Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design
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Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  1,794 ratings  ·  101 reviews
"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...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published July 24th 2007 by Holt Paperbacks (first published August 8th 2006)
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Manny
The bit I liked best in this book was his categorisation of the different shades of belief in the Intelligent Design/Creationism spectrum. I hadn't understood that there was such a lot of variety; points of view range from the straightforwardly loopy (the world was created in 4004 B.C. and there were dinosaurs on the Ark) to the very subtle (evolution happened, and so did the Big Bang, but God started the ball rolling), with plenty in between.

As you can see, I have no sympathy for one end of thi...more
Rob
Dec 18, 2007 Rob rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Nonscientists interested in the creation/evolution "controversy"
Shelves: 2007, skepticism, biology
Why Darwin Matters, by well-known skeptic author Michael Shermer, is an excellent introduction to the science, and lack thereof, behind the "controversy" between evolution and "Intelligent Design" (ID) creationism that has jeopardized science education in the USA. Those who are seeking an in-depth criticism of current ID arguments, however, will find this book lacking in particulars.

Shermer begins with a concise survey of what evolution really is, and masterfully sets the historical stage in wh...more
Scott
Dec 10, 2007 Scott rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any creationists
Excellent short and concise explanation of why creationism/ID is crap and dangerous to teach as even close to real science.
Katrin (kitkatkathy!)
NOTE: I AM 14 YEARS OLD, SO THIS REVIEW IS COMING FROM A TEENAGER, NOT AN ALL-KNOWING BIOLOGIST SO THIS REVIEW MAY SOUND CONFUSED, UNORGANIZED, SKIPPY, ODD AND ALL OF THE ABOVE.

So I liked (and understood-) the first half of this book (major shock that i could actually relate)- the second half lost me (really the Intelligent Design part), and angered me alot when the author started picking on religions, but hey that's what the book was about o.O

"Darwin matters because evoltuion matters. Evolutio...more
Corinne
I have come to the conclusion that the subtitle should actually be the title of this book. Sometimes I felt like I was in court and Intelligent Design was the defendant - Shermer's purpose was to lay down the facts regarding evolution is such a way as to explain why Intelligent Design is a scientific impossibility. Or, the fact that, in his opinion, Intelligent Design is not scientific at all.

I rarely read books that are so thoroughly scientific. I'm not going to lie: sometimes I had to skim ove...more
Heather
For anyone who has not read Michael Shermer's column, Skeptic, in Scientific American, he has a chip on his shoulder larger than Vatican City itself. Here's a guy who used to be a stanch creationist, reading and following some of the "back woodsy" types of creationists only to find that he has seen the "truth" and the "truth" has set him free...that truth being Darwinism. There are a miriad of reasons to hate this book - I can't stand authors that quote themselves for no good reason than to quot...more
Jim Razinha
Excellent book, well-documented, well-reasoned and goes on the "must read" list for our homeschoolers, if only to learn from Shermer in how to frame and refute the arguments.

It's not a long read, and covers much material previously published, but I like that Shermer is willing to engage the purveyors of non-science, for while I agree with Dawkins et al that engaging in debate legitimizes what is absurd, someone needs to cogently demonstrate such absurdity.



He does a good job explaining why scien...more
Tyler Malone
A book to give to a Bible believing Baptist. It's easy to read and the ideas are stripped down. There are a few passages that attempt to bridge real science with those who believe that the Bible's creation story is factual. I choose to merit this book for what it tries to do -- reach the ignorant, not what I think it should be.
Halden
I am normally a fan of Michael Shermer’s mixture of wit and wisdom but Why Darwin Matters just fell a little flat for me. The book is well written and full of facts and wry wit but I found it read like a primer, only useful for those about to debate a proponent of Intelligent Design (ID). Now this maybe the goal of the book and if it is then it has accomplished it, but I was looking for more and this may have been where I went wrong.

The book goes over the basics of evolution and of the advances...more
Patrick
It's a bit hard to judge this book. I'm giving it 4 stars because it's very informative and for the most part it's also enjoyable to read. Being a microbiologist and having previously read about ID I recognized many things in the text. However, I also understand that most people probably don't know so much about evolution or ID, and since ID is all about PR and propaganda it's easy to see that normal people don't immediately see it for what it is: a copy-paste of creationism with the word "Desig...more
Mike
This was quite a good defense of the neo-Darwinian synthesis. I think I tend to hold Michael Shermer in lower intellectual regard than, for example, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, or Stephen Gould. But this book is really an excellent, scholarly work. Like the best output by Carl Sagan, Shermer regards people's faith with seriousness and respect, at the same time using logic and evidence to build his own case.

