my own paleontological research in particular, has convinced me that life has evolved through time. For instance, I discovered gradual increases in shell thickness over several million years within a number of mollusc fossil species preserved in sediments along the west shore of the Chesapeake Bay (Kelley 1989). This increased thickness was an evolutionary response to...

    • TEN The “God Spectrum” and the Uneven Search for a Consistent View of the Natural World
      (pp. 180-240)

      There was a time not so long ago when scientists did not take creationism seriously. As copiously demonstrated, however, in the flood of recent scientific critiques of intelligent design (ID), including in the other chapters of this volume, this is no longer the case. These responses have exhaustively demonstrated that creationism, including ID, isn’t science; it’s religion. And for most scientists, the task stops there. Yet for the great majority of the nonscientific public, this is just the beginning. For most people whose lives are primarily occupied by neither science nor religion, the bright line that the majority of scientists...

    (pp. 241-246)
    (pp. 247-250)
  9. INDEX
    (pp. 251-261)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 262-262)