|Why Evolution Is True
|List Price: $27.95
Our Price: $11.93
You Save: $16.02 (57%)
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.
- Fascinating book
This book is simply fascinating. Coyne's command of the English language as well as his profound studies on Evolution create a simply stunning book. It is fun to read, while still holding valuable information about Evolution, its misunderstandings, and its beauty. Reading this book gave me even more certainty in the theory that is Evolution. Jerry A. Coyne must be a fantastic professor with his gallant use of rhetoric and English. I am sorry that I could not write a longer and more extensive review of this book, but I am pressed for time. Perhaps later. As for now, this is all I have to say, overall, this is a must read, period....more info
- Thorough and thoughtful
This is the kind of book that will cause some people to review it negatively just because of the title (just look at the 1-star reviews; as I write this, there are two of them, and it's very clear neither of them read this book).
For those of you who take the time to actually READ the book, what you'll find is an incredibly thorough discussion of biology, geology, archeology, and genetics. He frequently steps back and asks "How can you test evolution? What non-obvious things might you predict if evolution were true, and what might you predict if it were not?" and then he shows us where this question has been answered, and why it's revealing.
The title is the only thing confrontational about this book. The contents of the book are simply a very detailed discussion of not only what biologists think has happened, but why they've come to these conclusions. It discusses how the various ideas have been tested, stressed, argued about.
He never really strays very far from the notion that evolution can make testable (and tested) predictions. But in the end, there is a chapter that should help allay the angst and fear that a lot of creationists have toward evolution. It's a pity that there's so little chance any of them actually will make it that far. But it might not be necessary. It might be worthwhile just as a message for those of us who do understand evolution ("believe in evolution" has long since become a silly concept, like saying I "believe in antibiotic resistance"). It's a message to help us understand the source of angst the concept of evolution can be for some people, and it's a message about why it shouldn't have to be that way. He's a lot more kind with them than they'll likely be with him. Dawkins has increasingly managed to polarize the two camps over the years, and I think that's very unfortunate.
Read the book, ponder it. It's very approachable, very well organized, and very very thorough. If you have an objection to evolution after reading this book, it'll either be because you didn't honestly read it... or you didn't read it honestly. ...more info
- Smoke, Mirrors and Deceit
Bacteria does indeed mutate....it is still bacteria.....natural selection on the Galapagos Islands among finches was true.....they were still finches.
If you think matter + energy + time = life...you might be an evolutionist.
If you agree with the law of Biogenesis (life only comes from life) you might be a Creationist.
If you think bacteria + mutation + time = a blue whale....you might be an evolutionist.
If you think bacteria + mutation + time = mutated bacteria you might be a Creationist.
If you think nothing + nothing + nothing = time matter energy and space...you might be an evolutionist.
If agree with the First Law of Thermodynamics that matter and energy is neither created nor destroyed, you might be a Creationist.
Bill Morgan P.E.
- perhaps the best book on evolution
The book is clear, well written and easily read even by the layperson. I recommend this book for anyone that wants to learn about evolution. It is a great book packed full of interesting information outlining most if not all forms of evolution; have learned a lot from this book!...more info
- Creationism running out of places to hide
With elegance, conciseness, laymen's simplicity and scientific determination, Coyne methodically demolishes, one by one, the places behind which creationism could hide, laying bare their abject incapability to maintain their medieval legends standing.
It would be utterly impossible for a person who believes in creationism to read this book with an open mind and not have the very foundations of his/her belief shaken to the core.
Fanatics, on the other hand, cannot be dissuaded, (extremism, by its very nature can't be); which helps understand the reason for the unbridgeable gap among hard-core creationists and the reasoning community. Read some of the reviews of the "one-star raters", and you'll see what I mean. (Don't bother to comment on their ranting, I'd say: the worst kind of blindness is the voluntary one).
I thoroughly recommend this book, without reservations, as a must-read.
