Reddit Reddit reviews Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body

We found 63 Reddit comments about Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body. Here are the top ones, ranked by their Reddit score.

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Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body
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63 Reddit comments about Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body:

u/GenL · 44 pointsr/askscience

Your Inner Fish is a book about researchers who predicted one of the missing links between fish and amphibians, and then found it. Not a soft tissue prediction, but in the same vein. Great read.

u/modeler · 40 pointsr/askscience

Shubin's Your Inner Fish covered this from an evolutionary/development perspective - an amazingly fascinating read.

In a shortened, abridged summary: The head of a shark is a series of segments where each segment as one vertebra, and in ennervated by nerves from that vertebra, and each vertebra has one gill pair. Nice and logical.

However, in mammals, many of those segments are munged together to create a neck, throat, ears and larynx structures from the gills, and many other components have moved from their original segment into the mess. The new jumbled components are ennervated from their historic segment, leaving some nerves very long and weird paths - for example the recurrent laryngeal nerve exits the spine close to the larynx, loops down to the heart, then back up to the larynx. It all made sense in the shark...

u/MisanthropicScott · 32 pointsr/atheism

I always recommend Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin because it's less antagonistic and more matter of fact about our evolution. Another good choice might be The Third Chimpanzee by Jared Diamond. Again, I'm trying to think of the less obvious and less vitriolic choices than Harris or Dawkins. Handing him something entitled "The God Delusion" is likely to just shut off his brain instantly.

Oh ... to combat the Young Earth mentality, you could consider something like A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking.

u/NewManTown · 31 pointsr/NoStupidQuestions

Kind of a combination of things - but in general the age old adage "if it ain't, broke don't fix it" applies here.

See about 500 million years ago the basic body plan for tetrapods was decided upon. From this basic body plan very few modifications have been made. For whatever reason four limbs, two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, two kidneys, two lungs, two ovaries/testes, but one heart and one liver worked for it so it works for us.

Its not just humans that have these basic structures - birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and other mammals all have this basic body plan. Yes some have lost their limbs - like snakes, and others have lost an ovary - like birds...but underlying it all is that same basic blueprint. You may be interested in the book your inner fish.

u/lemmetrainurdragon · 30 pointsr/gifs

It's not that weird. We share a lot of the same neurobiology. The seeds of our emotional brains are present in other animals. The late Jaak Panksepp did a lot a lot of great work on the neurobiology of animal and human emotion. Here's a TED talk by him:

Humans didn't evolve the capacity for emotions out of nowhere, just like we don't have eyes or arms or a spine out of nowhere. (For more detail, I recommend Neil Shubin's Your Inner Fish, and Panksepp's The Archaeology of Mind.) The rudiments are there in the animals, whose ancestors we share, though they may have gone onto divergent evolutionary pathways.

u/mausphart · 11 pointsr/evolution

Here are some books, articles, websites and YouTube Videos that helped me on my journey from a hardcore creationist to a High School Biology teacher.


The Language of God - By Francis Collins ~ A defense of Evolution by the head of the Human Genome Project (Who also happens to be Christian)

Only a Theory - By Ken Miller ~ Another Christian biologist who accepts and vigorously defends the theory of evolution

Your Inner Fish - by Neil Shubin ~ The wonderful story of how Tiktaalik was found

Why Evolution is True - By Jerry Coyne ~ A simple and thorough treatment of evolution written for the mainstream

The Greatest Show on Earth - By Richard Dawkins ~ A wonderful and beautifully written celebration of evolution

The Panda's Thumb - By Stephen Jay Gould ~ A collection of eloquent and intelligent essays written by SJG. Any of his collections would do but this one is my favorite.


Crossing the Divide - By Jennifer Couzin ~ an article about an ex-creationist and his difficult journey into enlightenment.

15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense - John Rennie ~ a nice rundown of the major objections to evolution.


An index of Creationist Claims - Via the TalkOrigins archive ~ an impressive index of the major problems creationists have with evolution, as well as good, evidence based rebuttals.


Why do People Laugh at Creationsts? - Via Thunderf00t ~ a scathing review of outrageous sins of logic committed by creationists. Thunderf00t's style isn't for everyone, since he can come off as smug and superior

How Evolution Works - Via DonExodus2 ~ a nice and thorough overview of how evolution works

The Theory of Evolution Made Easy - Via Potholer54

Evolution - Via Qualia Soup ~ short (10 minutes), simple and well made, this is one of my go-to videos to help logically explain how evolution happens.

u/Fortbuild · 10 pointsr/biology

One of my favorites, Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin, puts evolution in a wonderful context. It focuses on the evolution of development and shows you just how related you are to all other animals.

u/PopeKevin45 · 10 pointsr/atheism

Zero evidence equals zero reason to believe. Your understanding of how evolution works needs some help... try reading some non-religious sources. I suggest 'Your Inner Fish' by Neil Shubin.

u/tsvk · 9 pointsr/exchristian

Some books that have been often mentioned as good introductory texts about evolution for the layman:

Why Evolution Is True by Jerry Coyne

The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins

Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin

Websites with general information: (old site:

The folks at /r/evolution might be interested in giving their view, too if you have any specific questions.

You could also look into the biology curriculum of your college and check out the introductory biology courses you will soon be taking, and buy in advance the textbook(s) that deal with evolution.

u/qpdbag · 7 pointsr/biology

I just began reading Your Inner Fish recently. It's pretty great so far. Definitely a focus on shubins experience with paleontology, but he does go a fair bit into molecular genetics as well.

