Tuesday, August 2, 2011

BookTuesday: It Couldn’t Just Happen


For BookTuesday today, I’ve got a review of Lawrence Richards’ It Couldn’t Just Happen. This is actually a reprint/update of a book originally released in 1987 by Word Publishing. Today it’s released by Thomas Nelson Publishing under the Tommy Nelson Imprint.

It Couldn't Just Happen: Knowing the Truth About God's Awesome Creation

This book is targeted for children to address questions about science and evolution. The title itself should be a clue about the author’s viewpoint and what conclusions are going to be offered in the book.

Which is not a bad thing. After all, the target audience is not biology or chemistry researchers but it is aimed at a younger audience. The apparent goal is to show the reader why a creationist viewpoint is correct not only from the Biblical perspective but also from a scientific perspective.

To accomplish this, Richards presents 16 chapters focused on basic science issues related to studying the origins of the earth, life, and humanity. He dedicates the last 4 chapters of the book to explaining his view of the Bible and commending the Bible as the starting point for knowledge and study.

Each chapter is well-worded for pre-teen to teen readers. It’s also well-worded for adults who have been away from studying science for a few years and don’t remember much! For the review, I had the e-book version, which features grayscale pictures, but the print edition is full-color. Either way, occasional pictures break up the text and provide a little more detail to the sections.

Richards’ work on the science side is presented well. He has provided examples that support the creationist view, including taking several scientific studies that were once used as evidence of evolution and showing how they support creation instead. This book is not one of original research, but rather a compiling of scientific work from varied disciplines.

He addresses the question of the age of the earth, and presents both Biblical and scientific issues with both old-earth and young-earth theories. Wisely, he does not take a hard stance for one view or the other. This should allow for anyone who holds a creationist view to find this book a helpful resource.

The weakness I see in this book is the age. Science seems to move much faster than the publishing world, and some of the examples found in It Couldn’t Just Happen will be outdated soon. For example, Richards puts a focus on the lack of transitional forms in the fossil record but does not address the recent developed theory of “punctuated equilibrium” that is one answer to the missing forms. If the goal of the book is to orient students toward creation and equip them to understand evolution, this information would be helpful. Leaving some of the more recent developments undiscussed will leave students confounded and confused at times.

A further example comes in the discussion of horses, where Richards highlights the errors in evolutionary theory about the horse. His example is good and shows the tendency of confirmation bias in science, but as an evidence of creation, it’s easily dismissed. How? An opponent of creationism can highlight that prior mistakes by evolution proponents show the fluid nature of science and the willingness of evolutionists to learn and grow. And creationism never changes, does it?

These weaknesses are best addressed by not using this one book as your sole source for science information. It is a good introduction or supplement to the issues at hand in the study of origins and science, but it’s not quite strong enough to be the only text a student reads. Still, well recommended and well worth buying. I’d buy the printed, though---there’s a few places to write in answers and deal with questions. I don’t want anyone scribbling on my Kindle.



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