I thought John asked for a "single best" source on the subject, both pro and con? <grin>

Steven Montgomery

At 10:43 AM 11/8/2002, you wrote:
Strictly speaking, I honestly don't know, because I don't consider evolution to
be a moral issue which one is "converted" to -- it's just a toolset for
approaching one question on how the physical world works, like any other theory.
You probably suspected I'd respond that way, but it's true. Also, it's difficult
to give a succinct summary of such a complex theory in this kind of forum --
there's just too much that has to be taught in terms of principles, and I'm not
sure I'm up to it. But in the *spirit* of your request...

I wouldn't suggest this for a beginner, but the best and most up-to-date general
actual textbook, meant for university courses, is probably the relatively new,
but very long book that Stephen Jay Gould published just before he died, "The
Structure of Evolutionary Theory." (see
for a description). I believe it's used at BYU for Zoology 475, which is the
evolution course taught by Drs. Whiting and Jeffery this semester, from what I
understand. (For the course's web site, from which you can also get the BYU
package, see http://zoology.byu.edu/zool475/)

If you're interested in "apologetics" in the sense of anti-creationism, the
talk.origins website is one of the best on-line resources that I know of.
http://www.talkorigins.org/origins/faqs-qa.html -- they have some good FAQs on
various topics.

The best LDS book I've read, which has the advantage that it doesn't just cover
evolution, but other scientific topics, including the Big Bang, is Clark, David
L.; ed. Of Heaven and Earth: Reconciling Scientific Thought With LDS Theology"
(Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1998). I have a review and some excerpts at:
http://www.members.shaw.ca/mschindler/A/Of Heaven and Earth.htm

There are two good books by non-LDS on the topic, and they have the advantage of
being inexpensive paperbacks and not overly long and not overly technical:

(Gould, the late well-known Harvard palaeontologist, described himself as a
secular Jewish agnostic, but he's the one who coined the term Non-overlapping
Magisteria (NOMA). He was not the first to refer to the concept, however -- I
have citations from a RC cardinal who tried to help Galileo (who was his own
worst enemy in many ways), and also, intriguingly, the 1931 letter from the Heber
J. Grant 1Presidency to all GAs which is quoted in the article "Evolution" in the
Encyclopedia of Mormonism. Miller is, I believe, Catholic, but definitely a
believer. He's also a biochemist).

Stephen Jay Gould, Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life
(New York: Ballantine Books, 1999). I'm reading this now and will post a review
to my website when I'm finished.

Miller, Kenneth. Finding Darwin's God: a Scientist's Search for Common Ground
Between God and Evolution (New York: HarperCollins, 1999). (I have a review of
this, along with some excerpts, on my website:

For an interesting essay by a Latter-day Saint on why some GAs have taught
against evolution, see: http://www.whyprophets.com/prophets/evolution.htm (I
like this because he agrees with me :-)). Seriously, he says there's a common
conception of evolution which lay people have which is wrong and is a straw man.
The GAs arguments have been, by and large, against this straw man, but Chris
Tolworthy makes the argument that prophets can't always afford to let themselves
get bogged down in detail and have to make a "clear statement," and I agree with
this (this is the flip side of being resistant to what I consider
over-literalistic interpretation; it also allows me to incorporate things which
might at first disturb me, like what I saw to be the "flat-out ignorance" of
Pres. Smith's Man: His Origin and Destiny, as I put it to my senior home teaching
companion at the time.)

Ironically, one of the best lay explanations of evolution, although it's a bit
outdated, was actually in an official Church magazine. You may recall that before
the correlated new publications of Ensign/Liahona/New Era/Friend came out, the
Sunday School had their own monthly, called The Instructor. Harrison, Bertrand F.
"The Relatedness of Living Things," The Instructor, July 1965: 272-276 is an
explanation of how evolution works. I have it online at:

And Pres. Stephen L. Richards refers to the inspiration which guides all
scientists, including Darwin, in a letter to college students that was published
in The Improvement Era (predecessor to the Ensign). Again, I have this online at:

And finally, if you can hang tight, I might have another resource. I've had the
idea for an article accepted by a well-known LDS publication (not Dialogue or
Sunstone), and a draft has been submitted. I can't reveal which publication yet
because nothing is finalized yet, but I actually had in my mind, while writing
this, several "virtual personalities" to whom I "addressed" the article. They
include you and my younger son (who's at the opposite end -- he's a 3rd year
astrophysics student at our counterpart to MIT and is agnostic, more or less).
Even if it's not accepted, I'll post it on my website. I have an essay there now,
called "eppur si riconciliano" (thanks again, Stephen, for the help with the
title), but the essay isn't very well written, frankly. I think my new article
expresses my thoughts much better.

Hope that helps as a start.

"John W. Redelfs" wrote:

> Marc,
> Who in your opinion presents the best, book length, argument in favor of
> evolution? And who in your opinion best presents the best argument against
> evolution? I ask these questions so that I might systematically study both
> sides of the issue to see who has the better arguments using the criteria
> that are important to me. I ask you because you seem to be the resident
> expert on this topic.
> Incidentally, I am not asking for a book list, not even a short one. I
> want your evaluation, your carefully considered opinion on the best
> argument for each side.
> John W. Redelfs [EMAIL PROTECTED]
> ===========================================
> We tend to scoff at the beliefs of the ancients. But we
> can't scoff at them personally, to their faces, and this is
> what annoys me. --Jack Handy
> ===========================================
> All my opinions are tentative pending further data. --JWR
> /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
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Marc A. Schindler
Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada -- Gateway to the Boreal Parkland

"Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he will pick
himself up and continue on" Winston Churchill

Note: This communication represents the informal personal views of the author
solely; its contents do not necessarily reflect those of the author's employer,
nor those of any organization with which the author may be associated.

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Steven Montgomery

<a href="http://www.getusout.org";><img border="0" src="http://www.getusout.org/images/guolink.gif";></a>

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