Khác Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design

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    by Michael Shermer (Author)

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    • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks; 1st edition (July 24, 2007)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 0805083065
    • ISBN-13: 978-0805083064


    "Shermer is savage about the shortcomings of intelligent design
    and eloquent about the spirituality of science . . . An invaluable primer."
    Los Angeles Times Book Review

    Science is on the defensive. Half of Americans reject the theory of evolution and intelligent-design campaigns are gaining ground. Classroom by classroom, creationism is overthrowing biology.

    In Why Darwin Matters, bestselling author Michael Shermer decodes the scientific evidence to show that evolution is not "just a theory" and illustrates how it achieves the design of life through the bottom-up process of natural selection. Shermer, once an evangelical Christian and a creationist, argues that intelligent-design proponents are invoking a combination of bad science, political antipathy, and flawed theology. He refutes their pseudoscientific arguments and then demonstrates why conservatives and people of faith can and should embrace evolution. Cutting the politics away from the facts, Why Darwin Matters is an incisive examination of what is at stake in the debate over evolution.


    From Publishers Weekly

    Shermer (The Science of Good and Evil), founding editor of the Skeptic and Scientific American columnist, thoughtfully explains why intelligent design is both bad science and poor religion, how a wealth of scientific data from varied fields support evolution, and why religion and science need not be in conflict. Science and religion are two distinct realms, he argues: the natural and supernatural, respectively, and he cites Pope John Paul II in support of their possible coexistence. Shermer takes the "ten most cogent" arguments for intelligent design and refutes each in turn. While on the mark, the arguments' brevity may hamper their usefulness to all but those well versed in the debate. Looking for converts, Shermer offers a short chapter entitled "Why Christians and Conservatives Should Accept Evolution" (i.e., it "provides a scientific foundation" for their core values). His overall message is best summarized when he writes, "Darwin matters because evolution matters. Evolution matters because science matters. Science matters because it is the preeminent story of our age, an epic saga about who we are, where we came from and where we are going." Although there's not much new here, Shermer's wit and passion will appeal to many but won't convince believers. (Aug.)
    Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

    From Booklist
    The publisher of Skeptic magazine was once an enthusiastic Evangelical Christian, but his ardent pursuit of a scientific education induced reconsideration. Now he staunchly advocates discriminating religion from science and in this book concisely defends evolutionary theory from the almost exclusively -Evangelical--Christian-backed concept of intelligent design (ID), aka creationism, aka creation science--the name changes whenever a suit over having public schools teach the idea as science gets shot down by a high U.S. court (the ID movement always appeals mere state-court decisions). Shermer debates ID often, and he expertly marshals point-by-point explanations of why evolution is worthwhile science, why ID isn't science at all, why ID criticisms of evolution are irrelevant, why science cannot invalidate religion, and why Christians and conservatives ought to accept evolution. His orderly presentation makes the book something of a reference manual on evolution, and only the historically minded will smile at his citation of congruence between evolution and Adam Smith as reason for conservatives to embrace evolution, for Smith's capitalism is a branch of classical liberalism. Ray Olson
    Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

    Review


    “The idea that evolution and God should be at odds is among the strangest of doctrines, an attempt to make the divine follow our particular notions of how He should operate. Michael Shermer explains what really happened, in terms that should be accessible to any faithful reader.” ―Bill McKibben

    “Michael Shermer is one of America's necessary minds. A reformed fundamentalist who is now an experienced foe of pseudo-science and superstition, he does us the double favor of explaining exactly what creationists believe, and then of demonstrating that they have no case. With his forensic and polemical skill, he could have left them for dead: instead he generously urges them to stop wasting their time (and ours) and do some real work.” ―Christopher Hitchens

    “A readable and well-researched book on what is perhaps the most vital scientific topic of our age. Anyone who has been snowed into thinking that there is a real scientific controversy over evolution by natural selection will be enlightened by Why Darwin Matters, which is both genial and intellectually uncompromising.” ―Steven Pinker



    Book Description


    Science is on the defensive. Half of Americans reject the theory of evolution and “Intelligent Design” campaigns are gaining ground. Classroom by classroom, creationism is overthrowing biology.