The book starts with a great, pocket description of what evolution is, and what natu...more
Steve Mitchell
This has now become one of my favourite science books. Shermer systematically takes all the arguments thrown at evolution by creationists and believers in intelligent design – or creationists to give them their proper name – and demonstrates the lack of science and the jargon used to blur the issue. Contrary to the popular belief of people like Ann Coulter, Darwinian evolution has withstood every criticism that has ever been thrown at it and is a robust scientific theory. Intelligent design is a...more
James
This was a very interesting primer on the evolution vs. intelligent design debate. It provides good talking points to arm yourself with if you plan to enter a debate with a creationist.

It is interesting that the intelligent design movement is just a warmed over version of creationism that is trying to pose as scientific. Their main strategy so far has been to refute evolution. They do not have any research or evidence to back up any of their claims.

The whole creationist mind set is based on an...more
Book
Why Darwin Matters: The Case against Intelligent Design by Michael Shermer

Why Darwin Matters is a solid, very accessible, concise book that refutes Intelligent Design (ID). It also provides lucid arguments in support of evolution. The book is composed of the following nine chapters: The Facts of Evolution, Why People Do Not Accept Evolution, In Search of the Designer, Debating Intelligent Design, Science Under Attack, The Real Agenda, Why Science Cannot Contradict Religion, Why Christians and C...more
Rob
When Michael Shermer surveyed people about their religious beliefs, asking them why they believed in God and why they thought other people believe in God, he found that people tend to invoke intellectual causes for their personal beliefs and assign emotional causes for the beliefs of others. While this trend may not be true for all people, a majority of people sampled exhibit this textbook attribution bias. I am certainly guilty of this, even to the point where I can’t help but question if my re...more
Josh Meares
The Author
Michael Shermer is a former fundamentalist Christian turned skeptic. In fact, he started The Skeptics Society and is the editor in chief of Skeptic magazine. Shermer got his B.A. in Psychology from Pepperdine (though he began as a theology major). He went on to get his Master's in Experimental Psychology from CSU-Fullerton, and his Ph.D in the History of Science from Claremont. Shermer is the classic case of a Christian who turned his back on the faith when confronted with facts and th...more
Sonya S
Let's be fair: this is not a book for those already embroiled in the debates of creationism v. evolution. If you already have an in-depth knowledge of the theory of evolution, or have had extensive science classes, this book is not going to present any new material. However, I do recommend this book to people who are new to the debate, or to people who have just not thought about it that much.

I'm a skeptic, and have read Mr. Shermer's various articles in Skeptic Magazine and through various skep...more
Ergun Coruh
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...more
John
In "Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design" Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine, reviews succinctly both the overwhelming evidence in support of contemporary evolutionary theory and the pseudoscientific religious nonsense known as Intelligent Design, and then, discusses "the real, unsolved problems in evolution". Shermer, for example, has ample space to describe briefly Ernst Mayr's theory of allopatric speciation, and its relationship to punctuated equilibrium, the e...more
Alan
Needless to say, I disagree with the stanch naturalistic presuppositional tone in which this book was written. However, I picked this book knowing what to expect. Given that Michael Shermer is a militant agnostic, I don't expect him to write much differently. Honestly, I like Mike Shermer because he genuinely seems like a down-to-earth guy. Unfortunately, like the other mainstream atheist authors, he paints any worldview that doesn't coincide with mainstream Darwinism as an anchor that will inev...more
Ayame Sohma
Why Facts Matter

