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Why is a Fly Not a Horse?

3.5 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0963865472
ISBN-10: 0963865471
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Editorial Reviews

Review

I am only halfway through, but the spell has already been cast. -- Jonathan Witt, Senior Fellow, Discovery Institute

The attentive reader of this book will be fascinated from beginning to end. -- Dr. Leendert van der Hammen, Founder of the Osaka Group for the Study of Dynamic Structures

With charming prose Sermonti describes biology which contradicts Darwinian expectations: leaf insects... before leaves, insects before plants. -- Dr. Michael Behe, Author, Darwin's Black Box

From the Publisher

This book is part of a series published by the Center for Science & Culture at the Discovery Institute in Seattle. Previous books in the series include Are We Spiritual Machines?: Ray Kurzweil vs. The Critics of Strong A.I. by Jay W. Richards et al and Getting the Facts Straight: A Viewer's Guide to PBS's Evolution by the Discovery Institute.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Discovery Institute (July 11, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0963865471
  • ISBN-13: 978-0963865472
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,677,327 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ricardo F. Oliveira on September 16, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found reading the book very enjoyable. One of the points that I liked most was how Giuseppe Sermonti shows that there is no determinism of DNA in relation to some differences in body structure and function. Evidently fundamentalists will label the book creationist garbage. But that does not matter. The dogs bark but the caravan passes.
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This is a good popular work that focuses on the more interesting/less talked about side of the debate. Dr. Sermonti, a famous and well-respected geneticist, speaks with much eloquence about the anomalies in nature that throw a monkey-wrench into Darwin's theory. However, he's not a creationist; rather, it seems that he takes more of a Platonist's view of biological organisms.

Such topics include:

A. The fact that organisms with varying complexity do not have proportional genome sizes. If neo-Darwinian evolutionary theory (NDET from now on) were true, shouldn't mammals have more DNA than amphibians, mollusks, or flowering plants? You would think so if NDET were true and an increase in DNA meant an increase in complexity, but you'd be wrong. They vary *widely*.

B. The sudden appearance and stasis of species in the fossil record. Though this is frequently discussed in other books in the origins debate, it is always good to throw it in.

C. How some animals seem not to be fitted for their environment, but rather, they seem to be works of art. As Sermonti put it: "In fish the colors can be bright and resplendent, even among species that never see the light of upper regions, but their patterning bears no relationship to internal structure; the colors just seem to be put there like paints on an artist's palette" (p.58). There are other things mentioned such as the beautiful mathematical shape of the mollusk's shell and the innate knowledge of some birds to know their bird-song without being taught it.

D. The fact that the same genes (such as hox genes) can create different structures in different animals. For instance, a cat's "eye" genes that are transferred to a blind fly's egg will create the multi-faceted eyes in a fly.

E.
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I find the structure of this book to be surprising. Most of what Mr. Sermonti has to say is fairly irrelevant to the question of the veracity of NeoDarwinian evolution. He makes a strong case that there are other specific structures in living organisms beside DNA that must be carefully reproduced for life to reproduce. How this is consequential is beyond me. Reproduction is reproduction. Whether it is DNA or prions, if there is accurate reproduction, with rare but existing reproduction error (mutation), then the raw material for NeoDarwinian evolution exists.

However, Mr. Sermonti presents data that is fundamentally contrary to NeoDarwinian evolution. If his data is correct, the only logical conclusion can be that mutation + natural selection, with all of it's subtleties, cannot adequately explain this data. If it cannot adequately explain this data, then it is not the complete answer to the question of how all the varieties of life came to be.

Some have questioned whether NeoDarwinian evolution is falsifiable. Certainly there have been many expectations from simple theory which have found to be too simplistic.

* Scientists expected gradualism to render in the rock record, and concluded that punctuated equilibrium was a better description of the rock record. Rather than finding the theory to be false, evolution adapted to absorb this new data, to the point where punctuated equilibrium is now considered to be a characteristic of NeoDarwinian evolution.

* Studies of animals with similar characteristics were found to have fundamentally different heredities. Seals and Manatees, for instance, are both primarily aquatic animals that have a lot of similarities, but do not have a common ancestry.
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The proponents of intelligent design have exposed the weakness of neo-darwinism in much better ways than I could have, even though I've tried, even before the movement began. It doesn't take a scientist to recognize an underlying philosophy and the glaring absense of REAL proof of BLIND forces being the true origin of species. ID proponents acknowledge darwinian evolution's place as a means to SURVIVE but, as Sermonti points out, it's as much for animals to revert back to a previous state, as it is for them to change.

The typical mainstream scientist, not unlike the old clergy of the Dark Ages, means to avoid confusing the public with the real meat of the argument. Smart enough to realize taht people will "regress" to their "less fit" religious thinking, the hidden premises of neo-darwinism are never presented in their entirety to the public. Those days are over. With more and more scientists coming "out of the closet" the mission of the mainstreamers to "enlighten" the public with their senseless, empty dogma will fail.

This particular book has some excellent prose and the author clearly has a love of nature and its majesty. He exposes the emptiness and short-sighted emphasis on the genetic CODE, when nature is found in its FORM. He points out how code is merely a language. Not only that, the current evidence indicates that genes seem to do pretty much everything but determine form (with some exceptions). Furthermore, Sermonti asks, who or what is there to decipher the language--a language far too complex for any computer to utilize and predict what a genetic code will express in actual character. He discusses, for example, why tigers look so regal and fierce, as opposed to looking like a squirrel. Is that necessary for survival?
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