Happy April and happy spring, my friends!
Today I am feeling a little under the weather, but I am excited for April, for Camp NaNoWriMo, and for the first book review of April! Today I am reviewing a controversial and scholarly nonfiction book, titled The End of Evolution? by Martin Lyons. Lyons is a local musician in my current town, in fact, and I love his innovative singing and playing of the harmonium.
In this book, Lyons lays out a series of arguments to disprove the famous, much-touted scientific theory of Charles Darwin. I know at first hearsay, you may think that Lyons is crazy or that I am for reading it, but in fact this book is a very intriguing discussion of how to look at something we perceive as set-in-stone and unquestionable, from various angles.
There are a total of 18 arguments in the entirety of The End of Evolution, ranging from evidences against evolution, to positing how vague some of the wording of the theory and essays about it are.
To keep an open mind, it’s recommended to get out of your comfort zone, and investigate and try things out that you may not have considered before. With that, let’s dive into this controversial topic!
Arguments VS Theory
In a nutshell, here are the arguments Lyons presents against the theory of evolution. I confess, I may have misunderstood some of them, since I am not a very science-minded, left-brain person, but here is how I saw them to be:
- The method of evolution has a conflict of interest between its need for increased stability and its purpose to increase survival-ability.
- Since survival is a need, nature can’t wait for evolution, for changes; it needs to survive now!
- Nature can’t afford to evolve, it takes too much energy and puts a risk against survival.
- Sex and parenting is so complex, to whittle it down to “our brains tell us we need to procreate” is simplifying too much.
- Random mutations are just that – random! It doesn’t support the stasis of separate species.
- The drawings do not add up.
- The math does not add up.
- Study of complex organs and species and their parts as we know it, show they are many separate parts and do not gel with the theory of evolution.
- Everything is interconnected, which does not support the “by chance” nature of evolutional theory.
- The theory of evolution does not explain enough of the what, how, or why.
- The theory fails to make room for aesthetic, for culture, for art, for the love of beauty, etc.
- Fossils and the ideas around them do not add up.
- In its randomness, evolution makes no room to really look at intelligence, and the idea that something does not come from nothing.
- Lyons encourages open-mindedness, to look at something from various angles and encourage different ideas than what’s well-known.
- The ebb and flow of life is complex and can’t just all be hacked up to be about genes.
- Evolution is seen as fact and its proponents are seen as unquestionable. But why? What about the idea of an intelligent being creating the universe, versus random happenstance?
- Evolution is a metaphysical concept without evidence, Lyons posits.
- The true search for answers in reality consists of asking, “Who am I? Why am I here?” in search for meaning.
What I liked about this book
What I really liked about this book was how, throughout it, Lyons presents each argument in a very calm, intelligent manner, progressing and building one argument upon the other, until its conclusion. There was nothing hackney or hysterical about his tone of voice in the book, which doubters might expect from anti-evolution author.
I found the writing style very smart, but also easy to understand. The way the book reads, it is clear the author is just trying to present a different view, and it feels almost like a conversation with somebody. He’s not trying to hold his view over your head, or spout out a lot of long words.
I also enjoyed the majority of the arguments that Lyons pits against the theory of evolution. It is clear that he has studied both pro- and anti-evolution arguments and prominent scholars, scientists, etc. He shares points from both, and breaks down the good, the bad, and the ugly of each quote. The way that he presents most of his arguments against evolution, actually made sense to me. I found merit in them.
Another thing I liked about The End of Evolution?, which I know might just be my particular bias, is the spiritual feel of the latter part of the book. I like that Lyons challenges the idea that the universe(s) appeared out of nowhere, and instead goes into detail about the idea that an intelligent deity created everything as we know it.
What I didn’t like about this book
Towards the end of the book the tone and feeling of it changes, and I’m not sure every reader will be captured to the very end. The latter part of the book feels less like an essay and more like an opinion piece. So for me, it feels somewhat disconnected from the rest of the book. At the same time, upon inspection, one could say the book was building towards this all along.
I think that rather than just defeating evolution, Lyons wants to give us something more. I think that is his goal in the last few chapters of the book, and it rounds things off well. He doesn’t want to just break down why evolution doesn’t make sense; he wants to offer something else, in addition, or to replace it.
I like how Lyons guides and encourages his readers to think outside of the box, and the spiritual conclusion that he makes at the end. I just think the sudden switch around Argument 14 might be a turn-off for some readers.
Towards the end of the book, Lyons says:
The simple truth on which we can all agree is that we’re standing on, and inside of, an infinite harmony of form and function that we refer to as this universe. We are simultaneously fully surrounded and permeated by this boundless union. This is the fact of our existence. Unfortunately we are barely conscious of it, let alone utterly awed and thrilled by such omnipresent majesty of interconnected being.Martin Lyons, The End of Evolution?
I really enjoyed this bit from Lyons at the end of The End of Evolution? It’s a profound statement about how simultaneously insignificant we are, and also about how we are part of something much bigger, better, and more beautiful than the world we can see/touch/hear/taste/smell/think about around us. We are part of something which is deeply tasteful, amazing, kind and gorgeous – and we have the intelligence to seek and question, which can lead us to connect to that greater something. Or, if you are spiritual or a spiritual seeker, Someone. The concept that our reality and our very being is more than what we can materially perceive, is both humbling and exciting.
What a poignant point to end on! It really makes you think, right? It definitely makes me more eager to progress in my spiritual life, and it makes me want to think in a more open, innovative way. What could this inspire in our writing? Who knows what the universe will dole out for us next?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments. Share about your Camp NaNoWriMo project, if you’d like!
Until next time,