Best organic evolution books according to redditors

We found 213 Reddit comments discussing the best organic evolution books. We ranked the 27 resulting products by number of redditors who mentioned them. Here are the top 20.

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Top Reddit comments about Organic Evolution:

u/grinde · 145 pointsr/EarthPorn

We've already been attempting something like this at several islands in the Galapagos. There's an island, Daphne Major, that has incredibly restricted access where people have been studying finches since at least the '70s. The original ~20 year study was written about in The Beak of the Finch - definitely worth a read.

u/NukeThePope · 45 pointsr/atheism

My recommendations:

u/astroNerf · 26 pointsr/evolution

Check out the sidebar links:

  • recommended viewing (start here - there are short videos that will get you up to speed in about 20-30 minutes)
  • recommended reading (for more in-depth learning)

    Berkeley has a nice evolution portal that you can click through at your own pace, if that's your thing.

    Ultimately, if you're wanting a solid introduction to what evolution is, how it works, and the evidence for it, I'd recommend Jerry Coyne's book Why Evolution is True.
u/VonAether · 26 pointsr/DebateAnAtheist

You said in another comment below that others were treating you as a troll or an idiot. I don't think that's necessarily the case: many of us are just trying to present the facts, and may be a little bit frustrated due to how YECs typically react. For example, my earlier comment about how creation science does not count as science, and how Geocentrism is incorrect, I did not set out to treat you like an idiot (and if I did, I'm sorry). I did treat you as ignorant, which isn't as bad as it sounds. I'm ignorant to a lot of things. Everyone is. But I love to learn, because I love to expand my knowledge.

Ignorance can be cured. Stupidity can't. We encounter wilful ignorance a lot, and it gets very frustrating, so that colours what we say.

If you're genuine about your desire to learn more, I'll drop some suggestions for further inquiry. Some of the language may be abrasive, but please keep an open, skeptical mind:

u/[deleted] · 20 pointsr/books

Nothing I have read comes to quite the same level of history and science but if I had to suggest a few readable books I would go with:

Marcus Chown - The Never-Ending Days of Being Dead for some physics things (even if some of the stuff is a little too out there to be fully appropriate to day to day life)

for further physics Michio Kaku is normally very accessible or if you feel a bit braver either of the schrodingers cat books by John Gribbins

Richard Dawkins - The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution is the most intuitive guide to evolution I have read.

These all focus on one area as opposed to Short History which moved on from topic to topic fairly fast preventing boredom but hopefully you will be ok with them.

u/qarano · 20 pointsr/askscience

If you're really interested in this kind of stuff, check out The Ancestor's Tale by Richard Dawkins. In it, he examines our common ancestors with other life in backwards chronological order (our common ancestor with chimps, then our and chimps' common ancestor with the other apes, then apes' common ancestor with all primates, etc). There's lots of interesting information about how genes express and get selected for. For example, one particularly fascinating chapter covers the origin of our tri-chromal color vision, as opposed to the vision of most other mammals, like dogs, and what happened in our genes to bring about that change.

u/Mazzaroth · 14 pointsr/singularity

You put your finger on a subject I've been entertaining for some time now. Here are some of the web resources I cumulated over time related to this very specific idea:

u/univinu · 14 pointsr/politics

Micro evolution and macro evolution are the same thing, do you understand? It is hard for us idiot humans to visualize changes over hundreds of thousands of years, but it doesn't make it less true.

I recommend reading this book, which goes over the science about evolution, and the 39 branches from the earliest organism to get to us:

u/mixosax · 14 pointsr/evolution

Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne is the book I read for the same reason. It is concise, factual, and easy to understand. I recommend it to everyone in your position.

u/cbabraham · 12 pointsr/askscience

Along the same line, Jerry Coyne's "Why Evolution is True" is fantastic.

"Anyone who doesn't believe in evolution is stupid, insane, or hasn't read Jerry Coyne" - Richard Dawkins

u/Lazarus5214 · 12 pointsr/Christianity

bperki8 is right. Most Young Earth Creationists (YEC) I know have a very poor understanding of evolution, and I don't blame them for not accepting it. What they describe as evolution is utter trash, promoted throught the intellectual dishonesty of the Discovery Institute, Ben Stein, and the likes. Please read Why Evolution is True. I ruthlessly implore anyone with doubts to read this book. YECs are in the same boat as those hundreds of years ago who believed the Earth the center of the solar system, and anything else is against God.

u/lilgreenrosetta · 11 pointsr/atheism

> Could you please tell me where to find the documentation to show that (macro) evolution has been proven?

A good place to start would be Richard Dawkins' "The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution". This is a book written by a leading evolutionary biologist in a way that laymen can understand, and it's a fascinating read. The book describes the various ways in which evolution has been proven, including the math you ask for. It also includes an extensive list of scientific papers and other sources for further reading.

u/oxbio · 10 pointsr/evolution

"Why Evolution Is True" by Jerry A. Coyne (who is also a doctor) gives a pretty comprehensive and concise account of all the evidence for evolution from fossils to genetics. Amazon link here:

u/ItsAConspiracy · 10 pointsr/AskReddit

In Howard Bloom's book Global Brain, he talks about an experiment someone did with bees. They put a bowl of sugar water a certain distance from the hive, and the bees congregated on it. For the next several days, they put the bowl out again, at exactly twice the distance as the day before. Then one day they didn't put the bowl out...and the bees congregated at the exact spot where they would have put the bowl, twice as far out as the previous day.

u/pstryder · 10 pointsr/exjw

Why Evolution is True - By Jerry Coyne

The author specifically and purposefully avoids all talk of religion and morality, and very simply and concisely lays out the evidence and logic behind evolutionary theory.

Anyone who reads this book and continues denying evolution is not approaching the subject honestly, or has other reasons (religious) for rejecting evolution.

It's only a couple hundred pages, and certainly is no longer than 'Life How Did It Get Here-By Evolution or By Creation', which I am nearly 100% certain is what he will be giving you. (For a fun game, take a shot every time you read a blatant lie or intentional misstatement of fact, or quote mine you find in that book. Just be sure you don't need to drive for the next couple of days.)

He may give you the new Creationism tract they introduced this summer, which is nothing more than excerpts from the larger book.

u/CapturedMoments · 10 pointsr/atheism

Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne: Buy it on Amazon

A quality online resource for you would be the free online archive of MIT's class "Human Origins and Evolution"; check it out here: MIT OCW 3.987 EDIT: This would actually only be appropriate as a guide for further study on your own. The course materials provided are primarily syllabi and the like, but does provide an extensive list of books and other sources of information that may be up your alley.

Much more technical options are also available from their biology department: MIT OCW Bio

u/TheThirdDuke · 9 pointsr/Christianity

What you refer to as "hyper evolution" is called punctuated equilibrium. The Beak of the Finch is an excellent and very readable explanation of the process.

u/efrique · 8 pointsr/atheism

> when you're looking for it to happen, it does.

Okay, straight off, you've impressed me. Most people find themselves unable to figure this out.

> I recently started watching the TV show Heroes.

I like it too - but big warning - almost all hollywood 'science' is utterly bogus. It's fine that it got you thinking though.

> According to Evolutionary theory, as far as I know, mutations are the cause of the "advancement" of a species, or transition, however you say it (not an expert on the subject at all).

Well, mutations are a source of variation. But it's not mutation that leads to change at the population-level (which is what evolution is). Individuals changing isn't evolution.

Basically, you need heritable variation, leading to differences in survival or reproduction (and differences in survival matter because you can't reproduce if you're dead). Natural selection is the primary mechanism by which beneficial versions of genes are retained and the frequency of 'bad' ones reduced.

> The school taught me to retaliate the argument with "give me one example of a positive mutation."

Actually, that's easy: here's two

  1. The gene-duplication + frame-shift mutation in a strain of Flavobacterium that made it able to digest byproducts of nylon 6 manufacture:

  2. The evolution of citrate-digestion in the Lenski long-term evolution experiment (there are actually several mutations involved along the way, though each one was beneficial):

    > If my understanding is correct, mutations aren't beneficial.

    Not quite. Frequently mutations are bad - which is why we have mechanisms to prevent them. Often, mutations are relatively neutral - you carry several mutations not present in either of your parents yet here you are. Sometimes mutations are actually beneficial.

    One example of a usually-fairly-neutral kind of mutation that is important in evolution is gene-duplication. This is important because you end up with an extra copy of a gene. The extra copy is free to change without any loss of function in the original copy.

    > They're meant to wipe a species out,

    No, mutations aren't 'meant' to do anything. They are simply there.

    The main resistance a population has to a bad mutation is simply this: its carriers leave fewer offspring behind than non-carriers.