Can't really say much else until I finish it.

u/Sewwattsnew · 7 pointsr/evolution

Since it hasn't been mentioned yet, Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin is a good one. It's short, and easy to read, the author has a very friendly, conversational tone. It is primarily focused on human evolution, rather than evolution in general, though.

u/TheBlackCat13 · 7 pointsr/evolution

Not a book, but the overviews on are a good place to start. Just start at the top and work down. It addresses some common theological issues.

You can also look at an index to creationist claims on the site, which has short answers to many points creationists raise, including a section on philosophy and theology.

You also might look at the unrelated biologos and clergy letter project for more theological support for evolution.

As for book, someone already mentioned "Why Evolution is True". Your Inner Fish is also a good place to start. The Greatest Show on Earth is also supposed to be good although I haven't read it.

If you do become interested in debating, or if you just have questions, it would be better to head over to /r/DebateEvolution, which specializes in the issue and has a lot of people very knowledgeable about the subject.

u/spydez · 6 pointsr/AskReddit

But the coached creationist will say, "Macro has never been proven! No new species have been formed! No matter how much you selectively breed dogs, you still end up with a dog that can interbreed with other dogs!"

The proper answer, of course, is to shove Your Inner Fish down their throat... that or smile and back away slowly.

/used to be a well-coached creationist, so hopefully I'm still allowed to make fun of them... >.>

u/freedagent · 5 pointsr/biology
u/sanschag · 5 pointsr/biology

I think Dawkins' The Ancestor's Tale is one of his best. It takes the traditional bacteria to human story of evolution and flips it on its head, escaping the sense of directed progress that so often occurs in evolutionary books. I would also second the suggestion for Shubin's Your Inner Fish.

u/LordBeverage · 5 pointsr/philosophy

> and that means it is the end of the discussion is vapid

No one said that is the end of the discussion. They said it answers the question asked.

> short sighted, and lacks serious contemplation of the issue

Again simply asserted and not argued for.

> On top of all of that, it is overly simplistic.

No its not. In fact, though I doubt you've ever seriously studied evolutionary theory, it is quite complicated.

> In other words, saying we do what we do because of evolution presupposes and begs so many answers and questions that it is often times not a respectable or acceptable answer for those seeking greater understanding...

I don't think you have any idea at all about which questions and or answers are presupposed by explaining any of this in terms of evolutionary theory. A few specific (non-metaphorical) examples would be nice.

Again, you need to be careful: No one is saying everything we do makes sense in direct evolutionary terms. Skydiving doesn't seem to make any sense in evolutionary terms. But excitement, adventure, and thrill seeking do.

> For instance, if I order a pizza and want to know where it came from, Pizza Hut, while a valid answer doesn't address the greater(possible) context.

Answering "pizza hut" answers the question you asked. If you would like to know more, you must ask different, better questions. You didn't ask "where does the dough in my pizza come from?" you asked "where did my pizza come from?". This is not lazy, unimaginative, or vapid, it is accurate to the question asked. If you have a better, more specific question, there are other answers that make perfect sense in terms of pizza hut.

> While some of the questions to which I ask may never be known, to assert them as unimportant or lacking in value shows a bias and a personal prejudice that could very well lead to ignorance.

First, this doesn't follow. Just wanted to call your attention to that. Examining a question to discover that it doesn't really mean anything requires some of the most careful thinking humans do, and no-one could properly show that a question doesn't have value without first understanding what that value or meaning seems to be. And no, doing this does not engender any kind of bias or prejudice, in fact quite the opposite, it requires complete, accurate understanding.

"What is the color of envy?" Certainly green. But wait, that question doesn't make any sense. Emotions don't have colors. The question "why have we culturally associated negative emotions with colors which in certain constituents (vomit, rot, defication) trigger disgust?" is a much better, more meaningful question. But envy doesn't actually have a color, it is an emotion.

Second, nice straw-man. I suspect you're carrying baggage over from previous conversations.

> While I am not directing this at any person here, I am saying that I've seen many atheists lack either the willingness or comprehension skills necessary to consider other arguments/evaluate their own.

Ah yes, baggage definitely carried over from previous conversations. Never mind that this assertion, completely out of left field, shows a pretty gross generalization, I doubt you look any more intellectually capable or willing to them.

> Simply put, claiming that the reason for us being here is because evolution "just is" blindly assumes too much.

Like what? Again, I don't think you have even the slightest idea.

> After all there is no proof of this such a position, and even more so then that, there are good possible arguments to be made to the very contrary.

Oh lordy here it comes.

Read a book. Seriously prove yourself to be not a hypocrite and go buy those two books right now. And read them in full, charitably, even if you're not a creationist.

> Regardless my main point is simply this, many people(atheists) who argue for evolution as an answer worthy of general acceptance within humanity (for our be all end all origins of existence) have given up on the serious consideration of other alternatives

Yes, because the alternatives have been so thoroughly trounced, debunked, and defeated which evolution has been so thoroughly explanatory, consistent, and supported.

> as such are generally not interested in a fruitful discussion but merely want to espouse their dogmatic world view.

"Fruitful discussion" isn't just discussion which includes totally erroneous, impossible things. Upon your asking about where your pizza came from, my suggesting that we pay serious attention to my hypothesis that it was pooped out exactly as is by a superhero I call Pizza Man three minutes ago would not be a means to fruitful discussion. Having a diverse discussion isn't having a fruitful one. A fruitful discussion proceeds toward truth, it doesn't include as many possibilities as possible for their own sake.

> It's a completely different thing to say that since evolution created us we should just believe that is the totality of our origins.

Again, the stench of baggage here is heavy. First, if evolution created us, evolution created us, that is the totality of our origins. The question you're trying desperately to beg includes evolution creating us by the hand of a sky wizard. If that were the case, it wouldn't be evolution creating us. It would be evolution and a sky wizard. No evidence of the sky wizard, no reason to think he created us through evolution. No reason to think he didn't either, but in order to think he did (and that's what were worried about, if he did), ya need evidence.

