Why Evolution Is True

Author: Jerry A. Coyne
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by OddJackdaw   2019-07-21

> In fact my first mention was going to be James Dwight Dana who was a contemporary of Darwin who studied the fossil record and concluded that each successive biospheric system was comprised of new species which were entirely unrelated and the introduction of new species were not linear progressions but instead what appeared to be unique new additions.

If he was a contemporary of Darwin, there must be plenty of new evidence to support/refute/modify this hypothesis in the meantime, as there is with Darwin's theory. If not, why should I care about what some dude said 150+ years ago?

> Also the chirality of the systems when looked at from current time shows an exponential rise in bio diversity and the rate of consumption of all living matter after a gradual decline and finally mass extinction.. suggesting that "the creator" or principle of creativity has set into motion an upwardly developing system and perhaps is co author in it's developments...

Simply an argument from ignorance. "I can't think of any other explanation for this, so it must be a creator."

> the idea that we evolved from apes is not reflected in the current fossil data however it's religiously defended by supposedly anti religious people..”

It absolutely is. This is one of the most tired creationist arguments there is. It is either flagrantly dishonest or ridiculously ill-informed. Either way, it is completely wrong.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evidence_of_common_descent

More importantly, fossil evidence is only one tiny part of the evidence that we have supporting evolution and common ancestry. Creationists like to pretend it is all that there is, but that is, yet again, flagrantly dishonest.

If you are really interested in being able to refute arguments like this, I highly recommend you read the book Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne. He goes into detail about what the evidence for evolution is, and at the same time systematically dismantles all of these terrible creationist claims. It is an outstanding, highly readable book.

by ErrantThought   2019-07-21

> As far as I know there isn’t any real hard evidence for it.

For a nice overview of the plethora of evidence for evolution, read Jerry A. Coyne's Why Evolution is True. He gives lots, and lots, and LOTS of examples. It's easy to read.

Even if you believe in creationism, you should still read it. It's really important to look at the evidence that the other side presents so you can make an informed rebuttal.

by distantocean   2019-07-21

I'd also strongly recommend Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne, which is the best book I know of on evolution (and in fact maybe the best popular science book I've ever read). Given your background it's likely you were taught to reject evolution, and if so it would be a major eye-opener for you.

by distantocean   2018-11-10

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.

by matthewdreeves   2018-11-10

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."

by WorkingMouse   2018-11-10

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.

by matthewdreeves   2018-11-10

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.

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."

by distantocean   2018-11-10

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.

by distantocean   2018-11-10

> Can you guys point me to a good website that explains the evidence for evolution to me?

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, 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.

by OddJackdaw   2018-11-10

> "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.

by SomeRandomMax   2017-08-19

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)

by SeriesOfAdjectives   2017-08-19

Most of my in-depth knowledge came from university courses, but there are lots of good books out there. I've read this one and would definitely recommend it, it doesn't require any prior knowledge of the topic.

by devianaut   2017-08-19

my advice is to buy your mother-in-law one or all of these books:

• jason rosenhouse's *among the creationists *

• richard dawkin's *the greatest show on earth *

• jerry a. coyne's *why evolution is true *

• bill nye's *undeniable: evolution and the science of creation *

edit: a word.