- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Viking Adult; First Edition edition (January 22, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0670020532
- ISBN-13: 978-0670020539
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.3 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (458 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #228,748 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Why Evolution Is True Hardcover – January 22, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. With great care, attention to the scientific evidence and a wonderfully accessible style, Coyne, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of Chicago, presents an overwhelming case for evolution. Ranging from biogeography to geology, from anatomy to genetics, and from molecular biology to physiology, he demonstrates that evolutionary theory makes predictions that are consistently borne out by the data—basic requirements for a scientific theory to be valid. Additionally, although fully respectful of those who promote intelligent design and creationism, he uses the data at his disposal to demolish any thought that creationism is supported by the evidence while also explaining why those ideas fall outside the bounds of science. Coyne directly addresses the concept often advanced by religious fundamentalists that an acceptance of evolution must lead to immorality, concluding that evolution tells us where we came from, not where we can go. Readers looking to understand the case for evolution and searching for a response to many of the most common creationist claims should find everything they need in this powerful book, which is clearer and more comprehensive than the many others on the subject. Illus. (Jan. 26)
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*Starred Review* Far more presentational than disputatious, Coyne’s demonstration that evolution has proven itself in lab and field is still a deliberate answer to anti-evolutionism, especially creationism or intelligent design (ID). At its most comprehensive, creationism/ID claims that each species is the product of a separate creative act; less universally, that at least humans were so created. Frequently throughout lucid, accessible chapters on the fossil record, vestigial features of modern bodies (e.g., the tail rarely seen but documented in newborns), biogeography, natural selection, sexual selection, speciation, and human evolution—the basic areas of evolutionary investigation—Coyne remarks that the material evidence confirms evolution, not creationism/ID. For the evidence shows complexities and imperfections that creationism/ID can’t explain or even allow, for that would necessitate positing a sloppy, imperfect creator or intelligence that couldn’t fashion creatures to ideally fit either their habitats or their bodies. Evolution, on the other hand, expects imperfection and jerry-rigging, and the physical findings, lately made much more precise by genetic analysis, just bolster confidence in it. In conclusion, Coyne wonders what it would take to convince the apparently reasonable people who still deny evolution. A new Milton, perhaps, to justify evolution’s ways in great poetry? Meanwhile, at a time—the Darwin bicentennial and Origin of Species sesquicentennial—when good evolution books are rife, Coyne has given general readers one of the best. --Ray Olson
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Top customer reviews
These two books together make for great companion pieces. Dawkins book is thicker and he tends to try and spend a bit more time explaining things and going into detail, whereas this book is much more succinct and Coyne moves quickly from evidence to evidence.
He's a really great writer with an immense vocabulary. The skill with which it was written is as enjoyable an experience to read and take in as the topic itself is interesting.
Language might be a bit difficult for younger readers, but still a very important book to own. After reading these two books, you walk out feeling like an expert on evolutionary biology yourself. EX. there are professional terms used occasionally and explained (such as dimorphism). Check it out!
P.S. Question to those who own the re-issue: It says it has over 300 pages, my copy has about 270 including references. What kind of extra material is in the rest of it? Is it worth re-buying?
From there, he lays out chapter by chapter, example by example, the case for evolution. He moves from the fossil realm to modern plants and animals showing the similarities and anomalies (best example - leg bones in whales, not attached to the rest of the skeleton) that only evolution can explain. He also gives a thorough, but not sleep-inducing, explanation of the various kinds of selection and the pressures that affect them. Although, to be fair, I'm a Zoologist, and I began to lose interest about halfway through his chapter on sexual selection. It wasn't as gripping as the prior chapters. But I did learn a lot about female preference that I've always known on a personal level (all women know this), but never went into in detail when studying for my degree.
Along the way, he pauses from time to time to talk about what we'd expect to see from design, and why the natural world doesn't fit into the ID or Creationist view of the way things happened.
All in all, Coyne makes the best, most easily understood case for evolution that I've ever read. If your doubting friends read it and aren't convinced, it's because they refuse to see what's right in front of them.
My only problems were his infrequent potshots at Young Earth Creationists and theists in general. Whenever he tries to contrive some way of questioning the Creator, he stretches quite a bit to do so, often misrepresenting the more intelligent variations of the YEC and OEC positions. His subtle digs at Christianity are hard to ignore, but they are to be expected; Coyne is a militant atheist, and would rather see religion die anyway. He doesn't care.
Further, Coyne is not a theologian. He is a scientist. I can think of no good reason for him to bring God up at all in this book since he wishes to deal only with the natural world. Rather than criss-cross between theologian/philosopher and scientist, I would rather he stuck with the science. He's a much better scientist than he is a philosopher or theologian.