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Why Evolution Is True

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  18,350 ratings  ·  820 reviews
Why evolution is more than just a theory: it is a fact.

In all the current highly publicized debates about creationism and its descendant "intelligent design," there is an element of the controversy that is rarely mentioned-the "evidence," the empirical truth of evolution by natural selection. Even Richard Dawkins and Stephen Jay Gould, while extolling the beauty of evolut
Hardcover, 282 pages
Published February 1st 2009 by Viking (first published 2008)
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4.17  · 
Rating details
 ·  18,350 ratings  ·  820 reviews

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Sep 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
As I read this book, I wondered: why am I only learning about evolution in depth NOW...and through my own desire to learn? How did I get through school--including a Bachelor's Degree--without really understanding the nitty gritty of evolution? I think much of the problem is that so many discoveries were so recent, but actually there is no excuse. I THInK I paid attention in school. But if I remember learning about Geometry, and, in fact, had at least one high school class CALLED Geometry, should ...more
Jun 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biology, non-fiction
Shocking and sad

Here in Europe we tend to forget that the USA are not exclusively a country of reason and progress. Books like this remind us that there is also religious fundamentalism and that uneducated people who believe that the world is 6000 years old and favour „intelligent design“ can rise to the highest political offices.

The shocking thing is what this book reveals about the condition of our society. What kind of society is it where brillant scientists feel compelled to waste valuable
Apr 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I'll come right to the point: Jerry Coyne's "Why Evolution Is True" is arguably the best general-interest reference book on the scientific evidence for evolution currently in print. It really is.

Many of the items that Coyne marshals will be familiar to those who are well-versed in this topic. But I found several items that I had never before seen. One example is the recent discovery that diurnal and annual patterns in the growth of Devonian corals could be used to date these corals, since the le
Dec 03, 2012 rated it liked it
I picked this book after reading Dawkins' Greatest Show on Earth. After a series of conversations I had with some young-earth creationists, and in light of what is occurring in the battle for science curriculum here in Texas, I wanted to find a book that I could recommend to creationists, since most creationists have absolutely no clue about the actual science. Dawkins' book is not that book because he is unable to keep his contempt for young-earth creationists out of the conversation. I think t ...more
Douglas Wilson
Aug 06, 2013 rated it it was ok
Coyne admittedly had the uphill struggle of trying to prove something that is not true.
Jun 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: science
First of all, this is a very well-written book that powerfully makes the case for Darwinian evolution. The author is well-versed in the subject. I would recommend this book to anyone who, like me, has little knowledge of the actual science of evolution but wants to learn.

That said, I am not really bothered by evolution (and I am an evangelical Christian, though not a creationist). Yes there are theological challenges that the science of evolution brings to scripture. I don't think these challen
Aug 13, 2009 rated it it was ok
I'd give it 2.5 stars if I could. Seeing how I think he's wrong, though, I'll downgrade rather than upgrade.

I probably agree with 70% of what's in the book, which may be surprising, me being a creationist. I'm not going to try to untangle all the mixtures of agreement and disagreement.. but its interesting that I definitely am fully onboard with over half of the book, but still disagree with the major premise; that evolution is true.

Coyne succeeds in presenting a case for neo-darwinian evolution
Jan 04, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science
This one is like the Beak of the Finch: it shows impressive work on Natural Selection, but it doesn't prove that the little changes must lead to the huge changes between people and animals. This book also illustrates how scientists are trying to be historians--a kind of integrating of subjects--and they are failing miserably. If any historian tried to pass of these kinds of arguments as history they wouldn't survive the laughter. Evolutionists reason like this: if these two bone structures look ...more
Sep 08, 2011 rated it did not like it
I have recently been interested in the topic of evolution. I am a Bible believing creationist and I have heard of many questions that seem to really challenge the theory of evolution. For me when considering an argument I try to consider both sides of the argument with an open mind. So I picked up this book with the intention to have an open mind and hear the "other side of the story".

