Why Evolution Is True
Good for you! It's funny that what you're saying can even be understood as a joke, when reading those books should be utterly unremarkable.
BTW, since you seem to be interested in reading about evolution you should definitely check out Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne. It's the single best popular book I've read on evolution -- clear and well-written, and really makes the case in an irrefutable way. It's worthwhile on its own, but if you're dealing with skeptics it'll also give you plenty of ammunition.
Hello and welcome! Here are some recommendations for de-indoctrinating yourself:
Take some time to learn about the history of the bible. For example, you can take the Open Yale Courses on Religious Studies for free.
Read Who Wrote the Bible by Richard Elliott Friedman
Also read A History of God by Karen Armstrong
Watch this talk from Sam Harris where he explains why "free will" is likely an illusion, which debunks the entire premise of "the fall of man" as presented by most Christian religions.
Watch this video on the Cordial Curiosity channel that teaches how the "Socratic Method" works, which essentially is a way to question why we believe what we believe. Do we have good reasons to believe them? If not, should we believe them?
Watch this video by Theramin Trees that explains why we fall for the beliefs of manipulative groups in the first place.
This video explains why and how childhood indoctrination works, for those of us born-in to a high-control group.
Another great source is this youtube series debunking 1914 being the start of the last days.
Next, learn some science. For example - spoiler alert: evolution is true. Visit Berkeley's excellent Understanding Evolution Website. Or, if you're pressed for time, watch this cartoon.
Read Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne.
Read The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins.
Watch this series where Aron Ra explains in great detail how all life is connected in a giant family tree.
Learn about the origin of the universe. For example, you could read A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking.
Learn about critical thinking from people like Michael Shermer, and how to spot logical fallacies.
For good measure, use actual data and facts to learn the we are NOT living in some biblical "last days". Things have gotten remarkably better as man has progressed in knowledge. For example, watch this cartoon explaining how war is on the decline.
Read The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker.
Watch this Ted Talk by Hans Rosling, the late Swedish Statistician, where he shows more evidence that the world is indeed becoming a better place, and why we tend to wrongly convince ourselves otherwise.
I wish you the best. There is a whole world of legitimate information out there based on actual evidence that you can use to become a more knowledgeable person.
You may still wonder how you can be a good human without "the truth." Here is a good discussion on how one can be good without god. --Replace where he talks about hell with armageddon, and heaven with paradise--
Start to help yourself begin to live a life where, as Matt Dillahunty puts it, you'll "believe as many true things, and as few false things as possible."
Not bad; looking for new work amusingly enough, and keeping busy. Visited my folks not long ago; it was wonderful to get a chance to catch up with them.
As to book suggestions, let me offer a grain of salt first: I haven't read many books about evolution aimed at laymen, at least not since high school. It's treading over the same ground for me. Still, there are a surely a few that you might enjoy, and perhaps even find convincing.
First is Jerry Coyne's Why Evolution Is True , which is basically what it says on the tin; it's a direct look at the evidence supporting evolutionary theory. It's ten years old, so don't expect it to be cutting edge, but we biologists have been solid on the theory for longer than that.
Next is Richard Dawkin's The Greatest Show on Earth Now I know the man has a bit of a reputation when it comes to theology, but his biology is superb and that's what this book is about. I can't promise he'll be particularly kind to creationism - again, haven't read it - but I'm told it is similarly a good romp through argument and counterargument with clever prose.
Similarly dealing with ID is Kenneth Miller's Only a Theory . Miller was one of the expert witnesses during the Dover trial, and this book is geared as a takedown of ID and related and a defense of evolution as the important scientific theory it is.
On a slightly more personal tone is one I've actually read; Into the Jungle by Sean B. Carroll. Dr. Carroll is an evolutionary biologist and a pleasant fellow - I've met the man and attended at least one of his lectures. He has a certain joy for the field that might take the edge off the potentially-aggressive takes of the prior recommendations, as at least two of those are written to argue for a point. And on that note, Into the Jungle is not a book about why evolution is true, it's a book about how we figured it out; it's a small collection of personal stories of scientists working in the field and how their observations lead to great discoveries, from Darwin forward. Not the best textbook, but a wonderful bit of insight into scientists as people.