- Great read - a wonderful primer on evolution
I really enjoyed this and wish I could get more people to read it! Perhaps then the shocking numbers of people who would doubt evolution would be altered. It's simply a good read in addition to it's value in illustrating the case for evolution....more info
- THE DEFINITIVE answer for creationists.....
The fact that this book had to be written is sad. The Monumental capacity for ignorance in humanity and "Blind Faith" made it so. That being said, this book is written so well that I couldn't put it down. Dr. Coyne shows that he is indeed a foremost authority on this subject and that evolution has nothing to hide. This is not so much a defense of evolution as it is a review of some of the reasons why we know it to be a fact. As a scientist and a science enthusiast have read many books on the subject... This is without doubt the BEST one I have ever read! For people who know the subject, or who need to know get this book! I thought I knew this subject well before I read this, I was blown away...
- Awsome book
Excellent material for those venturing into the bloody battlefield of evolution apologetics. Detailed enough for a biologist to pick up a few new details, simple enough for anyone that paid attention in high school biology to understand. Read it, know it, pass it on to a creationist.
I will add two negative comments.
1) The author argued against birds having an aesthetic value in choosing their partner, and then posited as a genuine possibility the hypothesis that female birds became attracted to males with bright colors because the females were attracted to anything of a bright color such as berries. Wouldn't that functionally be an aesthetic?
2) He The author has a serious man crush on darwin. :) Other than that, a take that against the creationist/"inteligent design"/teach the "contraversy/post modernist reformed apologetics movement that explains exactly how and why we can know why evolution is true. ...more info
- Failing to understand the philosophy of science
One can tell immediately from the title that the author has no understanding of the philosophy of science. While evolutionary mechanisms as applied to biology is supported by science in many cases, verification is not the basis of scientific knowledge, but rather falsifiability. Tautologies and hindsight rationales should not be exagerated for political ends. Moreover, materialsm is not the same as science. Finally, it is completely hypocritical of Mr. Coyne to criticize anyone with religious beliefs, while saying nothing about fools like Richard Dawkins who writes books like the God Delusion, using evolutionary biology as alleged proof that God doesn't exist. This is science? Come on, time for the scientific establishment to to clean up its act. ...more info
- Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Evolution But Were Afraid to Ask
For anyone seriously interested in understanding evolution, this book is a must read. Coyne weaves evidence from many different areas in science (amazingly without sacrificing depth) into a concise summary. Well worth the read, even if you've already read comparable books on biology, paleontology and geology....more info
- Review of book "Why Evolution is True"
The book is well written and easy to read. As an erstwhile biologist, I found the discussion of concepts I studied years ago to be a good review. Free thinkers, agnostics, and atheists will enjoy the book. Bible thumpers, who should read it just to see the other side, will detest it....more info
- I wish this was the first book on evolution I read as a YEC
This is the best book on the evidence for evolution I have read. I wish I would have read it years ago.
I went to a Young Earth Creationist (YEC) teaching high school and have attended very conservative, Genesis-is-literal churches my whole life. I attended required YEC conferences by Kent Hovind and another by Ken Hamm in my High School science classes, and heard John Morris and Duane Gish speak several times in my church.
Several years ago I decided to read a book on evolution because I couldn't understand why anyone would believe it. So I read "Why Darwin Matters" by Michael Shermer (also a very good book) and then started reading all the books I could find on evolution. The subject is fascinating and I have a new love for science and nature as a result of understanding how evolution works. "Why Evolution is True" is the best book I have read and I will recommend it to any young or old earth creationist, or intelligent design proponent, I meet.
The explanation of the dating techniques of superposition, radiometric, and coral dating was very straightforward. Wells' experiment with radiometric dating and comparing the dates to the daily and yearly growth rings of coral was one of the best and most straightforward evidences I have read for an old earth.
The book looks at all the important fossils, especially tracing the development of whales, discussing Haikouella lanceolata being the earliest chordate, and explains Tiktaalik roseae well. The fossils in the human lineage are also explained in excellent detail.