    > Like cancer: in [x] amount of years, humans should theoretically be immune to cancer if we let it run its course

    Cancer has been around hundreds of millions of years. Its present throughout the animal kingdom. All animals should be 'immune to cancer', by this reasoning. There are a variety of reasons why this is not so. You should probably research cancer a bit more deeply, after you've done some learning on evolution.

    > If someone could give me some more misconceptions the Christians have about Evolutionary theory,

    Actually, in many parts of the world, a majority of Christians accept evolution.

    Your first step should be to read about what evolution is. Perhaps start here:

    or here:


    Some of the misconceptions about evolution:


    Evidence for evolution: Why Evolution Is True, Jerry Coyne.

    Evidence for common descent:

    Examples of speciation:

    (e.g. see the second and third link in particular, but many of the others are also good)
u/theuniverseman · 8 pointsr/exmormon

I was hard core TBM, I would believe just about anything, which is why Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams is so much funnier to me now that I am an atheist, than when I read it back when I was TBM.

I also knew when I was TBM that if God exists then anything is possible, ergo the church was true because it made the strongest claim to the truth then any other religion (when I say "truth claim" I am not referring to a logical and rational claim of truth by the church, I am referring to the standard "I know God lives and loves me" sort of truth claim). But I also reasoned that if I were to find sufficient cause to be an atheist, any difficulty of rejecting the LDS church and all other churches is rendered moot.

My biggest hurdle to stop believing in God was the fact that I was raised in an extremely religious environment growing up, even before my family joined the LDS church when I was 13 years old. My mom enrolled my brothers and in private christian schools growing up and we attended church services religiously growing up. My belief in God was such that it never even occurred to me to question his existence in spite of the fact I was keenly interested in science, I was also aware of the concept of atheism, but I could not comprehend why anyone would want to do something stupid like rejecting God.

It took me a long time to go from from fully believing in God, to completely rejecting the notion of God, I accomplished this through reason and science, I taught myself, with help from others how to think and reason. Atheism is not an easy choice for some, for others it is not so hard, it was a big fucking deal for me for me to reject everything I had ever understood about the universe and it scared the hell out of me when I did. There is no point in me telling you exactly why I am an atheist, it's complicated, and it is a very personal road of discovery.

However, for starters I would suggest reading Jerry Coyne's Why Evolution Is True
and Richard Dawkins The Magic of Reality, How We Know What's Really True

Here are some of my most favorite Christopher Hitchens quotes.

>“That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.”

>“Our belief is not a belief. Our principles are not a faith. We do not rely solely upon science and reason, because these are necessary rather than sufficient factors, but we distrust anything that contradicts science or outrages reason. We may differ on many things, but what we respect is free inquiry, open-mindedness, and the pursuit of ideas for their own sake.”

>“The only position that leaves me with no cognitive dissonance is atheism. It is not a creed. Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more.”

And my favorite Richard Dawkins quotes.

>“The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored. In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”

>“We admit that we are like apes, but we seldom realize that we are apes.”

>“Evolution could so easily be disproved if just a single fossil turned up in the wrong date order. Evolution has passed this test with flying colors.”

Evolution threatens Christianity

u/Groumph09 · 8 pointsr/books

You might get "more" by starting to look at more specialized books. Biographies and non-fiction.

u/Zamboniman · 8 pointsr/DebateAnAtheist

> I do not understand the theory and I thought that based on the answers that I received here I would make a decision based on how much I really want to read up on it.

That is literally like asking about how to make ice cream in a subreddit about developing black and white film.

If you're interested in a topic, research the topic using relevant resources.

>Can you suggest some books that a person in my position of ignorance would find beneficial?

Start with Why Evolution is True, Wikipedia, RationalWiki, Iron Chariots, and any highschool text on evolution, and then go from there.

u/HawkeyeGK · 7 pointsr/evolution

The Greatest Show on Earth


The Ancestor's Tale which is a personal favorite of mine although not specifically devoted to evidence arguments. It's just an amazing read through our biological world and along the way the case for evolution becomes overwhelming.

u/ThisIsDave · 7 pointsr/

>evolution occurs- just not as fast as darwin would like in order to explain the creatures that exist on the timeline that the archeological record shows

Actually, can occur far faster than he anticipated.

Additionally, if the planet were seeded, it would have to have been prior to the emergence of modern bacteria; otherwise, their phylogenies wouldn't make any sense. Which is probably before any of the archaeological evidence you're talking about.

u/rationalinquiry · 6 pointsr/atheism

I can also fully recommend /r/askscience. Also, unless you've already read it, The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution - Dawkins, is a fantastic (quite simplified scientifically, but explained beautifully) book.

However, the two programmes I'd most strongly recommend are Wonders of the Solar System and Wonders of the Universe; both presented by Prof. Brian Cox and produced for the BBC.

u/drc500free · 5 pointsr/science

If you haven't already, you might enjoy putting aside a few weeks reading for The Ancestor's Tale. It's just dozens of those stories.

One of the most amazing ones is about Ring Species, which are nothing short of absolute proof of speciation with no need for fossils or gene analysis.

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/tikael · 5 pointsr/atheism

The greatest show on earth or Why evolution is true are both very good overviews of the evidence for evolution. Probably a good place to start. Evolution is such a huge topic that no one book is a comprehensive overview of it all, once you understand the basics of evolution however I really suggest the selfish gene. You can also pick up a very cheap copy of on the origin of species, though remember that the book is 150 years old and predated genetics (still remarkably accurate however).

u/da_bears2233aa23f · 5 pointsr/askscience

Here is a good book about the people who study Darwin's Finches in the Galapagos. The researchers have documented the birds evolving very quickly in response to droughts and floods on the island. It's fascinating!

u/angrymonkey · 4 pointsr/DebateAnAtheist

Along those lines, Dawkins is great for explaining evolution in easy-to-understand detail. Pick pretty much any book by him and you'll get a very good education.

u/ColdShoulder · 4 pointsr/evolution

If you're interested in this topic, I highly recommend Dawkins "The Ancestor's Tale." It starts with modern humans, and then it works it's way back through our ancestors (explaining as it goes along when our "cousins" join the family tree; or to put it differently, it explains, in real time (rather than going backwards), our cousins departure from our common ancestor to the place they hold today). It doesn't focus exclusively on hominids or "transitional fossils," but the scope of the book will definitely give you an idea of the mountains of evidence we have for determining our ancestors, our cousins, and our family tree. I'm only about halfway through, but I've enjoyed it quite a bit so far. Take a look at the reviews online, and if it looks good, pick it up.

u/Cdresden · 3 pointsr/printSF

Dougal Dixon's books After Man and The New Dinosaurs explore alternative evolution scenarios.

Lots of pictures.

u/heresybob · 3 pointsr/evolution

Read Dawkin's Ancestor Tale - In short, creatures that survive by hunting and foraging through small enclosed spaces with little light need to know what's in front and on the side of them as they creep around.

Whiskers are used to provide that data. What's really interesting is the amount of gray matter (sensory processing) dedicated to the feedback.

Humans have large sensory areas for eyes. Dogs for olfactory. Moles for their whiskers.

u/remarkedvial · 3 pointsr/askscience

The Ancestors Tale

Dawkins gets a lot of hate, but the man knows his evolutionary biology and he can write! This is a great read, and a good overview of human ancestry, and if you're interested in the finer details of natural selection, follow it up with The Selfish Gene.

u/MarcoVincenzo · 3 pointsr/atheism

If you aren't interested in the actual biology of how species branch and evolve into other species I'd suggest Dawkins' The Ancestor's Tale. It will give you the grand overview of life on Earth.

It doesn't deal with the Big Bang directly, but Krauss' Atom will take you on a single oxygen atom's journey from the Big Bang to its inclusion in earlier generations of stars and on to how it gets used here on Earth.

u/NapAfternoon · 3 pointsr/explainlikeimfive

Similar to "Your Inner Fish", I'd also recommend The Ancestors Tale its rather long, but written in ELI5.

u/spinozasrobot · 3 pointsr/AskReddit

OK, folks may call me a nut, but you might want to try Evolution by Loxton. It's for younger readers, but you could literally jumpstart yourself in an hour.

Then, read Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne as well as The Greatest Show on Earth by Dawkins.

Honorable mention goes to Dawkins' An Ancestor's Tale.

u/searine · 3 pointsr/askscience
u/soafraidofbees · 3 pointsr/biology

Take lots of classes and keep learning. When I was in high school, things like ecology and wildlife biology were appealing to me because I understood what plants, animals, and ecosystems were, but I had no idea what a ribosome or a micro-RNA really were. I found that the more I learned about molecular and cell biology, the more fascinated I became by these tiny little machines that power every living thing. I started taking neuroscience classes because brains are cool; I ended up getting a PhD in neuroscience with a very cellular/molecular focus to my research (my whole dissertation was on one gene/protein that can cause a rare human genetic disorder).

