Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design

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Overview

In Why Darwin Matters, bestselling author Michael Shermer explains how the newest brand of creationism appeals to our predisposition to look for a designer behind life's complexity. Shermer decodes the scientific evidence to show that evolution is not "just a theory" and illustrates how it achieves the design of life through the bottom-up process of natural selection.
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Overview

In Why Darwin Matters, bestselling author Michael Shermer explains how the newest brand of creationism appeals to our predisposition to look for a designer behind life's complexity. Shermer decodes the scientific evidence to show that evolution is not "just a theory" and illustrates how it achieves the design of life through the bottom-up process of natural selection.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Michael Shermer has seen the evolution vs. intelligent design argument from both sides. Formerly a fundamentalist and creationist, the Scientific American columnist now regards arguments for I.D. as faulty both scientifically and theologically. In Why Darwin Matters, he cuts through the rancor of this raging debate to examine the reasoning behind each position. He explains why evolution is not "just a theory" but, indeed, the cornerstone of modern science. A spirited defense of 21st-century evolution theory.
Publishers Weekly
Shermer (The Science of Good and Evil), founding editor of the Skeptic and Scientific American columnist, thoughtfully explains why intelligent design is both bad science and poor religion, how a wealth of scientific data from varied fields support evolution, and why religion and science need not be in conflict. Science and religion are two distinct realms, he argues: the natural and supernatural, respectively, and he cites Pope John Paul II in support of their possible coexistence. Shermer takes the "ten most cogent" arguments for intelligent design and refutes each in turn. While on the mark, the arguments' brevity may hamper their usefulness to all but those well versed in the debate. Looking for converts, Shermer offers a short chapter entitled "Why Christians and Conservatives Should Accept Evolution" (i.e., it "provides a scientific foundation" for their core values). His overall message is best summarized when he writes, "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." Although there's not much new here, Shermer's wit and passion will appeal to many but won't convince believers. (Aug.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A leading skeptic takes on the religious right. Skeptic magazine publisher Shermer (Science Friction, 2005) begins with his own discovery of how robust a theory evolution is. An evangelical Christian through his high-school and college years, he learned in a statistics class that the search for scientific truth is guided by probabilities and logic, not rhetoric and persuasion. Evolution is supported not by rigid doctrine (as creationists often claim) but by converging lines of evidence from various independent disciplines: geology, botany, genetics, paleontology, comparative anatomy, etc. After a brief history of the controversy aroused by Darwin's theories, Shermer offers a detailed list of creationists' favorite "refutations" of evolution. Perhaps the strongest is the much-touted anthropic principle, which argues that several critical values of physics are so fine-tuned for the development of life that the universe must have been designed specifically for that purpose. Shermer notes that the universe is not, as far as we can see, teeming with life, let alone intelligent life; a careful observer might question the efficacy of the implied design. It's more likely that we are predisposed to see design where there is none than that such an enormous structure has been reared to bring about so little. Other arguments against evolution also fall short: When creationists demand "missing links" that demonstrate historical evolution and are answered with a fossil fulfilling its criteria, they typically demand still more linking forms. In short, they reject the rules by which science plays, while demanding that their own claims be afforded the status of science. Shermer offers calm,generally civil answers to the major questions about evolution, squarely faces controversy, generally forgoes cheap shots at the opposition, and provides a cogent blueprint for rationalists faced with debate against creation science or intelligent design. A valuable, clearly presented tool in a key modern controversy.
From the Publisher
"The idea that evolution and God should be at odds is among the strangest of doctrines, an attempt to make the divine follow our particular notions of how He should operate. Michael Shermer explains what really happened, in terms that should be accessible to any faithful reader."—Bill McKibben

"Michael Shermer is one of America's necessary minds. A reformed fundamentalist who is now an experienced foe of pseudo-science and superstition, he does us the double favor of explaining exactly what creationists believe, and then of demonstrating that they have no case. With his forensic and polemical skill, he could have left them for dead: instead he generously urges them to stop wasting their time (and ours) and do some real work."—Christopher Hitchens

"A readable and well-researched book on what is perhaps the most vital scientific topic of our age. Anyone who has been snowed into thinking that there is a real scientific controversy over evolution by natural selection will be enlightened by Why Darwin Matters, which is both genial and intellectually uncompromising."—Steven Pinker

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805083064
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/24/2007
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 617,407
  • Product dimensions: 5.76 (w) x 8.26 (h) x 0.62 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Shermer is the author of The Believing Brain, Why People Believe Weird Things, The Science of Good and Evil, The Mind Of The Market, Why Darwin Matters, Science Friction, How We Believe and other books on the evolution of human beliefs and behavior. He is the founding publisher of Skeptic magazine, the editor of Skeptic.com, a monthly columnist for Scientific American, and an adjunct professor at Claremont Graduate University. He lives in Southern California.

