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Why Darwin Matters

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About the book

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Evolution happened, and the theory describing it is one of the most well founded in all of science. Then why do half of all Americans reject it? There are religious reasons, such as the fear of atheism and the perceived loss of ultimate meaning; there are psychological reasons, such as the ego-deflating realization that we are mere animals; and there are political reasons, such as the equation of evolution with moral relativism on the right, and the connection of evolution to eugenics and social Darwinism on the left.

In Why Darwin Matters, historian of science and bestselling author Michael Shermer defuses these fears by examining what evolution really is, how we know it happened, and how to test it. Shermer then discusses what science is through a brief history of the evolution-creation controversy from the Scopes “Monkey” trial of 1925, through the U.S. Supreme Court case of 1987, to the ongoing trials today, demonstrating clearly how and why creationism and Intelligent Design theory are not science. Dr. Shermer also builds a powerful case for evolution as the scientific theory that most closely parallels the Christian model of human nature and the conservative model of free market economics.

The most common reason people give for why they believe in God is the good design of the world and the life in it. The question is: who or what is the designer? Why Darwin Matters examines the difference between supernatural design (creationism) v. natural design (evolution) and how evolution can explain complex design.

Dr. Shermer was once an evangelical Christian and a creationist, and is now one of the best-known public intellectuals defending evolutionary theory, so Why Darwin Matters provides readers with an insiders’ guide to the evolution-creation debate, in which he shows why creationism and Intelligent Design are not only bad science, they are bad theology, and why science should be embraced by people of all beliefs.

read or write comments (20)

20 Comments to “Why Darwin Matters”

  1. Catherine Says:

    People also hang on to religion because they can’t admit they were wrong and that their parents raised them incorrectly. Also their beliefs and ceremonies were all for nothing. As much as I despise the hold religion has on people I’m glad it’s around to control the masses.

  2. Ty Phillips Says:

    Your book is simply a breathtaking piece of brilliance.
    I have been following your work for several years, as well as being a member of the Skeptic Society. You are a profound thinker and a greatly admired man.
    I look forward to more work from you in the future.
    Ty

  3. Tomas A. Medina Says:

    This book is a masterpiece. I will go further: Dr. Shermer is a pride of the human kind.
    However, sometimes I believe he takes too soft a stance against religious positions.
    Richard Dawkins’ tough, cut-the-bush, no-nonsense approach might be sometimes called for.

  4. Robert Galloway Says:

    Interesting that a contributor considers religion useful to control “the masses”. Virtually everyone consideres “the masses” to consist of everyone except themselves and a chosen few whom they admire and their cronies. So few of us can truly be considered to be “not of the masses”.

  5. Tom McMahon Says:

    Michael,
    Rare is the energy you bring to refuting the nonsensical arguments of creationists. Like many of us you threw off the shroud of stifling religious indoctrination to pursue a quest for scientific understanding and discovery. However, unlike too many of us, your writings challenge others to step out from under unreasonable faith into the fresh air of intellectual freedom. Hooray! Reasoning evolution that liberates from superstition happens.

  6. Morbidly Cheerful Says:

    A must read for anyone that is confused about the evolution debate. A great piece of work.

  7. Gautam Says:

    Spectacular and refreshing work! Michael Shermer’s service to humanity as he painstakingly argues and presents the case on the god issues is truly commendable. Most(many?) of us practicing scientists have, quite frankly, just shut our eyes and ears and thoughts about the creationism/ ID debacle…. There are so many other things that need to be figured out too so we can’t keep on wasting our time! Stendahl once wrote “God’s only excuse is that he does not exist” which pretty much summarizes everything.