And again with the straw-man. No one is saying that since we understand our evolutionary origins necessarily and sufficiently, we must now never consider any further possibility or amendment at all, ever. Quite the opposite, science is constantly doing it's best to discover that evolution is wrong- this is part of the scientific method. It doesn't seem to be able to do a very good job to that end (indeed more and more support keeps showing up), and that's why we take evolution so seriously.

We we don't do is give every random suggestion or hypothesis automatic credence as equally likely to be true just because some guy thought of it. You must have evidence that your hypothesis is true, or it is tentatively, parsimoniously considered not true (not 'false' mind you, 'not true'- as in lacking established truth value).

u/thatgui · 4 pointsr/TrueAtheism

I've heard Your inner fish is good. They did a the part show on the book for PBS. I've only seen the first part so far, but it was really good. I don't remember any mention of religion although it's possible I missed it. You could watch it together.

Edit : [Here] ( is a link to the show.

Edit 2 : [The book.] (

Edit 3 : I also highly recommend DHW as illusive atheist mentioned. Great book for the pros of science and skepticism.

u/totalown · 4 pointsr/exchristian

I Recommend Your Inner Fish

u/imjustanape · 4 pointsr/Anthropology

That is exactly what I am interested in doing! So since I have spent quite a lot of time thinking about this I believe I can help. As for what to read: I started with Your Inner Fish because it brings human evolution back to when we first got out of the water and explains very, very early brain evolution and development of the brain in utero. Also an easy read. Next I have been tackling "Evolution of the Human Brain" by Lieberman (can't find an amazon link for it, sorry). I'll admit it is not an easy read and it is not impeccably edited but I believe all the facts are there and it is very comprehensive. You can learn a lot from this book. I will also suggest The Brain. Now, I can't speak to the quality of this one because it has just come out, but the guys who wrote it are incredibly smart and I expect nothing but great material from them.

As for schools: you must know now that it really all depends on the person you want to work with. They could be anywhere in the world. I mentioned before, this is my thing, so I can tell you that the schools I have interest in because they have one or more people researching this area are: UC San Diego, George Washington U, possibly NYU if you can tie it into neuroscience and work with the medical center, then there are people abroad as well if that's something you would consider.

Hope that helps.

edit: the book is called "Evolution of the Human Head" not Brain.

u/NapAfternoon · 4 pointsr/NoStupidQuestions

Yup, pretty much.

If you are interested in learning more about this then I recommend two books:

  1. Ancestor's Tale

  2. Your Inner Fish
u/ibanezerscrooge · 4 pointsr/Christianity

>methodically state the case for why creation is most likely and/or why evolution is unlikely.

You will find lots and lots of the latter. Very little of the former.

>I'd also be happy to read GOOD anti-creation books as well, provided they meet the above criterion of not being mocking.

Those would just be science books based on the academic literature, wouldn't they?

Here is my reading list form the past few months. These would be pro-evolution (a.k.a science). Creationism is mentioned in a few of them, but almost in passing because Creationism is simply not a factor in legitimate scientific research, so it gets pretty much no consideration.

Knock yourself out. ;)

  • Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin - Also, watch the three part series that aired on PBS hosted by Neil Shubin.

  • Endless Forms Most Beautiful by Sean B. Carroll - An in depth look into developmental evolution.

  • The Universe Within: Discovering the Common History of Rocks, Planets, and People by Neil Shubin

  • The Link by Colin Tudge and Josh Young

  • Before the Dawn by Nicholas Wade

  • Relics of Eden: The Powerful Evidence of Evolution in Human DNA by Daniel J. Fairbanks - This and the other Fairbanks book listed below are the only books on this list with the intent to refute what creationists contend. He does this not by presenting the creationist argument and then trying to refute. He does it by simply presenting the evidence that science has born out regarding human evolution and genetics.

  • The Story of Earth by Robert Hazen - this is a cool book about the history of the Earth and life and how geology and biology worked in tandem with other factors to produce life from the point of view of a protein biologist.

  • Life: A Natural History of the First Four Billion Years of Life on Earth by Richard Fortey - Good general overview of evolutionary and geologic history.

  • The Cambrian Explosion: The Construction of Animal Biodiversity by Edwin Douglas - This is the most academic book in this list and, as such, is the most difficult to read. It is a concise look at what we know about the Cambrian Explosion from the scientific literature.

  • Life's Ratchet by Peter Hoffmann - Very good book about how the chaos wrought inside cells by thermal motion at the molecular level leads to the ordered functioning of the machinery of life.

  • What is Life? How Chemistry Becomes Biology by Addy Pross - Super interesting take on the question, "What is Life?" He comes to a very interesting conclusion which might have implications for abiogenesis research.

  • The Machinery of Life by David S. Goodsell - A neat little book that gets you acquainted with what it's really like inside of cells. A good companion book to read with Life's Ratchet as they highlight different aspects of the same topic.

  • Evolving by Daniel J. Fairbanks

  • Neanderthal Man: In Search of Lost Genomes by Svante Paabo - Very interesting book about the drama, blood, sweat and tears, Dr. Paabo shed to develop the techniques to sequence ancient DNA. You simply won't find books like this and Your Inner Fish above amongst Creationist literature because they simply don't do what these scientists do out in the field and in the lab.
u/TheFarmReport · 3 pointsr/explainlikeimfive

Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin

Closing the glottis to prevent water from entering the lungs while breathing with gills in amphibious development. Gill breathing can be blocked by carbon dioxide, just like holding your breath to convert air to CO2 usually dissipates the hiccup gill response.

u/Padawanbater · 3 pointsr/booksuggestions

Neil Shubin - Your Inner Fish: A Journey Into the 3.5 Billion Year History of the Human Body

If you like science, this one specifically talks about the authors discovery of Tiktaalik and it's association with our human bodies of today

u/The_Mighty_Atom · 3 pointsr/exchristian

I would echo the other commenters' advice about keeping your sanity and surviving the next few years.