Get some experience working in a lab. Until you've spent time in that environment it's hard to know whether you'll like it. And as others have mentioned, population biology and evolutionary genetics can combine some aspects of field work and molecular lab work, so those might be areas to investigate.

Want some books? Try The Beak of the Finch and Time, Love, Memory. The first is focused on experimental validation of evolutionary theory (involving lots of field work), the second is about the history of behavioral genetics in fruit flies. Both were assigned or suggested reading in my college biology classes.

Good luck, and stay curious!

u/muddisoap · 3 pointsr/politics

No you're absolutely right. It's definitely something to be aware of. Probably a shit comment to make and I don't feel that great about it. But, ah well. I said it. Maybe I'm a superior asshole. I don't think so. But we'll not strike it from the record, your honor. lol. It can be a fair point though, depending on circumstance or individual experience.

Guess it's just hard for me to really understand someone considering themselves "intelligent", who voted for Trump, who also proudly proclaims their "disbelief" (what is it...a leprechaun?) in things like Global Warming or Evolution. Sorry, but your belief has nothing to do with it. You either understand it or you don't understand that you don't understand it.

Extra Blowhard Thoughts, Stop Reading If Not in the Mood for Some Blowing Hard.


For everyone who has ever told me they don't believe in Evolution, I've recommended a book I read in my college Evolution class called "The Beak of the Finch" by Jonathan Weiner. Most I've recommended it to that don't "believe", have, unsurprisingly, never given it the time of day. But, I maintain if you read that book, you basically have to come away "believing" or understanding the truth of Evolution. It's a bunch of small, simple facts (i.e., there was less rain this year, we counted and there were fewer smaller seeds produced by plants that don't do well in dry times, hardier drought resistant trees produced more and larger seeds since there were more of those plants since the smaller plants died out in the dry time, we measured the beaks of the finches during this dry year and there was a slight uptick in finches with beaks that were shorter and thicker and with more of an angle on the beak, allowing them to crack larger seeds easier, because the finches with thinner and shorter and less angled beaks died of starvation because they couldn't crack the seeds, therefore more thicker shorter beaked birds were the ones producing offspring, which made for even more birds with similar beak types and on and on) that when taken alone and by themselves are irrefutable.

And once you finish digesting this story of simple fact after simple fact, you realize you've simply read a proof for evolution in a closed environment (the Galapagos) in a short period of time. If at no point did you stop and say "hey wait! That's not true! Those painstaking measurements they did over years and years are made up!" then you just educated yourself on a relatively simple and straightforward proof of evolution. But, most naysayers won't even take the time to read said book, because they're afraid of educating themselves with hard science. Because if you "believe" that when you drop a ball, it hits the ground accelerating at 9.8 m/s^2, then you believe in evolution. If you "believe" that when you flip a switch in your house, the lights come on because of electricity, you believe in Evolution. If you "believe" that when the Doctor gives you an antibiotic and you get better, you believe in Evolution. If you "believe" you were born following the principals of fertilization and genetics, then you believe in evolution. You just simply can't cherry pick science for the parts you want to believe in, the parts that are convenient for your life, and discard other parts that don't fit your world view. Science is a structure supported by every piece that's come before, and you can't pull the Jenga block of evolution out of the bottom but still hop in your combustion engine powered vehicle everyday to drive you around your various bastions of ignorance.

u/Nooooope · 3 pointsr/atheism

Try Why Evolution Is True, by Jerry Coyne. It's eleven bucks and it's fascinating.

u/Muntjac · 2 pointsr/WTF I recommend reading this if you're honestly interested.

u/ronin1066 · 2 pointsr/TrueAtheism

Freethinkers by Jacoby was quite interesting.

Another that may be a little out of your comfort zone is any collection of essays by Stephen Jay Gould, for example Bull for Brontosaurus or Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes. He would engage often in anti-creationism and participated in a mock recreation of the Scopes trial on an anniversary. He gives great explanations of evolution to the layman which is his primary focus, but one needs a good science grounding to argue against creationists. After that, you could check out one of his regular books perhaps.

u/Random · 2 pointsr/

Sorry to say this is PDA (pre-digital-age)...

It is in Hen's Teeth and Horses Toes...

u/Tipoe · 2 pointsr/exmuslim

Definitely read it. About evolution, I recommend Dawkins' The Greatest Show on Earth

u/heeb · 2 pointsr/Christianity

I recommend "The Greatest Show On Earth".

You didn't like "The God Delusion"? I thought it was awesome.

u/citizen_reddit · 2 pointsr/atheism

Almost totally off topic, so my apologies.

I'd advise you read Dawkin's An Ancestor's Tale - it isn't specifically a piece of 'atheist literature', but in it's scope and execution it is one of the most incredible books I've ever read and I think everyone, atheist or not, should read it. Be warned however, that it is dense and many people have difficulty getting through it.

u/the_oncoming_storm · 2 pointsr/atheism

> I more want a good timeline from the primordial ooze to me typing this message.

Dawkins' The Ancestors Tale is exactly the book you want. It starts with present day humans and works backwards, explaining the points at which different branches of species diverged along the evolutionary tree.

u/freakscene · 2 pointsr/IAmA

I second the reading idea! Ask your history or science teachers for suggestions of accessible books. I'm going to list some that I found interesting or want to read, and add more as I think of them.

A short history of nearly everything by Bill Bryson. Title explains it all. It is very beginner friendly, and has some very entertaining stories. Bryson is very heavy on the history and it's rather long but you should definitely make every effort to finish it.

Lies my teacher told me

The greatest stories never told (This is a whole series, there are books on Presidents, science, and war as well).

There's a series by Edward Rutherfurd that tells history stories that are loosely based on fact. There are books on London and ancient England, Ireland, Russia, and one on New York

I read this book a while ago and loved it- Autobiography of a Tibetan Monk It's about a monk who was imprisoned for 30 years by the Chinese.

The Grapes of Wrath.

Les Misérables. I linked to the unabridged one on purpose. It's SO WORTH IT. One of my favorite books of all time, and there's a lot of French history in it. It's also the first book that made me bawl at the end.

You'll also want the Adventures of Tom Sawyer, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, The Federalist Papers.

I'm not sure what you have covered in history, but you'll definitely want to find stuff on all the major wars, slavery, the Bubonic Plague, the French Revolution, & ancient Greek and Roman history.

As for science, find these two if you have any interest in how the brain works (and they're pretty approachable).
Phantoms in the brain
The man who mistook his wife for a hat

Alex and Me The story of a scientist and the incredibly intelligent parrot she studied.

For a background in evolution, you could go with The ancestor's tale

A biography of Marie Curie

The Wild Trees by Richard Preston is a quick and easy read, and very heavy on the adventure. You'll also want to read his other book The Hot Zone about Ebola. Absolutely fascinating, I couldn't put this one down.

The Devil's Teeth About sharks and the scientists who study them. What's not to like?

u/K_benzoate · 2 pointsr/TumblrInAction

> there is no such thing as different species

Exactly, there's not.

Biologists use it as a shortcut, but we've abandoned essentialism. There are no discrete, immutable, groups of animals except when taken as a snapshot in time with our limited view of the past. It can sometimes be useful to use this way of thinking when studying biology, but you must always keep in your mind that it is not the closest model of reality we have access to.

If you're interested, The Ancestor's Tale is a good way to be introduced to this way of thinking.

u/fathan · 2 pointsr/askscience

Richard Dawkin's book The Ancestors' Tale goes in the opposite direction -- from mankind back to the common ancestor of all life -- and tries to estimate the generations along the way. At some point before getting to Amoebas, however, he gives up, because the best approximations are complete guesses. But you could get some insight into your question from that book, I believe.

I don't have my copy on me, and Wikipedia doesn't include his estimates. But check it out! Wikipedia Amazon

u/puggydug · 2 pointsr/AskReddit

Do you have $2.16 you don't mind spending?

Buy this book (and then read it). which will answer that very question.

u/samisbond · 2 pointsr/atheism

Well if you have the time, there's The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins and Why Evolution Is True by Jerry A. Coyne. You could check if your local library has one of them.

Also, although this will not teach you evolution, Richard Dawkins notes a flaw in the idea of a designer in that there are clear imperfections that one would not expect from an intelligent designer, but would from evolution.

u/brainburger · 2 pointsr/atheism

If she will read a book for this and evolution is a big sticking-point, then actually maybe The God Delusion isn't the best Dawkins for the job.
I'd suggest Climbing Mount Improbable, or The Blind Watchmaker. Surprisingly I don't think The Greatest Show on Earth is the best to start with.