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Read an Excerpt

Why Darwin Matters

The Case Against Intelligent Design
By Shermer, Michael

Times Books

Copyright © 2006 Shermer, Michael
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0805081216

Prologue

Why Evolution Matters

Hence both in space and time, we seem to be brought somewhat near to that great fact--that mystery of mysteries--the first appearance of new beings on this earth.

--Charles Darwin, Journal of Researches, 1845

In June 2004, the science historian Frank Sulloway and I began a month-long expedition to retrace Charles Darwin's footsteps in the Galápagos Islands. It turned out to be one of the most physically grueling experiences of my life, and as I have raced a bicycle across America five times, that is saying something special about what the young British naturalist was able to accomplish in 1835. Charles Darwin was not only one sagacious scientist; he was also one tenacious explorer.1

I fully appreciated Darwin's doggedness when we hit the stark and barren lava fields on the island of San Cristóbal, the first place Darwin explored in the archipelago. With a sweltering equatorial sun and almost no fresh water, it is not long before water-loaded seventy-pound packs begin to buckle your knees and strain your back. Add hours of daily bushwhacking through dense, scratchy vegetation, and the romance of fieldwork quickly fades. At the end of onethree-day excursion my water supply was so dangerously low that Frank and I collected the dew that had accumulated on the tents the night before. One day I sliced my left shin on a chunk of a'a lava. Another day I was stung by a wasp and one side of my face nearly doubled in size. At the end of one particularly grueling climb through a moonscapelike area Darwin called the "craterized district," we collapsed in utter exhaustion, muscles quivering and sweat pouring off our hands and faces, after which we read from Darwin's diary, in which the naturalist described a similar excursion as "a long walk."

Death permeates these islands. Animal carcasses are scattered everywhere. The vegetation is coarse and scrappy. Dried and shriveled cactus trunks dot the bleak landscape. The lava terrain is so broken with razor-sharp edges that progress across it is glacially slow. Many people have died there, from stranded sailors of centuries past to wanderlust-driven tourists in recent years. Within days I had a deep sense of isolation and fragility. Without the protective blanket of civilization none of us are far from death. With precious little water and even less edible foliage, organisms eke out a precarious living, their adaptations to this harsh environment selected over millions of years. A lifelong observer of and participant in the evolution-creation controversy, I was struck by how clear it is in these islands: Creation by intelligent design is absurd. So how then did Darwin depart the Galápagos a creationist?

This is the question that Frank Sulloway went there to answer. Sulloway has spent a lifetime reconstructing how Darwin pieced together the theory of evolution. The iconic myth is that Darwin became an evolutionist in the Galápagos, discovering natural selection as he itemized finch beaks and tortoise carapaces, as he observed how each species had uniquely adapted to the available food and the island ecology. The legend endures, Sulloway notes, because it fits elegantly into a Joseph Campbell-like tripartite myth of the hero who (1) leaves home on a great adventure, (2) endures immeasurable hardship in the quest for noble truths, and (3) returns to deliver a deep message--in Darwin's case, evolution. The myth is ubiquitous, appearing in everything from biology textbooks to travel brochures, the latter of which inveigle potential customers to see what Darwin saw.

