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Why evolution is more than just a theory: it is a fact. 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 evolut Why evolution is more than just a theory: it is a fact. 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.


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Why evolution is more than just a theory: it is a fact. 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 evolut Why evolution is more than just a theory: it is a fact. 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.

30 review for Why Evolution Is True

  1. 5 out of 5

    Claudette

    As I read this book, I wondered: why am I only learning about evolution in depth NOW...and through my own desire to learn? How did I get through school--including a Bachelor's Degree--without really understanding the nitty gritty of evolution? I think much of the problem is that so many discoveries were so recent, but actually there is no excuse. I THInK I paid attention in school. But if I remember learning about Geometry, and, in fact, had at least one high school class CALLED Geometry, should As I read this book, I wondered: why am I only learning about evolution in depth NOW...and through my own desire to learn? How did I get through school--including a Bachelor's Degree--without really understanding the nitty gritty of evolution? I think much of the problem is that so many discoveries were so recent, but actually there is no excuse. I THInK I paid attention in school. But if I remember learning about Geometry, and, in fact, had at least one high school class CALLED Geometry, shouldn't I have also had a class called Evolution? If there was such a class offered in my enormous suburban public high school, how did I get out of it? This is crucial stuff. Read it. This needs to be ingrained knowledge from like first grade on up.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ravic

    Shocking and sad Here in Europe we tend to forget that the USA are not exclusively a country of reason and progress. Books like this remind us that there is also religious fundamentalism and that uneducated people who believe that the world is 6000 years old and favour „intelligent design“ can rise to the highest political offices. The shocking thing is what this book reveals about the condition of our society. What kind of society is it where brillant scientists feel compelled to waste valuable Shocking and sad Here in Europe we tend to forget that the USA are not exclusively a country of reason and progress. Books like this remind us that there is also religious fundamentalism and that uneducated people who believe that the world is 6000 years old and favour „intelligent design“ can rise to the highest political offices. The shocking thing is what this book reveals about the condition of our society. What kind of society is it where brillant scientists feel compelled to waste valuable time writing serious books to refute harebrained nonsense like a flat earth, geocentrism or creationism / intelligent design? In Europe creationism is usually perceived as a minor problem, at least one not affecting the educational system. In America it seems that creationists are able to gain influence in schools, so much so that in some cases they have to be subdued in court. The introduction to this book detailing a recent court case is enough to make your skin crawl. How far have we actually come since the times of the Scopes trial? If the „Untergang des Abendlandes“ should come it will begin like this. With the rise of religious fundamentalism and the abolishment of reason in education. The saddest aspect of this book is the realization that those who are really in need of learning the facts will not read it. People already interested in life, in biology or in evolution will read ist. People who want to know, people who wish to learn, people who have an open mind will read this book. Religious fundamentalists are not interested in facts. They cannot be convinced by facts because they have an entirely different outlook on life. They cannot be reached by the truth because they have chosen to ignore it, fabricating their own twisted and bigoted versions of truth. So, sadly, this excellent treatise on evolution, lucid and compelling, will benefit only those who are already open-minded and critical. It makes for a great introduction to the subject for younger readers or for people with little previous knowledge in biology. It may be less suitable for Europeans as the frequent references to creationism would probably be considered distracting and unnecessary by most readers. But take out these parts and you have a wonderful introduction to evolution ready for translation into French or German, Italian or Greek, Polish or Swedish. Weathermen say that with the prevailing currents it usually takes three weeks for heavy weather from North America to reach Europe. Creationism is decidedly slower and it has not yet gained a strong foothold in most European countries. Let us hope that it does not act like the weather and that it can be vanquished before it spreads and pollutes the world. If anything it will be books like this which may help to teach and enlighten at least those who are willing to learn.

  3. 5 out of 5

    David

    I'll come right to the point: Jerry Coyne's "Why Evolution Is True" is arguably the best general-interest reference book on the scientific evidence for evolution currently in print. It really is. Many of the items that Coyne marshals will be familiar to those who are well-versed in this topic. But I found several items that I had never before seen. One example is the recent discovery that diurnal and annual patterns in the growth of Devonian corals could be used to date these corals, since the le I'll come right to the point: Jerry Coyne's "Why Evolution Is True" is arguably the best general-interest reference book on the scientific evidence for evolution currently in print. It really is. Many of the items that Coyne marshals will be familiar to those who are well-versed in this topic. But I found several items that I had never before seen. One example is the recent discovery that diurnal and annual patterns in the growth of Devonian corals could be used to date these corals, since the length of years (396 days) evident in these records matches the age (approximately 380 million years old) coincides with radiometric ages. One of the myths about evolution that Coyne explodes is the claim that there are lots of "missing links" in the fossil record. To the contrary, in the past decade or two numerous transitional fossils have been found, in many cases bridging gaps (such as the fish-terapod link) that creationist critics of evolution have asserted could never be bridged. Coyne addresses human evolution in particular, and shows how the fossilized bones of hominin ancestors fit perfectly into the predicted intermediate forms. Coyne's analysis of how evolution coincides with the geographical history of the earth (meaning the history of how continents have shifted) is particularly good. Other notable parts include the evolution of vision, sexual selection selection and evolution, and observations of evolution acting on bacterial species (such as Hall's experiments). Coyne's chapter on vestigal organs and instances of "bad design" (such as the loss of Vitamin C machinery in primates) is alone worth the purchase price. It will be quite a while before someone tops Coyne's book. Enjoy it while it lasts.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

    I picked this book after reading Dawkins' Greatest Show on Earth. After a series of conversations I had with some young-earth creationists, and in light of what is occurring in the battle for science curriculum here in Texas, I wanted to find a book that I could recommend to creationists, since most creationists have absolutely no clue about the actual science. Dawkins' book is not that book because he is unable to keep his contempt for young-earth creationists out of the conversation. I think t I picked this book after reading Dawkins' Greatest Show on Earth. After a series of conversations I had with some young-earth creationists, and in light of what is occurring in the battle for science curriculum here in Texas, I wanted to find a book that I could recommend to creationists, since most creationists have absolutely no clue about the actual science. Dawkins' book is not that book because he is unable to keep his contempt for young-earth creationists out of the conversation. I think the book would only insult those people who I wish would open up their worldviews a bit. To that end, Dawkins defeats his own purpose for writing the book in the way he delivers the material. This book has a far more neutral tone, and is a a nice succinct look at the science of evolution. He chases less rabbits than Dawkins also, and he presents the evidence with a less impassioned tone than Dawkins, which I think is real plus if you're actually hoping to get those who disagree with you to listen to what you're saying. You can see the differences in these two books just by looking at the titles. Dawkins' Greatest Show on Earth is an impassioned case for evolution. It's practically a love letter to the natural world. Why Evolution is True is a far drier presentation of much of the same evidence. I personally enjoy Dawkins clever writing and all his rabbit chasing, and the passion for the subject that he can not hide, so personally I didn't enjoy this book as much as The Greatest Show on Earth. But it's a very good general-interest overview of the science of evolution. Reading these two books together, I realize how much my education as a child failed me, largely because my science teachers were clearly afraid of wrath of the religious influences in our community if they really taught the facts of evolution. To me that this is still going on is a travesty. Since I started the quest for a book that I could share with young-earth creationists, I've realized the search is a futile one. Once you realize where creationists begin their argument, you realize there's no point in trying to have a reasoned conversation with them. They start by stating their hypothesis is fact, and indeed is revealed through God's own words. Then they work in reverse. Anything that doesn't support this conclusion is suspect, and is thrown out, or otherwise ignored. They aren't looking at the evidence to see where it leads, they are looking at the evidence to figure out how to discredit it, or how they can possibly warp it into a way in which it might lend some kind of credibility to what they already believe. Their minds are already made up. They have no respect for the scientific process, and consider the academic process of peer reviewed publication--probably one of the greatest things to happen to the process of learning--to be a conspiracy. I don't know how I forgot this, but i'm grateful for the reminder. Far greater minds than me have been unable to get these people to see how flawed this worldview is. It's certainly not something I'm going to cure. So I think this book concludes my quest. I don't think it will sway many minds that are already made up, But if you're someone out there just looking for a great overview so you can learn more about about the massive evidence used to understand the process that got us here, or if you genuinely don't know what to believe, because science education in this country has failed you miserably, this is a great place to start. One more thought. I think he should have left the final chapter out. I understand why he feels like he needs to assuage fears that if society in general accepts evolution is true, we'll quickly de-evolve into a pack rabid dogs, but i don't think the argument is something that can be tacked on to this conversation and dealt with fairly in a few pages, and I don't think it has any place in a book about the science itself. It's the job of science to excavate the truth about how the world around us works. It's up to philosophers and religious leaders and the like to figure out what to do with that information. I think the fear of evolution destroying religious world views is about as rational as the fear that the entire universe doesn't revolve around the earth will end the Christian world view. When religion and science spar, historically, religion always loses, and it always finds a way to bounce back. I think the best way to forward for science is to continue to present the evidence and let the religious leaders work out how they're going to work it into their wordview, though I see why Coyne and Dawkins and others feel that to this point, that approach hasn't worked out so well. Still I think the important point that should be hammered relentlessly is that science makes no commentary on faith. Evolution makes no true commentary on God. It isn't even a theory on origins, merely a theory on how life adapted over time. Faith deals with the super-natural. Science stops at the natural world. I think the scientific world would make better progress if they continue to make this point with the religious communities.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Shepherd