Or, This one :

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/earthforce_1 · 2 pointsr/atheism

Or if you want correct answers:

which handily demolishes this creationist nonsense over and over.

u/kzsummers · 2 pointsr/atheism

(This is the rest of my answer, cut off for being too long).
3) I'm beginning to think that we need to skip ahead and talk about evolution, because if you don't understand how DNA could have evolved, you've really never read a single book on evolution. (I'm not criticizing you; you're in good company there). So let's combine your third and fourth points, and allow me to clarify what evolution is, why it explains DNA, and why your micro/macro distinction is, frankly, bullshit.

First principle behind evolution: If something can make copies of itself, there will soon be more of it. It there are lots of competing things that can make copies of themselves, the ones that can do so most efficiently will end up having the most copies.

If that statement strikes you as true, there we go. Evolution.

The first proto-organisms were basically strings of RNA. Under certain conditions, a nucleotide strand would attach complementary bases, and you would have two strands of RNA. Then environmental conditions change and the two strands separate, and both of them can attach to more complementary bases.

Second principle behind evolution: If copies aren't exactly the same as the original, then some changes will increase efficiency. Other changes will decrease efficiency. After enough generations, your population will contain lots of copies of efficient replicators and very few copies of inefficient replicators.

So some of the RNA sequences happen to misplace an adenine instead of a cytosine, and that means that a replication enzyme bonds more tightly to the strand, and this mutant makes more copies of itself than its neighbors do.

And eventually, a nucleotide ends up with a deoxyribose sugar instead of a ribose sugar, and this configuration turns out to be WAY more stable - it can form into a double helix that is less likley to spontaneously collapse, and which can replicate with fewer errors. And this mutant makes more copies of itself than its neighbors do.

And these sequences of DNA/RNA aren't just random collections of letters. Well, some of them are, but others can be interpreted to build proteins that facilitate copying - and the ones with these helpful sequences can make more copies of themselves.

Let this process happen for a couple billion years.

But, you're saying, the probability is so small! You mean all those coincidences just happen to occur? Convenient mutations just happen to come along? If you multpily together the odds of all those things happening, it's tiny!

Well, of course it is. When you have a trillion early replicators hanging around, improbable things happen ALL. THE. TIME. And multiplying together the odds of each mutation is the completely wrong way to look at the problem - it's like looking at all the possible combinations of your parents' sperm and eggs that could have existed and declaring triumphantly that the probability of you existing is one in a gazillion. Of course it is! The question is what the probability of some complex life developing, under the given optimization pressures, and it should be obvious that it's reasonably high. Of those trillions of worlds we talked about earlier, maybe only a couple billion of them got to complex life.

Obviously, this is the grossly oversimplified version. For the whole story, you need to read this or this or this or this or... any of these, actually. But I hope you understand why most atheists feel that the distinction between macro- and micro-evolution is silly. Evolution is just the change in gene pools over time. This change has been observed to lead to one species splitting off into multiple species which can no longer reproduce (the biological definition of speciation). At what point is this process called "macro" evolution? How many genes need to change before you insist that the process "doesn't exist"? Why would evolution push two separate populations to the brink of speciation and then suddenly stop working by the rules we've repeatedly observed? Saying "micro but not macro" is like saying you believe gravity works on people but not on planets. There's just no reason to draw the distinction!

Using techniques called molecular systematics, we can trace the evolutionary relationships between species by mapping the differences in noncoding DNA. And, of course, I'm neglecting the single biggest piece of supporting evidence for evolution: the fossil record. You've probably been fed the lie that we don't have the transitional fossils. Well, we do have the transitional fossils. Overwhelmingly..

Now, ethics. The God of the Bible, if he existed, is a monstrous, selfish, egomaniacal, power-hungry terrifying sociopath. I don't mean to cause offense (though I probably will) but I read the Bible and it nearly made me ill. God tortures everyone who doesn't worship him for all eternity. He had 42 children mauled to death by bears for laughing at a bald man.(II Kings 2:23-24). He murders all the inhabitants of an entire city for being "sinful" (Genesis 19:1-26). He orders his people to commit genocide, over and over again. (Deuteronomy 13:13-16, Numbers 31:12-18, I Chronicles 21:9-14).
He's okay with rape (often, he explicitly orders his followers to commit rape) and treats women as property(Deuteronomy 22:28-29, Deuteronomy 22:23-24, Exodus 21:7-11). He's pro-slavery (I Timothy 6:1-2, Exodus 21:20.) He even claims in Isaiah 45:7 to have created all evil. In short, if we're getting our morals from that guy, we're seriously screwed. This isn't the wise and loving father whose children can't understand his dictates: it's the abusive alcoholic father whose son runs away when he realizes that rape, murder, and incest aren't okay just because Dad says so.

You're about to protest that most of those are Old Testament. But Jesus explicitly endorses the Old Testament and says that he has not come to change the old laws (Matthew 5:17). He endorses what God did in Sodom and Gomorrah and threatens to do even worse to three more cities because their inhabitants were unimpressed with him.(Matthew 11:21-24). He says that any child who curses his parents should be killed as according to Old Testament Law. (Mark 7:10)

I don't think a world where everyone follows their individual conscience could possibly be worse than a world rules by that God. And, in fact, countries that are nonreligious have lower rates of crime, higher standards of living, and higher self-reported happiness.

Interesting debate, thanks!

u/fookhar · 2 pointsr/agnostic

When it comes to understanding evolution, Why Evolution is True is a very entertaining, easily read introduction. I would also recommend The End of Faith by Sam Harris.

u/djork · 2 pointsr/Christianity

You can get by without enrolling in upper-level courses. There is some great free coursework out there if you want to go that route without paying money. Otherwise there are great introductory texts on the subject, like Why Evolution is True.

u/liquidpele · 2 pointsr/atheism

Here is a good book for Christians on evolution. It was recommended by Dawkins once for people that didn't like him and would never read his own books.

The author (Miller) is Roman Catholic, and also has several other good books on the topic if you look at the author's page on amazon.

This one by a different author is also very good.

If you'd like the basics online, here:

u/chewgl · 2 pointsr/biology

The Beak of the Finch is a pretty good read.

u/HalleyOrion · 2 pointsr/worldbuilding

On earth, most speciation happens within a population that is not physically split up by anything (water, mountains, etc.). In fact, getting split up by some kind of a boundary actually makes it harder for two populations to evolve into different species; there isn't any evolutionary pressure on them to become sexually incompatible.

Most speciation occurs because there are two empty niches within the ecosystem, and a population splits to fill both of them. A really good lay explanation of how this happens can be found in The Beak of the Finch. I highly recommend this book.

A good real-life example of this would be the cichlids of Lake Victoria. When the ancestor of these cichlids first showed up in this lake, there were numerous empty ecological niches, and the descendants of these fish evolved various specializations to compete better against each other.

The thing with specializing, though, is you don't want to breed with a fish of a different specialization, because your babies won't be very specialized, and they'll get outcompeted by fish that are more specialized. For this reason, being a very picky fish—that is, having a strong sexual preference for fish who share your specialization—is a major evolutionary advantage.

And giving off signs to other fish like you, to let them know that you're one of their kind, is also an advantage. This is why the cichlids in Lake Victoria are so amazingly diverse, despite being closely related and living in amongst each other. If you're a blue fish, you know to breed with other blue fish, and not with red fish. If you breed with red fish, your lineage will probably die out, and your preference for red fish will die with it. (Obviously, red fish would evolve the same preference for other red fish and aversion to blue fish.)

Sexual preferences and sexual displays are not the only method animals evolve to avoid interbreeding with a population of a different ecological specialization. Some animals (like frogs and cicadas) evolve to breed at different times of the year from their closely-related neighbors.

And some species (including most plants) do it by merely having incompatible sperm and eggs (or pollen and ova), or by having flowers specialized for different pollinators. If you're an oak that's specialized for growing on a riverbank, for example, you don't want to get pollinated by an oak that's specialized for growing on higher ground, because you'll still drop your hybrid acorns on the riverbank, and they just won't grow as well. You can't stop that oak's pollen from reaching you (oaks are wind pollinated), so the next best thing is to build some kind of protein defense on your ova that stops the highland oak's pollen from working on your ova—but still allows the pollen of your fellow riverbank oaks.

In the case of two your two intelligent species, they need to possess two traits to be realistic.

