Thursday, October 15, 2009

Books on Evolution

Here's a list of books I recommend about evolution:

On the Evidence for Evolution

Books that show why Evolution is true.

1. Why Evolution Is True by Jerry Coyne. This is a magnificent book that gives several highly convincing lines of evidence to show that Evolution is true.

2. The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins. Another excellent work that presents the evidence for evolution (albeit with some different evidences than the last book). Especially interesting is Dawkins' replies to creationist canards about the lack of transitional fossils.

3. The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution by Sean Carroll. A fascinating book on genetics and Evolution. I think it does a better job of explaining Natural Selection than the other two books, as well.

Defending Evolution from Creationist Attacks.

1. The Counter-Creationism Handbook by Mark Isaak. An excellent book that provides brief (and well researched) responses to nearly every creationist claim ever made.

2. Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction by Eugenie Scott. This book presents creationist arguments (usually in their own words from their own writings) followed by a scientific response.
3. Finding Darwin's God by Ken Miller. This is a very good and very unique response to classic creationism as well as the ID movement.

4. Intelligent Thought: Science versus the Intelligent Design Movement Edited by John Brockman. An intriguing collection of articles that will teach you a lot about evolution and more generally how to respond to intelligent design.

Learning About Evolution

Once you've seen that evolution is true and that creationism is false, you'll probably discover that evolution is fascinating and want to learn more about it. Here are some books to help you out there:

1. The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins. A classic book with lucid chapters on the origin of life, the evolution of altruism, and "memes".

2. Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution by Nick Lane. I'll be honest: A couple of chapters are boring. Still, this is an excellent read explaining how several complicated and very cool things evolved. And yes, creationists, there is a chapter on the eye.

3. At the Water's Edge : Fish with Fingers, Whales with Legs, and How Life Came Ashore but Then Went Back to Sea by Carl Zimmer. Look at the title of the book and tell me you don't want to read it.

4. The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution by Richard Dawkins. A massive book that treks through the entire evolution of life, from modern man all the way back to the primordial soup.


BONUS: Material on the Web that supports evolution.

16 comments:

ZDENNY said...

The Greatest Show on earth is really a funny book. I enjoyed it; however, Dawkins cannot explain why there are not millions of transitional fossils.

The Cambrian Explosion has jellyfish, starfish and clams. These are suppose to be 500 million years old and they are still here.

We don't have transitional fossils that show a step by step process going to the nearest species. The record jumps. The Creationist model is by far superior

AIGBusted said...

Z, you're a stupid ass and probably didn't read the book. Either that or you have poor reading comprehension skills, because Dawkins does mount a very good argument against the creationist demand for lots of transitional fossils.

"The Cambrian Explosion has jellyfish, starfish and clams. These are suppose to be 500 million years old and they are still here."

So what?

"We don't have transitional fossils that show a step by step process going to the nearest species. The record jumps. The Creationist model is by far superior."

There are some fossil series that show gradual evolution. But even the 'jumps' you mention don't mean much because the fossil record doesn't record every organism that ever lived and also because we know by observation that a good deal of evolution can occur in a 'geological instant' which might make it look like a species arose suddenly.

ZDENNY said...

AIG, your position is based on faith rather than evidence. The Creationist model is based solely on evidence.

Christians have a higher standard for evidence obviously.

Christians don't deny micro-evolution which explains diversity in a species; however, you cannot ignore both the genome and the fossil record which both demonstrate jumps rather than a slow progression as articulated by Darwin himself.

Punctuated equilibrium is a Creationist model as each jump is an act of the Creator. The commonalities between species are merely evidence of a common designer.

atimetorend said...

How about some books specifically by Christians defending evolution (Ken Miller, Karl Giberson)? I think there is an important place for Christians showing how one can believe in evolution and still be a Christian.

ZDENNY said...

I can only believe things based on evidence. Atime is recommending that I believe something based on blind faith rather than informed faith.

I guess a person can believe in blind Darwinian evolution without evidence, but why?

Darwinian Theory is a non-falsifiable belief for Darwinians. There is nothing that could ever be said to discredit the theory. It is believed by faith and they go out and try to find stuff to support their faith.

The facts contradict Darwinian evolution and yet Darwinians just keep on believing and believing and believing. I think one guy said it best. He said, "Evolution is Evolution is Evolution" I guess it is :)

Darwinian evolution is turning into a religion under Dawkins. In fact, scientific speculation is being crushed by the establishment as they reject all alternative theories from publication as well as discussion. O'Reilly said it best...it is Fascism

atimetorend said...

"Atime is recommending that I believe something based on blind faith rather than informed faith."

Just for the record, I would never do that.

ZDENNY said...

Atime: I am glad you said that. You can accept Sequential Creationism then! I am glad to have another one on board!

Ec5618 said...

Wow. You're a bastard, ZDENNY.

How dare you twist atimetorend's comment so completely?

AIGBusted said...

"Darwinian Theory is a non-falsifiable belief for Darwinians. There is nothing that could ever be said to discredit the theory. It is believed by faith and they go out and try to find stuff to support their faith.

"The facts contradict Darwinian evolution and yet Darwinians just keep on believing and believing and believing."

Wait a minute: In one paragraph you say that evolution is unfalsifiable, meaning it could never (even in principle) be contradicted by the facts, and in the next paragraph you say that evolution contradicts the facts. Which is it?

Now, you did say that it was unfalsifiable FOR DARWINIANS, but that doesn't make much sense: Either a theory is falsifiable or it isn't. It can't really be unfalsifiable for those who accept it. It could be that some refuse to accept a theory's falsification, but that does not change the fact that a theory either is or is not falsifiable.