My addition to this discussion is book recommendations. If you want to learn more about evolution, check out the books Why Evolution Is True by Jerry Coyne, The Greatest Show On Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins, and Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5 Billion Year History of the Human Body by Neil Shubin.

Reading these books will pretty much inoculate you against creationist bullshit (pardon the vaccination pun), and give you a great foundation in understanding one of the most basic facts of science --- evolution.

We all wish you the best as you navigate these difficult years. Please use this sub as much as you need! :)

u/Jaagsiekte · 3 pointsr/NoStupidQuestions

Others have great answers, but I think I can add a bit more.

The adage "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" applies more often than you might expect for evolutionary traits. The reason why most species have a similar body plan is because we all share a single common ancestor that lived in the ocean over 350 million years ago. This is the tetrapod body plan. Their body plan, for whatever reason, is the body plan that won out over all the other options of that time period. From the fossil record we know that there were a bunch of different kinds of fish living, some with really strange body plans (like 10 digits on each limb). For whatever reason, the body plan that one out was very successful can gave rise to all the tetrapod animals you see today. Why that body plan was special we may never know. We can't know exactly for sure what pressures were placed upon that animal that it developed that body plan in the first place and then subsequently why that body plan made it so successful.

We have two front limbs, two hind limbs, two kidneys, one liver, one heart, two lungs, two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, one brain, five digits in each hand because thats the way the tetrapods looked like all those millions of years ago. We are what we are because thats how they were. Ichthyostegais an example of a fossil species that had this body plan, the body plan that would rule above all others, and would dominate the landscape until this very day. Of course various modifications have been made over the millennia - snakes have lost their limbs, some have developed unique traits like antlers, feathers, or scales and still others have developed pouches for carrying around babies or uteruses to grow matter, underlying it all, deep at all their cores, including ours, is this singular body plan. If you look closely enough you can begin to see the shared characteristics that have been conserved through the hundreds of thousands of generations of all vertebrate (and then tetrapod) animal species on the planet today.

You may enjoy the book Your Inner Fish which explores why the way we are the way we are based on shared and conserved traits from our distant fish ancestors. It was also made into a PBS documentary.

This fun song about Tiktaalik, an early ancestor to tetrapods is relevant as well.

u/astroNerf · 3 pointsr/atheism

Evolution works by making minor slight alterations, testing them out, and discarding the ones that don't work. It does not have a plan or a goal. If it comes to a fork in the road, it's unable to see further ahead to know that a particular choice is the wrong choice. As such, you get all sorts of examples of things being the wrong choice - the laryngeal nerve being a great example. It's a choice we have to live with because of how evolution works.

Other examples that immediately come to mind:

  • our spines are still not fully adapted to walking vertically.
  • testicles - it's easier for evolution to move them outside the body into a little sac than it is to change the biochemistry to allow sperm to live at higher temperatures.
  • we have genes for making egg yolk - they were used by our egg-laying ancestors but since we evolved the ability to be born live, yolk isn't needed any more so the genes responsible have become degraded - this is the biology equivalent of opening your laser printer and finding parts for a printing press.
  • our large brains require us to be born much earlier than other mammals. We've all seen videos of other mammals like horses walking a few minutes after birth, but with humans, it takes many months for us to mature to the point of being able to stand. If our gestation period were any longer, we could not be born - our heads would not fit through the opening in the pelvis.

    I suggest you check out the book (and tv documentary by the same name) titled Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin. The book is filled with examples of features that originally appeared in fish and other early ancestors and how that legacy affects us even today.
u/daedalusman · 2 pointsr/books

I just start reading Written In Stone by Brian Switek, so far I'm really enjoying it. It's about paleontology, evolution, and how that relates to humans. Another amazing book in a similar vain is Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin, inspired a tattoo for me.

u/Revigator · 2 pointsr/askphilosophy

Oh boy, great questions but the answers can be really long and (again) belong under science moreso than philosophy. I think I'll link some resources and you can read at your leisure.

  • The ID page on Wikipedia, particularly the Criticism and Kitzmiller Trial sections.
  • Index of Creationist Claims, with responses of course.
  • Evidences for Macroevolution.
  • Why Evolution Is True (book) by evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne, and his website of the same name.
  • The Greatest Show on Earth (book) by Richard Dawkins. It's all biology, unlike "The God Delusion".
  • Your Inner Fish (book) by evo-biologist Neil Shubin, and this excellent talk by him.
  • Science blogs like Sandwalk and Pharyngula can have great info (warning, the latter is very hostile to religion, but I've linked just the evolution articles).

    TL;DR - Biologists document lots of awkward features that develop in a tedious or haphazard manner that no sane designer would ever bother, plus we're missing tons of obvious features that any competent designer would probably include (hello, drowning sucks, gills would be nice). And their work is strongly supported by genetics and its underlying chemistry.
u/WorkingMouse · 2 pointsr/Christianity

>Not familiar as I probably ought to be. I know that there were other homo species -possibly at the same time as humans. I think I heard something about interbreeding at some point, but maybe that was just speculation?

To be honest, I'm not exactly an expert on the specifics. However, Wikipedia provides as always - If the article and the numerous citations are to be believed, they're considered separate species as mitochondria genetic data (that I could explain further if you like) shows little significant breeding. However, there is indeed some evidence of limited interbreeding.

>This is fascinating stuff!

I'm glad you like it!

