Focussed dissection of Creationism,
This review is from: The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution (Paperback)
This book covers familiar ground in the landscape of pop science books on evolution at the genetic level. However, it provided me, at least, with some fresh insights, notably into making obvious the link between natural de-selection and fossile genes, and into how the evolution of switching genes can affect the application of "toolkit genes" in different parts of the organism.
At times, the attention to detail and volumes of evidence mustered to support his exposition can be a bit wearisome - "I get it, move on". But as one of his quotes from Darwin makes clear, the prodigious evidence he provides serves the purpose of making his argument in the final few chapters unassailable. The key chapter is chapter 9, which is really the point of the whole book - a rigorous attack on the nonsense that is Creationism / Intelligent Design.
He outlines his attack in a light-handed way but his intention is clear: to provide anyone who reads this book with a precise set of tools for dismantling the rhetoric of any Creationist that the reader would have the good fortune of meeting.
One of the most telling arguments that he supplies is the stark disagreement of Creationist views with the established doctrine of the Catholic and mainstream Protestant churches, such doctrines typically regarding the science of evolution as both an astounding achievement of human endeavour and a beautiful testament to the sophistication of God's creation.
He provides a variety of other analyses which serve to puncture the rhetoric of the Creationists, which once deflated shows starkly that Creationist views are not science, just myth.
The final chapter is something of a bolt-on to the main thrust of the book but consists of a useful, and quite sobering, look at overfishing. Importantly, he points out that without a correct understanding of the evolutionary impact of both fishing and the efforts to mitigate overfishing, then fish as we know and love them are doomed. The principal strand of his explanation here is that fishing for the biggest and juiciest fish creates a man-made selection pressure for top-of-the-food-chain predators to be smaller, with disastrous consequences for the underlying food chain.
Overall, this book is not really a page-turner but a worthy and rewarding read nonetheless.