1 — They need to fulfill different ecological niches. They must not compete directly with each other (only in indirect ways that are not enough for one to drive the other to extinction). They need to live compatibly with each other, not unlike the way wildebeests and zebras do (they don't compete directly with each other because they eat different grass). And, if they were to interbreed, the hybrid children would be at a biological disadvantage to purebred children (e.g., suffering more from malnutrition due to not being specialized for digesting the available foodstuffs, or being more susceptible to predation due to lacking the right equipment to escape or defend against danger).

2 — They need to avoid hybridizing. This can come about through several ways—finding each other sexually distasteful (the way we find chimpanzees unattractive), wooing prospective sexual partners at different times or in different ways, having incompatible gametes or genitalia, etc. There can be a social taboo against interbreeding, too, but it would almost certainly be rooted in biology (much the way that incest taboos are ultimately derived from our instinctual aversion to inbreeding).

u/epoxymonk · 2 pointsr/biology

Your best bet is to contact the instructor(s) for any classes you're interested in to see if there will be lectures covering material you are uncomfortable with; it would be helpful to be specific (for example, if you're okay with diagrams of organs and tissues but aren't comfortable with images of the actual thing).

That being said, in my experience (4th year graduate student in molecular biology) few classes have been especially graphic. Off the top of my head, the only ones to be careful of are anatomy/physiology (duh :) ) and general bio as there is usually at least one dissection in the lab section (which you might be able to opt out of).

Another option is to explore your interest in biology and evolution outside of coursework. There are quite a few great books out there that discuss the field without being gory. I personally recommend “The Beak of the Finch”, which discusses the decades-long research project tracking finch evolution in the Galapagos.

Good luck!

u/rbobby · 2 pointsr/science

Evolution can happen quickly (not saying it has in this case... just that it can). Pickup for an interesting read about fast observable evolution.

u/Nausved · 2 pointsr/askscience

Male orangutans grow beautiful facial hair! I'm pretty sure this is just a coincidence, though.

It's not uncommon for two closely related species to sexually select for different traits in their mates, as it helps cut back on interbreeding (read The Beak of the Finch for an excellent example of this). Normally genetic variety is a good thing, but if a lineage diverges because it is specializing in two different niches, interbreeding between the two branches hurts both of them. Perhaps beards—and the sexual preference for them—developed in early humans because it set them apart from their cousins.

u/catalytica · 2 pointsr/biology

The Beak of the Finch is a great non-textbook about evolution to read. Evolutionary Analysis by Freeman and Herron is the text I used in class.

u/Purgii · 2 pointsr/DebateAChristian

> Why can't God copy/paste?

I can see this has already gone nowhere fast.

If you wish to entertain the possibility of another truth, I highly recommend this book. Before you ask the inevitable, yes - I've read the Bible. Didn't find the truth in it, unfortunately.

u/yuumai · 2 pointsr/suggestmeabook

Here are a few of my favorites:

The Beak of the Finch

Wild Trees

Almost anything by Richard Dawkins

Why Evolution is True


u/dubious_alliance · 2 pointsr/askscience

Dawkins has written several good books on evolution, "The Blind Watchmaker" is another good one.

"Why Evolution is True" by Prof. Jerry Coyne is another informative (and fun) book on evolution.

u/d3b105b · 2 pointsr/TrueAtheism

You are probably going down the same route I did. I grew up in a very conservative Baptist home. Bed time stories were from the bible, went to youth camps every year, went as a missionary all over Europe, played piano in worship teams and so on. But over time I got more questions than answers.

God never answers my prayers, what am I doing wrong? How can all the people around me speak in tongues? Is evolution actually right? Gays getting married doesn't seem very wrong. And so on. It's a journey ultimately only you can go on and discover what's at the end. Maybe you go back to faith, maybe you don't. I became an atheist last year and haven't looked back since.

However, if you want some good resources I'd recommend the Skeptics Annotated Bible to cover the bible and if you haven't definitively watch Evid3nc3 Why I am no longer a Christian. As for creation, Richard Dawkins' books are usually good introductions if you can stand him, otherwise I'd recommend Why Evolution is True.

My two favorite books are Why We Believe in God(s) and 50 Simple Questions for Every Christian. The first was what made me really question everything I believed in and the second was the nail in the coffin, the question he asks are good and his tone is very nice. Highly recommended reading if that's you thing.

If you need anything more feel free to ask, we're here to help.

u/Themias · 2 pointsr/atheism

Let's count the logical fallacies! This should be fun.
>You are out-numbered by several billion people who actually have faith in something that is Superior to the world and life.

Argument ad populum, just because lots of people believe something, does not mean it is true. At one point, most people thought the sun revolved around the earth

>...just because someone is religious, doesn't automatically make them wrong about something.

Straw man. Atheists don't say that a religious person is automatically wrong. Also, we recognize that religious people obviously have, and continue to, make lots of contributions to science.

>If we evolved from apes, why are there still apes?

A complete misunderstanding of evolution. Try reading Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne.

>The most ridiculous thing i've ever heard is humans being born from exploding stars.

This matter refers to the carbon, iron, calcium, etc necessary for life was first fused from hydrogen and helium in the fusion furnaces of stars and when they exploded (developing into planets and such) allowed life to evolve in the first place. No stars = no heavy metals = no life.

>So by your logic there is not a SINGLE event of genocide that has been occured by non-religious affairs?

Straw man. No atheist I've ever heard of thinks that every bad thing in history is done only by the religious or for only religious reasons.

>Why NOT believe in God? Why take the risks of going to Hell?

Pascal's wager? I would hope you would see the flaws in that pretty clearly. One flaw: you said you weren't Christian (a Muslim I'd presume) so what if Christianity is correct? The new testament quite clearly states the only way to heaven is through Jesus. Another: what if there is a god, but he only lets atheists into heaven?

>What i meant is, why does over half the world believe in him?

Argument ad populum again.

>Big bang theory? How did that happen? you can't figure that out because your little tools have been created by humans, which are very inferior to God. the only answer that makes sense is, somebody has got to have created the universe. Its not like its been around. Who created God? No one knows, but dont go ahead and call myself a hypocrite.

You are being a hypocrite here. "Big bang theory? How did that happen? you can't figure that out because your little tools have been created by humans, which are very inferior to God."
Why is there a god?
"No one knows, but dont go ahead and call myself a hypocrite."
Ah, that all makes sense now... ಠ_ಠ

>Why is God making chaos on earth instead of making us live in luxury in the gardens of paradise? Its a TEST.

If your God is omniscient, he would know the outcome, therefore making tests irrelevant.

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/bdwilson1000 · 2 pointsr/atheism

I highly recommend this book. It should give you plenty of intellectual ammo:

u/Ethallen · 2 pointsr/atheism

If you're truly curious, you can't do much better than these two books.

The Ancestor's Tale and The Greatest Show on Earth.

u/delanger · 1 pointr/atheism

A reasonable reply. Why don't you learn a bit more about evolution before trying to use it in an argument. Try these....Why Evolution Is True - Jerry Coyne or The Greatest Show On Earth - Richard Dawkins

u/outsider · 1 pointr/Christianity

>Why? Wouldn't it be evolutionarily advantageous for the brain to model the 'self' as part of its overall strategy of modeling its environment?

This is problematic because the brain does not evolve to model itself.

-or this-

>I do wonder how you explain the spontaneous emergence of an intelligent, capable, knowledgable God without a process like evolution to get you there. But then, I can't ask you, because you have deleted your account.

Because it muddles abiogenesis with evolution. The two don't really have an overlap since abiogenesis necessitates not having a prior generation and evolution requires it.

-or this-

>if you put god into the evolution equation, you're entirely missing the point of evolution. The whole idea was to demonstrate a process through which complex life could form without the need for any kind of intelligence or creator.

As the whole idea of the Theory of Evolution wasn't to demonstrate anything. It was descriptive of observations and allowed falsifiability in certain places. His next post goes even more off base. Evolution is guided by environment as negative mutations to an environment often lead to death of a species or at least those individuals which have negative mutations. That is part of the basis of natural selection.

Here is a whole book that a couple of atheists wrote about evolution that is filled with flaws.

There is an obnoxious amount of misinformation in nearly any demographic and those of us who work in related fields just get used to glossing over them.

u/JoeCoder · 1 pointr/DebateAChristian
  1. I know James Barham is an atheist philosopher who ascribes to ID. As he wrote: "What is certain is that the Darwinian explanatory framework is logically confused and scientifically superficial with respect to the phenomena of normativity, teleology, and agency. Darwinism is a gigantic obstacle obscuring these important problems from our view, and I doubt we will make much progress towards solving them so long as Darwinian dogma retains its death grip on the minds of so many."
  2. Philosopher and mathemetician David Berlinski, although having Jewish heritage, is an agostic, religion critic, and ID proponent.
  3. While not a subscriber to ID, atheist Bradley Monton wrote a book defending ID as valid science.
  4. There's also atheists Jerry Fodor and Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, who wrote What Darwin Got Wrong. From their interview on "Creationism isn't the only doctrine that's heavily into post-hoc explanation. Darwinism is too. If a creature develops the capacity to spin a web, you could tell a story of why spinning a web was good in the context of evolution. That is why you should be as suspicious of Darwinism as of creationism. They have spurious consequence in common. And that should be enough to make you worry about either account."