    Coyne is direct and no-nonsense. He doesn't get bogged down in the pointless debate of trying to disprove a negative, he simply states what IS and what IS NOT. Evolution is not a belief, it's a science. It's a science supported by 150 years of research and (literally) mountains of evidence. And, like any true science, the timelines and conclusions have been tweaked and recalculated with the introduction of new data. In the end, everyone will draw their own conclusions. Either the theological nar Coyne is direct and no-nonsense. He doesn't get bogged down in the pointless debate of trying to disprove a negative, he simply states what IS and what IS NOT. Evolution is not a belief, it's a science. It's a science supported by 150 years of research and (literally) mountains of evidence. And, like any true science, the timelines and conclusions have been tweaked and recalculated with the introduction of new data. In the end, everyone will draw their own conclusions. Either the theological narrative of the origin of life is not entirely accurate or the sciences of paleontology, anthropology, astrophysics, genetics and evolutionary biology are bogus and irrelevant.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Douglas Wilson

    Coyne admittedly had the uphill struggle of trying to prove something that is not true.

  7. 5 out of 5

    jenny✨

    I read this as a first-year life sci student at the University of Toronto in 2016. It felt like a rite of passage: since the book's publication, it's been as much a staple in Prof. James Thomson and Prof. Spencer Barrett's BIO120 lecture as the cavernous, drafty Con Hall—capable of seating 1000+ barely awake undergrads—in which these lectures were held. The copy I owned was bought from a second-year girl who'd bought it from someone else before her, and so on. It was ruffled with water damage fro I read this as a first-year life sci student at the University of Toronto in 2016. It felt like a rite of passage: since the book's publication, it's been as much a staple in Prof. James Thomson and Prof. Spencer Barrett's BIO120 lecture as the cavernous, drafty Con Hall—capable of seating 1000+ barely awake undergrads—in which these lectures were held. The copy I owned was bought from a second-year girl who'd bought it from someone else before her, and so on. It was ruffled with water damage from who knows how many generations before me. I distinctly remember reading this and feeling surprised at the accessibility of its language and ideas, the lyricism of its prose. This was my first exposure to science writing that I can recall; it was an important moment for me. Profs. Thomson and Barrett (aka good cop-bad cop 😂) retired in 2018 after over a quarter of a century of teaching this class. (Of course, Why Evolution Is True only featured for 10 of those years, but it was a defining feature of recent memory nonetheless.) I can only hope that this book is passed on to the next generations of BIO120 students!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    I'd give it 2.5 stars if I could. Seeing how I think he's wrong, though, I'll downgrade rather than upgrade. I probably agree with 70% of what's in the book, which may be surprising, me being a creationist. I'm not going to try to untangle all the mixtures of agreement and disagreement.. but its interesting that I definitely am fully onboard with over half of the book, but still disagree with the major premise; that evolution is true. Coyne succeeds in presenting a case for neo-darwinian evolution I'd give it 2.5 stars if I could. Seeing how I think he's wrong, though, I'll downgrade rather than upgrade. I probably agree with 70% of what's in the book, which may be surprising, me being a creationist. I'm not going to try to untangle all the mixtures of agreement and disagreement.. but its interesting that I definitely am fully onboard with over half of the book, but still disagree with the major premise; that evolution is true. Coyne succeeds in presenting a case for neo-darwinian evolution. By which I mean, he successfully explains observations in light a modern evolutionary theory. He paints a fairly complete systematic understanding of the history of life. I recommend the book to everyone for this reason. E.O. Wilson is correct when he writes in the blurb on the back that this is a "clear, well-written explanation of evolution." Unfortunately, he doesn't begin to explain the serious difficulties of darwinism (he outright denies the existence of such problems!). That's a major drawback of the book... it presents it more as a defensive boast rather than a scientific and critical examination of evidence. A further detriment is the apparently intentional strawman portrayal of creationists. There is an endnote on page 33 that explains the creationist position as allowing for microevolutionary change within biblical 'kinds'. But this is the only place in the book creationists are treated this honestly. Everywhere else 'special creation' is caricatured as a special creation event for each and every species of organism. It is dishonest and, once again, takes away from the argument of the book. The final failure of the book I will mention is the last chapter, where Coyne attempts to deal with philosophical and metaphysical implications of evolution. It is a sad attempt... while he should be praised for recognizing the need to deal with these issues, he should have stopped when he honestly stated the case: "How can you derive meaning, purpose, or ethics from evolution? You can't." (p225)