The Darwin Galápagos legend is emblematic of a broader myth that science proceeds by select eureka discoveries followed by sudden revolutionary revelations, as old theories fall before new facts. Not quite. Theories power perceptions. Nine months after departing the Galápagos, Darwin made the following entry in his ornithological catalogue about his mockingbird collection: "When I see these Islands in sight of each other, & possessed of but a scanty stock of animals, tenanted by these birds, but slightly differing in structure & filling the same place in Nature, I must suspect they are only varieties." He was seeing similar varieties of fixed kinds, not an evolution of separate species. Darwin did not even bother to record the island locations of the few finches he collected (and in some cases mislabeled), and these now-famous birds were never specifically mentioned in the Origin of Species. Darwin was still a creationist.2

Through careful analysis of Darwin's notes and journals, Sulloway dates Darwin's acceptance of evolution to the second week of March, 1837, after a meeting Darwin had with the eminent ornithologist John Gould, who had been studying Darwin's Galápagos bird specimens. With access to museum ornithological collections from areas of South America that Darwin had not visited, Gould corrected a number of taxonomic errors Darwin had made (such as labeling two finch species a "Wren" and an "Icterus"), and pointed out to him that although the land birds in the Galápagos were endemic to the islands, they were notably South American in character.

Darwin left the meeting with Gould, Sulloway concludes, convinced "beyond a doubt that transmutation must be responsible for the presence of similar but distinct species on the different islands of the Galápagos group." In Darwin's mind, the allegedly immutable "species barrier" had been shattered. That July, 1837, Darwin began his first notebook on Transmutation of Species. By 1844 he was confident enough to write in a letter to his botanist friend and colleague Joseph Hooker, "I was so struck with distribution of Galapagos organisms &c &c, & with the character of the American fossil mammifers &c &c, that I determined to collect blindly every sort of fact which cd bear any way on what are species." Five years at sea and nine years at home poring through "heaps" of books led Darwin to admit that, for him, "at last gleams of light have come, & I am almost convinced, (quite contrary to opinion I started with) that species are not (it is like confessing a murder) immutable."3


Like confessing a murder. Dramatic words for something as seemingly innocuous as a technical problem in biology: the immutability of species. But it doesn't take a rocket scientist--or an English naturalist--to understand why the theory of the origin of species by means of natural selection would be so controversial: If new species are created naturally, what place, then, for God? No wonder Darwin waited twenty years before publishing his theory.4

From the time of Plato and Aristotle in ancient Greece to the time of Darwin and his fellow naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace in the nineteenth century, nearly everyone believed that a species retained a fixed and immutable "essence." A species, in fact, was defined by its very essence--the characteristics that made it like no other species. The theory of evolution by means of natural selection, then, is the theory of how kinds can become other kinds, and that upset not only the scientific cart, but the cultural horse pulling it. The great Harvard evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr stressed just how radical was Darwin's theory: "The fixed, essentialistic species was the fortress to be stormed and destroyed; once this had been accomplished, evolutionary thinking rushed through the breach like a flood through a break in a dike."5

The dike, however, was slow to crumble. Darwin's close friend, the geologist Charles Lyell, withheld his support for a full nine years, and even then hinted at a providential design behind the whole scheme. The astronomer John Herschel called natural selection the "law of higgledy-piggledy." And Adam Sedgwick, a geologist and Anglican cleric, proclaimed that natural selection was a moral outrage, and penned this ripping harangue to Darwin:

There is a moral or metaphysical part of nature as well as a physical. A man who denies this is deep in the mire of folly. You have ignored this link; and, if I do not mistake your meaning, you have done your best in one or two cases to break it. Were it possible (which thank God it is not) to break it, humanity, in my mind, would suffer a damage that might brutalize it, and sink the human race into a lower grade of degradation than any into which it has fallen since its written records tell us of its history.

In a review in Macmillan's Magazine, the political economist and social commentator Henry Fawcett wrote of the great divide surrounding the Origin of Species: "No scientific work that has been published within this century has excited so much general curiosity as the treatise of Mr. Darwin. It has for a time divided the scientific world with two great contending sections. A Darwinite and an anti-Darwinite are now the badges of opposed scientific parties."6


Darwinites and anti-Darwinites. Although the scientific community is now united in agreement that evolution happened, a century and a half later the cultural world is still divided. According to a 2005 poll by the Pew Research Center, 42 percent of Americans hold strict creationist views that "living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time" compared to 48 percent who believe that humans "evolved over time." Evolution has made news as the fight over teaching evolution has entered the courts and the school boards yet again. To that point, the Pew survey found that 64 percent said they were open to the idea of teaching creationism in addition to evolution in public schools, and more than half of those individuals said they think evolution should be replaced by creationism in biology classrooms.7

