Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Greatest Show On Earth

Author: Richard Dawkins

Goodreads Rating: 4.20
Pages: 470
Charles Darwin’s masterpiece, On the Origin of Species, shook society to its core on publication in 1859. Darwin was only too aware of the storm his theory of evolution would provoke but he would surely have raised an incredulous eyebrow at the controversy still raging a century and a half later. Evolution is accepted as scientific fact by all reputable scientists and indeed theologians, yet millions of people continue to question its veracity.
In The Greatest Show on Earth Richard Dawkins takes on creationists, including followers of ‘Intelligent Design’ and all those who question the fact of evolution through natural selection. Like a detective arriving on the scene of a crime, he sifts through fascinating layers of scientific facts and disciplines to build a cast-iron case: from the living examples of natural selection in birds and insects; the ‘time clocks’ of trees and radioactive dating that calibrate a timescale for evolution; the fossil record and the traces of our earliest ancestors; to confirmation from molecular biology and genetics. All of this, and much more, bears witness to the truth of evolution.
The Greatest Show on Earth comes at a critical time: systematic opposition to the fact of evolution is now flourishing as never before, especially in America. In Britain and elsewhere in the world, teachers witness insidious attempts to undermine the status of science in their classrooms. Richard Dawkins provides unequivocal evidence that boldly and comprehensively rebuts such nonsense. At the same time he shares with us his palpable love of the natural world and the essential role that science plays in its interpretation. Written with elegance, wit and passion, it is hard-hitting, absorbing and totally convincing.

With great examples, visuals and simple explanations, Dawkins really does a great job making evolution simple enough for everyone. Dawkins makes great arguments for every aspect of evolution.

As a biology teacher, and one who has a passion for evolution, this was an amazing read. As I said, Dawkins includes many visuals, both colored and black and white (which make reading the physical book more advantageous than reading it on an ereader, which was how I started reading it but decided to switch and buy the book so I could look at the amazing colored pictures). In addition to the spectacular visuals, Dawkins provides multiple examples, some of which I had heard of before but many I never thought of, for every aspect he talks about. He discusses a lot of biological topics through the eyes of evolution, from cells to ecology. As a teacher, this is definitely something I appreciated and loved about the book.

Dawkins narration also is very engaging. It sounds like he is talking directly to you, which really helped me read through the book. He goes through the basics of evolution and really makes it simple.

However, a lot of things he discusses can be very redundant. He tends to repeat the same idea over and over, but this is also how he is. He gives examples upon examples and explains them in a variety of different ways so no one can say "show me the evidence".

Another issue, not really an issue but something I found weird, is this book it seems is for people who deny evolution, since Dawkins spends a great deal of effort in trying to prove these "history-deniers" wrong. This seems a bit off, since what person would pick up this book if they deny evolution to be true (as a science teacher, I always encourage people to explore different points of view, especially if they are vastly different from their own, but I'm also realistic and know this isn't true most of the time). Granted, this book is great for people like myself, who love learning about evolution.

As I stated before, Dawkins discusses the basics of evolution very well. However, it can be a heavy read for someone without the appropriate background knowledge. Not to however a however, this background knowledge is something that can be attained in high school. But never fear if you don't remember much from high school biology, Dawkins still breaks everything down for you. Just be aware that you may have to look up the definition to some words.

At the end, Dawkins talks about statistics of people, from different countries and, of course, America, who believe in creationism (or some form of God interaction in the course of life) and evolution and to a biology teacher, the results were shocking. Now this is a controversial topic and I do not ever intend to put down others beliefs (you won't find that the same with Dawkins however), but these statistics further show how other countries are ahead of us in the science department. I fully agree, and know scientists, who have their beliefs but also know about sciences like evolution. They don't deny it happened just because it goes against their religion.

Anyway, this book did take me a while to read (since even I had to handle it in portions), but it was a great book that shows the wonders of evolution, which is truly the greatest show on earth. That is why this earned a solid 4/5 stars from me.
The Courts Decision:


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