    When reading the profiles of ID'ers creation scientists, I frequently find conversions from atheism, deism, and theistic evolution, often only after years of research in their fields. Conversely, the deconversions I read occur at the beginning years of university, after young students reject the sham Hovind-style creationism being taught by people who know nothing about science. Senior NASA climatologist Roy Spencer described the trend:

    > Twenty years ago, as a PhD scientist, I intensely studied the evolution versus intelligent design controversy for about two years. And finally, despite my previous acceptance of evolutionary theory as 'fact,' I came to the realization that intelligent design, as a theory of origins, is no more religious, and no less scientific, than evolutionism. ... In the scientific community, I am not alone. There are many fine books out there on the subject. Curiously, most of the books are written by scientists who lost faith in evolution as adults, after they learned how to apply the analytical tools they were taught in college.

    Conversely, TalkOrigin's list of creationist deconversions is all high school and college kids. Seemingly because they encountered the tree of life, junk dna, and haeckel's embryology diagrams in the texbooks and were convinced by such "overwhelming evidence".

u/slimindie · 1 pointr/pics

I study evolutionary biology as a hobby and have read many books on the subject, several of which actually argue in favor of a designer (a position I disagree with based on the evidence). The facts and evidence overwhelmingly support the history of the eye's development as I have described it whether you agree with it or not. If you are interested in the subject, I highly recommend checking out "Finding Darwin's God" by Kenneth R. Miller and "Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes" by Stephen Jay Gould, both of which are very informative and excellent reads.

If you are a blind, ocean-dwelling creature who's food tends to hang out near the surface, a mutation that allows a cell to detect light would make it easier to find food, thus increasing the likelihood that you would survive and pass on that mutation. Furthermore, if another mutation multiplied the number of those light detecting cells, you might be able to better determine your distance to the surface and more precisely hone in on your meal without getting too close to the surface and putting yourself in potential danger. If a further mutation granted you enough of the light-detecting cells that you determine movement, you would be in a much better position to both find food and evade predators.

It is small mutations like this that have selective advantages that result in the development of things like eyes and the rest of our organs. It's not that the creatures "knew what they wanted to see"; it's that mutations provided sensory inputs that increased the likelihood of those creatures surviving. It is the survivors that pass on their genes and spawn the next generation. This is happening constantly in all living things, humans included, and that is an indisputable fact. It can be and has been observed.

u/IM_MAKIN_GRAVY · 1 pointr/sorceryofthespectacle

I’m super excited to learn about the holometric super conducted project. This wasn’t as difficult to read as it looked at first glance. I think I’m on the same page about a lot of this, and will sometime soon, read the whole thing. But for now I sleep. Hope you’re well until then.

Edit: recently came across the book [Global Brain] ( by Howard Bloom in a bout of synchronicity. Literally wandering through the library. It’s basically about the meta personality. He’s a fascinating guy, the philosopher at the end of the universe.

u/blurgtheamoeba · 1 pointr/TrueAskReddit

I suggest reading this

u/shitshitaids · 1 pointr/askphilosophy

>As someone within an evolutionary field, Nietzsche has never been discussed meaningfully to my knowledge within the purview of evolution.

If you mean that no evolutionary biologists have talked about Nietzsche's thoughts on evolution, I don't know whether that's true or not. But lots of philosophers definitely have talked about Nietzsche's thoughts on evolution. Here are a few:

u/TheBossIsWatching · 1 pointr/atheism

Welcome to the Church of Richard Dawkins.

Start with this - Read it a few times.

Then try this - This one is heavy but worth it.

When your done, go back to your original faith and research it. You mentioned you were a christian. Read the bible again having absorbed these books. To be an effictive Atheist you need to understand the perspective of the religious.

u/Iago_Huws · 1 pointr/conspiracy

Try having a watch of this... and then buy the book and educate yourself properly by learning the science behind evolution in a summarized manner accessable to the average educated person Can get it in audio or text format here

u/thesunmustdie · 1 pointr/atheism

It's a gradual ramp of tiny little improvements over millions/billions of years.

Because all living things compete for finite resources like sunlight and/or food, the organisms with the optimal traits (perhaps it's a cheetah with enough speed to chase down prey) get to live and pass on their genes. These genes are inherited by offspring. With each generation there are subtle changes in the genetic information being passed on — in response to the environment. This is called epigenetics. With massive amounts of geological time, all these subtle little response modifications eventually add up to something really substantial like human beings with a complex immune system.

An easy way to convince yourself of it is to look at artificial selection and how animal breeders "play god". Take pigeon breeders: They decide what kind of bird they want — perhaps it's one with a long beak — and out of the hundreds of pigeons they have they select two with the most prominent beaks and mate them. They continue doing this over the generations. Several years later, you would already see the massive difference in the beak length of the youngest experiment pigeon when compared with the other normal pigeons.
Natural selection works in a very similar way to this.

Edit: As for book recommendations? Dawkins is the best at explaining it if you ask me:

Richard Dawkins' Greatest Show on Earth

Richard Dawkins' The Blind Watchmarker

u/dx_xb · 1 pointr/science

Yes and no. While I agree with ukuleleBri that your skills will be appreciated, it is important to get a grip of the way biologists think about things, and more particularly how variance is important to biological systems. Unlike in most fields, which tend to see variance as something to minimise, biology depends on variance and though it can be irritating, it needs to be considered as a significant part of the system. A good book that discusses this is Full House, by Steven Jay Gould (while I disagree with some of his positions on evolutionary biology, he makes good arguments and the concepts in this book are definitely valid).

u/camopdude · 1 pointr/atheism

Question 1 is out of the realm of evolutionary biology.

For question 6 read Stepehen Jay gould's - Full House.

u/Spurnem · 1 pointr/biology

If you're looking for a biology-related book to read when you can't take textbooks any more, I highly recommend The Ancestor's Tale. My high school AP Bio teacher had us read that (and write reports on every chapter to make sure we'd read it thoroughly instead of skimming), and that taught me more biology than I ever realized. I'm almost done my bachelor's and I'm still encountering material in classes that is familiar to me because of the Ancestor's Tale.

u/Reverie_of_an_INTP · 1 pointr/INTP

I enjoyed the ancestor's tale by Dawkins.

u/missinfidel · 1 pointr/AskReddit

If you're interested in the subject, there are lots and lots of great resources on it, though nearly all of it focuses on human evolution. Even if you're just interested in evolution as a whole, Dawkins' book "The Ancestor's Tale" is a really great way to get familiar with modern species' progenitors in a really engrossing way.

u/cyclopath · 1 pointr/books

I recommend Ancestors Tale as your next Dawkins book.

u/berlinbrown · 1 pointr/atheism

"he civil rights issues of the united states in the early to middle 1900s happened around a classification of "black". "

I said, "where are they" not "where were they". So, right now, how are people grouped?

"at you are saying does not in any way apply to this conversation"

What does apply to the conversation?

What is race to you?

Once again, discussions on race are non-nonsensical as you have proven. No one can adequately define what race is. Race to one person is completely different to another. Even if you define race and can group people, what is the point?

If I am being annoying or ignorant. Please clarify your position, use current media reports, use concrete evidence.

The only evidence I can bring is what Dawkins mentioned on race:

""Interobserver agreement suggests that racial classification is not totally uninformative, but what does it inform about? About things like eye shape and hair curliness. For some reason it seems to be the superficial, external, trivial characteristics that are correlated with race—perhaps especially facial characteristics.""

u/l33t_sas · 1 pointr/explainlikeimfive

I'm in no way qualified enough to talk about it myself but since nobody else has said anything particularly helpful, Richard Dawkins does a great job covering this stuff in a clear and easy to understand way in Ancestor's Tale

u/Life_is_Life · 1 pointr/askscience

I'm not a professional in the field, but my favorite free-time science books are usually focused on evolutionary biology, so here goes. One of the best discussions on this particular topic I've read is in The Ancestor's Tale by Dawkins. It's an excellent 3-page discussion you can read in full by accessing the "Look Inside!" preview of the book on Amazon (link to book page) and scrolling to the bottom of page 430. Do this by searching for "Maynard Smith" and clicking on the result on page 430. You'll need to sign in in order to search.