The evolution-creationism controversy is a cultural tempest in a scientific teapot--the debate is entirely cultural, even as professional scientists go about their business without giving Intelligent Design a second thought. Consider the geographic and political differences in attitudes about evolution, starting with the fact that evolution is under debate only in America (there are a few small creationist pockets in Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom). And within the states, geography matters: 51 percent of Southerners accept the strict creationist view that humans were created as we are now and only 19 percent believe that we evolved through natural selection, while 59 percent of Northerners accept evolution through natural selection, and only 32 percent are creationists.

Given these demographics of belief, it came as no surprise to either conservatives or liberals when, in August 2005, President George W. Bush seemingly endorsed the teaching of Intelligent Design (ID) in public school science classes. As the story unfolded over the next two weeks, however, it became clear that the creationists, as well as many in the media and pundits on both the right and the left, had greatly exaggerated Bush's remarks. In an interview at the White House with a group of Texas newspaper reporters, Bush had said that when he was governor of Texas, "I felt like both sides ought to be properly taught." When a reporter asked for his position as president, Bush equivocated, saying, "I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought. You're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, and the answer is yes." Well, of course, but Bush answered a different question.

Indeed, Bush's science adviser, John H. Marburger III, said in a subsequent telephone interview with The New York Times that "evolution is the cornerstone of modern biology" and "intelligent design is not a scientific concept." He added that the president's comments should be interpreted to mean that ID might be discussed--not as science but as part of the "social context" in science classes, and that it would be "over-interpreting" Bush's remarks to conclude that the president believes that ID and evolution should be given equal treatment in public school science curricula.8

Rather than closing the controversy, Marburger's clarification helped stoke a renewed debate over whether evolution is "only a theory" and how it should be presented in the classroom. Indeed, in late 2005 the Kansas State Board of Education voted 6-4 to revise the state's science standards to include criticisms of evolution and to redefine science in a way that allows for the introduction of Intelligent Design creationism into the public school science curriculum (by deleting "natural explanations" from the definition of science). Shortly after the Kansas decision, a Bush-appointed conservative judge in Dover, Pennsylvania, ruled against Intelligent Design in a highly publicized court case. In early 2006 an Ohio board of education ruled not to include language that implies the introduction of Intelligent Design theory in science curricula. And there are at least a dozen more hot-spots around the country that will be settled by political debate, democratic vote, or a judge's decision.

But whatever happens in these politically charged skirmishes, truth in science is not determined by the vox populi. It does not matter whether 99 percent or just 1 percent of the public (or politicians) accepts a scientific theory--the theory stands or falls on the evidence, and there are few theories in science that are more robust than the theory of evolution. It took me a long time to realize this fact, for I began my career as a creationist. Saying this today almost feels like confessing a murder.


Like confessing a murder. That is precisely how I felt when I realized that my creationist beliefs were wrong and that evolution actually happened. I became a creationist shortly after I became a born-again evangelical Christian in high school in 1971 and argued the creationist case through graduate school in 1977.9 The evangelical movement was gathering momentum in the 1970s, and one of the central dogmas I took from it was that the biblical story of creation was to be taken literally; ergo, the theory of evolution had to be wrong.

Knowing next to nothing about evolution other than what I gleaned from reading creationist literature, I absorbed the arguments against the theory and practiced them on my undergraduate science and philosophy teachers. At Glendale College, which I attended for the first two years for general education requirements, I honed my debating skills as my creationist arguments were met with firm evolutionist counterarguments. At Pepperdine University, a Church of Christ institution where I finished my undergraduate degree, evolution was a nonentity as I witnessed for Christ and studied the theological underpinnings of the Christian faith. When I arrived at Pepperdine, in fact, I considered theology as a profession, but when I discovered that a doctorate required proficiency in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and Aramaic, and knowing that foreign languages were not my strong suit (I struggled through two years of high school Spanish), I switched to psychology and mastered one of the languages of science: statistics. By the time I matriculated at California State University at Fullerton for graduate training in experimental psychology, I was ensconced in the methods of science.

