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Darwin still causing waves after 150 years - Comments

SamKiddoGordon's Avatar Comment 1 by SamKiddoGordon

First post..


That darn tail of mine doing all they typing again???

God, the original benevolent dictator.

Well, not so benevolent.

Lets hope religion is history and not us when we look to darwins 300th.

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 10:44:00 UTC | #179209

JLD Calgary's Avatar Comment 2 by JLD Calgary

Anyone know of a really good book that thoroughly explains evolution from top to bottom? One that's easy to read and digest? Naturally, I'm all for Darwin, but I'm still running into people that question evolution's merits. I wouldn't mind having a quick read to lend to them when it comes up (Akin to Sam Harris' A Letter to a Christian Nation, something short, sweet and to the point).

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 10:51:00 UTC | #179214

kaiser's Avatar Comment 3 by kaiser

It`s really important that we stop using the word "BELIEVE" in evolution and change it to "ACCEPT" evolution.

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 10:57:00 UTC | #179219

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 4 by mordacious1

JLD
Lot of good books out there. Richard Dawkins is in the process of writing one and I'm sure it will be the best for what you're looking for. If you can wait.

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 11:01:00 UTC | #179223

Reg's Avatar Comment 5 by Reg

JLD
http://www.amazon.com/Evolution-Dummies-Math-Science/dp/0470117737. Nothing implied, honestly.

Reg.

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 11:05:00 UTC | #179229

Naturalist1's Avatar Comment 6 by Naturalist1

JLD Calgary...This site is just an excellent overview of current evolutionary knowledge,Very easy to understand.
University of California-Berkeley: http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/home.php
enjoy,
Darrell

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 11:11:00 UTC | #179236

Dr. Strangegod's Avatar Comment 7 by Dr. Strangegod

JLD - I believe Prof. Coyne has worked/is working on this, and...

kaiser - His stress of "accept" over "believe" in his lecture was indeed right on.

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 11:24:00 UTC | #179244

riemann's Avatar Comment 8 by riemann

@JLD:

Well The Blind Watchmaker comes to mind, by far the clearest exposition of natural selection, i think. Not a short book admitedly, but so very sweet. There's also the "Evolution - What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters" by Donald R. Prothero, about which Michael Shermer commented "The best damn book about evolution - period!" But if it's "top to bottom" insight you want, i don't think it gets any better than Maynard Smith's "The Theory of Evolution", not necessarily short or sweet, but definitely to the point. Coping with selection pressures is all about trade offs, you see.. :)) Needless to say, Dawkins' upcoming book bound to be a contender in this category.

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 11:29:00 UTC | #179249

carbonman's Avatar Comment 9 by carbonman

JLD:

Anyone know of a really good book that thoroughly explains evolution from top to bottom?

The Blind Watchmaker must rank among the best.

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 11:30:00 UTC | #179250

noamzur's Avatar Comment 10 by noamzur

I object to only one thing:

His theories are still rejected by some, notably creationists in the United States, and are less than welcome in the Middle East.

The "Middle East" accepts and welcomes Darwinian ideas in its enlightened and secular parts, and since I originate from there myself I refuse to be branded by the bad apples and stuck in one compartment with them. The fights I have at home are bad enough. Other than that - let the festivities commence!

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 11:35:00 UTC | #179251

CanadianRealist's Avatar Comment 11 by CanadianRealist

"Accept evolution" Yes, that does sound so much better! Acceptance based on evidence, as opposed to belief based on.... ????

Funny that those who reject evolution are the ones most likely to make me believe that they are in fact "descended from monkeys"*.

*Yes, I'm well aware that's a misstatement - monkeys are (distant) cousins, not ancestors - but it's their misstatement, not mine.

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 11:41:00 UTC | #179255

Bruno's Avatar Comment 12 by Bruno

"Evolution - What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters" by Donald R. Prothero is damn good.

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 12:01:00 UTC | #179258

Ole's Avatar Comment 13 by Ole

Anyone know of a really good book that thoroughly explains evolution from top to bottom?

JLD, I would suggest this book, by Carl Zimmer:

http://www.carlzimmer.com/books/evolution/

Ole

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 12:50:00 UTC | #179280

EvidenceOnly's Avatar Comment 14 by EvidenceOnly

11. Comment #188735 by CanadianRealist

Along the same lines, people who believe in a supernatural being and especially creationists, IDiots, GodDitIt-ists are constantly displaying evidence that they either have not evolved as far as the rest of us or that they are total hypocrites.

They believe that they are made by God in his/her/its image but refuse to make use of this God-given ability to think critically.

Since they also believe that everything exists for a purpose, they should accept that their critical thinking has a purpose as well.

Furthermore, they all believe in a very vengeful God.

It seems therefore very logical to conclude that they are greatly infuriating their God for refusing to use the brains that their God so artfully crafted for them.

But then again, logic is not what they are really good at.

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 13:45:00 UTC | #179312

JLD Calgary's Avatar Comment 15 by JLD Calgary

Thanks for the suggestions all. I'm still working my way through The Blind Watchmaker and the Selfish Gene, but when I hit up Chapters there's so many other's that seem interesting it can be a pain to find a simple and short one that still gives you the details.

