Critique: Exploring "Explore Evolution"

In 2007, a new “intelligent design” book entitled Explore Evolution (“EE”) appeared on the market.

Explore Evolution is explicitly marketed to public school teachers. For example, at a 2008 Biola University symposium for science teachers a pitch was made for adopting Explore Evolution. The quote below comes from the symposium's website:

A US Supreme Court decision allows teachers to teach biology in a way that incorporates “a variety of scientific theories…with the clear secular intent of enhancing the effectiveness of science instruction.” The new supplemental textbook Explore Evolution, when coordinated with other materials, empowers teachers and students to better fulfill these public educational goals.

Biola Science Teacher Symposium 2008 (accessed August 8, 2008.)

But students who read Explore Evolution will come away with a flat-out wrong understanding of evolution.

Explore Evolution

This book uses the creationist “evidence against evolution” and “teach the controversy” strategies to misrepresent scientific consensus and distort the conclusions of legitimate scientific research. Explore Evolution offers anonymous “critics” in place of substantive analysis.

Explore Evolution promotes “intelligent design” creationism. Four of the book’s five co-authors are closely tied to the “intelligent design” creationism movement. Lead author Stephen C. Meyer is a Discovery Institute (DI) vice president and program director of the DI’s Center for Science and Culture. Paul A. Nelson is a fellow of the DI. In 2005 in the Kitzmiller trial, Scott Minnich testified in favor of teaching “intelligent design” in public schools.

Beneath all its distortions, all its misrepresentations of modern evolutionary science, Explore Evolution uses familiar and long-refuted creationist anti-evolution arguments. Students who are required to read this book in a science classroom will be confused by its flagrant inaccuracies, and will be put at a disadvantage in standardized tests which require an understanding of modern biology.

NCSE and a team of consulting scientists have prepared this detailed chapter-by-chapter, page-by-page analysis of the book’s errors, failings, and distortions.

Each link below corresponds to a chapter in Explore Evolution. Each chapter expands into a list of specific problems in Explore Evolution.


Scientific controversy vs. social controversy

Educational policy and terminology


Nature of Science


Fossil Succession

Transitional Fossils

The Cambrian Radiation

Polyphyletic vs. Monophyletic

Phylogeny & the Nature of the Fossil Record

Other Errors in Chapter 3

Anatomical Homology

Defining "homology"




Molecular Homology

A Universal Tree of Life

Evolving Codes and Novel Genes

Molecular Clocks



History of Embryology




Fixity of species and common descent

Evolution on Islands

Natural Selection

Artificial and Natural Selection



Natural Selection & Mutation




Molecular "Machines"

Claims about complexity of cells

Claims about "cooption"

Claims about evolution of flagella

Claim about protein synthesis

Natural Selection / Survival of the Fittest


What Fossils Tell Us



Transitional Forms

Dissent in Science

Malcolm Gordon

Creationism Versus Science


Expert Witnesses




Nature of Science

Critique Summary

Table of Contents