Unfortunately I was very disappointed. Based on the title of this book "Why Evolution is True" I was expecting t
Jun 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book avoids bickering over details and goes right for the throat; exposing Creationism and Intelligent Design for the unworkable, unscientific ploys that they are. It does so without being too aggressive, a la Dawkins, because such heavy hitting really isn't necessary, when there's so much evidence to be presented. Instead, the chapters cover fossils and a little bit of genetics. The reader is walked through the process of how we came to know what we know. It's not a challenging book, nor a ...more
Nov 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This was such an awesome book. I have read a lot of books on evolution, but this is the first that actually made me interested in fossils. Very, very cool. Of course it wouldn't convince a dummy that evolution is true because you actually have to have some reading comprehension and be able to understand what you read, but for anyone with a brain that doesn't believe in evolution (I still can't undertand how there are people out there that fit that bill, but I digress), this book will remove all ...more
Jun 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: evolution
Why Evolution Is True by Jerry A. Coyne
Why Evolution Is True is my favorite book on evolution. It starts of course with the prodigious knowledge of Mr. Coyne but it’s his ability to explain such complex topics with ease that sets this book apart from the rest. It’s profound without being unintelligible. It’s always the first book I recommend when I want to convince someone that the theory of evolution is true and supported by converging mountains of evidence. The book is composed of the followin
Mohamed al-Jamri
For those looking for evidence supporting evolution, either because they themselves doubt it or want more evidences to argue for it, these two books can do the job extremely well.

I bet the vast majority if not all of those who read "The Greatest Show on Earth" & "Why Evolution is True" with an open mind and understand them, will regard evolution as true and be able to argue in its favor strongly.

Both authors maintain that evolution is compatible with #religion although they do not elaborate
Abubakar Mehdi
Oct 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is an eloquent, detailed and fascinating study of Evolution. An idea as controversial, and one with such profound socio-political repercussion, deserves to be treated the way Coyne has dealt it. He presents arguments systematically and he is not too keen on bashing creationists. He keeps his nose out of futile arguments and focuses primarily on the scientific aspect of evolution and not the psychological or philosophical elements that often become a part of such a discussion. This makes the ...more
Jan 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own, science
"Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution". That classic quote from the great Russian-American evolutionary geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky is replete with far more truth now than when he uttered it in 1973. Thousands of scientists around the globe are using the principles of evolution towards understanding phenomena as simple as bacterial population growth to those as complex as the origin and spread of such virulent diseases as malaria and HIV/AIDS, and the conservation ...more
Aug 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is a remarkable book. It is written by someone who is really interested in educating people and not just laying out facts. I loved the tone of the author and am now following his blog Why Evolution is True which is really interesting and amusing (this guy really loves cats!). He almost daily posts lots of interesting facts about evolution.

There's a good YT video about this book that people may be interested in seeing before reading the book

Before buy
Apr 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I really enjoyed this book. Basically, it's a several-hundred page review of the major arguments for not only why scientists accept the theory biological evolution, but why it is so well accepted that it is stated to be 'true'. Each chapter breaks down a part of the evidence -- fossils, embryology, genetic evidence, observations of natural selection, the role of sex in evolution, speciation, and so on. Usually the general case is talked about, with examples about specific evidence, though the au ...more
David S. T.
Mar 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, favorites
This book is fascinating and well written. I think the highest complement I could give it is, had I read it 10 years ago when I was in college, I'd likely be in the field of biology instead of computer science. This book starts off with a basic overview of evolution before heading into the bulk of the evidence. The first section of evidence is based off of fossils, I didn't realize just how many transitional fossils exist for certain species such as the whale (there a pretty good number of fossi ...more
Nicole R
Sep 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite
Oh, I am such a cheater this month! I totally started this book a couple of days ago but, in my defense, I finished it up this morning....I just couldn't help myself.

Evolution. Very few words in science can raise the religious hackles and get the debate juices flowing like this one. Even numerous court trials have become involved to help decide if evolution is science fact or fiction and whether the opposing viewpoint - creationism - deserves to be taught and considered on the same academic leve
Scarlett Sims
Apr 25, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: leisure, non-fic, science, nook
I chose to read this book to learn more about the science behind evolution, at least partially so I could defend or explain it to people. However, Coyne's writing style left much to be desired.

At the parts where he did actually discuss evidence for evolution (which he often mislabeled as "proof"), I enjoyed learning about it. However, he repeatedly attempted to use this information to discredit creationism, his main argument being "See.... why would a creator do this?" which is obviously neither
John Martindale
Nov 14, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: science, audiobook
Well, I now have a new understanding why evolutionist feel so strongly and are so insistent that evolution is true. The evidence in this book is truly staggering, much of which I had never heard before. The book is well written and he seemed like a pretty reasonable guy, quick to mention when something is speculation and when something (according to the scientific community) is established fact. He bent over backwards to show that evolution is science in the fullest sense of the word and is scie ...more
Crystal Starr Light
Bullet Review:

Top notch. Great information, even for someone who's grasp of evolution is spotty. Would recommend (with an open mind!) for everyone.
Jan 10, 2014 rated it liked it
This is a suggested book related to one of my current classes on Coursera, so I decided to pick it up. I already believe in evolution, so I can't judge on whether it's convincing -- I already know that evolution by natural selection is mathematically inevitable, and I know of a lot of the supporting evidence.