The genetic portion of evolution books is always the strongest evidence for evolution, in my opinion, and "Why Evolution is True" was no exception. Besides the normal explanations of pseudogenes, Coyne shows how dolphins have 80% of their olfactory receptor genes deactivated through mutation because they are no longer needed underwater. This obviously shows that dolphins evolved from an ancestor that walked on the ground.
The section on biogeography is especially strong. The evidence presented makes no sense in light of creationist ideas, but all the sense in the world by evolutionary standards.
"Why Evolution is True" is especially strong at showing how evolution predicts the evidence. Coyne sets up several sections by explaining what evolution predicts in a certain area and then showing how the evidence fits. This rhetorical technique is especially strong if the reader has a good understanding of the scientific method. Because I am a biology major and the emphasis every class puts on the scientific method, it was great to see how strongly evolutionary theory fits into the prediction/test portion of the scientific method.
The religious and non-religious alike should find "Why Evolution is True" to be accessible. Coyne does not spend much time trying to bash God or hurt religion, just prove evolution true. Because of this I think this book is stronger than many of Dawkins', at least for introducing evolution to religious people. Unfortunately, many Christians don't want to read Dawkins' biology books because of the atheism that is hinted at in his books (although they don't bother me), but I don't think fellow Christians will find that objection to Coyne's book.
'Why Evolution is True" is a fantastic book that I strongly encourage anyone who loves science or has questions about evolution to read. This is THE book I would start with when I was a young earth creationist, if I could go back in time. I also enjoyed Francis Collins' "The Language of God". I would recommend that book in conjunction to this one if you don't think that religion and evolution can coexist.
- Evolving Review
Do not be misled by the one-star rating; Amazon has a bug.
Mr. Coyne is an excellent and convincing writer; the book is readable, well-organized and informative. He presents the case for evolution by natural selection and gives numerous cases that validate it. He is even-handed, especially in recognizing that there are unanswered questions and even other processes at work beside natural selection and sexual selection. The book is a stark contrast to works by philosophers writing about evolution, notably Daniel Dennett, the Roger Clemens of philospohy. On the contrary, Coyne is a professional biologist. He has travelled the world in search of fossil data, and found it. If you want to read a book on evolution with up-to-date information and actual data made understandable, this is it. ...more info
- Why not "Why Darwinism is true?"
The book is misleading. Evolution as a fact or reality is true, but not necessarily the Darwinian theory on the mechanism. Few dispute the theory of the reality of evolution that many before Darwin had proposed and is best proven by the fossil record. Darwin co-proposed a way of interpreting the reality/facts of evolution. This interpretation has some evidence in microevolution, the more trivial aspect of evolution. However, the claim on macroevolution, i.e., it is the same as microevolution except takes longer time, is a speculation and has met numerous contradictions.
By claiming `evolution' is true as in the title, the author misleads by implying that both the facts and the Darwinian interpretation of the facts are true. Some religious people also found it convenient not to poke the bubble of "evolution=Darwinism", as it is easier to pick apart the Darwinian mechanism than the reality of evolution, if their bottom line is to refute evolution all together.
Is there a better alternative to the Darwinian interpretation of the facts of evolution? Science is all about explaining facts with a testable theory. None of the numerous non-mainstream theories (macromutation, ID, etc) can replace the paradigm for one good reason. They explain less rather than more facts than Darwinism. For example, they all have little to say about molecular evolution, the major topic of modern evolutionary research.
The field of epigenetics has had a long tradition of challenging the NeoDarwinists who are mostly geneticists (see Professor Soren Lovtrup's 1987 book, Darwinism: Refutation of a Myth). After many years on the sideline, epigenetics now represents the cutting edge of biology. As an Associate Professor in this field, Dr. Shi Huang has now come up with a more complete theory unifying epigenetics and genetics. His new theory, the maximum genetic diversity hypothesis (google to read a preprint of the paper), explains more facts than Darwinism and has yet to meet a single exception within its domain of application. It fully grants the proven virtues of the existing paradigm and solves its difficulty with macroevolution. Micro- and macro-evolution are in fact exact opposites. Best of all, the theory is a self-evident axiom, which puts it on a par with mathematics and also makes it easily accessible to the lay public. Like a law of mathematics or physics, one can deduce from the simple axiom all the major facts of evolution by the method of logical deduction.