  9. 4 out of 5

    David

    First of all, this is a very well-written book that powerfully makes the case for Darwinian evolution. The author is well-versed in the subject. I would recommend this book to anyone who, like me, has little knowledge of the actual science of evolution but wants to learn. That said, I am not really bothered by evolution (and I am an evangelical Christian, though not a creationist). Yes there are theological challenges that the science of evolution brings to scripture. I don't think these challen First of all, this is a very well-written book that powerfully makes the case for Darwinian evolution. The author is well-versed in the subject. I would recommend this book to anyone who, like me, has little knowledge of the actual science of evolution but wants to learn. That said, I am not really bothered by evolution (and I am an evangelical Christian, though not a creationist). Yes there are theological challenges that the science of evolution brings to scripture. I don't think these challenges are as much in Genesis 1. Genesis 1 comes across poetically and I highly doubt whomever wrote it was intending to write modern science. The bigger challenge comes in Genesis 2 and 3 which presents Adam and Eve as the first humans and of course, Paul speaks of Adam as the first human in parallel to Christ as the new human. But even there, many Christians have found a way to reconcile evolution and faith. The rest of this is not so much a review of the book as my thoughts on the real questions at the heart of the debate (which are philosophical, not scientific, questions) I think part of the problem in the whole debate is the rhetoric both sides use. Throughout the book Coyne attacks creationists. To some degree this is necessary as creationists are the ones most opposed to evolution. But such rhetoric tends to put people on the defensive. I mean, I think everyone has been in an argument where they knew they were wrong but kept arguing anyway to save face. The fact is that whether evolution is true or not is irrelevant to the question of whether God exists. A parallel to other sciences may help make my point. The Bible talks often about God sending rain and sunshine. Yet when meteorology explains how weather patterns occur naturally, no one blinked an eye. People of faith continued to see that behind those natural processes, God is still involved in the weather. There is no battle to get a creationist view of meteorology taught in schools. But I imagine when you read a meteorology textbook there are no slams on God, there is no argument that because we know how weather arises naturally we know God has nothing to do with it. When we get to evolution, the dialogue changes. Again, this is not a knock on Coyne for he is specifically defending evolution against creationists, so of course he will attack them. I just wonder how the debate would change if both sides admitted that the science of evolution does not prove God does not exist. Maybe I am idealistic, but if we heard more people in the middle (believers who accept evolution, nonbelievers who accept evolution but admit it does not rule out God) and less extremes (both Richard Dawkins and Ken Hamm see evolution as ruling out God) perhaps the debate would change. Coyne manages to mostly avoid the problem of moving from science into philosophy. In the last chapter he writes: "How can you derive meaning, purpose, or ethics from evolution? You can't. Evolution is simply a theory about the process and patterns of life's diversification, not a grand philosophical scheme about the meaning of life" (225). Nice. In the next paragraph he notes that finding meaning, purpose and moral guidance are outside the domain of science. But by the end of the chapter Coyne is talking about "deriving your spirituality from science" (232). That seems muddled. Right before this, he writes: "The world still teems with selfishness, immorality, and injustice. But look elsewhere and you'll find innumerable acts of kindness and altruism. There may be elements of both behaviors that come from our evolutionary heritage, but these acts are largely a matter of choice, not of genes. Giving to charity, volunteering to eradicate disease in poor countries, fighting fires at immense personal risk - none of these acts could have been instilled in us directly by evolution" (230-231). Then where did they come from? Not science. He goes on to say evolution acts in a "purposeless, materialistic way" (231). This is okay, because people find meaning in all kinds of places, including religion (231). Then he gets to spirituality from science, ending up with a quote from an author lamenting the failure of science to replace conventional religion (232). He ends by assuring us that accepting evolution will not cause us to behave like beasts because, well, look how much great art and literature humans have made. I do wonder though, earlier he talks about infanticide among lions (122). If humans are just a part of nature, then why is infanticide wrong for us? Likewise, he seems to lament humans introducing foreign species into habitats that then kill native animals off (110). But if humans are part of nature, are we not just playing a role in natural evolution where some animals survive and others do not? It appears like on one hand he is saying the science of evolution says nothing about religion for science only talks about how. On the other hand, if only we could get rid of religion and just have science. But back to the first hand, science alone gives us no meaning and purpose. Thus, we have some vague "spirituality from science", whatever that is. To me, it seems muddled. Overall, this is a good book to learn about the science of evolution. But whether this science is true or not (and Coyne makes a strong case that it is) reveals little to nothing about the questions of meaning, purpose and God's existence.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jesse

    This one is like the Beak of the Finch: it shows impressive work on Natural Selection, but it doesn't prove that the little changes must lead to the huge changes between people and animals. This book also illustrates how scientists are trying to be historians--a kind of integrating of subjects--and they are failing miserably. If any historian tried to pass of these kinds of arguments as history they wouldn't survive the laughter. Evolutionists reason like this: if these two bone structures look This one is like the Beak of the Finch: it shows impressive work on Natural Selection, but it doesn't prove that the little changes must lead to the huge changes between people and animals. This book also illustrates how scientists are trying to be historians--a kind of integrating of subjects--and they are failing miserably. If any historian tried to pass of these kinds of arguments as history they wouldn't survive the laughter. Evolutionists reason like this: if these two bone structures look alike they must be related; therefore one must have come from the other. That's like an historian saying Alexander the Great and Charlemagne were both kings; therefore one must have come from the other. Evolutionists assume a system and then fit everything into it, but they seem to think that they are not making assumptions. Some how they are assumption free. Really?

  11. 4 out of 5

    Udit Nair

    The author has successfully build a convincing case for evolution. As the introduction suggests this book has gathered all the evidences from paleontology, molecular biology, anthropology, geography and many more threads. The book actually is a answer to many of the misconceptions around evolution and more like a case made against creationism and intelligent design. The author does admit in the end that all these evidence wont really convince a faithful person because faith is precisely ignoranc The author has successfully build a convincing case for evolution. As the introduction suggests this book has gathered all the evidences from paleontology, molecular biology, anthropology, geography and many more threads. The book actually is a answer to many of the misconceptions around evolution and more like a case made against creationism and intelligent design. The author does admit in the end that all these evidence wont really convince a faithful person because faith is precisely ignorance to facts and evidences. Also people have problems accepting evolution because it somewhere hampers the special human identity which we tend to make ourselves believe. Charles Darwin had beautifully conveyed this " We must, however, acknowledge, as it seems to me, that man with all his noble qualities… still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin.” The only thing I dont agree is lowly origin. It should be more like one evolution story of all beings including humans. Every fossil that we find, every DNA molecule that we sequence, every organ system that we dissect supports the idea that species have evolved from common ancestors including humans. Also despite innumerable possible observations that could prove evolution untrue, we dont have a single one.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    This was such an awesome book. I have read a lot of books on evolution, but this is the first that actually made me interested in fossils. Very, very cool. Of course it wouldn't convince a dummy that evolution is true because you actually have to have some reading comprehension and be able to understand what you read, but for anyone with a brain that doesn't believe in evolution (I still can't undertand how there are people out there that fit that bill, but I digress), this book will remove all This was such an awesome book. I have read a lot of books on evolution, but this is the first that actually made me interested in fossils. Very, very cool. Of course it wouldn't convince a dummy that evolution is true because you actually have to have some reading comprehension and be able to understand what you read, but for anyone with a brain that doesn't believe in evolution (I still can't undertand how there are people out there that fit that bill, but I digress), this book will remove all doubt and if it doesn't, you aren't understanding it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Gendou

    This book avoids bickering over details and goes right for the throat; exposing Creationism and Intelligent Design for the unworkable, unscientific ploys that they are. It does so without being too aggressive, a la Dawkins, because such heavy hitting really isn't necessary, when there's so much evidence to be presented. Instead, the chapters cover fossils and a little bit of genetics. The reader is walked through the process of how we came to know what we know. It's not a challenging book, nor a This book avoids bickering over details and goes right for the throat; exposing Creationism and Intelligent Design for the unworkable, unscientific ploys that they are. It does so without being too aggressive, a la Dawkins, because such heavy hitting really isn't necessary, when there's so much evidence to be presented. Instead, the chapters cover fossils and a little bit of genetics. The reader is walked through the process of how we came to know what we know. It's not a challenging book, nor a long one, but it does suffice to show Why Evolution Is True.

