From the Chicago Tribune, Books section, paperbacks, 12/26/93: _The Encyclopedia of Evolut

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From the Chicago Tribune, Books section, paperbacks, 12/26/93: _The Encyclopedia of Evolution: Humanity's Search for Its Origins_, by Richard Milner (Owl, $25) Review by Clarence Petersen Milner, a senior editor of Natural History, is an ideal pilot through the roiled waters of evolutionary theory--its rewards, its consequences, its tributaries and eddies, its ripples into popular culture. The last, he shows, repeatedly has prepared and often ignited the imaginations of young minds. The book itself accomplishes much the same thing through good writing, sound science, wit and humor. Its nearly 500 large-format pages start with Abang, a male orangutan that learned to make and use a stony knife, a feat thought impossible for apes. They end with "whale, evolution of," which reports a 1992 study showing a genetic relationship between sperm whales and baleen whales, which indicates that they branched from an earlier, unknown species 10 to 15 million years ago--relatively recently--and that the cow is their closest landlubber relative. The Scopes "monkey" trial is covered, as is the movie "Inherit the Wind," based on it. Milner also considers what scientists call Scopes II, the 1981 "creation science" trial in which fundamentalist Christians in Arkansas demanded "equal time" or "balanced treatment" for "Moses' theory," terming it "a test of fairness for the two scientific models." The ACLU, calling upon church historians, theologians and scientists, some of whom were devout religious adherents, defeated the move as an attempt "to establish religion in a state-supported school in violation of the First Amendment." In that trial, scientific testimony linked the study of evolution to all other science, its branches interdependent and subject to testing. That is Milner's very model for this superb book.


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