>To clarify: do all the primates share the same mutation which is different from the mutation in other creatures, ex. guinea pigs?'

Precisely! Mind you, I believe there are a few changes which have accumulated since divergence (since if they don't need the gene once it's "off", further mutations won't be selected against), but the crucial changes are indeed the same within primates - and those within guinea pigs are the same within guinea pigs and their nearby relatives (I believe), but different from those from simians. Amusingly, because mutations occur at a generally steady rate, the number of further divergences between the pseudogenes (no-longer-functional genes which resemble working copies in other organisms) in different species will give hints at how long ago those species had a common ancestor (this, and related calculations, are termed the "genetic clock").

Nifty, isn't it?

>I guess I don't see why it would be demeaning to be patterned after other homo species which were adapted to the environment we would inhabit. Maybe I'm way off here, but it seems like the case for common ancestry could also point to a common creator. (obviously it is outside the bounds of science to consider that possibility, but philosophically, it might have merit?)

I have indeed heard that before; the suggestion of a common creator as opposed to common descent is a fairly common suggestion, pardon the pun. The typical arguments against fall first to traits which can be considered "poor design" in pure engineering terms, even if they're traits that are now needed. I can point to the genetic baggage of the human eye compared to that of the cephelopod (nerve fibers over vs. under the retina), or the human back (not great for walking upright), or further traits along those lines which suggest that we're still closer to our origins. Indeed, we can also look at things like the pseudogene involved with vitamin C above as unnecessary addons; genetic artifacts which hint at our descent.

While this additional argument, I will grant, is better at addressing general creation then special human creation, we can also look at repeated motifs. For example, the same bones that form our hand also form a bird's wing, a whale's flipper, a dog's paw, a horse's hoof, and all the other mammalian, reptile, and avian forelimbs - though sometimes you need to go to the embryo before you see the similarity. When taken alone, that may suggest either evolution or design; it would make sense for a creator to reuse traits. It becomes more stark when you consider examples that should be similar - for example, the wings of the bat, bird, and pterodactyl, despite using the same bones, have vastly different structures, despite all being used for the same purpose (that is, flight).

The way that my evolutionary biology professor phrased this is that "design can explain this, but cannot predict it; evolution both explains and predicts." This idea - that natural observations may be explained or excused (begging your pardon) in a creation model, but are what are expected from an evolutionary model - is the major point I wish to make in this regard. And, I shall admit, perhaps as close as I can get to "disproving" special creation; it tends to approach unfalsifiability, if I understand it correctly.

>If I recall correctly, this is the position of Francis Collins / BioLogos. It's possible, but I have a few concerns. The first being that I think animals do have souls. If that's correct, ensoulment doesn't help make sense of the theology.

Yup; ensoulment as special is less compatible in that case.

>It would also mean that (at least at some point) there were other creatures who were genetically equal to human beings, but didn't have souls. Cue slave trade and nazi propaganda -they're human, but they aren't people. It would have been possible (probable?) that ensouled humans would breed with the soulless humans -and that just seems . . . squicky.

Point taken; even if you were to claim ensoulment for all humans existing at a specific point and thereafter, there can be...negative connotations.

>So, for now, it's a possibility, but it seems to be more problematic than special creation.

To be perfectly frank, I'm not really equipped to argue otherwise. As an atheist, my tendency is to end up arguing against ensoulment, as it's not something we can really draw a line at either. Still, I figured I'd put it out there; I'm a little delighted at your dissection of it honestly, as you brought up things I'd not yet considered.

>Like I said, the genetics is fascinating, and I am naive to much of it. Short of becoming a geneticist, could you recommend a good book on the subject of human genetics and common descent? I took basic genetics in college, so I was able to follow the discussion about chromosomes, telomeres, etc. But I would like to know more about the discoveries that have been made.

Oooh, that's a rough question. Don't get me wrong, it's a wonderful question, but I rarely read books aimed at laymen dealing with my specialty; most of my information comes from text books, papers, and profs, if you take my meaning. Which in the end is a way for me to provide my disclaimer: I can provide recommendations, but I've generally not read them myself; sorry.

Having said that, I'm not about to discourage your curiosity - indeed, I cannot laud it highly enough! - and so I shall do what I can:

  • Why Evolution is True is the one I generally hear the best things about; due to the possible audience, it is partially written as a refutation of intelligent design, but it also gives a lovely primer on evolutionary science - and compared to some of Dawkins's texts, it's more focused on the evidence.
  • I have a copy of Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters on my bedside table right now - largely unread, I'm afraid. Basically, it takes a peek at one gene from each of our chromosomes and explores its relevance and its evolutionary history. It's by no means comprehensive; we have hundreds of thousands of genes, and it looks at twenty-three. None the less, It's been an interesting read thus far.
  • Similarly, Your Inner Fish explores the human form, and where it comes from; it looks at various structures in the human body and draws evolutionary parallels; this one is more heavily focused on common descent in relation to humans.

    I think I'll hold off there for the moment. The latter two are focused more on humans, while the former is about evolution in general. I'm sure there are more books I could recommend - Dawkin's The Greatest Show on Earth has been lauded, for example. I tried to stick with texts which were at a slightly higher level, not merely addressing the basics but delving a little deeper, as you noted you have a measure of familiarity already, and those which were related to humans. I hope they help!

    It's not an alternative to books, but Wikipedia does have a fair article on the topic (which I linked near the very top as well). And believe it or not, I do enjoy this sort of thing; you are more then welcome to ask more questions if and when they occur to you.
u/extispicy · 2 pointsr/atheism

I really enjoyed "Rocks Don't Lie: A Geologist Investigates Noah's Flood", which I don't think I've ever seen mentioned here (I only heard about it myself because it was a local author).

