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Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for America's Soul

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  949 Ratings  ·  127 Reviews
What should we teach our children about where we come from?
Is evolution a lie or good science?
Is it incompatible with faith?
Have scientists really detected evidence of a creator in nature?

From bestselling, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edward Humes comes a dramatic story of faith, science, and courage unlike any since the famous Scopes Monkey Trial. Monkey Girl takes yo
ebook, 400 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published February 1st 2007)
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Sarah (Presto agitato)
The argument between creationists and evolutionists was in the news recently after the debate between Bill Nye “The Science Guy” and Ken Ham, the Australian who runs the Creation Museum. The dispute is nothing new, though. Creationists and evolutionists have been butting heads since Darwin’s day. Ken Ham’s organization Answers in Genesis represents the more extreme end of the spectrum, the “young earth” creationists who believe that the earth is only 6,000 years old and that dinosaurs and people ...more
The preacher gazes at the sea of faces turned up at him as he holds aloft a well-worn copy of the Bible, waving it at a packed church the size of a concert hall.
"I look forward to the day when every teacher is teaching out of this book," he shouts, and he is answered by a loud chorus of hallelujahs. "And there will be no separation of church and state...We will live in a theocracy. And what a glorious day that will be!"


It all started as an obscure dispute over science textbooks. A group o
Jun 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So far this is one of the most frustrating books I've ever read. Frustrating not in the sense that the writing is bad or the story indecipherable, but frustrating in that it contains a cast of characters (creationists and intelligent design proponents) who I constantly want to yell at. Their ignorance and desire to impose their moral beliefs is both frightening and frustrating. Other than that, this is a fine book, which I haven't been able to put down since starting earlier this week.
Dec 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An infuriating cautionary tale about what happens when religious fundamentalists attempt to subvert the Constitution in the service of forcing their misguided beliefs on the general population but also a spectacularly satisfying revenge story where these same fundamentalists find themselves outclassed, outmatched and outthought in a small town Pennsylvania courtroom. Although the book makes you want to pull your hair out in frustration at both the willful ignorance and unapologetic disingenuousn ...more
This was a well-written and enthralling read, although the topic it covers is frustrating on so many levels to me. Several times I wanted to pull my hair out, reading about the ignorance and closed-mindedness that would cause people to try to force an untested new "science" on their children, without any real knowledge themselves of the evolutionary theory they reject, or for that matter, the intelligent design theory they're trying to push. It's especially upsetting to me as a Christian to see ...more
I found this book to be good in the I-want-to-pull-my-hair-out, oh-why-are-people-so-stupid kind of way. Humes writes a thorough and well explained book about the battle between evolution and creationism (or intelligent design) and schools in Dover, Pennsylvania. He includes various other cases and situations regarding this battle as well, dating back more than eighty years ago (rather ridiculous that this country is STILL battling evolution after that length of time). Aside from the battle deta ...more
May 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"In the time of Galileo it was argued that the texts, 'And the sun stood still ... and hasted not to go down about a whole day' (Joshua x. 13) and 'He laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not move at any time' (Psalm cv. 5) were an adequate refutation of the Copernican theory."
Alan Turing, 1950

This is one of the latest episodes of the struggle between those who feel that Science describes nature pretty well and those who believe that anything other than a strict literal interpreta
Sep 04, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian
This. Was. Hard. To. Read.

And I don't think I'm a complete idiot. I agree with every reviewer who stated that the author included too much (and varied) information about evolution, Christianity, legal battles in other states, etc. This was more of an exhaustive list of the current state of intelligent design being taught in the classroom than it was a story about the legal case in Dover, PA.

I will elect to read the Devil in Dover to see if it sheds different light on the specific case there. I a
Aug 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The full title here is Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for America's Soul by Edward Humes. There are surprisingly few monkeys or girls in this book, but it does tell the story of the lawsuit between the Dover, Pennsylvania school board and parents who didn't like the idea of religion under the thin guise of intelligent design (ID) being taught in their public schools.

One reason I picked up this book was that while I had soaked up some of the ID controversy through var
Mar 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, kindle
I'm about halfway through this book. I'm annoyed because it spends too much time exploring the history of evolutionary science and the creation/evolution controversy. I'm hopeful now that it will focus on the situation in Dover and start bringing in other stuff with which I am already very familiar.