Anyways, I'll try to summarize the discussion here (although I'm a huge fan of Dawkins' eloquence in this book so I'm afraid I won't do it much justice). At a fairly naive level, sex is an evolutionary paradox. Modern Darwinism says that every organism strives to pass on as many of its genes as possible to its offspring. If this is true, however, why does sex, which is basically throwing away half of your own genes and mixing them with half of those of some other stranger, make any sense? An asexual organism can pass on 100% of its genes to its offspring. A sexual organism can only pass on 50%.

And yet, sexual reproduction is pretty much the norm for multi-cellular organisms. This suggests that the "twofold" cost of sex is somehow "cancelled out" by some other advantage of having two parents. One possibility is if the male commits to the child (instead of just running off to have sex with some other female), the couple can, as a group, produce at least twice as many offspring as the asexual alternative. While it is true that the male puts as much effort into child-rearing as the female in a few species, (emperor penguins, for instance), it is by no means the norm. So there must be something else going on.

Genetic recombination Dawkins hesitates to say that it alone is sufficient to counteract the massive twofold cost of sex, but it is definitely a factor.


After this Dawkins makes some points that are very interesting but not totally relevant to your question, so I'll just summarize it very quickly. High school biology teaches us that genetic recombination introduces diversity and variety to the gene pool. Dawkins makes the point that sexual reproduction simultaneously has the opposing effect as well because it introduces the very concept of a gene pool. Think about it: an asexual organism shares none of its genes with its brethren. The very idea of a gene pool is nonsensical. In fact, you could say every new creature is a separate species because from that moment on, it's evolutionary path is completely different from that of its brother or sister. Yes, sexual reproduction, through the process of genetic recombination potentially allows for greater diversity and variety. But sexual reproduction introduces a gene pool that tends to diffuse the effects of genetic recombination. Gene pools have a massive "inertia" that a single wayward member cannot easily change. Dawkins forwards this not necessarily as a benefit of sex, but rather a consequence of it.

u/Leechifer · 1 pointr/books

Richard Dawkins
at Amazon...

u/owlish · 1 pointr/genetics

Since gordonj has already written a fine answer, let me take another tack and suggest that the book An Ancestor's Tale is a very readable discussion of topics related to this.

u/MagicDeliveryBox · 1 pointr/LSD

Because there is no god, just the universe of which you are a part of. Get the strong feeling of being a part of this universe next time you trip (if you trip again shrooms might be the better choice). Also i think your real crisis is obvious: You seak a worldview. Go read some E.O. Willson (the social conquest of the earth) or the "ancestors tale" by richard dawkins ( and also read about some philosphers. I think THIS is what would really really help you. Go for it and speak about your new insights with your councilor. You will be happier and more fullfilled than prior the experience. But dont try to get religious, thank you.

u/tendeuchen · 1 pointr/atheism

I just started reading some of Richard Dawkins - The Ancestor's Tale, and it seems pretty good.

u/StellaMaroo · 1 pointr/Random_Acts_Of_Amazon

An hour or two ago I added The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution to my book wishlist. I don't plan on buying most books on my wishlist. I just use it as a reminder to request the book from the library when I have more time.

u/BustyMetropolis · 1 pointr/atheism

My one-stop book recommendation would be Sam Harris's Letter to a Christian Nation. It's a short read, but nearly every paragraph is its own distinct argument, and it covers a lot of territory.

If you're aiming to construct your paper around a set of the most popular arguments, here are some common refutations to arguments for the existence of God. Keep in mind that many of our arguments are in the form of refutation instead of assertion, since the burden of proof is on the claimant:

Ontological Argument (Argument from experience) - We assert that feelings do not equal facts; revelation is not a reliable basis for a factual claim. We also realize that to criticize someone for feelings that are personal can seem like a personal attack. Most of us wouldn't tell someone who claims he/she had a spiritual experience that it didn't happen, but we would try to find a scientific explanation rather than coming to the immediate conclusion that it was God's doing. As a brief example, a friend of mine said he "felt the touch of God" when his daughter was born, but we interpret his feeling as a normal, natural high that most people feel at such an emotional moment.

Teleological Argument (Argument from design) - We accept the evidence for evolution and realize that it is inconsistent with the biblical creation story. For further reading about what proof we have for evolution, I'd personally recommend The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins, and he promotes Jerry Coyne's Why Evolution Is True though I haven't read the latter yet.

Cosmological Argument (Causal Argument) - This is a case of people assigning the "God" label to something difficult to comprehend. The best we have to go on so far is the Big Bang Theory, and scientists will continue to test the theory. We don't have evidence that the beginning of the universe was brought about by an omnipotent/omniscient being outside of what is claimed by religious texts, and that goes back to the. We might also ask, "who/what made God?" inviting an infinite loop of "which came first" questions.

Moral Argument - We believe (normal) people are able to tell the difference between right and wrong without religious guidance. In turn, it seems that the Christian Bible teaches, excuses, or condones actions that our enlightened society would deem immoral, such as slavery, killing of children and non-heterosexuals, oppression, rape, and genocide. Interpretations of the Bible differ, of course, and most modern Christians don't believe they should actually kill their disobedient children (or that the laws of the Old Testament no longer apply since the coming of Christ, which is another conversation). Regardless of arguments from the Bible, we believe that science can tell us a lot more about morality than we give it credit for.

Lastly, here is a wikipedia list of lots more arguments in case you'd like to ask about specific ones: link

Good luck, and I hope you enjoy writing your paper. Not that you should necessarily crowd-source coursework, but you'd probably get quite a strong response if you posted up a final draft, too.

u/SurlyTurtle · 1 pointr/atheism

Jerry Coyne's Why Evolution is True might help some.

u/Skololo · 1 pointr/DebateReligion

> However, addressing your argument about "denying observable reality" is quite insulting.

Your denial of observable reality is quite insulting to those of us who care about observable reality.

> Many people refuse to believe in the literal six day creation or global flood and insist they are just stories

The reason for this is that everything we've observed about the relevant reality indicates that these events simply did not happen.

Read a science textbook. Or this.

u/Big_Brain · 1 pointr/exmuslim

Here is a good book for your research in understanding Evolution. It's a nice read with reliable knowledge from an ecology specialist.

u/Seekin · 1 pointr/atheism

As others have pointed out, there really is more to it than can easily be put into a reddit post. You CAN spend a lifetime studying it, and many do.

That being said, I've often linked people to Evolution in a cartoon by Darryl Cunningham. It's long for a cartoon, but short for the amount of information and insight it provides. It's a brief overview and is to be used only as a primer on the topic, not a thorough compendium.

If you find yourself interested in further information, I'd suggest Jerry Coyne's book Why Evolution is True.

As others have noted, Talk Origins is an excellent, comprehensive resource. But it can get a bit technical and wordy for people new to the topic.

Best of luck, enjoy the journey. Let us (me specifically if you'd care to) know if you want to discuss anything further.

u/gkhenderson · 1 pointr/DebateAnAtheist

I suggest you read a couple of books that present the evidence for evolution very clearly:

Why Evolution Is True

The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution

Evolution itself is a simple concept, but the evidence for it is broad and detailed across many scientific disciplines, and it all fits together.

Regarding the existence of God, one can't prove that your God doesn't exist, or that any of the other thousands of gods that have been worshiped through the ages don't exist. The real question is whether there is enough evidence to positively prove the existence of any one of those gods.

u/bperki8 · 1 pointr/evolution

Why evolution is true. by Jerry A. Coyne

Pretty much all the evidence you need for evolution there. For information about the origins of life you will have to look elsewhere though.

u/jjberg2 · 1 pointr/askscience

You might try here:

and then ctr+F for "evolution" for a few previous instances of this question, or here:

or other variations thereupon.

Anyways, we don't make a habit of letting these questions out all that often, as they never really do well, and when they do attract attention it's mostly people who don't really understand evolution all that well, trying to explain evolution to people who definitely don't understand it that well, and it just never really winds up being productive (while those of us who do know something about evolution squirm in agony at even attempting to undue all the damage this whole "fact vs theory" thing in a somewhat concise manner).

I'm keeping it spammed (you could also try searching in /r/evolution), but my honest suggestion would be to have her read something like Jerry Coyne's Why Evolution is True, if she's willing to (and perhaps you could sit down and read it yourself first, to be able to give it an honest recommendation). Alternatively Dawkins's The Greatest Show on Earth is supposed to be good (I haven't read it myself), although Coyne's writing style might be more appealing for the non-academic, and some people are allergic to Richard Dawkins, for obvious reasons if you know who he is.

