Shermer, once an evangelical Christian and a creationist, argues that Intelligent Design proponents invoke a combination of ad science, political antipathy, and flawed theology in their new brand of creationism. He refutes their pseudoscientific arguments and then demonstrates why conservatives and people of faith can and should embrace evolution. Why Darwin Matters is an incisive examination of what is at stake in the debate over evolution.
©2006 Michael Shermer; (P)2008 Michael Shermer
This book, which is not brilliantly read, is just a school level argument setting out the reasons to accept evolution as a fact rather than a theory which is likely to be true.
There is no discussion of the different theories of evolution or why Darwin moved towards a more Lamarkian approach with successive editions of his books. He turned out to be wrong about this by the way. The lack of a proper discussion on genes is especially alarming.
The author also seemed to miss that it was human evolution and not evolution generally that prompted the great conflict in the USA about the teaching of evolution in schools.
He also completely ignores some of the issues that fuelled the arguments against evolution, for example social Darwinism and eugenics.
Generally I found it had an overly simplistic approach to a subject that is far more interesting than it would appear from this book.
Instead of this book I would recommend the Great Courses audiobook on the Theory of Evolution: A History of Controversy by Edward J. Larson.
"Good book, unfortunate abridgement"
I'm a great fan of Shermer and his various works, having read his SciAm column for years, and this is no exception. Evolution vs. Intelligent Design is a natural and suitable part of his overall gospel of skepticism. My complaint with this book (like the reviewer "A" above) is not the content as such, but rather the abridgement. I think most people who are interested in this sort of thing are hungry for length and detail, and would gladly have paid attention for the full-length recording.
I don't regret the purchase by any means, but I would certainly prefer a reading of the full text.
"Why this book matters"
This is a relatively simple explanation of a topic that is rarely clearly or honestly presented. It is not exhaustive, but it gives a good introduction to many of the critical arguments.
"A Good Flyover"
Shermer shows what ID lacks in order to be considered a science and shows a few motivations other than scientific interest those who advocate it may have for trying to advance it. The book also gets into the history of ID and the battle to have it added to the curriculum in public schools and the decisions by several courts, some conservative, that this is unconstitutional. Shermer's effort in this book is toward the preservation of science rather than discounting of religion or the existence of God.
This is a good read (or listen) on its own or as an introduction to the conversation before going on to something like the Blind Watchmaker.
"I would prefer this unabridged"
This is the second audio book I've listened to by Michael Shermer, the first was WHY PEOPLE BELIEVE WEIRD THINGS which I HIGHLY RECOMMEND and got me more interested in skepticism and science. It is very evident this book is abridged because I really wanted it to be longer and it seems like material is missing.
I consider myself a "layman" when it comes to science and Shermer's writing is much easier to comprehend than Richard Dawkins.
This book receives three stars because this subject matter could have been doubled in length and topics covered could have been expanded. I REALLY wanted MORE information on how to promote science in the U.S. and examples of how ID followers hypocrisy when it comes to health, medical, and education (ex. since churches have so much money why don't they start their own schools instead of "wedging" their beliefs into the public system)
Well worth your time and encourages me to listen to his other books.
this would be a good literary choice to go with a high school science lecture on natural selection
"Darwin does matter"
Michael Shermer lives up to his reputation as a communicator with an unscientific public such as me. His arguments are clear and specific. Necessarily this is not a debate but his singular demolition of anti Darwin arguments is effective. I used to be a creationist and gave public discourses on the creation arguments so know them well. As an ex Jehovah Witness I used to have the emotional appeals well rehearsed and it took time to let go of such head virus stuff. Michael and others have helped greatly. Really enjoyed this listen and recommended.
"A great listen for fence sitters"
I will listen again. There was a lot of info to absorb and i want to remember more of it to help next time I get into a discussion with those that doubt Evolution.
"TOTAL MISREPRENTATION: WHERE IS THE EVIDENCE?"
Michael Shermer gallantly defends Darwinian/Macro evolution and attacks Intelligent Design. There are loads of interesting and fanciful bits of data which tend to confuse the issue rather than provide clarity to the core question: Who was your great….great grandfather? Was it a self replicating molecule, as Darwinian/Macro evolution asserts, or was it Adam, as the Bible asserts or are was it someone else.
I listened to the whole book once and many parts two or three times. Although some parts were interesting, as a whole I found the book disappointing and irritating for the following reasons:
--- 1) MISREPRESENTATION OF THE ISSUE
•Shermer falsely represents the issue as Science against Religion when in reality it is science against Darwinism.
•Darwinism = Darwinian/Macro evolution has fundamental scientific problems that Darwin could never have imagined.
•In the audio transcripts of the Kansas school board hearings (fascinating listening and available as a free download from Audible.com), Dr John Sanford (Geneticist and inventor of the Gene Gun) said
“The bottom line is that the primary axiom [of Darwinian/Macro evolution] is categorically false, you can't create information with misspellings, not even if you use natural selection.”
•Dr Sanford and other highly credible scientists present powerful scientific arguments to why Darwinian/Macro evolution is not viable for scientific reasons.
--- 2. WHERE IS THE EVIDENCE? WHAT IS THE EVIDENCE
•Shermer emphasizes his key point that he believes in Darwinian evolution because multiple lines of scientific enquiry all support Darwinian evolution. He rattles off a whole string of branches of science to reinforce the point. To the uninformed this would be very convincing – however, being an Engineer and educator myself I see through this smoke and mirrors trick and say WHERE IS THE EVIDENCE?
-- 3. POOR SKEPTIC
•As the chief of the skeptic society – Shermer is a poor skeptic because he blindly accepts Evolution.
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