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Books & CultureNovember/December 2003



Don't know much Biology

While writing this review, I am proctoring the final exam for my course on the history of science and religion. And as I look out over my students, their brows furrowed in thought, the value of Species of Origins by Karl Giberson and Donald Yerxa becomes apparent.

I teach at the University of Georgia, the flagship school in the state's higher-education system. My class is mostly composed of honors students reared in the American South. Many of them are deeply religious—about half claim to attend Protestant church or fellowship meetings regularly. I can count on a few of these to jump to the defense of Genesis during class discussion. The University of Georgia is a state school, however, and many of my students are nonreligious or even anti-religious. Some of them roll their eyes in response to the biblical apologetics of their evangelical Protestant classmates.

In short, my class reflects the mix of beliefs that characterize the New South, which remains the most religious region of the country but is no longer monolithically so. All manner of belief and disbelief cohabits here. After all, my students say, this is Georgia, not Alabama! Little do they know that Alabama students would say something similar, perhaps about Arkansas. Species of Origins speaks to such an audience, whether at a state university in the Deep South or an evangelical Protestant college in the Northeast (where the authors teach).

In recommending this book for my students, I do not recommend it for everyone. Indeed, the authors had a particular audience in mind when they wrote this book: their own students. They kept their eyes fixed on this audience throughout, and succeeded in authoring a serviceable introductory text on a profoundly complex subject. ...

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