It's been a while since I read it, but what I remember enjoying was how the religious beliefs of our earliest geologists influenced their understanding of what they were discovering in the field. The early explorers set out to find evidence for Noah's flood, so it was amusing seeing them trying to wrap their heads around things like finding mammoths in Siberia, that were obviously washed away in the deluge!

I've not read it myself, but I really enjoyed the Your Inner Fish documentary series and have been reading to pick this one up.

u/schistkicker · 2 pointsr/geology

Here's 3:

"Your Inner Fish" - Neil Shubin

"Why Geology Matters" - Doug MacDougall

"A Short History of Nearly Everything" - Bill Bryson

u/Semie_Mosley · 2 pointsr/atheism

If you're going to hand these books over to others, you might want to go with something a little less technical as a first introduction. I highly recommend these books:

By Neil Shubin: Neil is a paleo-ichthyologist (he studies ancient fish) who discovered Tiktaalik. The link between modern humans and ancient fish are very well-known.

Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body

And for the link between organic and inorganic materials:

The Universe Within: The Deep History of the Human Body: Discovering the Common History of Rocks, Planets and People

And by Jerry Coyne

Why Evolution is True

And for a more detailed technical book, on a level for graduate school, this one by Jerry Coyne and H. Allen Orr:


I hope these serve you well.

u/a-man-from-earth · 2 pointsr/Christianity

> That whole 'evolution' thing is ridiculous!
> How anyone can believe that is beyond me. They let science make it up as they go along from the flimsiest and unsupported evidence.

That just tells me you do not understand the science. There are heaps and heaps of evidence for evolution. You should read up on it, so you at least understand what you are criticizing.

Some recommendations:

u/flarkenhoffy · 2 pointsr/AskReddit

A bit more on evolution. Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body. To quote a review on Amazon:

>He explains what evolutionary science, i.e. paleontology, comparative anatomy, genetics, embryology and developmental biology have to tell us about the human body, and how it came to be the way it is. Examples include the evolutionary history of limb bones in fossil tetrapods, developmental control genes found in almost all animals today, the evolutionary history of mammalian teeth, the origin of basic "body-plans," genetic comparisons of genes important for our senses of smell and vision, and the history of the mammalian inner ear.

u/GodOfThunder44 · 2 pointsr/atheism

Protip: Keep a copy or two of Your Inner Fish or Greatest Show on Earth (or your preferred book on evolution) to lend to any creationist you are trying to convince.

u/WikiRelevance · 2 pointsr/explainlikeimfive

You may find this book called your inner fish: a journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body very interesting. It is a really fascinating and, quick read.

Tetrapods include amphibians, reptiles, birds, turtles and mammals. All tetrapods have a single common ancestor, that was as you describe "the first fish dude who jumped out of the water". Really, that is the best way I have heard it described and youre not wrong! We don't know which species is the first, but we do have several transitional fossils from water to land. These species are collectively known as tetrapodomorphs which basically means "kind of like a tetrapod - kind of like fish". This picture gives you a good idea of some of the different species alive around that time. Tiktaalik is one of my favourites, mostly because the name is fun to say. This species lived about ~375 million years ago, during the Denovian. Here is another example of the limbs of those transitional species from fin to limb!

Acanthostega (~365 million years ago) and Itchthyostega (~360 million years ago) are two species of tetrapods that lived after Tiktaalik, and they are better suited for life on land. They likely lived in swampy areas but were still tied to the water.

After the first tetrapods established themselves on land they evolved or radiated into many different groups. This is a good and simplified family tree of tetrapods. There are the amphibians, the turtles, the mammals and the reptiles. This is another family tree which depicts some extinct groups. Notice that the birds are placed firmly with the other dinosaurs and are now the only living representatives of that lineage. And that early mammal ancestors (therapsids) stem from a distant synapsid ancestor which evolved quite early on.

The reptiles are a bit of a funny group because they contain a lot of extinct species and this confuses people as to what actually is a reptile. Simply put reptiles include the living turtles, crocodilians, snakes, lizards, and tuatara and many other extinct species including the dinosaurs, the extinct flying reptiles like the pterosuars and the extinct aquatic reptiles like ichthyosaurs. Another cool fact is that crocodiles and birds are more closely related to each other than they are to the other reptiles (turtles, snakes, lizards and tuatara).

u/MekkaGodzilla · 2 pointsr/atheism

If you feel you don’t know enough about biology, you might be interested in reading:
Your inner fish
Why Evolutions is True

u/StringOfLights · 2 pointsr/askscience

Yes, we're fish! Classifications are nested, and they reflect evolutionary relationships. This puts organisms in a context that shows how things are related to each other by descent from a common ancestor. Think of it as an Euler diagram rather than one taxonomic classification precluding another.

We are nested within the clade Osteichthyes (bony fish) -> Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) -> Tetrapoda (four-legged animals) -> Amniota (laying hard-shelled eggs) -> Synapsida (mammals and "mammal-like reptiles" defined by skull characteristics) -> Mammalia (hair, milk, etc.) -> Primates (nails instead of claws, and other stuff) -> Hominidae (great apes) -> Homo (humans and other closely related taxa) -> H. sapiens (us!)

There's a whole book about it.

u/epitage · 1 pointr/atheism

This is referring back to:
Genesis 1:26
Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."

I do not believe I was created; therefore, I find the evolutionary progress of all life astounding. Instead of thinking that god put animals here for my amusement or consumption, I take the time to appreciate life’s ability to survive the ages.