I actually had someone say that we're "only" 97% similar in DNA to our Chimp cousins... as if he'd be convinced if that number was just a bit higher *laughs* He's also not one to read any length of a normal book, so brevity in novel suggestions is ideal :)

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 14:47:00 UTC | #179329

qomak's Avatar Comment 16 by qomak

Ancestor's tale is also pretty good, I prefer that to blind watchmaker; I find blind watchmaker a bit dumbed down for creationists so ancestor's tale has more material.

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 16:37:00 UTC | #179349

Nova's Avatar Comment 17 by Nova

EvidenceOnly:

They believe that they are made by God in his/her/its image but refuse to make use of this God-given ability to think critically.

Since they also believe that everything exists for a purpose, they should accept that their critical thinking has a purpose as well.
Don't you know? Thinking critically isn't God given it's the work of the devil - why do you think the tree Eve took the fruit from was called the Tree of Knowledge?

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 16:49:00 UTC | #179350

prettygoodformonkeys's Avatar Comment 18 by prettygoodformonkeys

It takes a long time to soak in, because it changes the person who's reading it. Sometimes who you've changed into has to read it again.

Just read everything you can get your hands on, and don't look for a quick fix.

It took 4.5 billion years, after all.

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 17:03:00 UTC | #179353

T4Baxter's Avatar Comment 19 by T4Baxter

Hi everyone,I love this community of commentators! It's a shame our collective wisdom is wasted on this site... you know, we would serve ourselves better by choosing a specified creationist site, each month. And talk about the issues raised on this site, there! :) not only would it be great advertising for RDF it would give the creationist bloggers something to read that might actually help them in achieving that awesome feeling of joy only found though the most probable understanding of the reality we inhabit! The only comment I want to read on here is where your all gonna be at 'this month' :) I think that would kick colon... oh yeah and we can devastate the pallid arguments we discover wherever we tread.

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 18:35:00 UTC | #179368

eggplantbren's Avatar Comment 20 by eggplantbren

I have no problem with the word believe and I don't understand why some people think saying "accept" instead makes any difference whatsoever to the actual issue.

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 20:38:00 UTC | #179394

King of NH's Avatar Comment 21 by King of NH

I wonder if the USPS will put out a Darwin stamp for the occasion, or if they'll back down to the Christservatives.

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 21:28:00 UTC | #179404

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 22 by mordacious1

King of NH

I thought your idea was a good one, so I went on the USPS site to find out about the Stamp Advisory Committee that decides which stamps to issue. You have to put your suggestion in writing THREE YEARS before the issue date of the stamp. This is to give the SAC time to decide on which stamps to issue and to select a design. I think we missed the deadline. Hopefully, someone had more forethought.

Wed, 04 Jun 2008 22:04:00 UTC | #179405

V'Ger's Avatar Comment 23 by V'Ger

I'm still really surprised that so many people reject Darwin's theory - simply because they cannot deal with being descended from an ape.

I just don't understand what the problem is! Not to mention that what they would prefer to have descended from is completely irrelevant.

Thu, 05 Jun 2008 00:37:00 UTC | #179423

Buddha's Avatar Comment 24 by Buddha

For anyone who's already read popular science books on Evolution and wants to dip their toes into more of the meaty technicalities of the subject, I can strongly recommend "Evolution" by Douglas J Futuyma. It's a beautiful undergraduate text that doesn't require too much previous knowledge other than basic high-school biology and maths to get stuck into.

http://www.amazon.com/Evolution-Douglas-J-Futuyma/dp/0878931872/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1212655270&sr=8-1



Even if you don't understand it, it's a pretty weighty tome that is perfect for whacking IDiots round the back of the head.

Thu, 05 Jun 2008 00:46:00 UTC | #179425

irate_atheist's Avatar Comment 25 by irate_atheist

Even in Britain a poll in 2006 showed that only 48 percent of people believed Darwin's evolutionary theories.
Scientists show that 50% of the population is less intelligent than average. Give me a break. Srsly.

Thu, 05 Jun 2008 00:57:00 UTC | #179431

Calilasseia's Avatar Comment 26 by Calilasseia

Eggplantbren, I can tell you what the problem with using the word "believe" with respect to evolution is.

It allows the creationists and other purveyors of supernaturally inspired nonsense to continue peddling the myth that evidence based science is on the same level as their fairy tales. Which is why every time someone runs that specious notion past me in the forums, I insist upon instant correction thereof.

Evolution is massively supported by evidence from observational reality, and denial of the validity of that gigantic stockpile of evidence is not merely untenable, it is perverse. Conclusions supported by evidence don't require "belief" by definition, because "belief" implies uncritical acceptance of unsupported assertions. That's why it is important to be precise here, in order to nail every canard erected by the propagandists for reality-denial doctrines.