"I believe that one day the Darwinian myth will be ranked the greatest deceit in the history of science. When this happens many people will pose the question: How did this ever happen?"
-- Soren Lovtrup, Darwinism: Refutation of a Myth.
To most, seeing beauty is the only way to know ugliness. If one understands the new theory, one would find it hard to disagree with Lovtrup. One may ponder the following queries in case one must answer Lovtrup's question.
1. What do the fields of macroevolution, mathematics, and God have in common?
Not accessible to direct experimental tests. Logical coherence of the whole story is the only proof of validity in these fields. Mathematics is more about intuition and deduction than about numbers. The correct theory of evolution must deduce all the relevant facts of evolution rather than merely a part of it. It cannot afford to have a single contradiction or fail to explain a relevant fact.
2. Did biology attract the most rigorous logical minds before routine DNA sequencing since 1970s made it interesting?
Mostly not. The best logical minds often found old time biology distasteful and dull (fact collection and memorizing). At least in China, the best biology departments did not start to attract those students in mass who could easily go to the best mathematics or physics departments until the late 1970s. Darwin is known to be poor with mathematics (see Lovtrup's book on this). This is not meant to say that a great logical mind is necessarily better in general. Such a mind could be very poor at being a naturalist or at the bench. It is just that mind of great logical power is more suited to the profession of discovering coherent laws, given that the laws of nature are often written in the language of mathematics for which the foundation is intuition and logical deduction.
NeoDarwinism has historically been championed and practiced by population geneticists or statisticians. Obviously, statistics is neither real biology nor real mathematics. Statistics is the opposite of logical precision and merely a convenient substitute for ignorance of precise relationships. No intention at all here to downplay its power in general. It is simply that its power is not naturally suited to describe rigorous laws.
3. Is there evidence of logical lapses among Darwinists?
Yes and plenty. By not making a distinction between the facts of evolution and the Darwinian interpretation of these facts, this book is a typical example of misrepresentation. Even as a teenager, the mathematician Sir Fred Hoyle could see that the idea of natural selection or survival of the fittest is a tautology (see his 1987 book, Mathematics of evolution). For another example, see Dr. Shi Huang's review of the book `Science, evolution, and creationism' and the response by the distinguished Darwinist Dr. Francisco Ayala.
Darwinists have never claimed that their theory has not a single factual contradiction. But they take exceptions for granted and believe that it is impossible for a biological theory to have no exceptions (after all everything is chance), never realizing how illogical this is since a theory with exception is by definition false or incomplete.
4. Can the problem of God be solved by more than one person?
No chance. The scientific justification for atheism is Darwinism. The claim that the most difficult problem of mankind has been solved by not one but at least three minds of average logical power sounds more like a bad joke than anything else (Darwin, Wallace, and the ignored Patrick Matthew all independently had the same idea of natural selection). It is equivalent to saying that the Riemann hypothesis (the holy grail of math also celebrating its 150th birthday this year) has been independently solved by three old time naturalists. The God problem is obviously no less challenging than the Riemann hypothesis, and such problems don't get solved everyday by more than one person. It is intuitively obvious that the more people who can independently solve a problem, the more trivial the problem is. ...more info
- Complementary readings to Coyne's enlightening book
There are already many good reviews to this book, so I will only add that I was somehow worried I could not understand it (after all, I am a man of letters and English is not my mother tongue). Far from that, it is extremely easy to follow and I could not put it down. In order to savour it one only needs to be a curious layperson, even though one without a science degree. So my rate is 5 (content) and 5 (pleasure).