  14. 4 out of 5

    David

    I have recently been interested in the topic of evolution. I am a Bible believing creationist and I have heard of many questions that seem to really challenge the theory of evolution. For me when considering an argument I try to consider both sides of the argument with an open mind. So I picked up this book with the intention to have an open mind and hear the "other side of the story". Unfortunately I was very disappointed. Based on the title of this book "Why Evolution is True" I was expecting t I have recently been interested in the topic of evolution. I am a Bible believing creationist and I have heard of many questions that seem to really challenge the theory of evolution. For me when considering an argument I try to consider both sides of the argument with an open mind. So I picked up this book with the intention to have an open mind and hear the "other side of the story". Unfortunately I was very disappointed. Based on the title of this book "Why Evolution is True" I was expecting to hear the author speak to some of the serious challenges to evolution. However, this was not the case. In my opinion Coyne seems to setup so-called "straw men" and then attack those with an air of pompous superiority that made me want to throw the book in the garbage. Coyne did not deal with any of the serious questions that I had and seemed content to pick and choose whatever parts of ID, creationism, or literal 6-day creationism that seemed easy for him to pick off. "Why ... do we need a book that gives the evidence for a theory that long ago became part of mainstream science? After all, nobody writes books explaining the evidence for atoms, or for the germ theory of disease." - pg. xvii. This comment in the introduction sets the tone for the rest of the book. The attitude conveyed is one of "I can't believe I have to write a book like this". Thanks a lot bud. These are the major topics that Coyne covers along with my thoughts: 1. History in rocks. No mention of the objections to radiometric dating. Radiometric dating makes some serious assumptions about presence of certain isotopes. Not to mention that the various types of dating (uranium-lead, carbon-14, etc) can very often disagree. Rock recently formed from a volcanic eruption known to have happened 200 years ago using radiometric dating could conclude it happened 100-600 million years ago (article). Also, there are some serious questions to the geological column. One example is trees that sit upright in the column and "straddle" multiple layers of rock that supposedly represent thousands of years (article). Also, how do we see "flat gaps" between rock layers that supposedly represent millions of years of sedimentation and then erosion? (article). In my opinion, the geological column and radiometric dating are where evolution is the most open to doubt. And if this is the case then this is Coyne's largest omission. 2. Vestiges, Embryos, Bad Design. I found Coyne's argument for vestigial traits to be guilty of circular reasoning. Example. "Our bodies team with remnants of primate ancestry. We have a vestigial tail: the coccyx, or the triangular end of our spine that's made of several fuzed vertebrae hanging below our pelvis. It's what remains of the long, useful tail of our ancestors. It still has a function, but remember that it's vestigiality is diagnosed not by its usefulness but because it no longer has the function for which it evolved." - pg. 62 Question: How do we know that we evolved from other species? Evolution: Because we see vestigial traits. Question: How do we know that what you consider to be vestigial is in fact vestigial? Evolution: Because we know we evolved from other species. The same type of reasoning is used for embryology and so called "bad design". Not to mention the fact that in order to truly be able to classify something as a vestige or bad design you must 100% understand the entire function of the organism. Which science cannot say in the case of the majority of organisms on this planet. Right? BTW there are huge objections to embryology. So much so that it is not taken seriously anymore (aritcle). I could go on and on of these topics but I will stop there. 3. Bio-geography. Nothing I read here seemed un-explainable with the Flood model. As per Coyne himself plants/animals have been documented to cover huge distances of water and land and to colonize an area in a relatively short period of time. 4. Genetics. This is something that I admittedly need to study in more depth. However, my conclusions in this area did not seem to be seriously challenged by this chapter. Namely that each species has a certain amount of genetic "material" that allows for adaptation to it's environment. Some organisms have a huge range of potential adaptational ability and others do not. For example look at the dog. Man has used breeding so that now we have dogs that range from the Saint Bernard to the Chihuahua. The dog seemingly has a huge adaptational ability. However, would anyone think that breeders could somehow breed a dog into a fish? Or maybe even just an additional leg? No, no I don't think anyone would think this is possible no matter how long a breeder had to do this. But for some reason if you add millions of years into the mix anything is possible. Speaking of dogs I thought this was an interesting comment from Coyne about dogs - "If somehow the recognized breeds existed only as fossils, palaeontologists would consider them not one species but many - certainly more than the 36 species of wild dogs that live in nature today". Yes and not only that but palaeontologists would construct an evolutionary tree around them and call this "proof" of evolution. Then biologists would use this as "proof" for vestigial traits and embryology. A seemingly tidy arrangement. :) 5. Origin of Species. Depends on genetics. Coyne makes an interesting point that macro-evolution, because of the long periods of time necessary, will NEVER be seen in a human lifetime as is not provable in history because we only started serious scientific documentation in the last few hundred years. Guess we will just have to wait for 100,000 years to see if this theory is true. :) Perhaps if radiometric dating and the theory of the geological columns was absolutely rock solid with no assumptions we might be justified in making some some conclusions here. However, this does not seem to be the case. An assumption based on another assumption does not equal to "fact". 6. Human evolution. Does not deal with the huge objections to the fossil evidence for human evolution. Find just a summary here (article). By Coyne's own admission "...our early human ancestors were large, relatively few in number compared to grazers like antelopes, and inhabited a small part of Africa under dry conditions not conductive to fossilization. Their fossils, like those of all apes and monkeys, are scarce." - pg. 195 However he goes on to speak of the human fossil record as if it is indisputable. "These mysteries about how we evolved should not distract us from the indisputable fact that we did evolve. Even without fossils, we have evidence of human evolution from comparative anatomy, embryology, our vestigial traits, and even biogeography. ...The fossil record is really the icing on the cake." - pg. 209-210. Perhaps Coyne does not remember that in the chapters dealing with embryology and vestigial traits he uses the fossil record as the proof. Circular reasoning yet again. 7. Evolution redux. Probably the most disappointing chapter of them all. Coyne dips into philosophy and tries to make some profound statements without any logical backup or reasoning. Ex: "Although evolution operates in a purposeless, materialistic way, that doesn't mean that our lives have no purpose." - pg. 231. But then Coyne does not attempt to give a fundamental reason for purpose. I realize that he did not intend for this book to be philosophical in nature. But if you are not going to do it justice then please don't even go there. :) To summarize my thoughts on this book: 1. Many assumptions and circular reasoning. 2. Extremely tough on creationists lack of evidence but then seemingly forgiving for any lack of evidence on the evolutionary side. 3. Does NOT deal with the serious objections to evolution. 4. This is NOT a book that seriously considers evidence on both sides and tries to make an objective conclusion. It is only a book to RE-ENFORCE evolutionary BELIEF in evolution as a "fact". I sincerely hope that this book does not accurately represent evolutionary science. SIDE NOTE: "There, on the very land that symbolizes evolution, the iconic islands that inspired Darwin, a Seventh-day Adventist school dispenses undiluted creationist biology to children of all faiths." - pg. xix. I had to smile at this comment as I am a Seventh-day Adventist myself. Way to go Adventists!!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Abubakar Mehdi

    This is an eloquent, detailed and fascinating study of Evolution. An idea as controversial, and one with such profound socio-political repercussion, deserves to be treated the way Coyne has dealt it. He presents arguments systematically and he is not too keen on bashing creationists. He keeps his nose out of futile arguments and focuses primarily on the scientific aspect of evolution and not the psychological or philosophical elements that often become a part of such a discussion. This makes the This is an eloquent, detailed and fascinating study of Evolution. An idea as controversial, and one with such profound socio-political repercussion, deserves to be treated the way Coyne has dealt it. He presents arguments systematically and he is not too keen on bashing creationists. He keeps his nose out of futile arguments and focuses primarily on the scientific aspect of evolution and not the psychological or philosophical elements that often become a part of such a discussion. This makes the book an excellent and in-depth introduction to Evolutionary Biology, its historical significance and the tremendous amount of scientific research that has been undertaken over the years by scientists. Coyne at length describes fossil evidence, vestigial organs, genetics and other subjects that are involved in every sophisticated study of Evolution. Recent studies have been mixed with previous predictions and some beautiful diagrams illustrate them for convenience. This is a brilliant book and I can’t recommend it enough.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bakari

    "Why Evolution Is True" is a good introduction to the topic of evolution. I didn't have a lot of foreknowledge about the subject before reading the book. It's difficult to write about the subject of evolution without using a lot of technical, scientific terms, but I found the content of this book very assessable and fairly easy to follow. Coyne primarily focuses on the non-human side of evolution, but he does provide some insight and evolutionary history and theory about how the nature of evoluti "Why Evolution Is True" is a good introduction to the topic of evolution. I didn't have a lot of foreknowledge about the subject before reading the book. It's difficult to write about the subject of evolution without using a lot of technical, scientific terms, but I found the content of this book very assessable and fairly easy to follow. Coyne primarily focuses on the non-human side of evolution, but he does provide some insight and evolutionary history and theory about how the nature of evolution does impact our biological, racial and gender differences. This is the sort of book that you will want to heavily underline, write notes in the margin, and follow up on additional reading and references.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Book

