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The Evidence for Evolution

4.5 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0226723822
ISBN-10: 0226723828
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Editorial Reviews


“Lucid, compact, up-to-date, and highly readable.”
(Ross H. Nehm, Ohio State University BioScience)

The Evidence for Evolution is a find advocate’s case for Darwin’s theory.”
(Michael J. Behe, Lehigh University Review of Metaphysics)

“The volume is clearly written and presents helpful examples for readers. In addition to providing an excellent introduction for general readers, this book will be of use in a variety of introductory courses on biology or as a supplement to a more general treatment of evolutionary theory.”
(Chris Zarpentine, University of Utah Quarterly Review of Biology)

“[A] fresh and splendid little book.”

(Warren D. Allmon Reports of the National Center for Science Education)

“Alan Rogers addresses the political controversy over the theory of evolution (there’s no longer any scientific controversy) in the best scientific spirit: with evidence and logic. For anyone with an open mind, a curiosity about the natural world, and a desire to see controversies settled with evidence rather than rhetoric, this is an invaluable contribution and a fascinating read.”

(Steven Pinker, Harvard University)

“This work is novel and significant because of the growing misunderstanding of the concepts of evolution. Rogers does a great job of presenting the creationists’ arguments and providing some of the best evidence to counter those arguments. He brings the full arsenal of what modern science has to offer, but also does so in a respectful manner that is accessible to a broad audience without condescending language. This is exactly the kind of message that evolutionary biologists should be sending.”

(Christina Richards, University of South Florida)

“An elegant little128-page book by a veteran University of Utah scientist that explains and defends the theory of evolution.”

(Roger Ebert)

From the Author

It is interesting to think about what Darwin didn't know.  He didn't know about genetics, about continental drift, or about the age of the earth. He had never seen a species change, and he had no idea whether it was even possible for a species to split in two. He knew of no transitional fossils and of almost no human fossils. It is hardly surprising that people in the 1860s found so many ways to attack the theory. 

Evolution skeptics have invented lots of arguments, and I trace each of them back to their source. It turns out that all of them were introduced during the 1860s. Take for example the one that asks "what good is half an eye?" That was introduced in 1866 by the man who taught mathematics and botany to Darwin's sons.  In those years, evolution skeptics proposed several arguments that were hard to refute, so it is easy to understand why so many people were skeptical.

We have learned a lot in the past 150 years and are no longer ignorant about any of the issues I listed at the top. So why are people still skeptical? I suspect that most people are simply not familiar with the evidence. There is no way to make the case in a few paragraphs, or in a television interview. That is why I wrote this book.

I have tried to write a book that is short, inexpensive, and easy to read. I couldn't assume that readers would take my word for anything, so I never say "trust me"--I explain everything. How well did I succeed? You be the judge.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (June 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226723828
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226723822
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #424,237 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book really is one example of evolution after another. A few examples Alan Rogers discusses include the intermediate fossils that link land mammals to whales, the adaptation of the complex eye, the medium ground finch on Daphne Major, and the transposons shared between species.

One very important thing to mention is that this is NOT a book that tries to "prove" evolution over creationism. Rogers does a very fair job discussing where the two groups agree and where their opinions differ, and then he presents evidence for evolution. As a Christian who also accepts evolution it is sometimes difficult for me to read books arguing for, or against, evolution because many authors try to polarize the reader into one thinking or the other. Rogers uses the word "Creationist" to describe evolution skeptics, but doesn't bother himself with arguing against Creationism. This leaves the reader free to enjoy learning about the evidence for evolution without feeling at all defensive.

You do not need to be a scientist to understand "The Evidence for Evolution." It has been written for ANY adult to understand, it is only 102 pages, and it is quick-paced. If you like reading, love learning, and would like to know more about evolution this is a great weekend read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
At only 102 pages in the main text, this book gets one's attention. What did he decide to include and what got left out? How does this book compare to other writers who attempt to explain the evidence for evolution to the public with their recently published works - for example Dawkins, Miller and Coyne?

There are 10 short chapters, so the book is an easy read. Chapter 2 describes microevolution, although he never uses the term that I recall. Chapter 3 will be a favorite of readers since it discusses evidence for macroevolution; he covers whale fossils and then combines the fossil evidence with whale transposon data to show how genetics and fossils come together to conclusively demonstrate macroevolution, confirming each other with a very nice and unique touch. Chapter 5 is unique as it discusses adaptive peaks and valleys and how species can cross them. His garden hose analogy is wonderfully applied to the recurrent laryngeal nerve and vas deferens anatomy. Other topics discussed include island biogeography in Chapter 6 with Rogers returning to the cladogram as evidence for evolution, and repeating the format used in the transposon discussion. Everyone should read his discussion of isochrons in Chapter 7 and how we know the ancient age of our earth and fossils. As he did with the whales, Rogers combines the fossil record for human evolution with the newer genetic data showing how transposons confirm the human fossil record in Chapter 8. There is an Index and Bibliography. I don't recall much if any mention of ERVs, Human Chromosome 2 fusion, nor atavisms which are important to consider in the context of the transposon data he presents.

If you're short on time, read this one. If you can, read both Rogers and Coyne (Why Evolution Is True).
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Format: Paperback
[Full disclosure: I'm a friend of the author and his family.]

This book is an excellent addition to the argument that has been running for over 150 years: is Darwinian evolution the best way to explain the origins of the human species and diversity of life we see on Earth today?

Rogers engages with the most important questions people might have about evolution, and showcases the wealth of evidence that has collected over the centuries in support of evolution. He traces the most common criticisms of evolution back to the 1860s, and as he does so, he shows how little evidence supported evolution at the time, and how much has been collected since.

Throughout the book, he is very polite and respectful towards people of faith, and surprisingly patient as he engages the doubts that people might have. Though the author leaves little room for doubt about the veracity of evolution, he never insults believers or their faith, belying the claim (on both sides) that faith and science cannot coexist.

The book is brief, but packed with good information, clear writing, and strong reasoning. It's exactly as long as it needs to be without getting bogged down. I suspect that readers who aren't already familiar with some scientific concepts will have trouble in places, but any intelligent layperson should get something useful out of it. I do think a "For Dummies" version of the book could usefully serve a wider audience, but The Evidence for Evolution is an excellent read, and belongs on your shelf.
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Format: Paperback
This is a book that should have a ready market; misconceptions about evolution and evolutionary theory are the norm in the USA today. The author makes the important point that almost every criticism of evolutionary theory has the same basis - they are all arguments from personal incredulity. He wrote a book aimed at relieving some of that incredulity, and providing the knowledge needed to understand the evidence. There are individual chapters devoted to many of the most popular misconceptions (e.g. "So Species Change?", "Can Evolution Lead to Big Changes?", Has There Been Enough Time?, etc.). Each chapter outlines the evidence, with citations to the literature as needed. Note that all of these questions are the same as those that arose in Darwin's time, and were originally (and effectively) addressed in "On the Origin of Species". Then Rogers summarizes the evidence, old and new, in a paragraph or two. This is an effective strategy to reach someone who is genuinely incredulous and who can examine the evidence reasonably. Sadly, many evolution skeptics have not come to skepticism via reason, and thus reason cannot be used to move them out of skepticism. (This review is excerpted from my review in Choice, the review journal of the American Library Association.)
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