I also suggest reading the following books in addition to Coyne's refreshing book: a) "The Counter-Creationism Handbook" by Mark Isaak; b) "Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate over Science and Religion" by Edward J. Larson; c) "God on Trial: Dispatches from America's Religious Battlefields" by Peter Irons; and d) A two -volumes biography: "Charles Darwin: Voyaging/Power of Place" by Janet Browne [remember, Darwin was borne 200 years ago].
- A fascinating voyage of discovery of our origins
"Darwin matters because evolution matters. Evolution matters because science matters. Science matters because it is the preeminent story of our age, an epic saga about who we are, where we came from, and where we are going." (Michael Shermer).
With this introductory statement, with which I couldn't agree more, starts this fascinating book that everybody who wants to understand evolution should read.
The author explains why evolution by natural selection is so different from intelligent design. Evolution is like an architect who continually reforms the house by adapting the preexisting building, so that it can never build a perfectly designed building and there are proofs, such as the development of our testes which starts in the abdomen and leads to inguinal hernias or our vestigial appendix or the problems caused in the urethra by the growth of the prostate gland. Natural selection produces fitter beings, but not the fittest. And adaptations must evolve by increasing the reproductive output of its possessor. It is reproduction, not survival, that determines which genes make it to the next generation and cause evolution.
Darwinism, as any scientific theory, makes testable predictions and the books shows several examples. It also describes recent discoveries of the transitional forms between fish and amphibians and between reptiles and birds.
It is interesting to learn that the process of speciation was not well understood until de 1930s. The main driving force of a species splitting up into two is geographic isolation. The process of speciation is similar to the process of the divergence of languages.
Besides the fossil record, one of the proofs of evolution is the artificial breeding of animals and plants and, more recently, the growing resistance of bacteria to antibiotics.
Against the belief of creationists, natural selection can build complex organs such as eyes, in fact it has done it independently about 40 times.
In one of the final chapters the book deals about the evolution of hominins. It is now settled that bipedalism came long before the evolution of the human brain.
Two quotes in chapter 9 will give you the feeling of what are some of the important messages of this book:
"After sleeping through a hundred million centuries we have finally opened our eyes on a sumptuous planet, sparkling with color, bountiful with life. Within decades we must close our eyes again. Isn't it a noble, an enlightened way of spending our brief time in the sun, to work at understanding the universe and how we come to wake up in it? This is how I answer when I am asked -as I am surprisingly often- why I bother to get up in the mornings" (Richard Dawkins).
"I don't have to know an answer. I don't feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in a mysterious universe without any purpose, which is the way it really is as far as I can tell, possibly. It doesn't frighten me" (Richard Feynman).
The author claims that "if the history of science teaches us anything, it is that what conquers our ignorance is research, not giving up and attributing our ignorance to the miraculous work of a creator".
If you want to embark in a voyage of true discovery of your origins, please read this book.
- Excellent treatment of evolution, despite the title
This is one of three excellent books on the current understanding of evolution. The second, a great companion to this and with remarkably little overlap, is Sean B. Carroll's book Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo (2005). The third book has not yet been written.
I highly recommend this book, if you ignore the hubris in the title. It is simply one of the best popular-level treatments of evolution to date. Limitations include what is NOT discussed, and the gratuitous (and unnecessary) cheap shots against creationism - in particular, his presuming to know what a Creator would do or not do (a typical conceit of authors in this genre, going back at least to Jay Gould in The Panda's Thumb: More Reflections in Natural History ).
Over the past 50 years the assertion of evolutionary kinship has moved beyond physical appearance to the use of DNA analysis to yield a quantitative measure of the relatedness of species. This move makes it possible to give rational explanations for many things that previously seemed to be anomalous, in particular: (1) "Convergence" (p. 94) -- the apparently independent recurrence of complex structures in widely different species (the similar human and octopus eyes, for example); (2) "Vestiges" (Ch. 3)- the anomalous appearance of legs on whales and snakes, for example; and (3) "microevolution" (p. 222) -- small, random, changes in the genome that lead to different (sub-) species. (Almost) completely missing is a good discussion of the vital role of development genes (the hox genes in animals) which helps explain (1) and (2), and the implications of these genes for evolution, which is why Carroll's book is a very useful companion to this one.
