Throughout its history America has been torn in two by debates over ideals and beliefs. Randall Fuller takes us back to one of those turning points, in 1860, with the story of the influence of Charles Darwin's just-published On the Origin of Species on five American intellectuals, including Bronson Alcott, Henry David Thoreau, the child welfare reformer Charles Loring Brace, and the abolitionist Franklin Sanborn. Each of these figures seized on the book's assertion of a common ancestry for all creatures as a powerful argument against slavery, one that helped provide scientific credibility to the cause of abolition. Darwin's depiction of constant struggle and endless competition described America on the brink of civil war. But some had difficulty aligning the new theory to their religious convictions and their faith in a higher power. Thoreau, perhaps the most profoundly affected all, absorbed Darwin's views into his mysterious final work on species migration and the interconnectedness of all living things. Creating a rich tableau of nineteenth-century American intellectual culture, as well as providing a fascinating biography of perhaps the single most important idea of that time, The Book That Changed America is also an account of issues and concerns still with us today, including racism and the enduring conflict between science and religion.
Twenty years after its original publication, The Blind Watchmaker, framed with a new introduction by the author, is as prescient and timely a book as ever. The watchmaker belongs to the eighteenth-century theologian William Paley, who argued that just as a watch is too complicated and functional to have sprung into existence by accident, so too must all living things, with their far greater complexity, be purposefully designed. Charles Darwin s brilliant discovery challenged the creationist arguments; but only Richard Dawkins could have written this elegant riposte. Natural selection the unconscious, automatic, blind, yet essentially nonrandom process Darwin discovered has no purpose in mind. If it can be said to play the role of a watchmaker in nature, it is the blind watchmaker in nature."
Spiders, objects of eternal human fascination, are found in many places: on the ground, in the air, and even under water. Leslie Brunetta and Catherine Craig have teamed up to produce a substantive yet entertaining book for anyone who has ever wondered, as a spider rappelled out of reach on a line of silk, "How do they do that?"
The orb web, that iconic wheel-shaped web most of us associate with spiders, contains at least four different silk proteins, each performing a different function and all meshing together to create a fly-catching machine that has amazed and inspired humans through the ages. Brunetta and Craig tell the intriguing story of how spiders evolved over 400 million years to add new silks and new uses for silk to their survival "toolkit" and, in the telling, take readers far beyond the orb. The authors describe the trials and triumphs of spiders as they use silk to negotiate an ever-changing environment, and they show how natural selection acts at the genetic level and as individuals struggle for survival.
Cites five previous mass extinctions on the planet while explaining that the human race may be the first to trigger its own destruction through irresponsible practices
One of the most renowned evolutionary biologists at work today, Richard Dawkins has written passionately for years on subjects that matter deeply to him - and matter urgently to all of us. A Devil's Chaplain brings together the best and most provocative of his essays, on subjects ranging from evolution to ethics, from travel to literature, from education to religion. The result is an intriguing portrait of one of the finest minds in science.
With eloquence and vigor, these essays put forward Dawkins's most fundamental axiom: seek truth. He speaks out against pseudoscience and deftly dissects religion and mysticism. In a powerful letter to his ten-year-old daughter, he argues for the necessity of basing any belief on solid evidence. And he doesn't shy away from skewering the loftiest institutions, whether judicial or educational. "To hell with . . . your fact-stuffed syllabuses and your endless roster of exams," he proclaims with refreshing directness. He writes infectiously of his awe at the marvelous complexity of the universe, pays moving tribute to dear friends and worthy colleagues, and tenderly recalls his boyhood in Africa. Uncompromising, even ruthless as Dawkins famously is when defending scientific truth and reason, this collection also shows a gentler, more contemplative side which may surprise his many readers.
Here we meet the essential Richard Dawkins: inspirational in both his unswerving attention to rationalism and his abiding passions.
"Take one man who rejects authority and religion, and leads a punk band. Take another man who wonders whether vertebrates arose in rivers or in the ocean....Put them together, what do you get? Greg Graffin, and this uniquely fascinating book." --Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs, and Steel
Anarchy Evolution is a provocative look at the collision between religion and science, by an author with unique authority: UCLA lecturer in Paleontology, and founding member of Bad Religion, Greg Graffin. Alongside science writer Steve Olson (whose Mapping Human History was a National Book Award finalist) Graffin delivers a powerful discussion sure to strike a chord with readers of Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion or Christopher Hitchens God Is Not Great. Bad Religion die-hards, newer fans won over during the band's 30th Anniversary Tour, and anyone interested in this increasingly important debate should check out this treatise on science from the god of punk rock.
The metaphor of Mount Improbable represents the combination of perfection and improbability that is epitomized in the seemingly "designed" complexity of living things. Dawkins skillfully guides the reader on a breathtaking journey through the mountain's passes and up its many peaks to demonstrate that following the improbable path to perfection takes time. Evocative illustrations accompany Dawkins's eloquent descriptions of extraordinary adaptations such as the teeming populations of figs, the intricate silken world of spiders, and the evolution of wings on the bodies of flightless animals. And through it all runs the thread of DNA, the molecule of life, responsible for its own destiny on an unending pilgrimage through time.
Climbing Mount Improbable is a book of great impact and skill, written by the most prominent Darwinian of our age.
Compelling evidence that the most important assumptions on which Darwinism rests are wrong.The controversial best-seller that sent Oxford University and Nature magazine into a frenzy has at last come to the United States. Shattering the Myths of Darwinism exposes the gaping holes in an ideology that has reigned unchallenged over the scientific world for a century. Darwinism is considered to be hard fact, the only acceptable explanation for the formation of life on Earth, but with keen insight and objectivity Richard Milton reveals that the theory totters atop a shambles of outdated and circumstantial evidence which in any less controversial field would have been questioned long ago. Sticking to the facts at hand and tackling a vast array of topics, Shattering the Myths of Darwinism offers compelling evidence that the theory of evolution has become an act of faith rather than a functioning science, and that not until the scientific method is applied to it and the right questions are asked will we ever get the true answers to the mystery of life on Earth.