You should read this book: Your Inner Fish!

u/ViewtifulSchmoe · 1 pointr/AskReddit

Your Inner Fish is a very enjoyable read.

u/cactus_butt · 1 pointr/AskScienceDiscussion

My personal favourite is 'Your Inner Fish' by Neil Shubin. I found it entertaining and very informative. It deals with the transition of life underwater to life on land, and what we still share with our fishy ancestors. Here is the amazon link to read some reviews and here is an already given presentation by the author if you do pick it to help you with ideas.

u/keenmedia · 1 pointr/atheism

> Science has always been a way to understand God better for Christians.

has it? Or have Christians been forcing their 'worldview' on others for 2,000 years claiming to have special knowledge about the mysteries of existence and life after death with no other evidence than a book and their own personal 'revelations'. For most of that time, their claim to absolute truth was absolute and unchallengeable. The advancement of sciences in the areas of physics, biology, astronomy and chemistry, especially in the last 200 years, have been able to explain many of the mysteries that confounded our ancestors, and have transformed our lives in tangibly positive ways. Take leprosy: People in Biblical times thought leprosy was a sign of sin against God, and so you were 'unclean'. Of course nobody believes that anymore (to his credit, it seems Jesus didn't buy into it either). According to wikipedia: In the past 20 years, 15 million people worldwide have been cured of leprosy, which is caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae. It's one example but I'm sure you can think of many more. The church has lost so much ground to science that there are only a few little islands of mystery from which to they try to claim authority and justification for their philosophies, such as:

> the Bible is kind of like an ethical cheat sheet, from an omniscient God who actually knows the answers
> even those who didn't hear about God know what's right & wrong

and you have your own theory:

> God started things off, realized natural selection was a great way to set up a diverse planet, and probably intervened a bit in the ape -> human transition.

Now, you are basically saying that the differences we perceive between a human and a chimpanzee are actually the direct result of a deliberate intervention, at a specific time in the past, by a creator god (from outer space), who engineered the development of our culture, giving us laws, clothing, marriage, and possibly music and mathematics. It's an interesting theory, but whats the motivation?

> man is different from the animals

This is the central issue. Logically, if we are animals than either animals have souls (and we should all be vegetarians, or burn as murderers), or humans do not have souls (and there is no eternal life for believers). This is a catch-22 for a bible believing christians and meat-eaters. Maybe you can say animals do have souls, but God said we can eat them so its OK. This is kind of like saying God is an asshole who arbitrarily makes up the rules as he goes along (which is a solid theological position - just ask Job: the Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away).

I think to separate ourselves from the animals is to deny the truth of what science has shown us about ourselves. For Christians, science may be just a way to understand God better, but for the rest of us it is a way to understand reality better. Of course Christians want there to be no conflict between faith in the Bible and reality because no philosophy can exist without being rooted to some degree in reality; otherwise it is just a fantasy.

Let me back up a second. You said you believe the Bible is true and historically accurate, and I won't ask you what evidence you have for believing that. I used to believe as you did, that the Bible is true, and so is evolution but that somehow there is no conflict and the two work together - that somehow there in the whole mix of life evolving naturally, God intervened and sent Jesus to fulfill his mysterious plan so that we can all live forever in heaven. I just didn't want to accept that all those people (including my family) could be wrong; they are obviously sincere in their beliefs. For several years I found various ways to explain it all without accepting a 'naturalistic worldview', and all that implies including a very high probability of there being no life after death. I might still believe in the Bible if I hadn't started reading science books and watching BBC documentaries... yep Attenborough offered me the red pill and i took it.

If you can pretend for a moment you were born in Africa or Asia, in some remote tribe with no written language. You wouldn't have any reason to trust in a book you could not read; everything you know about the universe has been explained to you by those around you, those who came before, those who were close in the beginning. This is the same experience as any animal that learns how to hunt or fly or build nests from their parents.

The book I mentioned, Our Inner Ape documents the social behavior and societies of bonobos and chimpanzees, written by noted primatologist Frans de Waal who has studied these unique primates for decades. It's a fascinating read and may surprise you to see how many behaviors people tend to think of as uniquely 'human' are, in fact, shared by our closely-related ape cousins. In fact, de Waal shows, all major traits are shared, including language, toolmaking, and the full range of emotional states. Within the ape societies, the apes have their own standards of 'right' and 'wrong' behavior that they enforce in the same ways we do: shunning some, rewarding others, punishing the worst offenders. They learn from each other, and pass on skills to their offspring.

Evolution, as I understand it, is the theory that explains how more efficient/adapted forms emerge from the natural processes of entropy and diffusion. The theory explains how natural processes have driven our biological development, and also why men have nipples. Biological evolution is a special case; Evolution itself is a law of Nature, at a more elementary level, in the realm of Physics or Math.

All of our languages, customs, art, music, and every other thinking pattern has evolved through these same natural processes. Basically, I'm describing Memes. Have you ever thought about Christianity as a Meme? Of the Catholic Church as an organism whose main goal is to ensure its own survival? We have been and continue to evolve, quite rapidly, both biologically and culturally. Every individual and every idea wants to survive, but not everything gets successfully passed to the next generation. Every meme and species is only one generation away from becoming extinct. Adapt or die. This is why the mainstream church is becoming warmer to the idea of evolution, why the Vatican apologized for Galileo - survival of the religion is more important than orthodoxy.

The line between science and philosophy and religion get blurred with evolution because it answers, quite elegantly, the 'big' question: where did we come from? For this reason, it is a threat to all memes based on the idea of a 'creator god' because it nullifies this concept directly. Indirectly, it has the potential to erode the foundations underneath many religions. But I don't think the ideas of evolution are really a threat to you, me, our standards of morality, our way of life or anything else. The victims are a literal interpretation of the Bible and belief in a 'creator god'. Why not let it go? If you had never read the Bible, would you really be a less moral person? really? If not for that one book all people would know nothing but evil and be totally selfish to each other? Is this one book worth deliberately lobotomizing yourself? You'll go crazy trying to reconcile it; do you want to end up like Ray Comfort or Ken Ham?