Lastly and perhaps most relevant, I would strongly suggest Endless Forms Most Beautiful , another book by Dr. Carroll. I suggest it both because, again, he strikes me as less confrontational, and more importantly because of it's topic. It's a book on a field we call Evo-Devo; Evolutionary Developmental Biology. During our earlier chat, much of our discussion roamed over how you could get new traits and features, and the evidence for common descent coming from those. This is a book aimed at laymen on that very subject, examining the evidence for evolution as seen in the early development of all sorts of organisms, and delving into just how we get such wonderous and diverse forms. The title alone should give you a strong sense of how Dr. Carroll feels about the topic, and if his writing is like his lecturing it will leave you with a very pleasant feeling of appreciation and awe. (This one's thirteen years old now, and when written Evo-Devo had truly come into its own; we've advanced since, but it's still a good look.)
While on the topic, any questions you've had that are still bugging you? Anything in what we spoke of before I didn't get to? As you've well-seen, I don't at all mind to chatting about it.
I cannot recommend the book Why Evolution is True highly enough. It is extremely well written and accessible, and goes over the subject in amazing detail, while never crossing over to be boring. You don't need to know much about biology to understand it, all the concepts you need to understand are covered. After you read it, you might find that biology (or at least evolution) is one of your favorite subject.
It is also a great audiobook if you prefer that to reading.
Since you say they're fundamentalists you could try Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne. It's an outstanding book that presents the evidence for evolution so indisputably that I can't imagine anyone reading the entire thing and not at least having some doubts. There are few things that undermine Christianity more than evolution -- despite noises to the contrary even the Catholic Church's alleged "acceptance" of evolution doesn't stand up to it -- so getting them to read that may have a better effect than asking them to read a book specifically geared toward deconversion.
The downside is that many fundamentalists (rightly) see barely any daylight between evolution and atheism, so it may not be much less unwelcome than a full-on "atheist" book.
For those who find themselves in a similar predicament, where the indoctrination rears it's ugly head, I offer the following advice:
Take some time, if you haven't had the chance, to learn about the history of the bible. For example, you can take the Open Yale Courses on Religious Studies for free.
You could take a look at TalkOrigins (which has an index of creationist claims that might be useful), Evolution 101, EvolutionFAQ, or the PBS evolution FAQ. And Stated Clearly is an outstanding series of videos that break it down very simply and straightforwardly (and they're made by an ex-Christian whose education about evolution was part of his reason for leaving the religion).
If you're interested in a book on evolution, the best I've seen (and in fact maybe the best popular science book I've ever read) is Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne.
> Can you guys point me to a good website that explains the evidence for evolution to me?
If you're interested in a book, the best I've seen (and in fact maybe the best popular science book I've ever read) is Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne.
> "Maybe there isn't. Maybe it popped up and since it had no disadvantage, it perpetuated."
It actually does have a disadvantage-- people with red hair are more prone to sun burn and skin cancer.
And interestingly, the country most associated with redheads has a relatively high cloud cover much of the year.
So it is just it has a slight disadvantage, but not enough to cause it to be bred out.
BTW, this sort of question can get complicated... You have to start factoring in sexual selection.
In sexual selection, a trait may have a evolutionary DISadvantage, sometimes a significant one, from a "pure" natural selection basis, but still be selected for because it makes the individual more popular with mates.
The obvious example of this is the male peacock. Their tail feathers are a significant disadvantage to simple survival. But female peacocks prefer males with massive, elaborate tails. So natural selection causes the tails to grow and grow and grow until they reach the point where the positive sexual selection benefit just outweighs the negative natural selection disadvantage.
Seriously, this shit is fascinating. I highly recommend the book Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne . It covers pretty much everything we've talked about and more.
Eyes provide a very significant benefit for survival, and contrary to popular religious arguments, at their most basic are fairly easy to develop naturally, and once they develop naturally, natural selection will cause improvements. Because of that, it is not really surprising that they have evolved independently multiple times.
If you would like a better understanding of why this is true, I very highly recommend the book Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne.
(Sorry, I wrote this reply before realizing what sub I was in... but the question seems legit, so I decided to post the answer anyway)