Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Book Review: Why Darwin Matters (Shermer)

So I read "Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design" by Micheal Shermer, as part of the Atheist Blogger book club. I thought it was a wonderful book and a good read. Nicely laid out arguments, clear and to the point.

Chapter rundown:

Prologue: Why Evolution Matters - Starts with an interesting insight into Darwin's travels around the Galapago Islands, and goes on to answer the book's premise question.

1. The Facts of Evolution - Clearly the facts that support evolution. Addresses "Where are all the fossils?"

2. Why People Do Not Accept Evolution - Simply speaking, because people thing that evolution is a direct attack on Christianity. Discusses the 1925 Scopes trial, in which a TN law forbidding the teaching of evolution was challenged.

3. In Search of the Designer - Discusses why people have a belief in God. I LOVED this chapter. Also Clarke's Third Law, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indisctinguishable from magic."

4. Debating Intelligent Design - How and why and where and by whom ID is debated. This is by far the longest chapter (44 pages).

5. Science under Attack - Defines and defends science. Discuses the Kitzmiller case of 2005...simply wonderful.

6. The Real Agenda - Shows that the ID movement isn't science, but religious propaganda.

7. Why Science Cannot Contradict Religion - Science deals with nature, religion with the supernatural.

8. Why Christians and Conservatives Should Accept Evolution - As it says.

9. The Real Unsolved Problems in Evolution - This I really like. There are unsolved problems with evolution, and scientists are more than willing to cop to them...partly because of what Shermer says earlier in the book: science builds on past mistakes, works on filling in the gaps in understanding.

Epilogue: Why Science Matters - A good closing note.

Coda: Genesis Revisited - This is a wonderful "scientific revision" of Genesis. "In the beginning--specifically on October 23, 4004 BC, at noon--out of quantum foam fluctuation God created the Big Bang, followed by cosmological inflation and an expanding universe..."

And FSM bless Richard Dawkins, but Shermer's 153 page "Why Darwin Matters" was an awful lot easier to get through than the 374 page "God Delusion" (which I adore, and am still working on).

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