In science, the solutions to problems are based on established parameters to determine whether a hypothesis is probably right or definitely wrong. Statistics allow researchers to identify an event as likely to happen 99.99 percent of the time (rejecting the null hypothesis) or as insignificant. Instead of the rhetoric and disputation of theology, there are the logic and probabilities of science. What a difference this shift in thinking makes. In graduate school, I took a bevy of courses in research methods and statistics, and for recreation I signed up for a Tuesday evening course in evolution, just to see firsthand what had us creationists up in arms. The course was taught by an eccentrically charismatic biologist named Bayard Brattstrom, who from 7 to 10 p.m. regaled his class with breathtaking discoveries from the science of evolutionary biology, and who from 10 p.m. to closing time at the 301 Club just down the street held forth on science and religion, Darwin and Genesis, and all manner of related topics, accompanied by appropriate libations.

The scales fell from my eyes! It turned out that the creationist literature I was reading presented a Darwinian cardboard cutout that a child could knock down. (For example, if humans come from apes, why are apes still around? Of course, we didn't evolve from modern apes; apes and humans evolved from a common ancestor who lived nearly seven million years ago.) What I discovered was that the preponderance of evidence from numerous converging lines of scientific inquiry--geology, paleontology, zoology, botany, comparative anatomy, molecular biology, population genetics, biogeography, embryology, and others--all independently converge to the same conclusion: Evolution happened. Why Darwin Matters is about how we know evolution happened, in the context of the challenges to evolution mounted by twenty-first-century creationists and Intelligent Design theorists.


Why does evolution matter? The influence of the theory of evolution on the general culture is so pervasive it can be summed up in a single observation: We live in the age of Darwin. Arguably the most culturally jarring theory in history, the theory of natural selection gave rise to the Darwinian revolution that changed both science and culture in ways immeasurable. On the scientific level, the static creationist model of species as fixed types was replaced with a fluid evolutionary model of species as ever-changing entities. The repercussions of this finding were, and are, astounding. The theory of top-down intelligent design of all life by or through a supernatural power was replaced with the theory of bottom-up natural design through natural forces. The anthropocentric view of humans as special creations placed by a divine hand above all others was replaced with the view of humans as just another animal species. The view of life and the cosmos as having direction and purpose from above was replaced with the view of the world as the product of the necessitating laws of nature and the contingent events of history. The view that human nature is infinitely malleable and primarily good was replaced with a view of human nature in which we are finitely restricted by our genes and are both good and evil.10

Darwin matters not only because his theory changed the world and reconfigured our position in nature, but because he launched a new and profound understanding of biology and science that has served future generations. Of the three intellectual giants of that epoch--Darwin, Marx, and Freud--only Darwin is still relevant for the simple reason that his theory was right, and the scientific evidence continues to support and refine it. In the memorable observation by geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky, "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."11

Copyright © 2006 by Michael Shermer


Continues...

Excerpted from Why Darwin Matters by Shermer, Michael Copyright © 2006 by Shermer, Michael. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Prologue : why evolution matters
1 The facts of evolution 1
2 Why people do not accept evolution 23
3 In search of the designer 34
4 Debating intelligent design 45
5 Science under attack 89
6 The real agenda 106
7 Why science cannot contradict religion 116
8 Why Christians and conservatives should accept evolution 126
9 The real unsolved problems in evolution 139
Epilogue : why science matters 154
Coda : Genesis revisited 162
App Equal time for whom? 166
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2013

    ID

    The first review is helpful to christians . Now, I believe in intelligent devolpment. Because God will Always be more intelligent than what he created, MAN. NASA can only WATCH the heavens, God makes the stars move on their paths. The first reviwer just makes me Want to read this book all the more. So thank you first reviewer.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2013

    I teach a class covering evolution, creation, ID, and everything

    I teach a class covering evolution, creation, ID, and everything else related to this controversy. I had hoped this book would provide a good counterpoint to the pro-ID material available. It doesn't.

    First, the author never correctly defines Intelligent Design. I've read numerous books and articles on ID, and they're not talking about what he's arguing against. If the author wants to critique ID, he needs to understand what he's critiquing. Furthermore, he repeatedly calls it "Intelligent Design Creationism". This will come as a surprise to the many creationists who argue that ID is just a way to make evolution palatable to believers.