The third book, not yet written, is a treatment of the different mechanisms of evolution, their implications for diversification of species, and the extent to which each mechanism is directed by environmental pressure or other forces. This book would also include a discussion of the way that different species control either for or against genetic change, and how these mechanisms promote or limit speciation. To give a hint of what such a book might say: I can see a distinction between random changes in the genome (due perhaps to radiation damage or to transcription errors), changes due to a built-in flexibility in gene expression (the action of the development genes, for example), and de-novo changes due to the creation of entirely new genes or gene packages. The problem that arises when the different mechanisms of evolution are overlooked is specious arguments that take examples from one sort of evolution to "prove" an entirely different sort.
Dr. Coyne's comparison of the human with the chimpanzee genomes (p. 211) illustrates this distinction. He notes that "more than 80% of all the proteins shared by the two species differ in at least one amino acid.... More than 6% of genes found in humans simply aren't found in in _any_ form in chimpanzees." (author's emphasis). Clearly different mechanisms are implied here. Single changes in a gene might be just random "noise" or the result of transcription errors; complete new genes are another matter entirely and require explanation. Of course even two human genomes will differ somewhat due to random change, but probably not in new genes.
One of my annoyances with most discussions of evolution is the thoughtless way that these different mechanisms are mixed in the discussion, particularly when the objective is to "prove" evolution. For example, the use of Darwin's Finches or camouflauge adaptation of moths (probably examples of evo-devo) to "prove" the most sweeping evolutionary claims.
Curiously, Dr. Coyne does not develop the most powerful "proof" for natural evolution: the similarity of gene packages across broad swaths of species, a subject much better covered in Carroll's book. The most striking example of this is the central dogma that determines the genetic coding in the DNA, and the elaborate process by which this is transformed into the useful life chemicals for every living species. This alone requires some hundreds of genes which must have virtually identical functionality - in every living species.
If one insists on evolution by purely natural processes, this recurrence of similar gene packages is a powerful "proof" that these diverse species share a common ancestor, and in particular that all of life evolved from an original first living cell. This is of course no explanation of how (or whether) the packages evolved in the first place. Partly for this reason, some evolutionists consider the origin of life to be outside the scope of evolution, at least earth-bound evolution.
There will always, I think, be a chasm between Creationists and Naturalists about what is "proof" of evolution. To an evolutionist the recurrence of similar gene packages "proves" common ancestry, because the package is so complex that it could not have arisen by chance more than once. The Creationist sees common ancestry as a possible but not necessary conclusion: similar gene packages may just show that the Creator re-used them. Proof of a natural process is not just asserting "it must be so" but in showing such relatedness in the laboratory or in mathematical simulation based on demonstrable assumptions about physical or chemical processes. Otherwise, the claim is metaphysics or religion, but certainly not science.
Dr. Coyne makes a number of comments about Creationists that reflect the smug self-assurance of a professor who sharpens his arguments on like-minded fellow professors, and on students who know only a small fraction of what he knows. My advice is to ignore them and read the excellent material that reflects what he actually knows. Here is a sampling:
p. 183: "Creationists often claim that if we can't see a new species
evolve during our lifetime, then speciation doesn't occur. But this
argument is fatuous." THIS is a fatuous statement. I don't know a single
creationist that believes this (and I know hundreds of them).
p. 225: "Supernatural explanations... are simply never needed: we
manage to understand the natural world just fine using reason and
materialism." The lack of need is there only because of the "just so" stories that they believe, not because they have laboratory proof.
" [continuing] Furthermore, supernatural explanations always mean the
end of inquiry...." They don't for me! I believe that God used supernatural processes only when natural processes would not do the job. My task as a
scientist is to push the limits and find out all I can about natural
relationships. But I don't sit on my duff just because of some shared
p. 193 "While more liberal creationists admit that some species
could have evolved from others, all creationists draw the line at humans."
This is pure bloviation. See, for example Francis S. Collins, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief.
