- Paperback: 496 pages
- Publisher: Free Press; Reprint edition (August 24, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1416594795
- ISBN-13: 978-1416594796
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.3 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 687 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,497 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution Reprint Edition
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Richard Dawkins transformed our view of God in his blockbuster, The God Delusion, which sold more than 2 million copies in English alone. He revolutionized the way we see natural selection in the seminal bestseller The Selfish Gene. Now, he launches a fierce counterattack against proponents of "Intelligent Design" in his latest New York Times bestseller, The Greatest Show on Earth. "Intelligent Design" is being taught in our schools; educators are being asked to "teach the controversy" behind evolutionary theory. There is no controversy. Dawkins sifts through rich layers of scientific evidenceâfrom living examples of natural selection to clues in the fossil record; from natural clocks that mark the vast epochs wherein evolution ran its course to the intricacies of developing embryos; from plate tectonics to molecular geneticsâto make the airtight case that "we find ourselves perched on one tiny twig in the midst of a blossoming and flourishing tree of life and it is no accident, but the direct consequence of evolution by non-random selection." His unjaded passion for the natural world turns what might have been a negative argument, exposing the absurdities of the creationist position, into a positive offering to the reader: nothing less than a masterâs vision of life, in all its splendor.
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Some of the counter-evolutionary arguments he addressed for example were, and im going to just put the name of the subsections; "show me your crocoduck", "ill believe in evolution when a monkey gives birth to a baby", and the pernicious legacy of the great chain of being - aka the "missing links" retort. He comes at the missing-link argument by giving example of many missing-links that were in fact discovered, like the fascinating discovery of the Tiktaalik, which was found to have lived in the so-called "missing-link" (i.e. the transitioning 20 million-year period at the end of the Devonian and the beginning of the Carboniferous) and may very well represent the shocking evolutionary transition from fish to amphibian. "Missing-links" are in other words, the absence of transitional fossils and creationists are enamored with it. The author explains that we should be grateful that there are any preserved fossils at all and that we don't in fact need fossils in order to demonstrate that evolution is a fact. A good metaphor is used in the beginning of chapter 6 of a detective walking into a crime scene and despite obtaining DNA evidence, the suspect having inferential familial motive, clues such as fingerprints and toe prints, and even a video recording of the suspect entering the room and leaving it right after the time of death, the defense lawyer still hold tightly against the prosecutors case saying that there's no video evidence of the murder itself, so therefore we can't prove that the suspect is guilty. In a court of law, the jury would find the defendant guilty. Juxtapose this to evolution and those that deny it. Toward the twilight of the book, Dawkins talks about the universal paradigm of DNA, that is, the internal similarity of all organisms. This purports to the salient ascension of all species today from a [more] common primordial ancestor. The author touches a bit on evolutionary theodicy and then in the final chapter deciphers the last paragraph of Charles Darwin's On the Origin Of Species which goes:
"Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved" - Charles Darwin