Brett Williams's Reviews > Blueprints: Solving the Mystery of Evolution

Blueprints by Maitland Armstrong Edey
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Facts of nature can sometimes win

Having this 1989 book on the shelves for so long, I feared its contents may be dated – not so. Why? Because it’s about how the idea of evolution evolved, from the 1700’s to modern times. The authors make concepts clear with good analogies, and periodically segue into conversation between themselves to clarify ideas. It works well, anticipating reader questions. Besides a step-by-step accumulation of evidence that built this theory, what the authors do best is presentation of the personal lives behind this drama. The mountainous insecurity faced by telling truth to dogma; fierce resistance to natural reality; human arrogance and missteps on both sides along the way. Many heroes go unrecognized or ridiculed and ostracized until long after their death. The scene between Archbishop Wilberforce and Darwin’s bulldog, the dazzling and sulfurous T.H. Huxley in a packed public forum of raucous onlookers was a thrill to read three times. The whole story is a prime example of how facts of nature can sometimes win against more comfortable and entrenched ignorance – at least in those nations and those times confident enough in themselves to accept that nature really has no political party.

The evolution of evolution did not begin with fossils of extinct human lineage, but with geology’s requirement of an earth billions of years old (rather than created on October 23, 4004 BC at 9 a.m.), and witness of living animals in constant transition thanks to environmental change (natural selection). Fossils began to echo the same theme. Mendel’s peas pleading for recognition of heritable genes; Darwin’s first flashes of insight on the Beagle; fistfights for the Nobel for being first to decipher DNA’s structure where we find natural selection at the molecular level, and, finally, how species try to stay the same while changing – a story well worth knowing.
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Reading Progress

May 26, 2014 – Started Reading
May 26, 2014 – Shelved
May 26, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
June 16, 2014 – Finished Reading

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