A couple other interesting books you might enjoy if you feel like taking the red pill:

Kluge: The Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind

Your Inner Fish

Sorry for the novel, kind got caught up in it :)

u/kenlubin · 1 pointr/DebateAnAtheist

I read a book this summer called "Your Inner Fish", by Neil Shubin. He discovered fossils of a fish with legs that would be very close to the first time that fish left the water and started walking on land. One of the coolest parts of the book was about how they decided where to look:

They knew from known fossils that animals first walked on land somewhere between 360 and 390 million years ago. They had already found a small bone near a highway cut in Pennsylvania which looked promising, and wanted to find a complete fossil. They knew that ~375 million years ago that part of Pennsylvania had been a shallow river delta which buried fossils in layers of sediment that became rock, so they went to a geology textbook to find locations with exposed sedimentary rock that was ~375 million years old that had been part of the same historic coastline. That textbook had a chart showing that Greenland and Ellesmere Island (in the Canadian Arctic) were geologically similar to the part of Catskills where they had found the first fossil.

There had already been several expeditions to Greenland that hadn't found anything, whereas Ellesmere Island was inaccessible most of the year and untouched by paleontologists. Their first expedition found similar bones, and ten expeditions later they found a complete fossil.

u/roontish12 · 1 pointr/AskReddit

Well, if you really want to know, and not just go by what other people tell you, 24 hours is not a reasonable limit.

I'd recommend you do some reading. You can start with

Why Evolution Is True

The Greatest Show On Earth: The Evidence For Evolution

Your Inner Fish

And if you don't have much time, or are not that much of a reader, try

The Magic Of Reality: How We Know What Is True, which is aimed at young adults (don't get me wrong, I'm almost 30 and I loved it), but does a fantastic job of easily explaining, and has some kick ass graphics as well.

u/animalparty · 1 pointr/askscience

Here's a good start.

There's also a great book called Your Inner Fish that covers this topic well. Here's an excerpt that covers the origins of some human traits like hernias, hiccups, and snoring.

You can trace the history of any human trait through comparative anatomy. In this phylogeny, you can see that the evolutionary order of appearance of mammal traits was vertebrae>jaws>lungs>4 legs>Amniotic egg>milk.

u/Trent_Boyett · 1 pointr/audiobooks

Depends on what you liked about it I guess. It's a bit unique in the way it covers so many topics.

If you liked the stuff about evolution, check out

If you liked the history:

If you like true crime:

Or if you just liked how it went from topic to topic and you could never really predict what would be next, try this podcast:

u/timz45 · 1 pointr/bookexchange

I have Your Inner Fish . It was a very good read. Any random chance you have Ender's Game ?

u/scornucopia · 1 pointr/atheism

The book, Your Inner Fish, by Neil Shubin, also a very good PBS documentary based on the book.

u/raatz02 · 1 pointr/evolution

Books are better than videos for this. I liked Shubin's Your Inner Fish a lot (better than the TV series, which leaves out too much detail).

u/efrique · 1 pointr/atheism

Did you try the FAQ?

  1. when arguing with creationists, use

    Especially this:

    With it you should be able to reduce almost any book he can find to a tattered ruin

  2. books:

    Why Evolution Is True

    The Greatest Show On Earth

    Your Inner Fish shows a successful prediction of evolution as well as the myriad pieces of evidence in our own bodies

u/bmobula · 1 pointr/politics

> Science does not "work differently in different countries". Science is the scientific method.

I LOLed at the ignorance, I really did! Oh dear, what a sheltered little life you must lead. Don't get me wrong, I wish research funding fell out of the sky with no political agenda or strings attached, but sadly that is not the reality. Of course if you knew anything about scientific research, I wouldn't have to explain this to you like you were a child.

> I'm agnostic.

If you're agnostic and you're accusing scientists like myself - people who have reviewed the mountain of evidence in support of the theory of evolution by natural selection that converges from dozens of different disciplines and concluded that it is a fact - of being a cult member, then you are either fantastically ignorant or fantastically stupid. Or both.

As it happens, there are several superb books that explain all of the evidence for evolution in ways that are reasonable accessible to educationally deprived individuals such as yourself. Perhaps a little less Fox News for you, and a little more reading, hmm?

u/FeChaff · 1 pointr/atheism

Also Evolution by Donald Prothero was a good one along the same line. He has a couple of talks on youtube based on the book. Your Inner Fish is decent but less substantial. It has a 3 part educational PBS series that I believe is on Netflix. Dawkins is easy to read but he doesn't lay out the evidence as much as he talks about the processes, but those are still good books. The Selfish Gene is excellent.

u/Hot_Zee · 1 pointr/Anthropology

Confirm...Neil Shubin is awesome, the book is good too.

u/Zoomerdog · 0 pointsr/AskReddit

Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin -- best science book I've read for awhile, and best book on biology and Darwinism -- including predictions fulfulled, which the backward-looking science of evolution is weak on. A fun read that gave me a deeper sense of connection with other life on this planet.

u/eesak · -2 pointsr/askscience

From what I understand, these "coding" genes are what makes us look drastically different than organisms that share "97% of our DNA" such as the chimpanzee. A good bit of reading in regards to this topic would be Your Inner Fish, by Neil Shubin.

IIRC a mutation in how much muscle to form for our Temporalis (one of the chewing muscles) when we were apes caused a significant change in brain mass because the lack of chewing power/muscle allowed our skull plates to set later in life and therefore a larger, more developed brain. We have essentially the "same" DNA that chimps do in respect to our Temporalis muscle, the biggest difference is how much muscle the coder DNA calls for.