Friday, November 06, 2009

The Greatest Show On Earth by Richard Dawkins

This is an excellent compendium of the evidence for evolution. It would be a great book for those who have little exposure to, or understanding of, the mountain of information that supports the theory of evolution. That said, the intended audience is mainly for those who believe in the theory but find themselves ill-equipped when they engage in discussions about evolution.

Dawkins covers the difference between theory and “theory,” common descent, fossils, embryology, molecular evidence and the unintelligence of many “designs.” Although it was useful, informative and intermittently interesting, I did sometimes find it a bit dry and less compelling (likely because much of it was review). Alternatively, I quite enjoyed the final third of the book and consider it the best part. That is where Dawkins examined the many poorly designed parts of organisms and how all the evidence points to a process that generally adds upon and adapts existing structures instead of wholly replacing them (as it would be unlikely evolutionarily). In the final chapter, Dawkins takes the part of the final paragraph of On the Origin of Species and breaks it down and elaborates. I liked the idea and it was well executed.

It is a saddening thing that so many deny or are uninformed about the richness and beauty of both our natural world and the idea of evolution.


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