In Search of the Genesis World: Debunking the Evolution Myth
By Erich A. von Fange
Reviewed by Dr. William Barrick
21.1 (Spring 2010) : 131-133
Erich von Fange is professor emeritus of Concordia University, Ann Arbor, Michigan. He earned his Ph.D. as a Kellogg Fellow at the University of Alberta. He enjoyed teaching in Lutheran schools and colleges for 44 years, retiring in 1988, but continues to write on creation/evolution issues. This volume demonstrates his wideranging knowledge, intense research skills, and voluminous reading. For those truly interested in the debate between creation and evolution, this book will prove to be a rewarding excursion into the multitude of topics addressed within its covers.
The author verbalizes his purpose clearly: “First, how does the Bible fare as a framework for the ancient world in the light of scientific discoveries. . . . Second, is evolution ‘fact’ as many claim, or is it a type of mantra smothering all efforts to discover real truth?” (20). A sense of the breadth of the volume comes from a listing of its topics: archaeology, metallurgy, paleontology, agriculture, chronology, miracles, anthropology, the scientific method, evolution hoaxes, animal domestication, extinctions, natural history of horses, paleo-botany, the influence of Darwinism, astronomy, and ancient mysteries and riddles together with the theories they spawn. The author provides sources for most of the evidence he presents (via endnotes arranged by chapters, 363-92).
As von Fange puts it, he wrote this book “to inform and assure the reader that science was never the problem. There is a vast difference between science and speculation posing as science” (21). Details gathered over more than forty years of teaching flow from the author as well-known and familiar facts, yet their massive quantity does not slow the flow of the text. Reading is a pleasure, not a burden. One detracting aspect appears repeatedly, however—many details lack proper references and some details find support in either questionable news media accounts or very outdated material. Improved, more exact, and up-to-date documentation would increase the length of the volume significantly, but would generate a greater willingness on the part of the reader to accept the factuality of the evidence. For example, the claim that Darwin looked forward to the elimination of lower human races and the potential influence this view had on the Nazi slaughter of Jews (130) possesses no direct reference to Darwin’s own words. Instead, the endnote merely cites a secondary source by Stanley Jaki (374 n. 46). Another glaring absence of documentation comes in the listing of the statistics for extinctions by geological era (165). The author refers to a specific United Nations report, but fails to cite it directly— relying instead, upon a news article in the Ann Arbor News (166, 376 n. 6). I wish these were rare occurrences, but unfortunately, they occur so frequently that a careful reader will begin to feel a degree of discomfort with the dependability of some evidence thus presented.
Each chapter concludes with questions for reflection and discussion (22-23, 47-48, 60-61). The following is an example of these questions: “We can also see remarkable variation occurring when we sit down at a mall and watch the people go by. Is it possible that we are gradually changing into some other species if we give this process enough time? Why or why not?” (134, #8). The reader knows by these questions that the author desires interaction with the reader and interaction between readers—it is a volume that enlists the reader in research, discovery, and reasoning. Great teaching and successful learning consist of just such personal involvement in the subject matter.
Each reader will discover his or her own favorite chapter. The chapter about Joshua’s long day (93-100), revealing the misinformation that swirled around biblical circles some years ago, admits to hoaxes on the creationist side of the debate. On the other hand, “The Incredible Piltdown Hoax” (137-60) exposes hoaxes on the evolutionist side. The story of the Piltdown hoax reads like a masterful whodunit (the title, in fact, of one of the chapter’s sections, 152)—a very engaging and fascinating read alone worth the price of the book. “The Art of Misquoting Archbishop Ussher” (101-14) provides even more fodder for thought.
The penultimate chapter (“Science and Deception,” 333-53) commences von Fange’s critique of what too often poses as science (cf. 21). He identifies evolution’s three disastrous failings as “the science that consists of an unshakable faith in what this science is going to prove some day,” evolution’s “borrowed concepts from nineteenth century physics that physicists discarded long ago as useless,” and evolution’s failure to “invite us into the laboratory as with other sciences” (334-35).
Regardless of the shortcomings of In Search of the Genesis World, the volume provides an invaluable compendium of a wide range of topics in the creation/evolution debate. The author writes well and incites his readers to think deeply, carefully, and consistently (which might be the very reason why its shortcomings might become evident). The volume makes a valuable contribution and deserves a place alongside other good creationist materials.