    Why Evolution Is True by Jerry A. Coyne Why Evolution Is True is my favorite book on evolution. It starts of course with the prodigious knowledge of Mr. Coyne but it’s his ability to explain such complex topics with ease that sets this book apart from the rest. It’s profound without being unintelligible. It’s always the first book I recommend when I want to convince someone that the theory of evolution is true and supported by converging mountains of evidence. The book is composed of the followin Why Evolution Is True by Jerry A. Coyne Why Evolution Is True is my favorite book on evolution. It starts of course with the prodigious knowledge of Mr. Coyne but it’s his ability to explain such complex topics with ease that sets this book apart from the rest. It’s profound without being unintelligible. It’s always the first book I recommend when I want to convince someone that the theory of evolution is true and supported by converging mountains of evidence. The book is composed of the following nine chapters: What is Evolution, Written in the Rocks, Remnants: Vestiges, Embryos, and Bad Design, The Geography of Life, The Engine of Evolution, How Sex Drives Evolution, The Origin of Species, What About Us?, and Evolution Redux. Positives: 1. I absolutely love Mr. Coyne’s assured, confident approach backed by lucid scientific evidence. He masters his topic and he conveys it with expertise. This is how all scientific books should be written, make your point and provide cogent arguments to defend it, bravo! 2. Great scientific quotes abound. Reference material. 3. The best explanation for the theory of natural selection with a luxury of details. 4. Mr. Coyne tells it as he sees it without being disrespectful. He establishes clearly where the resistance for evolution comes from and puts it in its proper place. 5. Great use of figures that help illustrate evolution. 6. I absolutely love how Mr. Coyne weaves several disciplines of science to make his points as clear as possible. 7. In making the case perfectly clear for evolution, he in fact destroys any notion of an “Intelligent Design”. 8. An outstanding explanation for evolutionary predictions. 9. Radiometric dating and how we are able to have confidence in its accuracy. 10. Everything you wanted to know about fossil records and transitional forms. Including two of the best examples: Tiktaalik and Archaeopteryx. 11. One of my favorite sections…vestigial traits. A lot of aha moments here. 12. Great examples of bad “design”. 13. Convergent evolution explained. 14. Genetics made easy to understand. 15. The best explanation on how our eyes evolved. 16. Sexual evolution…I finally get it. 17. I enjoy the admiration that evolutionary biologists have for the icons of their industry: Darwin goes without saying but there is great admiration for Ernst Mayr and Richard Dawkins. 18. Absolutely loved the chapter about human evolution. 19. This book explains the most important concepts of evolution like no other. Brilliant! 20. All the links, notes, glossary does this superb book justice. Negatives: 1. Having to wait for Mr. Coyne’s next book. In summary, this is in my humble opinion the best book about evolution for the masses. No book explains the theory of evolution any better than this one. It’s thorough, well written, and makes you proud to love science. I can’t recommend this book enough. A well deserved 5-star book. You don’t have to believe in evolution but once you read this book it will leave you no choice but to accept it. Recommendations: “Your Inner Fish…” by Neil Shubin, “The Making of the Fittest” by Sean B. Carroll, “What Evolution Is” by Ernst Mayr, “Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution” by Nick Lane and “The Greatest Show on Earth” by the great Richard Dawkins.

  18. 4 out of 5

    David S. T.

    This book is fascinating and well written. I think the highest complement I could give it is, had I read it 10 years ago when I was in college, I'd likely be in the field of biology instead of computer science. This book starts off with a basic overview of evolution before heading into the bulk of the evidence. The first section of evidence is based off of fossils, I didn't realize just how many transitional fossils exist for certain species such as the whale (there a pretty good number of fossi This book is fascinating and well written. I think the highest complement I could give it is, had I read it 10 years ago when I was in college, I'd likely be in the field of biology instead of computer science. This book starts off with a basic overview of evolution before heading into the bulk of the evidence. The first section of evidence is based off of fossils, I didn't realize just how many transitional fossils exist for certain species such as the whale (there a pretty good number of fossils showing the progression from a land mammal to a sea one. Something else I found interesting is that in the human embryo, grow lanugo full body hair before losing it all (a remnant of their evolution heritage). Of course I haven't even scratched the surface of everything this book contains. One thing I do wish he expounded on more is DNA, during one discussions on speciation he addresses how once the chromosomes are different enough they can no longer produce an offspring, but this left me confused because how did we get from the 24 ape Chromosomes to the 23 in humans, sadly for a book so full of information this much have been beyond the scope of it, I'll soon read Relics of Eden which appears to discuss the fusion of two chromosomes from the ape into one for man. This is also the one area where Dawkins' The Great Show on Earth does better (DNA evidence) I'm still pretty new on learning about evolution so this book might be too basic for some, but so far its the best of the 4 books that I've read or am reading on the subject. It seems that this book is often compared to Dawkins The Greatest Show on Earth since they were written about the same time, in my opinion for a first book on evolution this one is better, its more concise but there's much more evidence presented in this 250ish page book than I've gotten out of the 350 pages I've read so far of Dawkins book (which is a great read also, but pretty unfocused, full of great information but not much evidence). As for the other two books I've read, ff you're a creationist or follow intelligent design, Finding Darwin's God is a great read. I'm also reading Darwin's On the Origin of The Species and I think anyone wanting to learn more about evolution should start elsewhere and only read that for historical/important work purposes. Growing up in the bible belt, I've heard discussions on the validity of evolution, but without really knowing much about it, I never actually formed an opinion one way or the other. Its hard to have an opinion on hearsay, but after reading this and Finding Darwin's God, I think the evidence is pretty apparent. I wonder how many anti-evolutionists actually read up on the subject and not just follow what they've been taught. I'm finding evolution highly interesting, I wish more would read up on it before dismissing it and this book is a great place to start.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mohamed al-Jamri

    For those looking for evidence supporting evolution, either because they themselves doubt it or want more evidences to argue for it, these two books can do the job extremely well. I bet the vast majority if not all of those who read "The Greatest Show on Earth" & "Why Evolution is True" with an open mind and understand them, will regard evolution as true and be able to argue in its favor strongly. Both authors maintain that evolution is compatible with #religion although they do not elaborate on t For those looking for evidence supporting evolution, either because they themselves doubt it or want more evidences to argue for it, these two books can do the job extremely well. I bet the vast majority if not all of those who read "The Greatest Show on Earth" & "Why Evolution is True" with an open mind and understand them, will regard evolution as true and be able to argue in its favor strongly. Both authors maintain that evolution is compatible with #religion although they do not elaborate on that. In fact, Dawkins -who is notorious for his criticism of religion- goes on and lists a number of British #bishops and public figures who call for teaching of evolution in publicly-funded schools. I recommend reading Dawkins book first since he explains what is evolution and natural selection in detail before moving to the evidence while Coyne presents a lot of evidences and details. For books that try to reconcile between religion and evolution, I hear that "Finding Darwin's God" & "The Language of God" are good, although I haven't read them yet.

