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Why Darwin Matters

The Case for Evolution and Against Intelligent Design
Narrated by: uncredited
Length: 4 hrs and 22 mins
Categories: Non-fiction, Biology
4.5 out of 5 stars (13 ratings)

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Summary

In Why Darwin Matters, Michael Shermer, the best-selling author of Why People Believe Weird Things, the publisher of Skeptic magazine, and a monthly columnist for Scientific American, decodes the facts of evolution and shows how natural selection achieves the elegant design of life.

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

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Not brilliant.

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.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Shermer at his best

Loved it. Shermer at his very best. A must read. poignant and refreshing. insightful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Christopher
  • 11-07-11

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.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Francis
  • 14-06-09

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.

8 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Adam
  • 21-11-11

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.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • AWeirdly
  • 27-02-11

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.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amanda
  • 27-02-10

captivating

this would be a good literary choice to go with a high school science lecture on natural selection

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • david
  • 09-03-11

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.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Nathan
  • 25-07-19

very opinionated, biased, full of presuppositions

This book is strongly biased. I prefer a more evidentialist approach, not the presuppositionalist bent of this book.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Hein Wessels
  • 06-04-18

Lacking in Content

The narator (which is the author) does not have the best reading voice, relative to most narators. However, he delivers a good performance.

The content is lacking, and too much focus is placed on people's opinions. Science is based on observations of nature, not people. The time spent discussing people should rather have been used to show more evolution arguments, the sides the to oposing forces take, and what the facts are.

Although I will look for a better book on evolution for better scientific arguments, it was an enjoyable listen.

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  • Ace Rimmer
  • 08-12-17

Good book on Darwin and the christian right

What did you love best about Why Darwin Matters?

Shermer makes an eloquent yet straightforward case for what many consider to be the most important idea anyone ever had. He also exposes the sheer dishonesty and intellectual vacuity of the christian right in their war against science they don't like, but he's never vicious or ungracious in his critique of the creationists.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Why Darwin Matters?

His refutation of "intelligent design" arguments.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

Although Shermer doesn't have an unpleasant voice per se, I think a professional reader/voice actor would have been a better choice.
I did find one chapter in the book very disappointing to the point of being plain silly. Shermer's attempt to sing the praises of the free market by comparing it to evolution by natural selection is just absurd.
One can tell Shermer has never played Bioshock.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Why Darwin matters: Intelligent Design Exposed

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  • Tom
  • 25-01-13

A great listen for fence sitters

Would you listen to Why Darwin Matters again? Why?

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.