Dr. Jonathan Sarfati’s book, The Greatest Hoax on Earth has been on my reading list for some time. I was finally able to finish it recently and I must say I was duly impressed. Sarfati’s incredible intellect and impeccable research make this book an incredibly worthwhile read. Writing in response to Richard Dawkin’s The Greatest Show on Earth, Sarfati provides a thorough, detailed, and copiously cited resource for the average Christian with questions about the science that supposedly supports evolution.
Much of this book will not come as a surprise to a veteran creationist, at least at the 1000 foot level. However, because Sarfati is an undisputed genius (his PhD is in chemistry, he’s a chess grandmaster who represented New Zealand on the world stage, and makes a habit of playing dozens of people in chess while blindfolded), many of the details may be new and certainly, there will be new sources and new quotes that can be used to support a creationist view of the universe.
The first two chapters of the book set the tone for the rest of the book. In fourteen pages, Sarfati provides thirty-nine footnotes. The ten-page introduction contains a further twenty-six. Slightly less than two-thirds of those are from non-creationist sources. This trend holds throughout the rest of the book as Dr. Sarfati cites both secular and creationist sources to make his points. The book has over seven hundred and fifty footnotes in three hundred and twenty-three pages prior to the index. Well-cited might be too weak a term for this book.
In the first three full chapters of the book, Sarfati lays the groundwork for understanding a creation model and takes Dawkin’s strawman apart. Dawkins, if nothing else, is good at knocking down a strawman of the creationist position. He argues strongly against the fixity of species. The only problem is that no creationist has believed that in at least the last century. Sarfati points this out as well as pointing out Dawkin’s propensity for a “bait and switch” approach to debate, whereby he redefines the word evolution in the course of an argument, sometimes in the same sentence. In one part of the argument, evolution means change over time, in another it means changes from molecules to man. Dawkins flips between the two meanings without explanation. Sarfati also explains the difference between natural selection and evolution, something that Dawkins conveniently ignores when it suits him, Further, Sarfati uses natural selection to bring up the evolutionists’ problem of information, which destroys any evolutionary proposal.
Chapters four and five are meant to debunk Dawkin’s claim that evolution can be observed and that embryology provides evidence of ancestry. Sarfati debunks common examples evolutionists use such as bacteria metabolism, antibiotic resistance and sexual selection. He also digs deeper into the embryology nonsense evolutionists put out, diving into nematodes and debunking Dawkins’s theological objections to a designer.
In Chapters six through nine, Sarfati covers common ancestry and fossils. He explains the problem of homology as well as pointing out morphology and genetics do not always agree on what is homologous. He also points out that the transitional forms the evolutionists expect are still absent and debunk some of the more common evolutionary “missing links” such as the whale series and Archaeopteryx. He then devotes a whole chapter to debunking the evolution of man, including the infamous Lucy fossils, as well, along with the various Homo fossils. Sarfati makes a strong case for the uniqueness of humanity, separate from the apes.
Chapter ten addresses the issue of the geographical distribution of animals which comes up from time to time. Dawkins predictably strawmanned creationists in his book on this issue and Sarfati rightly points this out. Further, he flips the argument back at the evolutionists by pointing out that evolution is unfalsifiable because it makes the prediction that similar animals would be found in similar habitats. While this is true in some instances, in others, animals with vastly different morphology occupy the same habitat types. This falsifies evolutionary predictions but evolution is so flexible, they incorporate the contradiction into their model. Sarfati also points out that plate tectonics is in play and this changes how species would distribute in a post-flood world, something Dawkins also ignores.
Chapters eleven and twelve address the age of the earth question. Sarfati expertly debunks radiometric dating as an explanation for the long ages evolution needs. He also briefly addresses things like tree ring dating and ice core dating, both of which periodically get prove the earth is old. Sarfati then moves into evidence the earth is not as old as Dawkins claims, such as comets, salt in the sea, and the magnetic field of the earth.
Chapter thirteen deals with the origin of life question. It is quite a long chapter, but there is much to address as evolutionists have attempted dozens of explanations for life’s origin. Sarfati explains them all, leaving no stone unturned in his debunking of the origin of life. He also flattens the evolutionary excuse that the origin of life has nothing to do with evolution. He addresses the famous Miller-Urey experiment, as well as the problem oxygen poses to any origin of life scenario.
Chapters fourteen and fifteen cover vestigial structures and the “bad design” argument. He covers things like goosebumps, blind cave fish, and whale legs, showing that vestigial structures all have a function and are not actually leftovers. Moving to the bad design argument, Sarfati blasts those using it for presuming what a designer would do. He then shows things that are supposedly badly designed, like the human eye, the giraffe laryngeal nerve, and the koala’s pouch. Upon close inspection, the bad design argument always falls apart.
The final two chapters begin to delve into the theological issues. Sarfati addresses the problem of pain, suffering, and death by appealing, as he should, to the fall in Genesis. He also points out the inconsistency of Dawkins on theology in claiming believing in a non-literal Adam is crazy, yet telling pastors to tell their congregations exactly that. Sarfati closes with an epilogue which ties all the arguments together.
Having completed the book, I must say it is incredibly thorough. Sarfati is not content to skim the service; he goes in very deep and uncovers things the evolutionists would prefer the general public did not know. This book is excellent. If you want to be able to refute just about every common evolutionary argument, this book is a must-read. If you want to get the book, it is available for fifteen dollars on the CMI website.
Do you know what’s going to happen when you die? Are you completely sure? If you aren’t, please read this or listen to this. You can know where you will spend eternity. If you have questions, please feel free to contact us, we’d love to talk to you.