83 of 97 people found the following review helpful
The only game in town,
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This review is from: The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution (Hardcover)
It was accepted that The God Delusion would be Dawkins' first and only `God' book in his series of work. What was the best part of ten years of waiting for the `right time' resulted in a candid and witty rebuttal of religion. After six years of Bush and an unseen level of distrust and uncertainty in government, it was time for a voice of reason to urge believers and non-believers alike to say, "enough is enough".
What I gained the most from The God Delusion was the ability to justify myself in my non-belief and the grounds to base my arguments on. What I felt was missing though, was a true understanding of what it is I believe in, namely Darwinian Evolution by Natural Selection. I could argue with reason why I don't believe in God, but when asked what evidence there was to support my argument, I felt that I didn't know enough. The Greatest Show on Earth is the answer. It is, in essence, a presentation of the evidence (hence the footnote on the cover). It produces an elegant explanation of why evolution is true via carefully calculated scientific reasoning and the same tongue-in-cheek brashness we have come to expect from Dawkins over the years.
The book opens by distinguishing fact from theory, promptly eradicating any preconceived doubt that evolution is merely a hypothesis. Dawkins puts a jovial emphasis on the question mark after the title 'only a theory', in order to immunise the chapter's content from relentless quote mining by our creationist crusaders. The first major point of discussion lies with the issue of why evolution wasn't discovered two hundred years earlier by a Darwin/Wallace counterpart during the dawn of calculus, which Dawkins puts down to a combination of essentialism and socio-religious constraints (despite the removal of the God Delusion t-shirt, one can hardly criticise him for bringing up religion every once in a while). From there onwards, the information is added layer by layer, as if the investigating reader is given a transparent lamina with on it, part of the picture of evolution, for every chapter he/she reads, resulting in the complete perspective once all of these sheets are placed over each other. Without detracting too much from the surprises we are given throughout the book, the first lamina we are given in the detective's puzzle is an insight into eugenics and how selective breeding is harnessed by natural and artificial methods alike.
Dawkins outlines very importantly that approximately 40% of Americans don't believe in evolution, and likens them with soft candour to the Holocaust deniers. This is a very controversial opinion but one that hits home on a number of levels. The extent into which Dawkins delves is massive; from Cows to cabbages, I learnt in depth how animals and other life forms have evolved over millions of years (in the case of natural selection) and hundreds of years (in the case of artificial selection).
As expected, I found The Greatest Show on Earth to be provocative, exciting, humorous and most importantly, educational. This is, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest books of the twenty-first century. I urge you to read this life-affirming masterpiece.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 9 Sep 2009 15:09:52 BDT
Jackson Jones says:
Just wanted to let you know that I also found TGD useful - not to confirm my lifelong atheism, but to show me why I was a disbeliever, and to allow me to argue more convincingly when debating theists (way more fun now that I've read that). I haven't read The Greatest Show on Earth yet - but I can't wait! Not being a biologist myself, I also feel slightly stumped when challenged regarding Evolution - hopefully those days will be behind me soon. Great review. Thanks.
In reply to an earlier post on 10 Sep 2009 09:59:38 BDT
Louis Vallance says:
Thank you Jackson. I can see from looking back I have noticed the rather endearing number of 'unhelpful' votes given to all the reviews. The Creationist votebots seem to be very busy!
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