  20. 4 out of 5

    John

    "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution". That classic quote from the great Russian-American evolutionary geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky is replete with far more truth now than when he uttered it in 1973. Thousands of scientists around the globe are using the principles of evolution towards understanding phenomena as simple as bacterial population growth to those as complex as the origin and spread of such virulent diseases as malaria and HIV/AIDS, and the conservation "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution". That classic quote from the great Russian-American evolutionary geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky is replete with far more truth now than when he uttered it in 1973. Thousands of scientists around the globe are using the principles of evolution towards understanding phenomena as simple as bacterial population growth to those as complex as the origin and spread of such virulent diseases as malaria and HIV/AIDS, and the conservation of many endangered plant and animal species. There is no other scientific theory I know of that has withstood such rigorous, and repeated, testing as the modern synthetic theory of evolution. The overwhelming proof of biological evolution is so robust, that entire books have been written describing pertinent evidence from sciences that, at first glance, seem as dissimilar from each other as paleobiology, molecular biology and ecology. But alas this hasn't convinced many in the court of public opinion, especially here, in the United States, who remain skeptical of evolution as both a scientific fact and a scientific theory, and who are too often persuaded by those who insist that there are such compelling "weaknesses" in evolution, that instead of it, better, still "scientific", alternatives exist, most notably, Intelligent Design creationism. Distinguished evolutionary geneticist Jerry Coyne's "Why Evolution Is True" is not just a timely book, but it is quite simply, the best, most succinct, summation I can think of on behalf of evolution's scientific validity. No other modern evolutionary biologist has attempted to convey, with such excitement, and enthusiasm, a comprehensive, quite compelling, proof of biological evolution, unless you consider the notable literary careers of Coyne's graduate school mentors; Ernst Mayr and Stephen Jay Gould. Coyne's achievement is especially noteworthy for covering virtually every major evolutionary aspect of biology in a treatment that barely exceeds two hundred and thirty pages. In essence, "Why Evolution is True" can be viewed as an updated, modern rendition of Darwin's "On the Origin of Species", but encompassing those biological sciences, such as population genetics, molecular systematics, evolutionary developmental biology - better known as "evo - devo" - and, indeed, even paleobiology, which were unknown to Darwin; to put it bluntly, this is "one long argument" on behalf of evolutionary biology, told via Coyne's respectable, occasionally lyrical, prose and compelling logic. Coyne asserts that there are six principles of evolution in the book's first chapter (having been preceded by two brief prefaces devoted to the nature of science and the ongoing intellectual threat posed by Intelligent Design creationism); evolution - which he defines as a species undergoing genetic change through time - gradualism, speciation, common ancestry, natural selection, and nonselective mechanisms of evolutionary change. These are indeed the very principles recognizable to anyone who has taken an undergraduate course in evolution, the key features of the Modern Synthesis Theory of Evolution; in other words, modern evolutionary theory. And they are principles recognizable to those evolutionary biologists who concur with Gould's observation that current evolutionary theory is incomplete in explaining the origin, composition and history of our planet's biodiversity; scientifically testable principles unlike those alleged to exist for Intelligent Design and other flavors of "scientific" creationism. In the book's remaining nine chapters, Coyne offers persuasive evidence on behalf of these principles from the fossil record, from the biogeography of plants and animals, from molecular genomic data, and other aspects of biology, discusses the importance of sex in driving evolutionary change, and the process of speciation itself. There is much worthy of praise in Coyne's elegantly terse tome in defense of biological evolution. His fossil record chapter (Chapter Two) compellingly recounts the evolution of primitive tetrapods from bony fishes in the late Devonian, the mid Mesozoic evolution and early radiation of birds from their feathered theropod dinosaur ancestors, and the early Cenozoic evolution of whales from primitive ungulates distantly related to rhinos and tapirs. He demonstrates persuasively (Chapter Three) how humans and other animals are so poorly "designed", that their "designs" bear ample witness against the existence of an Intelligent Designer. His superb treatment of biogeography (Chapter Four) echoes the literary elegance of Darwin's prose, and reminds us of the stark differences between so-called Intelligent Design "theory" and evolution in making testable, verifiable, predictions regarding both present-day and fossil distributions of plants and animals. In the book's finest chapter (Chapter Seven), devoted to speciation, Coyne - who is among our foremost authorities on speciation - offers a surprisingly comprehensive account that discusses not only the mechanisms of speciation, but also, of equal importance to biologists, how species are recognized and defined as distinct populations separated from others in space and time. But readers may find most moving, his poignant treatment of humanity as a biological species (Chapter Eight), and how evolution may still be driving the course of human evolution. There is so much worthy of praise in Coyne's book, that it seems almost an afterthought to mention errors, omissions, and potential disagreements. The most glaring of these may be his insistence of gradualism as an important principle of evolution, since others, like his Stony Brook University colleague Douglas Futuyma, have recognized the importance of morphological stasis (Though he might contend vigorously and persuasively that to do so would be to recast the argument as one of evolutionary tempo, instead of mode.). But I am especially surprised by his omission of the significant role of mass extinctions in reshaping the composition and complexity of Earth's biosphere, not just once, but approximately seven times in the last five hundred-odd million years, which has garnered ample attention from past and current University of Chicago colleagues; paleobiologists David Raup, J. John Sepkoski, and David Jablonski, among others. By themselves, mass extinctions are the key episodes in the history of life on Earth still ignored by leading Intelligent Design creationists such as mathematician and philosopher William Dembski and biochemist Michael Behe; their very existence strongly refutes the inane assertion that life has been "intelligently designed". "Why Evolution is True" belongs on the bookshelves of anyone interested in science. However, those who are skeptical of evolution's scientific validity, remain its intended audience. Any of them possessing an objective, open mind, should be persuaded by Coyne's terse prose and compelling logic. The evidence for biological evolution is quite overwhelmingly true; Coyne's slender book is a magnificent presentation of this proof.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I really enjoyed this book. Basically, it's a several-hundred page review of the major arguments for not only why scientists accept the theory biological evolution, but why it is so well accepted that it is stated to be 'true'. Each chapter breaks down a part of the evidence -- fossils, embryology, genetic evidence, observations of natural selection, the role of sex in evolution, speciation, and so on. Usually the general case is talked about, with examples about specific evidence, though the au I really enjoyed this book. Basically, it's a several-hundred page review of the major arguments for not only why scientists accept the theory biological evolution, but why it is so well accepted that it is stated to be 'true'. Each chapter breaks down a part of the evidence -- fossils, embryology, genetic evidence, observations of natural selection, the role of sex in evolution, speciation, and so on. Usually the general case is talked about, with examples about specific evidence, though the author notes that he can't give every case of, say, discovery of transitional fossils where and when transitional fossils should exist, as each topic he discussed was something that books could be written on by their lonesome. I knew a lot of the examples -- Tiktaalik, the fish-with-legs; the signs of human evolution of lactose tolerance but only in populations that herded; the strange geometry of arteries and nerves in the human head and neck that came from gill arches in the embryo very similar to the ones fishes have; etc. -- but I still would often find a specific case that I had never heard of. Even things that would be useful on Ask an Astronomer -- like that corals show that the Earth was spinning faster in the Paleozoic, and this amount matched up with both models of the Moon despinning the Earth and radiometric dating. The last two chapters were especially interesting. The author singles out humans for a full chapter on their evolution, noting that acceptance of evolution always seems to boil down to whether people are comfortable with the idea that we share an ancestor with chimpanzees (and... well, everything else). The last chapter spoke about the moral implications of evolution -- both that just because something is true does not impose any stance on right versus wrong -- and takes a brief dip into the field of evolutionary psychology. If you are already convinced by the evidence, you might get a bit weary about the author's insistence on noting that creationism/ID does not have any explanation about why such is so. I mean, for me, he's lecturing to the teaching assistants. But it is the elephant in the room, I suppose -- the idea that ID offers an actual scientific alternative, rather than being a disguised religious belief. (Completely unrelated, but I find it amusing that the person who recommended this book to me noted that Richard Dawkins was a good biology writer, but the fact he was known for writing on atheism as well as biology meant that the recommender felt like any wavering theist would reject his biology books out of hand, while would take something like this as a way of seeing the evidence. Yet, this book has a blurb from Dawkins, which notes him as the author of The God Delusion, rather than, say, The Selfish Gene. Way to go, marketing department. *eyeroll*)