    In Why Darwin Matters, bestselling author Michael Shermer explains how the newest brand of creationism appeals to our predisposition to look for a designer behind life’s complexity. Shermer decodes the scientific evidence to show that evolution is not “just a theory” and illustrates how it achieves the design of life through the bottom-up process of natural selection. Shermer, once an evangelical Christian and a creationist, argues that Intelligent Design proponents are invoking a combination of bad science, political antipathy, and flawed theology. He refutes their pseudoscientific arguments and then demonstrates why conservatives and people of faith can and should embrace evolution. He then appraises the evolutionary questions that truly need to be settled, building a powerful argument for science itself.

    Cutting the politics away from the facts, Why Darwin Matters is an incisive examination of what is at stake in the debate over evolution.
    --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


    About the Author


    Michael Shermer is the author of The Believing Brain, Why People Believe Weird Things, The Science of Good and Evil, The Mind Of The Market, Why Darwin Matters, Science Friction, How We Believe and other books on the evolution of human beliefs and behavior. He is the founding publisher of Skeptic magazine, the editor of Skeptic.com, a monthly columnist for Scientific American, and an adjunct professor at Claremont Graduate University. He lives in Southern California.



    Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


    PrologueWhy Evolution MattersHence both in space and time, we seem to be brought somewhat near to that great fact—that mystery of mysteries—the first appearance of new beings on this earth.—Charles Darwin, Journal of Researches, 1845

