Book Review - God- or Gorilla?, First Part of a Series
My parents bought me an interesting present for Christmas a couple years ago. It was an old book published in 1922, titled God- or Gorilla? How the Monkey Theory of Evolution Exposes Its Own Methods, Refutes Its Own Principles, Denies Its Own Inferences, Disproves Its own Case. As you can guess, the author, Alfred W. McCann, was not a big fan of universal common descent. (For those of you who may be wondering, my parents aren't creationists - they bought the book because they knew I'd find it interesting.)
After reading the book, I knew I wanted to do a review of it on this blog, but I wasn't exactly sure how. McCann's not really a household name, so I didn't feel like he had a strong influence that needed to be countered. I also do have a bit of sympathy for his position, in that the evidence for evolution wasn't quite as strong in the '20s as it is today (it was still pretty strong, though). He also spent a good deal of time debunking the Piltdown Man, which is now widely acknowledged as a hoax. However, one of the things that struck me about the book is that many of the arguments that McCann used are still being used by creationists today, so refuting those arguments is still relevant.
I'd originally intended to quote just a few passages to give the flavor of the book, with a little commentary and links to the relevant entries in the Index to Creationist Claims where appropriate. However, once I started skimming through the book and pulling out interesting quotes, I ended up with 40 pages worth of excerpts! So, I decided to turn this into a series. I'll try to post a new installment to the series every Friday.
McCann's writing style was a bit, shall we say, flamboyant. In fact, it is eerily similar to the kook style you see on Internet forums today. I can only imagine what the book would have looked like if the publisher had allowed multiple fonts, or had the ability to do color printing. I've tried to quote the book faithfully throughout this review. Any italics, bold, or other forms of emphasis, unless specifically noted, were done by McCann himself. On a similar note, McCann was very fond of using '(sic)' in the quotes in his book. To avoid confusion, I'll use '[sic, jrl]' whenever I use the term.
This book is available online through The Internet Archive and Google Books, though without the musty smell and incoherent scribbles in the margins that you get from the real deal. Actually, that's not quite true - the Google copy does have a few scribbles, but not nearly as many as my copy. The Internet Archive edition appears to match the edition I read, while the Google edition lacks the appendices.
Obviously, I'm going to criticize creationism quite a bit in this series of entries, so, let me make the necessary disclaimer right up front. I realize that around half the people in this country are creationists. For most of them, I think it's simply ignorance. I don't mean that as an insult - it's a failure of our country's education system. So, if you're a creationist who's never been exposed to a good discussion of evolution, don't take offense to my comments here. My frustration is directed mainly at people like McCann and his modern day counterparts like Ken Ham or Ray Comfort, who despite being so ignorant of evolution, are actively spreading their misinformation to others. (For a fuller version of this disclaimer, read my entry, Run of the Mill vs. Big Name Creationists.)
To make sure that I didn't stall out mid-book, I actually completed most of the review before I started posting entries. So, I have the advantage of seeing how the entire review turned out, which you readers won't know for a few months. I do think it's interesting, and I hope you enjoy it, but looking back, I'm not sure it was worth the effort I put into it. Had I put the same effort into writing something a little more organized, I probably could have created a better resource for learning about evolution. So, I doubt I'll ever do another review of this depth (I'm no Slacktivist). If you do enjoy this review, savor it.
As one last introductory note, I'll be using this entry as a table of contents for the series. I will make updates here with links to all of the subsequent entries in this review.
Added 2013-01-22 I've slightly reorganized this site, putting all of these entries into their own section. So, if you want to just browse through them all, you can read them at:
God - Or Gorilla? Archive
- Part I - This Page
- Part II - Introduction & Chapter 1, Making the Piltdown Man
- Part III - Chapter 2, The Trinil Ape-man
- Part IV - Chapter 3, The Neanderthal Man, and Chapter 4, The Last Link
- Part V - Chapter 5, The Gibraltar Man
- Part VI - Chapter 6, A Blighted Ancestral Tree
- Part VII - Chapter 7, "Theologians" Versus "Scientists"
- Part VIII - Chapter 8, Hybrids, Haeckel and Confusion, and Chapter 9, The Swan Song of Darwinism
- Part IX - Chapter 10, The Descent of Farce Comedy
- Part X - Chapter 11, H. G. Wells
- Part XI - Chapter 12, Tricking Huxley and the World
- Part XII - Chapter 13, What Is a Horse?
- Part XIII - Chapter 14, Complications
- Part XIV - Chapter 15, Chromosomes and Genes
- Part XV - Chapter 16, Bateson - A Brilliant Light
- Part XVI - Chapter 17, Psychical Activity
- Part XVII - Chapter 18, The Mason Bee
- Part XVIII - Chapter 19, Evolution in a Muddle
- Part XIX - Chapter 20, An Osborn Letter
- Part XX - Chapter 21, St. Augustine; St. Thomas and Chapter 22, Twelve Earthy Salts
- Part XXI - Chapter 23, Evolution Upside Down
- Part XXII - Chapter 24, Those "Six Days" of Creation, and Chapter 25, The Evidence of Man
- Part XXIII - Chapter 26, The Evolution of Evolutions
- Part XXIV - Appendices, Part 1
- Part XXV - Appendices, Part 2
- Part XXVI - Bonus Entry (And the End of the Review)