"Punctuated equilibrium is a Creationist model as each jump is an act of the Creator."

What a very ignorant statement. Punc. Equ. doesn't support creationism at all, not if one understands it. The "jumps" of punc equ are things like one species of mouse being quickly replaced by another fairly similar species of mouse (Dawkins, 1986). This is no problem for evolution, because, if you read Ken Miller's book "Finding Darwin's God", you'll learn that rapid evolution has been directly observed to occur. Evolution which is just as rapid as that sometimes seen in the fossil record.

This is not faith, and if you can't understand it, then you're an idiot.

atimetorend said...

Hey I'm sorry, I read too quickly and missed the ken miller book in your OP.

dogon said...

Hopefully, ZDENNY is jacking with the people on this post or he is just another delusional creationist.

Dax said...

From the shallow words of ZDENNY I would think that she just lost her virginity and is trying to convince her father she is still on top of things but not that thing. He evidently,does not approve of this fine offering by Dawkins and she is hoping that with the new moon everything will flow and that pimpily faced boy will disappear to work his wiles on other intelligent sites. None of which she will be able to show her clam on for fear of ZDENNYS father

ZDENNY said...

AIG said, "you'll learn that rapid evolution has been directly observed to occur. Evolution which is just as rapid as that sometimes seen in the fossil record."

You mean rapid micro-evolution. The term rapid and evolution are actual contradictions. Evolution occurs one mutation at a time and as the number of mutations required for a change increase, the less likely the ability of the organism to experience a positive change.

In Dawkins book, the Greatest Show on Earth, he puts all his marbles in the E. coli experiments.

If that is the best Dawkins has, then evolution certainly cannot happen on a macro basis...:O

E. Coli has not been demonstrated to add information to the Genome. The idea that a cell can metabolize citrate was already present as a capability in the information in the gene. The expression of this information only changed. There was no increase in the actual information in the Gene itself.

Dawkins can't even point to a single example of Genome information increase and the work he quotes in his book had already been refuted.

However, Dawkins pathetically states, "Creationists hate it. Not only does it show evolution in action; not only does it show new information entering enomes without the intervention of a designer, which is something they have all been told to deny is possible."

How dishonest does Dawkins have to be? Is he actually not aware of the debate in the scientific community on this issue and is he not aware that Genetic information has not been added; rather, an expression of the current genes has been adjusted to deal with the new environment?

This is why we need openness and transparency in science. However, any dissent is punished, crushed and taken to court by closed minded Darwinians. Dawkins gets away with lying and no one questions it because they know there will be consequences.

That is why you don't even know the problems with Darwinians theory. All dissent is crushed and punished and every scientist knows he has to tow the line or be rejected.

Darwinians have faith and this faith is strong. It is not based on evidence. It is so strong that they have to engage in censorship in order to win.

The book burners of this age are Darwinians.

Ec5618 said...

You write a lot of words, but you say very little. Nothing you say is not a creationist talking point. Needless to say, you have no idea what you're talking about, and are parroting people who are either no less ignorant, or are dishonest.

Are you here to learn, at all, or merely to mock people? Are you getting 'school' credit for this?


"Is he actually not aware of the debate in the scientific community on this issue and is he not aware that Genetic information has not been added"

No-one is 'aware' of these issues, because they do not exist.

I'm going to ask you to define information. Can you? What would constitute an increase in information?

ZDENNY said...

Information is simply the functional genetic increase in the DNA.

Dawkins makes the mistake of assuming that a change means new information is added; however, a change in genetic expression which is a change in the environment of the organism is not the same as adding a net functional genetic increase because the ability always rested in the ability of the Genes to begin with.

DNA is like a computer program in that a program can only do what is already in the program. If a sequence in the program is corrupted, the corruption reduces the organism ability to function which even allows the computer to do different things than normal; however, the change is not a net increase; rather, it is a decrease in information.

Evolution argues for a net increase in functional genetic information which has never been demonstrated.

Even if Darwinians could show how it was done, it would not be enough to prove evolution since both the fossil record and the genome demonstrate jumps in information rather than a slow progression change over time.

In order to add new information, it has to be added by an intelligent design.

Ec5618 said...

Many creationists claim that 'information' cannot increase. It is a very standard creationist talking point, as I explained in my last post.
Presumably, you got this idea from another creationist. But have you ever studied information theory or biology? Do you know what you're talking about, beyond your personal feelings?
On what authority do you make the claim that 'information' cannot increase?

"Information is simply the functional genetic increase in the DNA."
I'm trying to help you understand this issue. But I need you to be clear. I need to understand what you're saying, but I also need to know whether *you* understand what you're saying.

Firstly, even grammatically, your 'definition' is a horror. Presumably, you did not intend to define information as a increase of something.
But more importantly, defining 'formation of new information' as 'functional genetic increase' is meaningless if you do not define 'functional'.
A definition that introduces another vague term is *not* a definition. If you're not careful, you'll end up with a circular definition, or a statement that isn't a statement.

So, I ask again, what, in your mind, constitutes an increase of information? Or, if you prefer, what constitutes 'functional'.



Say we were to remove a gene, replacing it with random gibberish, and then watched as over a few hundred generations a completely functional gene forms that performs the task of the original gene, would that qualify as a 'functional genetic increase', in your mind?
If so, why so. If not, why not?

Say we were to create a completely synthetic compound, which no creature is equipped to metabolise. If an organism were to develop the right tools, would this be an increase in function? Let's assume, for the moment, that the organism can do all the things it could do before, and also metabolise this new compound. Let's also assume that the new tools are heritable.
Would this be an increase in 'functional genetic information'?
If so, why so. If not, why not?