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nicole R

    Oh, I am such a cheater this month! I totally started this book a couple of days ago but, in my defense, I finished it up this morning....I just couldn't help myself. Evolution. Very few words in science can raise the religious hackles and get the debate juices flowing like this one. Even numerous court trials have become involved to help decide if evolution is science fact or fiction and whether the opposing viewpoint - creationism - deserves to be taught and considered on the same academic leve Oh, I am such a cheater this month! I totally started this book a couple of days ago but, in my defense, I finished it up this morning....I just couldn't help myself. Evolution. Very few words in science can raise the religious hackles and get the debate juices flowing like this one. Even numerous court trials have become involved to help decide if evolution is science fact or fiction and whether the opposing viewpoint - creationism - deserves to be taught and considered on the same academic level. Granted, I went into this book a full-fledged supporter of evolution but I was still struck (again) by the beauty and elegance of this biological process that was thought of hundreds of years ago. Coyne logically and concisely went through the evidence for evolution - tracing his way through the fossil record to show dinosaurs evolving into birds, fish invading the land as terrestrial tetrapods, and terrestrial mammals going migrating back into the oceans. He not only shows fossil evidence and supports it with rigorous hypothesis testing (the hallmark of robust science) and examples from nature, but also brilliantly illustrates evolution rapidly occurring during a human lifetime. The vast majority of the book focuses on evolution in general - single-celled organisms up through mammals - but the final chapter focuses on humans evolution from primates and, what I feel is, irrefutable evidence that this process is the best explanation we have for how Homo sapiens came to be. Sometimes science books can be a little tedious (shock, I know) but Coyne's writing style had me anxiously awaiting to pick the book back up! His words were illustrated by lovely drawings that I prefer so much more to pictures because it brings uniformity to book. And, possibly my favorite part, is that Coyne didn't attack any other belief system - he occasionally brought up the creationist argument against a specific evolution viewpoint but I didn't feel like he was hostile in any way, he simply laid out the facts and let them speak for themselves. If you are a supporter of evolution but want to learn more, are unsure on the issue but would like more facts, or are even staunchly against evolution but think it's important to know the opposition, then I would highly recommend this book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Karl-O

    This is a remarkable book. It is written by someone who is really interested in educating people and not just laying out facts. I loved the tone of the author and am now following his blog Why Evolution is True which is really interesting and amusing (this guy really loves cats!). He almost daily posts lots of interesting facts about evolution. There's a good YT video about this book that people may be interested in seeing before reading the book http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1m4mA... Before buy This is a remarkable book. It is written by someone who is really interested in educating people and not just laying out facts. I loved the tone of the author and am now following his blog Why Evolution is True which is really interesting and amusing (this guy really loves cats!). He almost daily posts lots of interesting facts about evolution. There's a good YT video about this book that people may be interested in seeing before reading the book http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1m4mA... Before buying this book, I read some bad reviews about it from people who said that the tone of the author was aggressive and he was really obnoxious. This is certainly not the case. After hearing what some say about Dawkins (whom I personally calm and convincing) being aggressive and obnoxious and about Coyne, I came to the sad conclusion that some will really get offended no matter how you write about evolution. It could be that people like Hitch may sometimes be offensive, but Dawkins or this guy Coyne, they are serious people interested in education other than paying lip service. Anyway, the author shows how natural selection operates and drives life by demonstrating some of the most interesting stuff about evolution of different species. There is a chapter about embryos and especially how the human evolution can be traced by the different stages that our embryo undergoes which made me shudder. People who are very familiar with evolution may find some of ideas in this book repetitive, but there is certainly some new stuff here. I read both The Selfish Gene and The Blind Watchmaker and was still amazed by many interesting facts, so I recommend it, especially to those who want an easy and brief introduction to evolution.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mohamed Elsherif

    It only took me 3 years to finish this book, but I'm glad I did, very good book that is mainly written for people who are not bilogists yet curious to know about the scientific literature in the subject, it answers most of the questions people have about evolution in a very logical way and lays down the evidence clear early enough in the book and I appreciated that it left the human evolution subject towards the end of the book after it established a lot of terminology with the reader so it does It only took me 3 years to finish this book, but I'm glad I did, very good book that is mainly written for people who are not bilogists yet curious to know about the scientific literature in the subject, it answers most of the questions people have about evolution in a very logical way and lays down the evidence clear early enough in the book and I appreciated that it left the human evolution subject towards the end of the book after it established a lot of terminology with the reader so it doesn't come as a surprise after all. Very important read and highly recommended for those curious to actually know the scientific subject.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Boudewijn

    In this day and age, where information about nearly everything is at our fingertips, you might expect reason and facts to easily rise to the surface. You might expect for example, with all the evidence that there is in favour of evolution, the debate is over. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. It compelled Jerry Coyne to write this book. Coyne, who is known to be a critic of creationism and intelligent design, lists a convincing list of evidence for evolution: the fossil record, embryology, mo In this day and age, where information about nearly everything is at our fingertips, you might expect reason and facts to easily rise to the surface. You might expect for example, with all the evidence that there is in favour of evolution, the debate is over. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. It compelled Jerry Coyne to write this book. Coyne, who is known to be a critic of creationism and intelligent design, lists a convincing list of evidence for evolution: the fossil record, embryology, molecular biology, the presence of vestal organs, biogeography and the genetic similarity between species. Coyne has no illusions: he knows that probably no creationist will ever change his/her opinion, no matter how convincing the evidence. After I finished this book, I inadvertently thought of this quote from Ricky Gervais: of all the topics to disagree with, choose something with less evidence Links: Authors blog: https://whyevolutionistrue.com/

  26. 4 out of 5

    Scarlett Sims

    I chose to read this book to learn more about the science behind evolution, at least partially so I could defend or explain it to people. However, Coyne's writing style left much to be desired. At the parts where he did actually discuss evidence for evolution (which he often mislabeled as "proof"), I enjoyed learning about it. However, he repeatedly attempted to use this information to discredit creationism, his main argument being "See.... why would a creator do this?" which is obviously neither I chose to read this book to learn more about the science behind evolution, at least partially so I could defend or explain it to people. However, Coyne's writing style left much to be desired. At the parts where he did actually discuss evidence for evolution (which he often mislabeled as "proof"), I enjoyed learning about it. However, he repeatedly attempted to use this information to discredit creationism, his main argument being "See.... why would a creator do this?" which is obviously neither science nor logical. It also bothered me that his working definition of creationism was sufficiently narrow as to be easily refuted. He also made statements like "all creationist believe x" or "no creationist believes x" which is sloppy and in some if not all cases just plain wrong. In his section of further reading, he makes a point of not including any books by proponents of creationism. This is his prerogative, but it makes me wonder if he has read any of them because of the many errors he attributes to the creationist perspective. Coyne claims that he wants to educate the public about evolution, but the tone of the book is so insular and, ultimately, many of the reasons people have for denying evolution aren't going to go away just because they read a book discussing scientific evidence contrary to their viewpoint.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nicky

    This is a suggested book related to one of my current classes on Coursera, so I decided to pick it up. I already believe in evolution, so I can't judge on whether it's convincing -- I already know that evolution by natural selection is mathematically inevitable, and I know of a lot of the supporting evidence. Still, this is the kind of book that produces all sorts of titbits that you didn't know before, and which lays things out so clearly it helps you understand how to explain it to other peopl This is a suggested book related to one of my current classes on Coursera, so I decided to pick it up. I already believe in evolution, so I can't judge on whether it's convincing -- I already know that evolution by natural selection is mathematically inevitable, and I know of a lot of the supporting evidence. Still, this is the kind of book that produces all sorts of titbits that you didn't know before, and which lays things out so clearly it helps you understand how to explain it to other people (which, to my mind, means a deeper understanding of the theory -- if you can explain it, there are fewer grey areas). Overall, it's clearly written, with lots of supporting diagrams and so on where it's useful, and a good set of footnotes and suggestions for further reading. I found it interesting, too; perhaps not for a person with a science background to begin with, but for me (humanities background, science interest) it was easy but not boringly so. Interestingly, he also touches a little on why people find it hard to accept evolution, and answers some of those objections, too -- for example, why our behaviour isn't fully dictated by our genes, why morality and ethics aren't dismantled in any way by evolution.

