August 9, 2007

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Flock of Dodos: Behind Modern Creationism, Intelligent Design & the Easter Bunny, by Barrett Brown and Jon P. Alston, Ph.D. (Cambridge House Press, 2007, 155 pages)
Reviewed by Lisa Parsons news@hippopress.com

If Sam Harris’s serious Letter to a Christian Nation was too straitlaced for you, try the extremely snarky Flock of Dodos. Where Letter is written directly to those who take the Bible literally, Flock is written to those who are already skeptical. Its authors, sociology professor Jon P. Alston and writer-humorist Barrett Brown (presumably the source of the snark), name names and pull no punches in raking the muck of creationist arguments. They assert that “whenever an evolutionist debates a creationist, the creationist will inevitably come off as something of an ill-informed jackass,” and, without going in to any of the logic of the “inevitably” part, they simply point out several instances in which such is the case — to wit, discussions of dinosaur tracks in Kentucky in which the creationists are wildly contradictory and willfully blind; a creationist’s claims about the genetics of bacterial flagella that have been flatly refuted by research; the contortions of logic performed by creationists trying to both embrace and deny science. They also point out that the U.S. was founded on the principle of religious freedom, not Christianity, “But the Founding Fathers are dead, and half of America is largely ignorant,” they conclude.

There’s a lot here in the funny-if-it-weren’t-true category, like how creationist — or Intelligent Designist — Ken Ham coaches school kids on ways to disrupt science lessons (they should assert that the teacher can’t claim to know about things he didn’t witness firsthand, whereas they can be sure about what the Bible says, and they should keep in mind that evolution is obviously not real, because their grandparents do not look like chimpanzees). Flock of Dodos points out some goings-on worth knowing about. CLisa Parsons