You can see the duplicity and mendacity at work frequently in the forums, whenever one of the ideological warriors for creationist fantasies decides to post their usual hit-and-run posts or cut-and-paste screeds from disreputable apologetics websites such as AiG - every time, they refer to those who accept the evidence-based, reality-based case for evolutionary theory as either "Darwinists" or "evolutionists", both words deliberately deployed for the specific purpose of propagating the wilfully and mendaciously errant notion that evidence-based science is merely another "doctrine", and by implication, since they seek to propagate the manifest falsehood that their doctrine is somehow "right", that evidence-based science must necessarily be "wrong" when it dares not to genuflect before their worthless doctrine.

Remember, these individuals will resort to duplicitous abuse of discourse with respect to the matter of propagandising for their assertion-laden, evidence-free doctrine with the same ease as you or I breathe.

Thu, 05 Jun 2008 02:22:00 UTC | #179478

Barry Pearson's Avatar Comment 27 by Barry Pearson

Calilasseia said: Eggplantbren, I can tell you what the problem with using the word "believe" with respect to evolution is. It allows the creationists and other purveyors of supernaturally inspired nonsense to continue peddling the myth that evidence based science is on the same level as their fairy tales.
I don't accept the truth of your statement. I don't accept that use of the word "believe" typically has the effect you claim for it. It doesn't in conversations I have.

Calilasseia said: Conclusions supported by evidence don't require "belief" by definition, because "belief" implies uncritical acceptance of unsupported assertions.
I don't accept the truth of the last part of your statement. If you had made that claim about the word "faith", I would accept it. But, in everyday English, there isn't a consensus that this is what "belief" means. In fact, my reading of dictionaries is that "belief" and "believe" are fairly neutral about the degree of evidence available - they are really describing a state-of-mind, which may have arisen from overwhelming evidence, or from little or none.
http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/believe

Conclusions supported by evidence still typically need people believe them to act upon them. (Because action needs a suitable state-of-mind). If you draw a conclusion supported by evidence, it may still be a wrong conclusion, and future evidence, or different ways of interpreting the same evidence, may lead to different conclusions in future. Science is like that.

And PLEASE don't respond by trying to convince me of the amount of evidence for evolution by natural selection. I've believed for well over 20 years that it (alone) accounts for adaptation in living things around us. And because I believe that, I have been prepared to act upon it, for example by following the instructions carefully when using antibiotics to reduce the risk of helping the evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. (Or by not demanding antibiotics unnecessarily).

Calilasseia said: That's why it is important to be precise here, in order to nail every canard erected by the propagandists for reality-denial doctrines.
Yes, and precision will not be achieved via a single word. In fact, "accept" appears to have a variety of meanings, some of which are unsuitable for current purposes.
http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/accept

You go on to give examples of misleading and indeed malicious distortions of words, such as "Darwinists", "evolutionists", etc. But you didn't justify your criticism of "belief" or "believe" in that. I simply don't accept your statement that "belief" and "believe" are the wrong words, and even dangerous words, to use in this situation. You would have to provide more evidence than you have to cause me to believe you, or to accept your statements.

I stand by what I said elsewhere:
http://www.richarddawkins.net/article,2665,The-Challenge-of-the-New-Creationism,Jerry-Coyne#187919

Thu, 05 Jun 2008 03:14:00 UTC | #179485

KRKBAB's Avatar Comment 28 by KRKBAB

You people don't get it, do you? A book for the MASSES to explain the Theory of Evolution (not evolution) will have to be MORE dumbed down than The Blind Watchmaker. Please don't be in denial about HOW simplistic it should be for the right percentage of the WORLD'S population to finally get it. I'm living proof! Seriously though, there should be several books on several levels- but clearly a VERY simple read (let's not go overboard here) should be available if not just for the masses, but also for a primer to get people (the public) to want to learn more. ALSO- I think one of the best ways to get Christians (at least) see the light of reason, is to focus the hell out of the major elephant in the room. The fact that (as an earlier person posted) thirst for knowledge is associated with being "tempted" by the devil. SURELY this has to be under a HUGE spotlight when-ever there is any debate between Christians and rational thinkers (i.e. skeptics).

Thu, 05 Jun 2008 03:29:00 UTC | #179487

Grumpy Max's Avatar Comment 29 by Grumpy Max

JLD:

I'd second Qomak in recommending The Ancestor's Tale. Not only does it give an account of evolution in the broadest sense, but individual chapters provide lots of fun detail on all sorts of things- what constitutes "speciation", how exactly petrification of fossils occurs, and so on. And there's lots of cool sidetracks into the anatomy and behaviour of specific animals. I annoyed the hell out of my wife when I was reading it because I kept nudging her and saying "Ooh! Listen to this bit about the platypus..." and so on every fifteen minutes.

Thu, 05 Jun 2008 03:37:00 UTC | #179489

j.mills's Avatar Comment 30 by j.mills

I think KRKBAB (#28) has a point. Stuff like The Ancestor's Tale is fascinating to us pop-science gluttons but intimidating to those who don't even read their own Bible.

For my money, the best Dawkins book for beginners is River Out Of Eden, which was written for the Science Masters series of introductory texts. Even that isn't a pocket-sized tract that could be handed out at the door of the temple. The Ladybird Book of Natural Selection is what we need! :)

Thu, 05 Jun 2008 04:25:00 UTC | #179494