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Why Darwin Matters

The Case Against Intelligent Design

Michael Shermer

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ISBN10: 0805083065
ISBN13: 9780805083064

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224 Pages



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Science is on the defensive. Half of Americans reject the theory of evolution and "Intelligent Design"campaigns are gaining ground. Classroom by classroom, creationism is overthrowing biology.

In Why Darwin Matters, Michael Shermer explains how the newest brand of creationism appeals to our predisposition to look for a designer behind life's complexity. Shermer decodes the scientific evidence to show that evolution is not "just a theory" and illustrates how it achieves the design of life through the bottom-up process of natural selection. Shermer, once an evangelical Christian and a creationist, argues that Intelligent Design proponents are invoking a combination of bad science, political antipathy, and flawed theology. He refutes their pseudoscientific arguments and then demonstrates why conservatives and people of faith can and should embrace evolution. He then appraises the evolutionary questions that truly need to be settled, building an argument for science itself.

Cutting the politics away from the facts, Why Darwin Matters is an examination of what is at stake in the debate over evolution.


Praise for Why Darwin Matters

"Shermer lays out the case for evolution cogently, if not in great detail, in Why Darwin Matters. He then does what many scientists are unwilling to do: He engages and answers the arguments of people who don't accept evolution. He does this with care and respect but without any false even-handedness . . . With zest but without gloating, Shermer takes on the arguments against evolution and mows them down."—David Brown, The Washington Post Book World

"None writes so fiercely in defense of evolution as Shermer, a Scientific American columnist and founder and director of the Skeptics Society. With the sustained indignation of a former creationist, Shermer is savage about the shortcomings of intelligent design and eloquent about the spirituality of science. In Why Darwin Matters, he has assembled an invaluable primer for anyone caught up in an argument with a well-intentioned intelligent design advocate."—Robert Lee Hotz, Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Shermer's essential little book, Why Darwin Matters, shows how the revolutionary Darwinian time bomb is still ticking. Subtitled The Case Against Intelligent Design, the book refutes creationism's latest incarnation and chronicles the recent brouhaha over high school textbooks in Dover, a small town in rural Pennsylvania."—Richard Miller, Natural History

"His new book, Why Darwin Matters, gets high marks for its amiable style, its readability, and the unmistakable moral passion of the author. It is impressive in the wide range of issues and questions it addresses. Most important, it is likely to be a useful contribution to the unfinished task of providing the resistance to creationism, among both scientists and laypeople, with a repository of direct arguments, rhetorical devices, and philosophical themes useful in defeating or deflecting the spectrum of creationist assaults now directed against the educational system . . . A parent or student menaced by an aggressively creationist school board would be well advised to get hold of a copy of Why Darwin Matters as a ready-to-hand source of arguments useful and pertinent enough to force the battle-lines to be accurately drawn."—Norman Levitt, Reports

"The idea that evolution and God should be at odds is among the strangest of doctrines, an attempt to make the divine follow our particular notions of how He should operate. Michael Shermer explains what really happened, in terms that should be accessible to any faithful reader."—Bill McKibben

"Michael Shermer is one of America's necessary minds. A reformed fundamentalist who is now an experienced foe of pseudo-science and superstition, he does us the double favor of explaining exactly what creationists believe, and then of demonstrating that they have no case. With his forensic and polemical skill, he could have left them for dead: instead he generously urges them to stop wasting their time (and ours) and do some real work."—Christopher Hitchens

"A readable and well-researched book on what is perhaps the most vital scientific topic of our age. Anyone who has been snowed into thinking that there is a real scientific controversy over evolution by natural selection will be enlightened by Why Darwin Matters, which is both genial and intellectually uncompromising."—Steven Pinker

"Shermer, founding editor of the Skeptic and Scientific American columnist, thoughtfully explains why intelligent design is both bad science and poor religion, how a wealth of scientific data from varied fields support evolution, and why religion and science need not be in conflict . . . His overall message is best summarized when he writes, 'Darwin matters because evolution matters. Evolution matters because science matters. Science matters because it is the preeminent story of our age, an epic saga about who we are, where we came from and where we are going' . . . Shermer's wit and passion will appeal to many."—Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads


Read an Excerpt


Why Evolution Matters

Hence both in space and time, we seem to be brought somewhat near to that great fact—that mystery of mysteries—the first appearance of new beings on this earth.

—Charles Darwin, Journal...

About the author

Michael Shermer

Michael Shermer is the author of The Believing Brain, Why People Believe Weird Things, The Science of Good and Evil, The Mind Of The Market, Why Darwin Matters, Science Friction, How We Believe and other books on the evolution of human beliefs and behavior. He is the founding publisher of Skeptic magazine, the editor of, a monthly columnist for Scientific American, and an adjunct professor at Claremont Graduate University. He lives in Southern California.

Jeremy Danger

Michael Shermer

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