Later: This book is at its best when it focuses on the events in Dover. Someone who is unfamiliar with the Creation/Evolution battle would probably find all of it very interesting-- it is told in an e
Aug 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent journalistic look at the religious mentality in America...although the same mentality is very much alive elsewhere. The author tries his best to be balanced, and he manages to remain disinterested (not to be confused with uninterested) about as much as humanly possible. However, probably due to the fact that he's writing about some really ignorant and hard-headed people, in the end one gets the feeling that he's on the side of the Darwinists. What I got out of this book is not that ...more
I liked this book for two things: the simple, fascinating explanations of the many scientific experiments that prove evolution and the day to day account of the Dover, PA version of the Scopes Monkey Trial. Where the book went wrong was when the author tried to bite off more than he could chew - delving into the history of the evolution/creationism debate or inexplicably spending a few chapters of the book in Kansas, superficially tackling the debate the School Board there was having before retu ...more
Girls Gone Reading
Monkey Girl is about evolution, but mostly it is about the people involved in the Dover, Pennsylvania case. Edward Humes does a good job of explaining all of the different people involved in the case and how it came about. He does pick a side however: he clearly believes that evolution should be taught in American schools.

Several of the people involved in the case were described as stereotypical villains, and this dismissal distracted from the original story. Humes does describe the other side a
Mar 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: evolution, intelligent design
This book reads more like a mystery novel than a non-fiction book. Even thogh the outcome is known in the Dover evolution trial, the author so immerses you in the people, the town, the issues, the science and the court proceeding than one has a hard time to lay it down.

Intelligent Design comes off as nothing more than the old creation science trying to pass itself off as a scientific alternative to evolution again. And most of the members of the Dover schoolboard seemed to know as little about
Dec 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Definitely a compelling read about the Dover PA court case dealing with the conflict of teaching evolution versus intelligent design. And I mean: Intelligent design as creationism in disguise. I was raised in the Catholic faith and still believed the Christian perspective compatible with evolution/Darwinism until this book opened my eyes. Definitely thought provoking.
Jan 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In Defense of Reason: Why Intelligent Design Deserved Its Dover, PA Defeat

On December 20, 2005 Federal Judge John E. Jones, a Republican jurist appointed by President George W. Bush rendered this decision:

"The proper application of both the endorsement and Lemon tests to the facts of this case makes it abundantly clear that the Board's ID Policy violates the Establishment Clause. In making this determination, we have addressed the seminal question of whether ID is science. We have concluded tha
Jun 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Skeptic-in-Chief, Michael Shermer, has described Pulitizer Prize winner Edward Humes' book, Monkey Girl as "the definitive history" of the Kitzmiller trial and a "must-read for anyone who cares about science, education, and liberty." That would seem to exclude the Dover Board of Education that voted to include intelligent design as part of the high school biology curriculum, and a large segment of the American public.

Humes provides a reporter's eye view of the infamous trial, giving a nearly per
Elliott Bignell
Apr 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Firstly I have to say that I found this book both so rivetting and so engaging that I swept through it in about half the time I normally require for a book of this size, a rate more typical of my reading fifteen years ago. The Dover trial was, I think history will judge, an epochal legal event. Lest this seem an exaggeration, I would point out that the judgement has not and probably will never be appealed, that it establishes the creationist play of its generation as unconstitutional, and that J ...more
Grindy Stone
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
A masterpiece of reporting, a takedown of pseudoscience that is high-level science and legal writing, too. This transcends everything written on the topic of creation science-slash-intelligent design by showing that ID is not just junk science - it's junk religion.
Ana Mardoll
Jan 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ana-reviewed
Monkey Girl / 978-0-06-088548-9

When all 350 pages of "Monkey Girl" arrived in the mail, I looked at this very large book a little dubiously. Although I was very interested in the Dover court trial, it seemed unlikely that my interest would be maintained through the entirety of such a large tome.

"Monkey Girl" is far from being the dry scholarly tome I had envisioned, however. Author Humes sustains the reader's interest so well, and brings the controversy around the Dover trial so brilliantly to l
Mar 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In all likelihood, this book is not going to surprise any of its readers.

Some will be proponents of secular education, those who maintain that science must be allowed to do science and that religion be kept private, a subject of discussion best suited to areas other than classes devoted to studies of naturalistic observation. They will perhaps be surprised at just how prevalent the attempts at encroachment by the creationist camp are, but they will also be familiar with the tired, uninformed ar
Mr. Humes gives a straightforward account of the debate between intelligent design and science in an easy-to-read, entertaining manner. It will be an excellent read for thoughtful people on both sides of the controversy.

