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Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design Paperback – July 24, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From 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 © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

The publisher of Skeptic magazine was once an enthusiastic Evangelical Christian, but his ardent pursuit of a scientific education induced reconsideration. Now he staunchly advocates discriminating religion from science and in this book concisely defends evolutionary theory from the almost exclusively -Evangelical--Christian-backed concept of intelligent design (ID), aka creationism, aka creation science--the name changes whenever a suit over having public schools teach the idea as science gets shot down by a high U.S. court (the ID movement always appeals mere state-court decisions). Shermer debates ID often, and he expertly marshals point-by-point explanations of why evolution is worthwhile science, why ID isn't science at all, why ID criticisms of evolution are irrelevant, why science cannot invalidate religion, and why Christians and conservatives ought to accept evolution. His orderly presentation makes the book something of a reference manual on evolution, and only the historically minded will smile at his citation of congruence between evolution and Adam Smith as reason for conservatives to embrace evolution, for Smith's capitalism is a branch of classical liberalism. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks; 1st edition (July 24, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805083065
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805083064
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.6 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #443,544 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael Shermer is the Founding Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Skeptic magazine ( and the Director of The Skeptics Society. He is a Visiting Associate at the California Institute of Technology, and hosts the Skeptics Lecture Series at Cal Tech. He has authored several popular books on science, scientific history, and the philosophy and history of science, including Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time, How We Believe: The Search for God in an Age of Science, and Denying History: Who Says the Holocaust Never Happened and Why Do They Say It? (with Alex Grobman). Shermer is also a radio personality and the host of the Fox Family Channel's Exploring the Unknown. He lives in Los Angeles, California.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

246 of 255 people found the following review helpful By David H. Peterzell PhD PhD on September 6, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Every now and then, a student or scientist comes to me and wants to express dislike for the theory of evolution, or to argue in favor of intelligent design. These people are often exceptionally bright, and they've often thought carefully about their positions. I've come to really appreciate their presence in my scientific and academic world, even though I don't agree with them. I've learned quite a bit from these people about science, spirituality, and life.

And so, because of these people, I really enjoyed this book. The author takes a strong position, and I happen to agree with him, mostly. I didn't learn much that I don't already know because I have studied evolution and I'm already on his side. But I get the sense that I could share this with book with those who don't agree, and have an intelligent discussion about it. I really don't know how this book will fare in the hands of religious people who emphatically dismiss and ridicule Darwin and favor intelligent design, but I appreciate the fact that the author doesn't indulge in insults. He simply teaches the reader about the facts of evolution and the scientific enterprise. "Intelligent Design" simply crumbles away because there's no science to support it. Shermer is attempting to blast unscientific ideas out of your belief system, but more than that, he's painting a flattering picture of the scientific enterprise, and evolutionary theory in particular. If you fall in love with the scientific enterprise, and see that Darwin played by the rules, you'll be in good shape.

Shermer's strategy is interesting. He'll probably never persuade many advocates to abandon their positions on intelligent design. The fundamentalists simply use ID as a vehicle for their entrenched religious beliefs.
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110 of 115 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Hilbe on August 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For several years I have planned to write a book on this topic when I finished my other publishing obligations. However, there is no reason to consider it now -- at least not on the topic of ID versus biological science. Shermer has done such a great job that I shall simply refer it to those who ask me questions realted to evolution, intelligent design, and Darwinian theory in general. It is a small (168 pp plus notes) work, but it covers the major points of evolution VS ID extremely well.

Shermer does not talk down to those who claim to understand evolutionary science, but clearly do not. Rather, he presents the various criticisms that have been made against evolution by ID theorists and answers them in a calm and rational manner.

He also presents the logic behind biological/evolutionary science in a masterful manner, directed to anyone with a high school education or above. He invites the reader to think about the arguments as he presents them, and carefully anticipates the traditional misunderstandings that ID theorists and creationists have ragarding science.

I think where Shermer is at his best is in his discussion of the reasoning process behind ID theory and creationism. As a former creationist himself, he understands their manner of thinking. I have many times wondered at the reasoning process used by those who criticize evolution and science in general. How can it be so easy to overlook the vast evidence in support of evolution and yet so easy to swallow the fabricated objections made up by creationist spokespersons? Shermer's view that places the true creationist objection of evolution outside of science makes good sense. The argument has been made before, as have most if not all arguments made in the book. Shermer's ability though is to express the discussion in a clear, fair, and logical manner.

I highly recommend the book to anyone interesting in the topic.
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Format: Paperback
In "Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design" Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine, reviews succinctly both the overwhelming evidence in support of contemporary evolutionary theory and the pseudoscientific religious nonsense known as Intelligent Design, and then, discusses "the real, unsolved problems in evolution". Shermer, for example, has ample space to describe briefly Ernst Mayr's theory of allopatric speciation, and its relationship to punctuated equilibrium, the evolutionary paleontological theory developed by American invertebrate paleontologists Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould. But he also devotes ample space to dissecting Intelligent Design concepts like William Dembski's "Law of Conservation of Information", noting its irrelevance to both current mathematical information theory and the transfer and accretion of information - via DNA - in living biological systems. He offers an elegant overview of the origins and history of the so-called "Evolution vs. Intelligent Design Debate", devoting ample time to the existence of the infamous "Wedge Document" and the trial proceedings of the Kitzmiller vs. Dover trial and, of course, the harsh verdict rendered by Federal Judge John E. Jones III against both Intelligent Design and the Dover Area School District board.

Shermer's terse tome is noteworthy for several reasons.
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