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Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  4,679 Ratings  ·  127 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 M
Paperback, 224 pages
Published July 24th 2007 by Holt Paperbacks (first published August 8th 2006)
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Jan 14, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
[Original review, Jan 2010]

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
Scott Lerch
Feb 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  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.
Manish Sinha
Jan 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Provides perspective from the Creationism/ID camp
This is probably one of the finest books to pick up, in case you were confused about Creationism or Intelligent Design controversy. It’s not as much of a controversy in the scientific world as we are taught, but we all know controversies can be manufactured and the biggest victim of this manufactured controversy is Darwin’s theory of Evolution by Natural Selection.

The Author Michael Shermer is former self-declared creationist who spent a big deal of his young adult life enthusiastically spreadin
King Ævil
Dec 02, 2007 rated it liked it
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
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
EDIT 6/12/17: 19 year old me now is looking back at a review by 14 year old me XD . I sound like such a kid....wth am i saying i still sound this way.




So I liked (and understood-) the first half of this book (major shock that i could actually relate)- the second h
Jan 19, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Pankaj Singh
Aug 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A brilliant and detailed, albeit a bit short discussion of the evolution vs creationism/ID debate.

Shermer is extremely respectful towards the creationists, but still firm enough when demonstrating how wrong they are. The longest chapter in this book gives space to the ID arguments. Shermer describes in detail what ID proponents claim, and then tears each argument down beautifully.

Of course, a book on a topic like this is bound to attract creationists who just love one starring. The funniest re
Feb 08, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Tyler Malone
Jul 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Cesar Junior
An interesting read. I liked that he categorized all the different beliefs and religions. I would recommend this book to anyone who is curious about the theory of evolution.
One of the better rebuttals of intelligent design and creationism that I've read. While this book is unapologetic in presenting the evidence for evolution, it is also sympathetic towards religious people who feel that evolution undermines their faith. I would highly recommend this to anyone who is a believer in intelligent design or creationism, as it is very concise and to the point, and also a pretty quick read.
Dec 05, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I took me a few chapters to really get into this, but I love how Mike Shermer brings the ongoing debate between evolution and "intelligent design" to what I see as a logical conclusion. Because of the rigors of what it takes to move a hypothesis to being a theory and the willingness of scientists to uncover new truths about existing studies and new areas of exploration, science is always progressing. ID cannot be studied without science, and as such, should be a belief system for Christians to h ...more
Feb 19, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: atheism
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
Jun 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: evolution
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
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 de ...more
Jan 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own, science
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
May 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Steve Van Slyke
Dec 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Aug 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Joshua Lopez
May 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Don't expect this to covert every creationist to the side of Darwinian evolution. But this was a good read as it breaks down the most common arguments against evolution and shows why biologists and naturalists reject and laugh at them. It's a good guide on how to argue with a creationist but things have changed since then and creationists are creating new arguments to justify their beliefs so this is a tip of the iceberg since creationists have some more arguments that this book doesn't cover, m ...more
Kim Olson
Apr 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ergun Coruh
Aug 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Steve Mitchell
Jul 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 14, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Intelligex has the following as major ingredients 1 1 Sep 11, 2017 12:33AM  
  • The Counter-Creationism Handbook
  • Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America's Soul
  • Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design
  • Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction
  • Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters
  • Intelligent Thought: Science Versus the Intelligent Design Movement
  • God, the Devil, and Darwin: A Critique of Intelligent Design Theory
  • Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk
  • Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for America's Soul
  • Scientists Confront Creationism: Intelligent Design and Beyond
  • The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason
  • What Evolution Is
  • The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution
  • River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life
  • Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea
  • Why We Believe in God(s): A Concise Guide to the Science of Faith
  • Irreligion: A Mathematician Explains Why the Arguments for God Just Don't Add Up
  • The Atheist's Introduction to the New Testament: How the Bible Undermines the Basic Teachings of Christianity
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
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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?” 49 likes
“Accepting evolution does not force us to jettison our morals and ethics, and rejecting evolution does not ensure their constancy.” 22 likes
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