In summary, a great book, with some quirky flaws and blind spots. It should be purchased and read together with Sean Carroll's book.
- Excellent Book
Coyne is a professor at the University of Chicago whose specialty is evolutionary genetics and the origin of new species. On the evidence of this book he is also a master of succinct argument and clear, supple prose. Coyne believes strongly that evolution is a proven fact, that it has been operating for billions of years through natural selection (in the vast majority of cases), that there is ample evidence to support the truth of evolution and that no countervailing scientific evidence has been shown. He has written a brief arguing the case for evolution with ample reference to evidence in support of his argument. He also points to what he sees as the logical flaws in the arguments of evolution's opponents and to the flaws in their proffered evidence. Coyne is an able advocate and his points are strong and powerfully put.
The book begins with a brief discussion of the nature of science, proceeds to establish that evolution meets the criteria for being a science (including the key criteria of offering factually verifiable predictions and of being falsifiable in principle) and explains what the term "theory" means to a scientist. Coyne then gets down to factual business, leading the reader through the main areas of inquiry that one might reasonably expect would yield evidence for or against evolution. These include things such as the fossil record (including examples of transitional forms), biogeography, observed changes in modern populations of both plants and animals, instances of poor design, vestigial "ancestral" structures in modern animals, embryonic development, genetic research and more. All of these areas, argues Coyne, have produced unambiguous evidence in support of evolution and for natural selection as by far its most important mechanism.
Evolution is an entirely naturalistic and materialistic theory. Coyne recognizes that many fear this, believing that the absence of God from the process will ultimately mean the extinction of ethics and morality in society. At the end of the book Coyne argues that this is by no means a necessary outcome. This section, to me, fit poorly with the rest of the book simply because the arguments do not lend themselves to objective and rational proof.
Coyne paints with a broad brush. He did not write a comprehensive survey of all evolutionary theory and the evidence to support it. He wrote an argument with supporting evidence intended to convince the undecided of the truth of evolution and to be understandable and succinct to laypersons in doing so. Coyne knows that to be over detailed or too technical is to be ineffective. The book is only 233 pages long. There is room only for the essential. He does provide suggestions for further reading as well as copious references organized by chapter.
One further word: Civility of discourse is not a uniform hallmark of works addressing the evolution vs. creationism/ID debate. This book is entirely civil and rational in its approach. No invective. No rants. Readers of any perspective can read and profit from this book; some as food for thought, some as an outline of established truth and the evidence for it, some as a guide to the arguments and errors of the other side. This is a good book.
Excelente libro,muy didactico con ejemplos muy practicos y faciles de entender.fundamental para cualquiera que este interesado en la evoluci¨®n....more info
- It is not
My contradicting the book's title is based on its explanation of evolution: "...when we say that 'evolution is true', what we mean is that the major tenets of Darwinism have been verified. Organisms evolved, they did so gradually, lineages split into different species from common ancestors, and natural selection is the major engine of adaptation" (p.223).
Expressions like "have been verified" permeate the whole book, as if the more often and more emphatically Darwinism is pronounced true, the more certainly it is. I don't desire to dispute the first three contentions in the preceding paragraph, that organisms evolved, did so gradually, and split from common ancestors. My bone of contention is natural selection as the major engine, if any, of adaptation.
Natural selection is of course the acknowledged centerpiece of Darwinian evolution. The proposition is that "evolution operates in a purposeless, materialistic way" (p.231), through chiefly random mutation and natural selection. It has been my effort in these reviews, as well as in my book, to decisively refute that purposelessness.
A valiant effort in that direction has been made by "intelligent design" proponents. "Intelligent design" is deprecated as a "recent descendant" (p.xx) of "creationism" (the contemporary attempt to counter evolution with defenses of the bible), although it has been around far over a century. Its known allegation is that since, like human artifacts, organisms display structures formed to achieve certain goals, they can like the artifacts be held to have an intelligent designer. This consideration has been strengthened lately be asserting that to achieve those goals organisms are irreducibly complex, precluding the gradual changes demanded by Darwinism. The response has been that for such gradual change in, for instance, the eye "each step of this process is feasible because it is seen in the eyes of a different living species" (p.142).