  28. 5 out of 5

    May 舞

    A great book to end the year with. "But there is something even more wondrous. We are the one creature to whom natural selection has bequeathed a brain complex enough to comprehend the laws that govern the universe. And we should be proud that we are the only species that has figured out how we came to be." A great book to end the year with. "But there is something even more wondrous. We are the one creature to whom natural selection has bequeathed a brain complex enough to comprehend the laws that govern the universe. And we should be proud that we are the only species that has figured out how we came to be."

  29. 5 out of 5

    John Martindale

    Well, I now have a new understanding why evolutionist feel so strongly and are so insistent that evolution is true. The evidence in this book is truly staggering, much of which I had never heard before. The book is well written and he seemed like a pretty reasonable guy, quick to mention when something is speculation and when something (according to the scientific community) is established fact. He bent over backwards to show that evolution is science in the fullest sense of the word and is scie Well, I now have a new understanding why evolutionist feel so strongly and are so insistent that evolution is true. The evidence in this book is truly staggering, much of which I had never heard before. The book is well written and he seemed like a pretty reasonable guy, quick to mention when something is speculation and when something (according to the scientific community) is established fact. He bent over backwards to show that evolution is science in the fullest sense of the word and is scientific fact like the law of gravity. But yeah, one thing that bothered me is how much he fears and derides creationist, as if, if we let them have even a slight foot in the door, then its not just the end of science, but the end of the world. I think this is an over reaction. He also, refuses to acknowledge that modern science has its foundation on the Christian assumption that the universe is reasonable and discoverable. Secondly, for decades those making the biggest science advances (Like Isaac Newton) were creationist, their believe in God fueled their curiosity to learn about His universe and they believe by showing how it worked, they were bringing glory to God. I don't think the "eeeeeevil" creationist are as dangerous as he thinks. Though what he shared is extremely convincing, I am sure there are some devils in the details; details that the science community does well to hide or refuses to acknowledge in the first place. Evolution is to most now as it was to Darwin, their beloved child whom no one can question or insult or challenge. Unlike most evolutionist I don't deride those who have a different perspectives and see the evidence in a different light. I think one can learn from Jerry A Coyne and equally from Stephen Meyer. It is obvious that though there may be many interpretations of the data, only one is allowed. I also know the power of perspective and how when we go out to prove something, we can find a lot that fits and what does not, we can force until it does fit. So much of the evidence for evolution is in the fossil record, its like we have a bunch of puzzle pieces and they have in their mind a picture of how they're to all go together, so how can they help but arrange the pieces to please the eyes, just like the evil creationist also arrange the pieces to please their eyes. The presuppositions causes them to think the other side absurd. But yeah, evolutionist believe most species are extinct, but are not even open to the possibility that a fossil is from an extinct creature that we knew not of, but rather automatically assumes it is transitional fossil. But yeah, i am sure I am sounding like an idiot. So I'll shut up about this. The part concerning the genes was the most convincing, especially concerning the pseudo-genes in dolphins. But now i've found a book called "The myth of junk DNA", so I know there is different interpretation of the data. So I look forward to reading this book. The section about the evolution of creatures on remote islands is hard to propose a reasonable creationist alternative to, yet it has been done, unlike the author said. He mentions if evolution was just random chance and accidence, then there would be no life, but he says its not just randomness, but we have lawful natural selection that solves everything. But it still is hard for me to follow the logic on how this fixes the problem. I mean he mentions that mutations are rare and beneficial mutations are extremely rare, so even though national selection grabs every positive mutation and carries it on, it still seems like the chances are absurdly low. Imagine a monkey typing on a keyboard (representing the random mutations) and then a man (who acts the part of natural selection) who jots down every intelligible word and throws out every nonsensical letter. This would not resulted in the writings of Shakespeare or even a intelligible sentence. In the DNA its like we have a word over a billion letters long, I just can't be convinced that randomness can produced more orderly information in the cell then information in the Encyclopedia Britannica. So yeah, I still am far from unconvinced of how the extremely rare unguided, random mutations can bring this about, even with the added element of natural selection. He also does not touch on origins, so yeah how did the molecule evolve the ability to evolve? they think the universe created them, who then created their creator? There author seems to think the fact of evolution demands a naturalistic/darwinistic explanation, but I disagree and I think Alvin Plantinga's evolutionary argument against philosophical naturalism is pretty good. Plantinga shows if one embraces naturalism, then evolution turns into a defeater to naturalism. As John Lennox put it concerning how naturalism undermines science; "Faith lies at the heart of science, that the universe is accessible to the human mind. What justifies this faith? Why should we believe that the universe is rational?... The materialist says; my mind is my brain, whats my brain? Its the end product of a mindless, unguided processes... Ohh... So why on earth should I believe anything it tells me? Including that it is the end product of a mindless unguided process!" Finally, I could not disagree with him more, as he is trying to lay people's worries aside that if their kids are taught they are animals, that they'll start acting like ones. He thinks there is absolutely no bad consequence to believing one is just a bunch of molecules with no concrete value, no absolute morality and no ultimate meaning. But a lot of atheist are running on the fums of Christian ethics, but should we not fear that it might dry up? In the 1900s we saw Darwinism taken to its logical conclusions several times throughout Russia, Germany, China and we even saw eugenics happened in the united states. Atheist regimes had part in the murder of 100 million of their OWN people, they evidently did not believe in the value of the individual and they're political drive was in perfect harmony with their godless belief in the origin of the universe.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    I was homeschooled as a child, and my parents believed strongly that creation was a fundamental tenant of Christianity. My science education included quite a lot of books by Creationist authors like Duane Gish, who views evolution as a laughable, largely unsupported "theory" invented to dispose of the inconvenient need for a Creator. So, for me, reading this book was a little like looking at a photographic negative: the same tone, similar content, but with all the characters flipped. Just like t I was homeschooled as a child, and my parents believed strongly that creation was a fundamental tenant of Christianity. My science education included quite a lot of books by Creationist authors like Duane Gish, who views evolution as a laughable, largely unsupported "theory" invented to dispose of the inconvenient need for a Creator. So, for me, reading this book was a little like looking at a photographic negative: the same tone, similar content, but with all the characters flipped. Just like the zealous Creationists who wrote the textbooks I read as a child, this one is written by a zealous Evolutionist who, in his eagerness to demonstrate the superiority of his theory, strays beyond the boundaries of fair debate. For example, he is very fond of pointing out bits of nature that weren't designed as he would have designed them, and coming to the unfounded conclusion that they weren't designed at all. For example, as evidence of evolution, he points out that the plants that live in the deserts near California are different species than those that live in the deserts of the Sahara. Wouldn't a designer, he argues, have simply used the same kinds of plants in both places, since they have similar climates? Since the plants are different, we can conclude that they were not created. QED. Lest you think that I'm exaggerating, here's the actual quote from the book: Why would a creator put plants that are fundamentally different, but look so similar, in diverse areas of the world that seem ecologically identical? Wouldn’t it make more sense to put the same species of plants in areas with the same type of soil and climate? To which I say: well goodness, Jerry, do you buy the precisely same decorations for your living room as you do for your dining room? If not, your interior design can hardly be intelligent. Surely you can grant that a Creator might have enjoyed filling each corner of the Earth with different kinds of plants and animals! With so much good evidence for evolution (and this book lays out plenty of it), there's hardly a need to stray into this line of argument. Yet the author does so, repeatedly, and betrays more than a little condescenion towards those poor, foolish Creationists. However grating the occasional overreaches and smugness are, however, they aren't a major feature of the book and in truth this is a very well-organized, well-written, and thorough defense of evolution. There are even moments of humility, in which the author admits that science doesn't, and maybe never will, know how certain implausible bridges were crossed. Finally, there's a bit at the end that addresses the elephant in the room, without flinching: if we're nothing more than an accidental result of blind, purposeless forces, what's the point of ... well, anything really? While more a question for philosophers than biologists, he addresses it admirably. Perhaps the biggest challenge to the adoption of evolution as fact is not its lack of scientific evidence but its lack of a compelling, purposeful story.

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