    He further muddles his argument by asserting that religious believers need not feel that their beliefs are threatened by evolution, because they can just accept evolution as the means that God used in his creative work. He includes believers in theistic evolution (the theory that God planned and/or guided the evolutionary process) among those who accept the scientific theory of evolution. What he entirely overlooks is that God is an intelligent agent, so if God played any meaningful part in the process of evolution, then we would be, in fact, the products of intelligent design. He can't have it both ways.

    As a third example, he decries what he calls "government of the gaps", the attempts by creationists and ID advocates to pass laws requiring the teaching of their positions in public schools. Fair enough, but what about the laws and court rulings that require only evolution to be taught? That, he explains, is the reasonable privilege of the taxpayers to determine what should be taught in the schools they pay for. Surely he realizes that ID theorists and creationists pay taxes, but apparently he thinks there are different rules for people who agree with him.

    There are numerous additional examples I could cite. In the end, all I can use this book for is to provide examples of straw-man argumentation, the vagueness fallacy, and special pleading. I'm still looking for a solid critique of ID.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2008

    Well Done

    Michael Shermer knocks ID out with the evolution facts. The case against ID that lacks any scientific proof has been solved by reading this book. A book that anyone can read and understand, which is highly recommended. The thing best about this book is it's not out to attack any religion, just to stake the claim that Evolution should not be discarded, it's real, there's facts to prove it and it's not going anywhere anytime soon.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 21, 2010

    A fresh perspective on an old argument

    Once an evangelical Christian, Michael Shermer made the journey from creationist to evolutionist, as did Darwin himself, when his foray into the natural sciences left him overwhelmed by evidence of evolution. In this book, Shermer (now the publisher of Skeptic magazine) details several specific arguments made by those who believe in Intelligent Design (such as the belief that only micro- and not macro-evolution occurs). Then, one by one, he shows how each of these arguments fall apart at the most crucial point. In each case, he then provides the explanation provided by science/evolution. He sheds light on how little those who champion Intelligent Design (many of whom are influencing textbook content) seem to understand about even something as basic as the scientific method or the definition of "theory" in science.

    After discrediting Intelligent Design, Shermer goes on to make one of the more elegant arguments I've heard about how one can both accept evolution and a creator (although not Intelligent Design), as many do. He makes attempts to explain why one might, but of course, must abandon intellectual rigor at this point. Still, the argument is eloquent and he does resolve the conflict. Proving the existence of gods, of course, is another matter, but that isn't his task.

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  • Posted August 5, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent!

    Once again Michael Shermer has done a superb job of exposing pseudoscience and explaining the importance of science in today's society. It is quite clear that evolution is solidly supported by the facts. Shermer does an excellent job of revealing what Intelligent Design really is-a dressed up version of creationism. It is clear that proponents of intelligent design are not interested in engaging in real science, but are more interested in perpetuating their religious agenda. It's important to remember that Science and Religion are two different things and one should not be passed off as the other. Truly a facinating read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2008

    Excellent review of evolution and America's problem with it

    This is a fine little book (less than 200 pages) that covers what evolution is how we know it's real why evolution matters and why so many people have a problem with accepting it. While some people may ask why another book about evolution is necessary, clearly it is needed because American's still aren't getting the message. About half of US citizens currently deny evolution. More than half say creationism should be taught in science classes. Something clearly is wrong. Shermer's book won't solve the problem but it should help. This book is not overly technical and can be read by just about anyone. Shermer shows in plain English that evolution is on very solid ground and creationism has no evidence or compelling arguments to back it up. Probably the most important point in the book that would benefit most well-meaning people is that creationists only have to do science if they want their ideas to be respected as science. They should not be spending time and energy in school board meetings and political campaigns. If they really believe their claims are true then they should be out in the field looking for supporting fossils and in the laboratory seeking clues in DNA. I highly recommend this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2007

    A joy to read

    Michael Shermer's column in Scientific American is the first article I read when the latest issue arrives. This book did not dissapoint, and I learned a tremendous amount. I have recommended this to friends and am looking forward to re-reading it in the future. A must read for any fan of science.

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    Posted November 18, 2010

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    Posted October 29, 2008

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    Posted December 24, 2010

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