Revolution #94, July 1, 2007

Prisoner Corresponds on
“The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism, Knowing What's Real and Why It Matters”

Since its publication last fall, The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism: Knowing What’s Real and Why It Matters by Ardea Skybreak has received increasing recognition from renowned scientists and educators… as well as from many people who are ordinarily denied access to science. Word of the book is spreading, particularly through numerous reviews on the Internet. It has received especially warm welcome on a number of science blogs and web sites, and from among prisoners. The book has gotten exposure at conferences, at Darwin Day celebrations, and book fairs. It is available in many bookstores and in some museum stores. (And it should be in many more.)

This book is truly unique in the way it popularizes the science of evolution and the scientific method. It combines uncompromising scientific rigor with an accessible style which gives it the ability to connect with a broad and diverse audience. And it’s already begun to show the potential to reach into every corner of society—from college professors and librarians to prisoners and residents of housing projects—and profoundly influence the way that people see the world and how they think.

Recently, the book was named as one of three finalists for the 2007 Benjamin Franklin award in the category of Science/Environment. Sponsored by the independent publishers association PMA (Publishers Marketing Association), this award recognizes excellence in independent publishing. On June 5, 2007, the book was named "Book of the Week" at the "agnosticism and atheism" section of the popular web site

Over the past several months, in addition to praise from renowned scientists Richard Leakey, Kevin Padian, and David Seaborg that is included in the book itself, The Science of Evolution… has been welcomed and promoted especially on a number of science blogs and web sites that are engaged in defense of evolution, and of science itself, in face of attempts to bring religion, often in the form of “intelligent design creationism,” into science education the public schools.

Many people who are ordinarily “locked out” of getting into scientific ideas have also taken up this book—including more than a few prisoners. Those promoting the book at the recent publishing conference, Book Expo America, report that the unusual mix of people who have been reading and talking about The Science of Evolution and the Myth of Creationism: Knowing What’s Real and Why It Matters is exciting and heartening, and has, itself, piqued further interest among a number of academics, scientists, and others in the book world. The following letter was provided to Revolution newspaper by Insight Press, the publisher of The Science of Evolution.

The book's publisher, Insight Press, encourages people to order the limited-edition hardcover edition of the book directly from the publisher, at Proceeds from the sale of the hardcover edition help make it possible to fulfill requests for the book from prisoners.

I bought this book because I’d had the great fortune of reading it in the RW [the newspaper currently known as Revolution] as a series a few years ago. I was absolutely fascinated by Ardea Skybreak’s presentation of evolution scientifically and exposé of the myth of creationism. It was and is very beautiful and enlightening.

What I enjoyed most about the series and now the book is that it has caused me to think and look at life and the world differently, scientifically! And not in a way that causes me to feel that I’ve lost the sense of purpose and destiny and amazement religion is supposed to provide. Rather, with new found purpose! Let me quote from one of my favorite parts of the book: Since there’s really no particular special purpose to our existence… “Does that mean we don’t matter? Does it mean that we might as well kill each other off because there’s no god out there to care what we do one way or the other? Does it mean that are lives have absolutely no purpose? Of course not! Our lives are precious and we do matter a great deal…to each other!

We should decide to ‘do the right thing’—and act with each other with some integrity and in ways that are ‘moral and ethical’—not because we’re afraid we’ll get written up by some warden-like god if we don’t, but because what we do directly affects the quality of human life. And, of course, our lives can and do have purpose (though different people will define that in different ways in accordance with their world outlooks), because we humans can choose to imbue our lives with purpose!

“So here we are: a bunch of wonderfully complex living creatures, who have been at one and the same time highly destructive and highly creative, with an unprecedented capacity to consciously transform the natural world around us and the societies in which we live. There’s nothing else ‘out there’…but isn’t this plenty enough?”

I love that part. It kind of throws the last shovel full of dirt on God’s grave. It gives expression to the fact that all we’ve got is each other and whether we matter ultimately depends on what we do with our capacities as a species and how we use them to be better humans or go extinct.

I’m not the only one who read this book since I got it. A few captives have been intrigued by my enthusiastic promotion of it and put down the Mario Puzo and Jackie Collins novels for long enough to give it a try. It’s amazing how much has been kept from us! How much knowledge about ourselves as human beings and how we came into existence has been withheld and for why! Not to mention the rest of the world around us. A couple of the captives who read the book (as best as our limited educations permit us to reach much higher than a seventh or eighth grade level) had never been exposed to the theory of evolution before or had gross misunderstandings or misconceptions (furnished by the ruling class, reactionaries, and various brands of religious fundamentalists) of what evolution is and how it works. One captive thought “evolution” was a religion, like Christianity or Islam!

One of the most fundamental things we all learned is that all life underwent and continues to undergo evolution. Before realizing this essential point, many of us assumed that only humans evolved, or that evolution only applied to the human species. And then there was the linear evolutionary model we’ve all seen of the chimp slowly losing hair and walking erect to conquer in our conception of how human beings actually evolved from our closest living relative, the chimpanzee. It was very easy to understand and imagine the whole evolutionary process in all its complexity, from the formation of the earth and single celled bacteria to how speciation and other natural factors contributed to evolutionary dead ends and countless “branching” of life. Very amazing.

I particularly enjoyed Ardea Skybreak's critique of creationism and how she turned the various brands of creationists—from Old Earth to Young Earth, from Evolutionary Creationists to Intelligent Design Creationists—on their heads. Most captives grew up in this society poor and oppressed and steeped and indoctrinated in religious fundamentalism, so evolution is pretty uncomfortable to lend credence to, especially in the beginning when it’s hard for us to really “trade” our relatively comfortable dependence on a Creator for ideas and theories and such alot of us haven’t been given the opportunity to develop intellects for and use knowledge gained through education to support and sustain. The whole “scientific method” and process is foreign to so many people who have been figuratively and literally “locked out” of using it and working within it. So it was real refreshing to read how Ardea Skybreak not only articulated the science of evolution but also explained why evolution and the scientific method generally is so important for all human beings to know and be benefitted by and why so many around the world do not have very much—if any—familiarity with the theory of evolution and how we’ve all been more or less kept from liberating ourselves from enslavement to religious dogma and superstition and mysticism and spirituality and enforced ignorance!

There is so much more for me to learn about and explore in this wonderful book. I have nothing but time to do what I can to immerse myself in this work and propagate a understanding of evolution and science more broadly and use my knowledge, however great or small at the moment, to encourage and motivate and inspire captives here to reconsider their purpose and power! Captives in prison are among those who need to grasp science and the theory of evolution most of all, for every aspect of our oppressive and brutal confinement SCREAMS for a liberator! Come to find out, there’s not just a Liberator but Liberators—US! OURSELVES! We can free and make each other’s lives better!

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