Why Darwin Matters is an immensely readable book about a very complicated and crucial subject: evolution. Beginning with Shermer's account of an archaeological dig for fossils and a description of how the Earth is most certainly NOT fined tuned for life. Even if we disregard the array of predators that would sooner make a meal of us than be our companions in life, the environment itself is hostile to human breeding, let alone flourishing. Unintelligent design is also rampant and...more
Steve Van Slyke
Apr 13, 2012 Steve Van Slyke rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those wanting an introduction to evolution and the debate with ID
For those who have not read much about evolution or the debate between creationists and science this is a good place to start. On the other hand for those that have, it may seem a bit thin in some areas but even so he offers many new takes on the relation between the domains of science and religion. He also mentions and quotes several other authorities whose works go into evolution more deeply such as Dawkins, Margulis, Mayr, Gould, Fortey, Kenneth Miller, and others. He also comments on the wri...more
The other John
The conflict between evolution and intelligent design is one of the warmer issues of the day. Since reading Darwin on Trial , I've been in the design camp, but I've never been completely comfortable there. There's been too many times when a person whose opinions I respect blasts into intelligent design and I fumble about looking for an excuse for my position. And when some ardent supporter of my side starts laying on the propaganda, I likewise wince. So while I was back overseas, one thing I dec...more
Jeff
This is a nice introduction to the whole evolution/Intelligent Design "debate" and a nice introduction to the science and implications of biological evolution. I put debate in quotes because, after having had numerous discussions with Creationists and after having read substantial amounts of ID material, it is obvious that IDers/Creationists are not interested in rational debate; rather, they hold a faith-based position that they think is right, regardless of evidence...evidence which many disco...more
Kim Olson
Once an evangelical Christian, Michael Shermer made the journey from creationist to evolutionist, as did Darwin himself, when his foray into the natural sciences left him overwhelmed by evidence of evolution. In this book, Shermer (now the publisher of Skeptic magazine) details several specific arguments made by those who believe in Intelligent Design (such as the belief that only micro- and not macro-evolution occurs). Then, one by one, he shows how each of these arguments fall apart at the mos...more
melydia
I came away from this book with rather tepid feelings. It didn't feel like it flowed very well from point to point, and each point made felt glossed over, with a couple of bare sentences with a footnote. Shermer's survey of evolutionary biology was often unclear, but when he was in his element - that is, the psychology of belief and religiosity - the tone became smooth and easy to read. I especially liked his discussion of the evolution of morality and the Genesis revisit at the end. However, I...more
Jacob
Honestly, I didn't finish this book. It offered no insight or argument that I already didn't know and understand. I'm also not sure how many people would find this book interesting. It's arguments against Intelligent Design from a former creationist. Creationists won't care what the arguments are and will avoid this on principle. Those with scientific interest and any basic knowledge should already understand this stuff. I guess there may be a market of undecided, open minded readers who aren't...more
Mark
Shermer has in the past presented ideas in an entertaining and inquisitive way. However, I think that that while this book certainly puts forward a clear argument why ID (Intelligent Design) fails, it does so with the caveat: there might still be something...

Shermer is not an atheist, but an agnostic, and this book does not go the full route against Intelligent Design. That being said, the book is easy to read, and in the same style as Shermer's other excellent books such as Why People Believe W...more
Nathan
This book is a great introduction to the evolution/rejection of evolution debate. It is not one for people who have read extensively on the subject, but it certainly does have its place as a well-written, accessible tl;dr for those just wanting to be exposed to the subject for the first time.
David
A breezy read through all the arguments you will ever need to argue with any proponent of Intelligent Design. This book, written by the head of the National Skeptics Society, pretty much lays bare all the arguments used against evolution in the name of equal time or “teaching the controversy” of (essentially) creationism vs. evolution. Science has a process: Intelligent Design has an agenda. As Shermer concludes, “Darwin Matters because evolution matters. Evolution matters because science matter...more
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Michael Brant Shermer (born September 8, 1954 in Glendale, California) is an American science writer, historian of science, founder of The Skeptics Society, and Editor in Chief of its magazine Skeptic, which is largely devoted to investigating and debunking pseudoscientific and supernatural claims. The Skeptics Society currently has over 55,000 members.

Shermer is also the producer and co-host of t...more
More about Michael Shermer...
Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths How We Believe: Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God The Science of Good and Evil: Why People Cheat, Gossip, Care, Share, and Follow the Golden Rule The Mind of the Market: Compassionate Apes, Competitive Humans, and Other Tales from Evolutionary Economics

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“Finally, from what we now know about the cosmos, to think that all this was created for just one species among the tens of millions of species who live on one planet circling one of a couple of hundred billion stars that are located in one galaxy among hundreds of billions of galaxies, all of which are in one universe among perhaps an infinite number of universes all nestled within a grand cosmic multiverse, is provincially insular and anthropocentrically blinkered. Which is more likely? That the universe was designed just for us, or that we see the universe as having been designed just for us?” 29 likes
“Accepting evolution does not force us to jettison our morals and ethics, and rejecting evolution does not ensure their constancy.” 14 likes
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