In all the current highly publicized debates about creationism and its descendant "intelligent design", there is an element of the controversy that is rarely mentioned: the evidence, the empirical truth of evolution by natural selection. Even Richard Dawkins and Stephen Jay Gould, while extolling the beauty of evolution and examining case studies, have not focused on the evidence itself. Yet the proof is vast, varied, and magnificent, drawn from many different fields of science. Scientists are observing species splitting into two and are finding more and more fossils capturing change in the past - dinosaurs that have sprouted feathers, fish that have grown limbs.
Why Evolution Is True weaves together the many threads of modern work in genetics, paleontology, geology, molecular biology, and anatomy that demonstrate the "indelible stamp" of the processes first proposed by Darwin. In crisp, lucid prose accessible to a wide audience, Why Evolution Is True dispels common misunderstandings and fears about evolution and clearly confirms that this amazing process of change has been firmly established as a scientific truth.
NOTE: Some changes to the original text have been made with the author's approval.
©2009 Jerry A. Coyne; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
"I once wrote that anybody who didn't believe in evolution must be stupid, insane or ignorant, and I was then careful to add that ignorance is no crime. I should now update my statement. Anybody who doesn't believe in evolution is stupid, insane, or hasn't read Jerry Coyne. I defy any reasonable person to read this marvellous book and still take seriously the 'breathtaking inanity' that is intelligent design 'theory' or its country cousin, young earth creationism." (Richard Dawkins)
"Coyne wonders what it would take to convince the apparently reasonable people who still deny evolution. A new Milton, perhaps, to justify evolution's ways in great poetry? Meanwhile, at a time...when good evolution books are rife, Coyne has given general readers one of the best." (Booklist)
While I already understood evolution to the degree that I could correct creationists in academic settings, I having once been a young earth creationist/anti-evolutionist knew it was near impossible to get creationists to shed their mythology if they were unwilling to read a simple science book. However, Jerry Coyne, while somewhat heavy for the first 20 minutes or so, soon gives devastating example after example after example of easy to recall layered facts of evolution that you can simply draw out on a napkin if need be to a creationist who will either have to say you are lying, or be in complete denial and/or intense adherence to their myth to explain away what you just told them.
If a well known creationist claims she or he read this book and claims it didn't at least nearly prove evolution is true, it is clear evidence that they are lying about reading it or lying to protect the income of the patrons of their own books. If you get the chance, have them dispute just the one example of the Ostriches, Emus, and Rheas. They won't, because they can't.
1st off, I'm a scientist and science educator. The book clearly is not written to be pleasing to scientists. It is occasionally fast and loose with facts and sloppy with arguments. Some of it is well done, of course. Someone else might disagree with me, but based on my experience teaching the topic, non scientists might find the arguments difficult to follow.
As for the reader, one expects mispronounced scientific terms. I am less bothered by mispronouncing "pseudomonas" (suDOMonas instead of "sudoMOnas") than by his altering of the meaning by mispronouncing or using the wrong word. For example, in chapter 7, I think, he says that reconstructed plant species using induced polyploidy are "infertile" with the wild species when the correct word is "interfertile" with each other. The latter (correct) term establishes that the reconstructed species is the same as the wild one (which is the point)? Using the former term establishes the opposite point. Anyway...i really cannot recommend it.
Promoters of creationism make me crazy and Coyne's book is a wonderful antidote to their misrepresentations of modern biological science. I will be listening to this one again soon.
It's a scary book if you are a religious person. If you keep an open mind and listen to all the reasons Why Evolution Is True, you may see life in a different light. It's just facts that evolution is real. We believe that whales are mammals and have evolved. Heck we believe everything has evolved except human beings.
The world, the universe, the time and space had to come from somewhere. I wonder from where, hmmmmm.
The other reviews say it very well - this is a winner all the way through.
I was brought up in a very religiously conservative home, but from an early age (say, mid teens) I believed very strongly in evolution. My Sunday school teachers and my peers both gave me a hard time about it. But it was just so obvious! Coyne makes all the arguments I wish I could have made then. ID is just creationism in see-through clothes. If one wishes to believe in ID (e.g. creationism) because of religious upbringing that is fine, I'll never argue that point. But if one claims it is science they must argue scientifically, and this book shows that to be an impossibility.
The only nit I'll pick is when Victor Bevine does an english accent. It spoils his otherwise excellent narration. Highly recommended.
Karen of Northern Michigan
First let me say I'm not a religious person (but I am very spiritual..in my eyes there is a huge difference between the two).. I do not believe that God created the world in 7 days or that Adam and Eve were the first human beings (What about the caveman? Where does he fit into all that?) But I have always believed that no matter what you believe, the fact is, something started it all... I like to give all sides a chance and see what they have to say, but this book was really boring to me, very long and didn't convince me of anything other than what I've always thought, that no matter how it started, something started it.. If we started in the sea as amphibians that eventually grew legs and ventured to land, so what? Are we not too complicated, is not every species living on this earth too complicated to have just evolved into what we are without someone, something, starting it all? I think the point of this book is to convince the reader that we did just evolve from nothing, basically, by accident.. But I just think it takes more faith to believe we're an accident than to believe something started it all.
I am still skeptical. For one thing, given the current estimate for the age of the fossils, is there really enough time for mutation and natural selection to work? I also read Michael J. Behe's book: The Edge of Evolution.
“Why Evolution is True” is a good listen if you can pay attention to the science and ignore the derision of belief systems. This is easy enough to do, as the science is pretty compelling. Sidelong swipes at promoters of a belief system different than the author’s is distracting at times. On the whole, it is worth the time to listen. It does support its own premise quite well.
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