I read Forty Days and Forty Nights by Matthew Chapman and felt I wanted more detail. I got it here. There was the history of the creationist and intelligent design movements and their promulgators, and the stories of previous lawsuits, including Scopes. There was savvy analysis o
Jul 31, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book offers a riveting and wrenching account of the 2005 trial resulting from the Dover School District's decision to teach intelligent design. I say "wrenching" because, while the book covers a familiar culture wars narrative of religion vs. science, several themes are shown with striking clarity.

First, the deep gulf between scientists and biblical literalists; where scientists see questions of faith (which deal with the supernatural realm) as apart from questions of science (which deal w
Nov 09, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Are there any asshats out there more irritating than creationists?

Yes, I suppose so … serial killers, health insurance executives, and whoever fumigates between Ann Coulter's legs each morning probably top the list, but creationists are right up there.

This fine book, which tells the story of the fight over evolution in the classroom that led to the landmark Kitzmiller v. Dover School Board decision, is one of those reads that take you a lot longer than they should, simply because every half-pa
Feb 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you've been following my blog this year, you know that the battle between evolution and intelligent design has become something of an obsession for me. It started with Richard Dawkins' book "The God Delusion" which, I think, lays out a very compelling case that there is in fact no evidence of the existence of God and that the theory of evolution isn't controversial at all. It is settled science.

In "Monkey Girl," Humes does an excellent job of reporting on the 2005 trial in Dover, PA. If you'r
Nov 30, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, 2015
I gave this book 2 starts because it was at least 100 pages too long . Somehow I felt it watered down its message, while beating the trail coverage like a dead horse. I honestly don't know how to explain that better.

The book does a deep dive into the Intelligence Design movement and one school board's attempt to suppress evolutionary theory with ID taking its place. The most interesting and disturbing portions of this book were not the debates about Darwinism vs. Creationism, but about how much
Sep 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's amazing to think that the Scopes "monkey trial" took place in 1925, and nothing has essentially changed in some parts of the U.S. The book relates the story of the Dover, Pennsylvania, school district, as it takes yet another stand against evolution in 2004. The story reveals much ignorance and bullying from a fundamentalist Christian sect that wants to reintroduce creationism into the school's science curriculum under the guise of "intelligent design," which its proponents insist is nothin ...more
Jun 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Horrifying. How did I miss this when it happened? Truthfully, I guess that I've never really understood how it's actually possible that people could think that evolution means there is no God. Were people protesting Higgs before and I missed it or any number of other theories? The science behind evolution is good (if not understood by the majority of people in the US apparently). In all, this book makes a solid case for the continued teaching of evolution (and an increase in teaching in fact). I ...more
Joel Justiss
Feb 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: evolution, society
Humes describes the efforts of the Dover Pennsylvania school board to introduce Intelligent Design into the high school science curriculum in 2004. He covers the background of those efforts, the negotiations and intrigue involved in them, the parties involved in the federal constitutional lawsuit, the progress of the trial, the court’s decision, the national attention focused on these events, and the significance of the outcome of the trial.

Humes’ viewpoint is clearly on the side of science, but
Dec 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was not aware that the Creationist vs Evolution controversy was the hot topic that it is today. Having a biology degree and having lived in Portland most of my life, I assumed that most people were like me and accepted evolution as incontrovertible. I was sorely wrong.

If anyone is interested in the ongoing battle between Creationism/Religion/Intelligent Design and science, then I highly suggest reading this book. The court case occurred in 2005 in Dover, PA. The school board wanted to bring in
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  • 40 Days and 40 Nights: Darwin, Intelligent Design, God, OxyContin, and Other Oddities on Trial in Pennsylvania
  • Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America's Soul
  • The Devil in Dover: An Insider's Story of Dogma v. Darwin in Small-Town America
  • Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism
  • Intelligent Thought: Science Versus the Intelligent Design Movement
  • Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction
  • Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design
  • The Counter-Creationism Handbook
  • The Borderlands of Science: Where Sense Meets Nonsense
  • The Godless Constitution: A Moral Defense of the Secular State
  • Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America
  • The Republican War on Science
  • Tower of Babel: The Evidence Against the New Creationism
  • Snake Oil Science: The Truth about Complementary and Alternative Medicine
  • Bad Medicine: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Distance Healing to Vitamin O
  • Scientists Confront Creationism: Intelligent Design and Beyond
  • American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War On America
  • The Age of American Unreason
Edward Humes, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, is the author of nine books of nonfiction, most recently, Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for Americas Soul and Over Here: How the G.I. Bill Transformed the American Dream. His next book, "Eco Barons: The Dreamers, Schemers, and Millionaires Who Are Saving Our Planet," will be out next year."
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