What's her angle. Presumably she is of the faithful? If that's really her angle, then you might be hard pressed to convince her with a short paragraph or two that I could provide.

u/m0rken · 1 pointr/islam

When you take the position of refusing to learn, nothing can be done to convince you. Why not be curious instead? Why not become interested in the world and how it works? It's fun.

It's not really possible to learn evolution via reddit comments. You need to read a book. For example, Why Evolution is True.

u/Carg72 · 1 pointr/atheism

I wouldn't say a damn thing. I'd just point them in the direction of this and this.

u/Bilbo_Fraggins · 1 pointr/atheism

Evolution makes testable predictions which are proved true, and many things in biology and geobiology only make sense in light of evolution.

The discovery of Tiktaalik is one of the better examples.

It's an important transitional fossil, which was found very intentionally.

The scientists wanted to find a particular transition, so they figured out what time period it should be in, then which layer of the earth's crust that should be in because of that time period. Then they looked on maps for where that layer would be exposed, traveled there, and found the fossil exactly where their predictions said.

There's lots of articles and videos on the topic, and it is featured in the excellent book, Why Evolution is True that is filled with many such evidences. If you could get someone to agree to read one bok on evolution, I would recommend that one.

u/fugularity · 1 pointr/explainlikeimfive

This book is an excellent and simple example of animals evolving now, right before our eyes:

u/pacocat · 1 pointr/atheism
u/shinew123 · 1 pointr/books

Beak of the finch by Jonathan Weiner is a pretty darn good book. It tells of one experiment on evolution and how it works. I have read a lot, but this one is more about the people as well as the new ideas of experiment than the theory of evolution.

u/radiomouse · 1 pointr/gaymers

The Beak of the Finch. It's nonfiction about how scientists are actually recording quantifiable evolution within Darwin's finches. Much more interesting than it might sound...

u/greenearrow · 1 pointr/askscience

Read "The Beak of the Finch," two species hybridized and essentially gave rise to a third species. The book talks about the research and discoveries of Peter and Rosemary Grant, both highly respected biologists.

u/jimktrains · 1 pointr/Catholicism

The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time follows the Drs Grant who followed finches in the Galapagos over multiple generations. and observed the beginnings of the process of speciation. It's a very good book, and I highly encourage you to read it.

u/RicochetScience · 1 pointr/biology

The Beak of the Finch by Jonathan Weiner. Probably one of the best books that cover the research on the Galapagos finches.

u/broofa · 1 pointr/DebateAnAtheist

I highly recommend reading about the research going on into evolution of finches in the Galapagos. They've been the subject of study since the 70's and it's fascinating stuff.

For a short read, check out this National Geographic article. There's also the Pulitzer prize winning book on the subject, The Beak of the Finch.

tl;dr - Significant evolutionary change can happen in the span of just a few months, rather then millennia. (E.g. researchers have seen the average size of finch beaks change by 15% in just 1-2 years).

u/stemgang · 1 pointr/science

Religious thought has been eliminated from the UK, perhaps by people like mark204, who made a new account just to post that unuseful trolling.

Also, JSavage37 didn't even bother to quote from the book he referred you to. That is lazy, not helpful.

Frankly, the guardian article was sensationalistic. However, it addresses the difference between epigenetics and Lamarckianism.

I didn't see your article as promoting Creationsim, and I doubt the other posters even read the article. But the title attacking evolution will invite a knee-jerk downvote here in /r/science.

u/matts2 · 1 pointr/Christianity

It sounds like you now want an education in the whole process of science. The best way to get that is to read material directly on that topic. I suggest starting with Beak of the Finch but Jonathan Weiner. It is an account of a long term research project on Galapagos, but along the way Weiner does a very good job in showing the reader how science actually works. It is a Pulitzer Prize winner and very accessible. After than if you want something in depth, read, as I suggested, Science as a Process by David Hull. A deeper, much deeper, exploration into how science works and the philosophical underpinnings.

I don't see me as jumping the gun, I keep trying to get back to the topic.

u/kickstand · 1 pointr/atheism

There's a great book called The Beak of the Finch. It tells the story of how evolution has been observed occurring in the field, today, now, in the same Galapagos finch populations that Darwin observed.

u/BeakOfTheFinch · 1 pointr/videos

If you find the finches even mildly interesting, read this book:

u/draypresct · 1 pointr/atheism

Don't try to convert her 'away' from Islam. Just show her something you like and consider neat. For example, if you can truly geek out about the careful analyses and neat conclusions in "The Beak of the Finch", then go ahead and share that with her.

That way, she'll at least be exposed to what an actual scientific process looks like, and it shouldn't get as contentious. You're not talking about how humans evolved; you're showing her what life is like for bunch of birds on a far-off island.


u/cheap_dates · 1 pointr/atheism

Its not for the faint-of-heart but read The Ancestor's Tale by Dawkins. Its amazing what 5 billion years of evolution can produce.

u/Zaungast · 0 pointsr/evolution

Although most of his essay is fine, I disagree with Pinker about group selection too, and agree with /u/self-assembled that Pinker is willfully ignoring evidence. I have no dog in the group selection fight, so it is mystifying to see Pinker (who I actually used to like) debase himself by arguing like this.

Major papers have been published as recently as last month showing that group selection happens. Not sure why empirical data from papers published in Nature should be thrown out because they don't agree with Pinker's conception of "the facts of psychology and history".

Pinker admits himself that he's not arguing from empirical data, but from an a priori view that tries to show that group selection as a logical explanation is flawed (i.e. incoherent). As a scientist, that's madness, and it is the special kind of madness that makes creationism happen and helps smart, atheist philosophers like Jerry Fodor write books called *What Darwin Got Wrong". Scientists use data to test theories, and the "proponents of group selection" (like Charles Goodnight, above) are just doing their job. Hell, if Pinker doesn't like their analysis he can redo it himself (here is their raw data).

So when Pinker says:
"the groups made copies of themselves by budding or fissioning, the descendant groups faithfully reproduced traits of the parent group (which cannot be reduced to the traits of their individual members), except for mutations that were blind to their costs and benefits to the group; and groups competed with one another for representation in a meta-population of groups."

Nearly everyone in the evolutionary biology community will agree with him. This is what empirical work is telling us happens in nature, and we're happy to go along with what peer-reviewed studies seem to suggest is the case.

But when Pinker says:
"But everyone agrees that this [natural selection on groups] is not what happens in so-called "group selection." In every case I've seen, the three components that make natural selection so indispensable are absent."

I have no idea how he can conclude this given the evidence. It is actually very much like talking to a creationist.

u/blackstar9000 · 0 pointsr/atheism

Hijacked is too strong a word, but I think two points are notable. First, arguably most of the really popular and notable books on evolution released in the last twenty years were penned by New Atheists proper or by authors who basically fit the New Atheist mold but aren't one of the four specific authors. A big part of the reason for that is simply Richard Dawkins. He's a popular writer and a biologist, so it was almost inevitable that he'd pen books about Darwin and that they'd hit the bestsellers lists. And if it were limited to Dawkins, I'd think nothing of it, but there's Dennett and Shermer, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Harris release one before long. Another part of the reason is that a number of the other books about Darwinian evolution that have sold well in past decades were penned by creationists like Michael Behe, so a certain measure of response is, from my perspective at least, welcome. At that point, it's about market share, and we don't want creationists having too big a piece of the market share. Their point of view is, after all, problematic to say the least. If it weren't for my second point, it wouldn't even be problematic that a) popular books on evolution are basically split between creationists and New Atheists, and b) that New Atheists make up such a large share of that market.

But my second point is this: New Atheists aren't just popularizing or "standing up for" Darwinian evolution; they're attaching a political and ideological agenda to that effort, and that runs several risks, the most obvious being that it can polarize people against evolution, as some commentators have warned it might do in Muslim countries. To my mind, the more insidious risk is that, once you've connected a scientific theory to a political or ideological effort, it becomes all to easy for its patrons to see it in those terms even when it has nothing to do with that effort. Without much noticing it, pro-Darwinians may start seeing barely articulated associations as part and parcel of evolution, until evolution is something more than a scientific model. Dawkins, for example, has turned evolution into a theological disproof with the subtitle of "The Blind Watchmaker". The title of Shermer's "Why Darwin Matters" sums up the achievement of evolutionary theory as a form of polemic against intelligent design theory. Dawkins, at least, is close enough to the professional practice of biology that he probably doesn't need reminding that evolution isn't really about atheism, but all of these guys are writing books for people who don't have the continual reminder of working in the field where evolutionary theory is most functional.

I say none of this in defense of the Guardian article, but I do think there's something to be said for the idea that our society stands to lose by leaving it up to the New Atheists to give evolution its popularly received meaning.