    In June 2004, the science historian Frank Sulloway and I began a month-long expedition to retrace Charles Darwin’s footsteps in the Galápagos Islands. It turned out to be one of the most physically grueling experiences of my life, and as I have raced a bicycle across America five times, that is saying something special about what the young British naturalist was able to accomplish in 1835. Charles Darwin was not only one sagacious scientist; he was also one tenacious explorer.1I fully appreciated Darwin’s doggedness when we hit the stark and barren lava fields on the island of San Cristóbal, the first place Darwin explored in the archipelago. With a sweltering equatorial sun and almost no fresh water, it is not long before water-loaded seventy-pound packs begin to buckle your knees and strain your back. Add hours of daily bushwhacking through dense, scratchy vegetation, and the romance of fieldwork quickly fades. At the end of one three-day excursion my water supply was so dangerously low that Frank and I collected the dew that had accumulated on the tents the night before. One day I sliced my left shin on a chunk of a’a lava. Another day I was stung by a wasp and one side of my face nearly doubled in size. At the end of one particularly grueling climb through a moonscapelike area Darwin called the “craterized district,“ we collapsed in utter exhaustion, muscles quivering and sweat pouring off our hands and faces, after which we read from Darwin’s diary, in which the naturalist described a similar excursion as “a long walk.”Death permeates these islands. Animal carcasses are scattered everywhere. The vegetation is coarse and scrappy. Dried and shriveled cactus trunks dot the bleak landscape. The lava terrain is so broken with razor-sharp edges that progress across it is glacially slow. Many people have died there, from stranded sailors of centuries past to wanderlust-driven tourists in recent years. Within days I had a deep sense of isolation and fragility. Without the protective blanket of civilization none of us are far from death. With precious little water and even less edible foliage, organisms eke out a precarious living, their adaptations to this harsh environment selected over millions of years. A lifelong observer of and participant in the evolution-creation controversy, I was struck by how clear it is in these islands: Creation by intelligent design is absurd. So how then did Darwin depart the Galápagos a creationist?This is the question that Frank Sulloway went there to answer. Sulloway has spent a lifetime reconstructing how Darwin pieced together the theory of evolution. The iconic myth is that Darwin became an evolutionist in the Galápagos, discovering natural selection as he itemized finch beaks and tortoise carapaces, as he observed how each species had uniquely adapted to the available food and the island ecology. The legend endures, Sulloway notes, because it fits elegantly into a Joseph Campbell–like tripartite myth of the hero who (1) leaves home on a great adventure, (2) endures immeasurable hardship in the quest for noble truths, and (3) returns to deliver a deep message—in Darwin’s case, evolution. The myth is ubiquitous, appearing in everything from biology textbooks to travel brochures, the latter of which inveigle potential customers to see what Darwin saw.The Darwin Galápagos legend is emblematic of a broader myth that science proceeds by select eureka discoveries followed by sudden revolutionary revelations, as old theories fall before new facts. Not quite. Theories power perceptions. Nine months after departing the Galápagos, Darwin made the following entry in his ornithological catalogue about his mockingbird collection: “When I see these Islands in sight of each other, & possessed of but a scanty stock of animals, tenanted by these birds, but slightly differing in structure & filling the same place in Nature, I must suspect they are only varieties.” He was seeing similar varieties of fixed kinds, not an evolution of separate species. Darwin did not even bother to record the island locations of the few finches he collected (and in some cases mislabeled), and these now-famous birds were never specifically mentioned in the Origin of Species. Darwin was still a creationist.2Through careful analysis of Darwin’s notes and journals, Sulloway dates Darwin’s acceptance of evolution to the second week of March, 1837, after a meeting Darwin had with the eminent ornithologist John Gould, who had been studying Darwin’s Galápagos bird specimens. With access to museum ornithological collections from areas of South America that Darwin had not visited, Gould corrected a number of taxonomic errors Darwin had made (such as labeling two finch species a “Wren” and an “Icterus”), and pointed out to him that although the land birds in the Galápagos were endemic to the islands, they were notably South American in character.Darwin left the meeting with Gould, Sulloway concludes, convinced “beyond a doubt that transmutation must be responsible for the presence of similar but distinct species on the different islands of the Galápagos group.” In Darwin’s mind, the allegedly immutable “species barrier” had been shattered. That July, 1837, Darwin began his first notebook on Transmutation of Species. By 1844 he was confident enough to write in a letter to his botanist friend and colleague Joseph Hooker, “I was so struck with distribution of Galapagos organisms &c &c, & with the character of the American fossil mammifers &c &c, that I determined to collect blindly every sort of fact which cd bear any way on what are species.” Five years at sea and nine years at home poring through “heaps” of books led Darwin to admit that, for him, “at last gleams of light have come, & I am almost convinced, (quite contrary to opinion I started with) that species are not (it is like confessing a murder) immutable.”3Like confessing a murder. Dramatic words for something as seemingly innocuous as a technical problem in biology: the immutability of species. But it doesn’t take a rocket scientist—or an English naturalist—to understand why the theory of the origin of species by means of natural selection would be so controversial: If new species are created naturally, what place, then, for God? No wonder Darwin waited twenty years before publishing his theory.4From the time of Plato and Aristotle in ancient Greece to the time of Darwin and his fellow naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace in the nineteenth century, nearly everyone believed that a species retained a fixed and immutable “essence.” A species, in fact, was defined by its very essence—the characteristics that made it like no other species. The theory of evolution by means of natural selection, then, is the theory of how kinds can become other kinds, and that upset not only the scientific cart, but the cultural horse pulling it. The great Harvard evolutionary biologist Ernst Mayr stressed just how radical was Darwin’s theory: “The fixed, essentialistic species was the fortress to be stormed and destroyed; once this had been accomplished, evolutionary thinking rushed through the breach like a flood through a break in a dike.”5The dike, however, was slow to crumble. Darwin’s close friend, the geologist Charles Lyell, withheld his support for a full nine years, and even then hinted at a providential design behind the whole scheme. The astronomer John Herschel called natural selection the “law of higgledy-piggledy.” And Adam Sedgwick, a geologist and Anglican cleric, proclaimed that natural selection was a moral outrage, and penned this ripping harangue to Darwin:There is a moral or metaphysical part of nature as well as a physical. A man who denies this is deep in the mire of folly. You have ignored this link; and, if I do not mistake your meaning, you have done your best in one or two cases to break it. Were it possible (which thank God it is not) to break it, humanity, in my mind, would suffer a damage that might brutalize it, and sink the human race into a lower grade of degradation than any into which it has fallen since its written records tell us of its history.In a review in Macmillan’s Magazine, the political economist and social commentator Henry Fawcett wrote of the great divide surrounding the Origin of Species: “No scientific work that has been published within this century has excited so much general curiosity as the treatise of Mr. Darwin. It has for a time divided the scientific world with two great contending sections. A Darwinite and an anti-Darwinite are now the badges of opposed scientific parties.”6Darwinites and anti-Darwinites. Although the scientific community is now united in agreement that evolution happened, a century and a half later the cultural world is still divided. According to a 2005 poll by the Pew Research Center, 42 percent of Americans hold strict creationist views that “living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time” compared to 48 percent who believe that humans “evolved over time.” Evolution has made news as the fight over teaching evolution has entered the courts and the school boards yet again. To that point, the Pew survey found that 64 percent said they were open to the idea of teaching creationism in addition to evolution in public schools, and more than half of those individuals said they think evolution should be replaced by creationism in biology classrooms.7The evolution-creationism controversy is a cultural tempest in a scientific teapot—the debate is entirely cultural, even as professional scientists go about their business without giving Intelligent Design ...
     
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