This response permits simple confutation, because the issue is not eyes altered in different species but in the same organism. In view of the required step-by-step changes while retaining functionality, one must consider the changes in the very same organism, which obviously will not appropriately function under each change.
But the refutation of Darwinian purposelessness is much simpler still, as I have been repeatedly trying to convey and has been completely overlooked. All living things have always been known to behave purposely toward their preservation. This knowledge is so elemental that it is paid no attention to in those pursuits to solve particular biological problems. But the knowledge is there, and a little reflection reveals that this behavior of organisms, aimed at their survival, extends to all their activities, such as adaptation to their surroundings. In other words, the adaptation Darwinism claims to result from undirected forces is contrariwise the result of the directed forces of self-preservation.
It isn't necessary after this conclusion to go further and infer an intelligence or higher power, although I maintain this to be accomplishable. It will suffice that the fundamental thesis of Darwinism, that "all species...arose from the working of blind, purposeless forces over eons of time" (p.224) is false.
I can additionally say: supposing organisms did evolve from common ancestors, so what? Author Coyne says that, like other theories, "Evolutionary theory...makes predictions that are bold and clear" (p.18). Predictions of the future? No: "By predictions, I don't mean that Darwinism can predict how things will evolve in the future. Rather, it predicts what we should find in living or ancient species" (p.17), namely what we should find concerning the past, not the future. This is fine if we want to explore the past; but science usually explores it to find principles that can predict the future, not to substantiate a theory, let alone in support of a false assumption.
- Excellent well-explained overview of the subject
The first time creationists made their attack on the Louisiana educational system, I was amazed to discover the dearth of good written materials explaining the basics of evolutionary biology, let alone books taking issue with creationist claims. One of the results of this is that scientists have taken the time to write for the general public, and since those days there have always been good references in print. This is one of the latest, and it is a welcome addition to the genre. Another fine book that I discovered through this one is YOUR INNER FISH by Neil Shubin, which more specifically addresses human evolution. With all the good references and websites available, there is no excuse for not being informed....more info
- Why evolution is true, and natural selection false
Of books defending the Darwin paradigm there is no end, and yet the controversy nevers goes away. This book, in the obstinate narrowness of obsessive Darwinists, on the surface looks convincing but misses the point, starting with its title, 'why evolution is true'. We already know evolution is true, but Darwinism, the theory of natural selection we don't know to be true, since it is nearly a metaphysical claim, ironically like ID. Proving the claims for natural selection has never been properly accomplished, and it is hypocrisy on the part of Darwinists to say otherwise. Coyne seems to be aware of, and/or attended, the Altenberg 16 conference last year, of biologists attempting to challenge the frozen Darwin dogmas. So it is false, brazen hypocrisy, to claim that selectionist Darwinism is finally establshed or without problems.
The confusion between the reality of evolution and the theory of natural selection is in part the fault of creationists who still question the reality of evolution, making it easy for hard-core Darwinists like Coyne to egregiously defend evolution, a no-brainer, slipping in the quite different claims for natural selection. These tactics have gone on long enough, and the hopes of the Darwin propaganda machine to close ranks and tell the 'Darwin deception' straight always seems on the verge of success, but always fails in the end.
This book shows that the author, along with most Darwinists, suffer from a refusal to learn form the past or to acknowledge what is obvious, that there is something too limited in the Darwinian framework, and that this taken as a complete theory of evolution is a species of fraud. There is a kind of obstinate refusal to face the limits of Darwinism that makes the unending resistance persist.
The reductionist scientism of the Darwinian fundamentalists is unable to explicate the issues of ethics, consciousness, human evolution, or the historical complexity of man, from art to religion. The immense effort to freeze the study of evolution in Darwin's perspective is as puzzling as it is counterproductive and will result finally in the discredit of science.