Still, this is the kind of book that produces all sorts of titbits that you didn't know before, and which lays things out so clearly it helps you understand how to explain it to other peopl
Apr 10, 2010 rated it liked it
As a firm believer in the God of the Bible and his work in the creation of all things I picked up this book to try to become better educated on the subject of evolution. Coyne's writing is clear and concise. He is a good communicator and uses plenty of sources and examples for which I was grateful.

Rather than completely contradicting my theistic view, many (yet not all) of his points broadened my appreciation of the immensity and beauty of God's creation. Although his end-of-book thoughts on evo
Mohamed Elsherif
Apr 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: finish-later
It only took me 3 years to finish this book, but I'm glad I did, very good book that is mainly written for people who are not bilogists yet curious to know about the scientific literature in the subject, it answers most of the questions people have about evolution in a very logical way and lays down the evidence clear early enough in the book and I appreciated that it left the human evolution subject towards the end of the book after it established a lot of terminology with the reader so it does ...more
Sep 30, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, library
I was homeschooled as a child, and my parents believed strongly that creation was a fundamental tenant of Christianity. My science education included quite a lot of books by Creationist authors like Duane Gish, who views evolution as a laughable, largely unsupported "theory" invented to dispose of the inconvenient need for a Creator.

So, for me, reading this book was a little like looking at a photographic negative: the same tone, similar content, but with all the characters flipped. Just like t
Said AlMaskery
May 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book was very engaging and gave solid prove for evolution. However there are yet lots of questions that are unsolved and probably needs decades of research until humans come to a better understanding of how we “biologically” came to existence.
The author was more respectful to deniers of evolution that Dawkins is. He was also more straight forward.

The big drawback though, is that when comparing the ideas of “creationists” as the author likes to call them, he mainly focused on Christianity t
Nov 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
I hesitated before buying this book because I was a little put off by the title. I already assumed evolution was "true" (as much as any scientific knowledge can be considered "the truth"), and I was more interested in knowing how it works, and the history of it all, from the first micro-organisms to now.

The "how" part is covered pretty well, and by covering the "how" the author addresses creationist or "intelligent design" arguments and provides a clear, rational, and most importantly scientifi
Dec 18, 2010 rated it it was ok
Once again a great scientific mind has stooped to the lowest common denominator; mindlessly bickering with the creationist argument. I was expecting evolution/creationist argument in the preface, maybe even in the first chapter. Unfortunately, It's littered throughout the book. I understand that some readers actually enjoy this mindless drubbing, if so, this book is for you. What I was hoping for was a deeper biological understanding of speciation and specialization, and to Coyne's credit there ...more
Jun 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book is unbelievable! I can't imagine how hard it is to summarize a topic as voluminous as evolution into 230 pages.
Without a doubt, evolution is complicated. It is one of the most misunderstood facts, and definitely the most viciously attacked. Jerry Coyne does a phenomenal job of explaining some of the basic tenets of evolution to the reader in a very succinct way. It is a breath taking read; this book needs to be read more than once. If only those who are so adamant about ID would crack
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The Challenge Fac...: Camille & Clémentine•Why Evolution Is True 12 27 Feb 12, 2013 10:59AM  
Terrible, terrible audiobook - DO NOT BUY 2 111 Mar 14, 2012 07:23AM  

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Jerry Coyne is a professor in the department of ecology and evolution at the University of Chicago. His concentration is speciation and ecological and evolutionary genetics, particularly as they involve Drosophila

His work is widely published, not only in scientific journals, but also in such mainstream venues as The New York Times, the Times Literary Supplement, and The New Republic. Coyne's peer
“...supernatural explanations always mean the end of inquiry: that’s the way God wants it, end of story. Science, on the other hand, is never satisfied: our studies of the universe will continue until humans go extinct.” 31 likes
“These mysteries about how we evolved should not distract us from the indisputable fact that we did evolve.” 26 likes
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