  8. Bill Perron Says:

    I have to wonder what it is that makes all of us without exception need some sort of god. No matter what you call it, science, religion, Jehovah , whatever, it is still our personal “god”. Shermer is as guilty of this as anyone, he has called James Randi hes “hero” “inspiration” “spiritual leader” he looks to Randi for guidance as would any follower of a guru or spiritual leader. Randi has proven himself a liar and Bill Perron has offered Randi ten thousand dollars to answer truthfully why he lied to his followers about Bill Perron and Randi cowardly runs from the “honesty challenge”. Randi taunts others with his publicity stunt challenge but runs from the Perron challenge. When Bill Perron offered to show proof of the cowardly actions to Shermer poor Michael ( instead of being a true skeptic and looking at the proof Perron offered ) he yelled into the voice mail of Perron, doing his schoolgirl imitation almost crying for Perron to just go away. He was not interested in being a skeptic and certainly didn’t want to see proof that his “spiritual leader was a liar. Now how is Michael any different than the followers of another belief or false guru?

  9. Bill Perron Says:

    Horrors !!!! I just noticed that on my web site address posted in my previous posting that instead of a dot com I hit the wrong key and it became a comma con. Mia copa, mia copa, mia maxima copa. Please make the correction if you truly desire to see how wonderful I truly am. There are even videos for your amusement. Also I would like to take this opportunity to thank Shermer for having this posting forum where those with a different perspective can voice their views.

  10. Glen Coulton Says:

    Is Bill Perron for real? Is his “mia copa” a serious attempt to write “mea culpa”?

  11. Bill Perron Says:

    Bill Perron is for real, but Glen Coulton may not be, he obviously thinks Western Empire Latin is the only language to express sincerity, never heard of Eastern Empire Latin ?

  12. EMP MYF BS question « Fides Quaerens Intellectum, Credo Ut Intellegam Says:

    [...] That is what one would find in an objective book which seeks to examine all sides. Shermer’s Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design is a good book to read that gives a perspective from the “other side of the [...]

  13. James Hunter Says:

    Why is Mr Perron talking about himself in the third person?

    Anyway, this book is a masterpiece. A step by step guide through what has become a very tangled mess of conjecture.

  14. Bill Hergonson Says:

    Bill Perron talks about himself in the “Third Person” (like the character “Jimmy” in a Seinfeld episode), because he is a bona-fide KOOK! Just click on his name above and you’ll see that (the late) Rip Taylor would be more credible. Rock on Michael. You are a modern intellectual giant!

  15. Matt Paul Says:

    I’m reading this book right now. I’m only half-way through, but I must say that this is the best book I’ve found for convincing Creationists that their thinking is wrong. Shermer doesn’t talk down to them or take cheap shots at them. If any Creationist or ID proponent is offended or angered by this book, then they must have no skin at all. Excellent book.

  16. Friar Hilarius Says:

    Where do people get the idea that science and religion are not compatible

    I await proof of an uncaused universe

    At least if the universe had no beginning we are not arguing about eternity … only about the absence of God and the ability of goodness to be uncaused

    On what basis do non-theists assert the survival of that which is good, and since the fittest are not always good what is to prevent the triumph of evil?

    I doubt that any sceptic has an answer

    Blessings and Peace
    Friar Hilarius

  17. W L Anderson Says:

    “Goodness” survived as an evolutionary step necessary for humans to coexist, and regretfully it exists only to very limited extents. (Take a look at our prisons, bursting at the seams.) If God is the creator of universal “goodness” why is the world almost continuously engaged in major wars, let alone having to endure continuous criminality among our people? Why do Islamics constantly battle with Christians? Not to mention many other murderous conflicts going on continuously? Why did, even in the limited confines of the United States, did we have a Civil War costing millions of lives?

  18. 09-07-15 | Blubeanz Says:

    [...] the opening chapter of Why Darwin Matters, Michael Shermer recounts his voyage to and research in the Galapagos islands with Frank Sulloway [...]

  19. Brian Says:

    @Catherine (1st comment): You’re glad religion is around to control the masses? Are you crazy? I don’t even need to explain myself, that is a frightening statement.

  20. kevinbravehart Says:

    I agree with Tomas Medina, I wish Dr. Shermer would take a harder stance against religion. Dr. Shermer has a wonderful way of speaking and writing in a more approachable manner that is accessible to the masses. If he were to be more blunt and brash, like Dawkins or even Maher, then his charm would be even more robust.