Stephen Hawking is some kind of new age hippy who thinks the past doesn't exist till you measure it, and the entire universe popped into existence froStephen Hawking is some kind of new age hippy who thinks the past doesn't exist till you measure it, and the entire universe popped into existence from nothing. pfft...science. ...more
I'm one of those people who loves Richard Dawkins, but could do without him talking about religion all the time. I wish the man would just do what heI'm one of those people who loves Richard Dawkins, but could do without him talking about religion all the time. I wish the man would just do what he does best, which contrary to popular belief is NOT riling up atheists(which he does fantastically btw). Dawkins is obviously free to write whatever he feels like writing, but my main problem with him is really an issue of effectiveness. If his goal is to truly convert religious folk to atheism, then he seriously needs to reconsider his methods. When I found out he had another book coming out I was worried it was going to be a religion bashing sequel to The God Delusion(which don't get me wrong, I enjoyed) and was contemplating giving this book a pass. After the fact, I certainly don't regret reading it, and I was glad to see Dawkins talking about evolution again, though I was a bit disappointed in how he chose to tell this particular story.
To be fair, he states in the introduction that this book is intended for atheists and agnostics who have lots of evolution arguments with religious folks and need fodder for conversation and examples to relay as proof of evolution. Basically, it's supposed to be a book of argument winners. And so, even if I take that as the underlying purpose of the book, I have to think it failed in its intended purpose. Are the kind of religious folk who have not accepted evolution going to be persuaded by the probably imperfect retelling of stories and facts contained with this book by atheists they're acquainted with? It just doesn't seem that likely to me. And the shame of it is, there IS a lot of really good information in this book. And though I think Dawkins rushed this, and that there were many parts that were a bit sloppy, there is the outline of a pretty strong case for the theory of evolution. It's also probably his most accessible book on biology and evolution. I think everyone that reads this book who already accepts evolution will probably come away with a good bit more knowledge than they had before, and even those thoroughly familiar with evolution may find the experience valuable due to the varied topics Dawkins discusses.
The shame is that who could really benefit from reading a book like this, is exactly the type of person who wouldn't make it past the first few pages wherein their beliefs are ridiculed. And where their ilk are constantly being pointed to and laughed at. Some of it is relatively mild, "Creationists believe this, but how could that be if this and this, and because of this and this." But the more pointed ones really show some of the frustration Dawkins has with creationist arguments...or mantras, as he puts it. Valid points yes, but the kind that would immediately put someone like that on the defensive. And again, if you're giving arguments to atheists to use against creationists, then it's useful to point out things like that. But here he doesn't go far enough in the other direction. If he really wanted to prepare atheists for verbal warfare he could've structured his book around very specific creationists arguments against evolution(irreducible complexity(i.e- the Bombardier beetle), second law of thermodynamics, apparent design, etc...). Sure, he touches on all these issues, but not in a straightforward way for people to use as weapons.
But assuming I forget about these bigger issues and just look at the book itself, it really was an enjoyable read. Dawkins presents cases from many areas of science, all of which provide some sort of evidence for the theory of evolution by natural selection. He tackles the issue in the most comprehensive manner I've seen(though admittedly, this is the first book I've read laying out the proof of evolution). I particularly enjoyed the chapter on embryonic development. After what seems like a long drawn out chapter detailing the ins and outs of our development in the womb, possibly leaving the reader wondering what the hell the point of all this was, Dawkins brings it all around and drives home the salient point that evolution works by simple changes that are made in the dna sequence, which cause the embryo to develop differently in the tiniest of ways. If this change in development leads to an organism better equipped to survive in its environment, then it's more likely that the genetic change will be passed down. It's important to remember what level the actual changes are happening on, which is I think a large and common misunderstanding when it comes to evolution.
Also, the book was interspersed with sections of full color pictorial inserts, which were very cool. So if all else fails, at least you have pretty pictures to look at.
I'm being a bit generous with the 4 star rating...but it's Carl Sagan! I'm just not exactly the intended audience, and through various other readingsI'm being a bit generous with the 4 star rating...but it's Carl Sagan! I'm just not exactly the intended audience, and through various other readings throughout the course of my life(and common sense in general) the book was for the most part a review of some of the things we know(or knew 30 years ago) about the universe and how that relates to god and religion.
Still a fun read, and I enjoyed the question/answer section at the end of the book. ...more
It could be because I listened to this one, and I'm pretty sure it was abridged, but while it was interesting it certainly didn't grab me like some ofIt could be because I listened to this one, and I'm pretty sure it was abridged, but while it was interesting it certainly didn't grab me like some of his other works. I'll have to actually read this one sometime and see if it changes anything for me.
Still a good book though! Great insights into human nature...as usual. ...more
I love it when Dawkins actually talks about biology. It's way more interesting than when he's trying to convince people they should all be atheists(anI love it when Dawkins actually talks about biology. It's way more interesting than when he's trying to convince people they should all be atheists(and this is coming from an atheist).
What a great book, as much for the specific stories as for the biological/life lessons he attempts to teach with each story. ...more