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Explore Evolution: The Arguments For and Against Neo-Darwinism Paperback – January 1, 2007

3.2 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Two microbiologists, two philosophers of science and a technical writer present for students a concise introduction to the cases, both pro and con, regarding major aspects of neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory.

Within the evolutionary-biology realm, the authors explore how Darwin's theories of natural selection and universal common descent are faring these days. They use an inquiry-based approach: point, counterpoint. The book's brevity precludes extended treatment of topics, but through succinct language and extensive use of illustrated sidebars and summary boxes, an impressive amount of terrain is covered in a colorful and lively fashion. The role of the fossil record, biogeography and anatomical, molecular and embryonic similarities are rolled out to buttress the theory of universal common descent. Counterclaims follow that seek to undermine the earlier conclusions, including the circular reasoning of the molecular clock, the potential fabrications of Haeckel's ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny, how differing family trees are created via anatomical and molecular patterns of relationships and the meaning of gaps in fossil evidence. They move on to probe how the evidence squares with theories of variation, heritability and differential reproduction; that is, the creative power of natural selection. Challenges to examples of artificial selection and microevolution namely, the beak of the finch and the peppered moth classics take them apart without necessarily dismissing the theories writ large. The same can be said for natural selection as a whole, from disagreements that impugn the validity of co-option in forming complex organisms, or the importance of mutation in producing fundamentally new life forms. Still, in the end, it is Darwinism that raises the interesting questions, which is what good science is all about.

Substantive food for thought about natural selection and universal common descent, and surprisingly rich for so concise a treatment.

--Kirkus Reviews


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Hill House Publishers; 1st edition (January 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0947352481
  • ISBN-13: 978-0947352486
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 7.8 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,193,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Linda Johnsen on June 19, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Our increasing understanding of genetics is raising more and more serious problems about the concept of biological evolution through natural selection. It's starting to look like Darwinism is too simplistic. This excellent book clearly delineates some of these difficulties from both conservative Darwinian and more progressive viewpoints.

Important: This thoughtful and scientifically erudite book does not tout Creationism. What it does do is kick back against uncritical faith in Darwinism. If genetic studies reveal that natural selection cannot explain the production of new species, then what does? No question in science today is more fascinating or more important.
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Format: Paperback
Explore Evolution is the place to start if you want to enter into the discussion between the Neo-Darwinists and the Intelligent Design people over the controversial topic of evolution.
The book is well written, organized, and easy to understand.
Evolution is first defined using three ways of using the word then the book is divided into its constituent parts: Universal Common Descent and the "Creative" Power of natural selection in conjunction with random mutations.
The outline of the book looks like this:
Universal Common Descent: Arguments for and Against
Fossil Succession
Anatomical Homology
Molecular Homology
The Creative Power of Natural Selection: Arguments for and Against
Natural Selection
Natural Selection and Mutation
A New Challenge: Arguments for and Against
Molecular Machines
Special Studies
Natural Selection as Survival of the Fittest
What Fossils Can't tell You
The Nature of Dissent in Science
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A game-changing approach to education. As a college professor who teaches evolution I am now committed to using this textbook. Why? Because it is the only balanced and fair treatment of the subject in print. When I teach philosophy every text I use provides arguments for and against every single position whether your dealing with epistemology, ethics, free will etc., yet for some reason the majority of the biology texts out there only show one perspective and fail to educate students regarding important ideas that are out there. This is not a "religious" or "Christian" textbook in any way and anyone who says so is propagating a straw-man/red herring argument. This book shows why some scientists believe certain things, and why some scientists doubt certain things: period.
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Format: Paperback
I am a PhD scientist, and I also teach honors high-school math and science courses to highly gifted young people. I am convinced that Explore Evolution (EE) will stimulate more interest and encourage more young people to pursue careers in the biological sciences than any other textbook I've seen.

Most high-school biology texts present biology topics (alas, also science) as a list of static theories and stale facts, rather than in the context of an exploration and learning process which is underway, fascinating, changing by the minute, and accessible to most anyone willing to invest themselves. Especially today, as the field of biology is expanding in so many new and exciting ways.

I am also convinced that this book will SWEEP the home-schooling community, as the prose is lucid and non-intimidating to any 'home-school parent.'

For those of you who want to understand why the ID community is critical of Neo-Darwinism, EE is an easy introduction. It is a bit shallow on its presentation of ID itself, as ID was not the focus. For a more thorough yet still accessible intro to ID, Behe's book is an essential read. Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution Behe's sequel is brilliant and thorough, but a bit more challenging read.The Edge of Evolution: The Search for the Limits of Darwinism

I appreciate the inquiry approach employed in EE for use at the high-school level, and have employed it many of my classes in the past.
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Format: Paperback
This textbook is the most balanced treatment of the scientific issues related to evolution theory that I have found anywhere. It is also one of the most readable, as it is presented at the high school and college general science levels. The graphics are excellent. Each of the main issues in evolution theory is presented in a chapter that covers both sides (and sometimes several sides) of the controversy. The key facts and interpretations are generously sourced with citations for fact-checking and deeper research into the literature.

For anyone looking for just one book that covers the main issues regarding Darwin's theory, I recommend this one. Also, the material is well suited to teaching critical thinking and other fundamentals of the scientific method. While the public controversy over Darwinian theory is often clouded with religious concepts, this text deals only with the scientific aspects, which makes it an excellent choice for use in science courses in public schools and colleges.
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