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Q4 2006 Freethinker Book Poll! 
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Post Q4 2006 Freethinker Book Poll!
BOOK 1 of 4: Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design by Michael Shermer

From Publishers Weekly
Shermer (The Science of Good and Evil), 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. Science and religion are two distinct realms, he argues: the natural and supernatural, respectively, and he cites Pope John Paul II in support of their possible coexistence. Shermer takes the "ten most cogent" arguments for intelligent design and refutes each in turn. While on the mark, the arguments' brevity may hamper their usefulness to all but those well versed in the debate. Looking for converts, Shermer offers a short chapter entitled "Why Christians and Conservatives Should Accept Evolution" (i.e., it "provides a scientific foundation" for their core values). 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." Although there's not much new here, Shermer's wit and passion will appeal to many but won't convince believers.

From Booklist
The publisher of Skeptic magazine was once an enthusiastic Evangelical Christian, but his ardent pursuit of a scientific education induced reconsideration. Now he staunchly advocates discriminating religion from science and in this book concisely defends evolutionary theory from the almost exclusively -Evangelical--Christian-backed concept of intelligent design (ID), aka creationism, aka creation science--the name changes whenever a suit over having public schools teach the idea as science gets shot down by a high U.S. court (the ID movement always appeals mere state-court decisions). Shermer debates ID often, and he expertly marshals point-by-point explanations of why evolution is worthwhile science, why ID isn't science at all, why ID criticisms of evolution are irrelevant, why science cannot invalidate religion, and why Christians and conservatives ought to accept evolution. His orderly presentation makes the book something of a reference manual on evolution, and only the historically minded will smile at his citation of congruence between evolution and Adam Smith as reason for conservatives to embrace evolution, for Smith's capitalism is a branch of classical liberalism.




BOOK 2 of 4: Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism by David Mills

Dorion Sagan, science writer, son of Carl Sagan
With impeccable logic, intellectual bravery, and professional clarity Mills points the way past religion.

Albert Ellis, Ph.D., father of modern psychotherapy, author of 'A Guide to Rational Living' and 54 other books
David's work will be very useful for anyone combating harmful religious beliefs. Honest, frank, and right to the point!

Book Description
Clear, concise, and persuasive, Atheist Universe details exactly why God is unnecessary to explain the universe and life's diversity, organization, and beauty. The author thoroughly rebuts every argument that claims to "prove" God's existence



Fri Sep 15, 2006 10:26 am
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Post Re: Q4 2006 Freethinker Book Poll
BOOK 3 of 4: What Evolution Is by Ernst Mayr

Amazon.com
Gathering insights from his seven-decade career, the renowned biologist Ernst Mayr argues that evolution is now to be considered not a theory but a fact--and that "there is not a single Why? question in biology that can be answered adequately without a consideration of evolution."
Mayr, emeritus professor of zoology at Harvard University, has long been one of the world's foremost researchers in genetic and evolutionary theory. In this overview of past and current scientific thought, he discusses key concepts and terms, among them the origin of species, the (somewhat metaphorical) "struggle for existence," and agents of micro- and macroevolution. Somewhat against the grain, he argues against reduction and for the study of evolution at the phenotypic, not genetic, level. In his concluding pages, Mayr offers a careful overview of human evolution, adding his view that humankind is indeed unique--though "it has not yet completed the transition from quadrupedal to bipedal life in all of its structures."

Advanced students of the life sciences, as well as readers looking for a survey of current evolutionary theory, will find Mayr's book a useful companion. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly
At age 97, Ernst Mayr is one of the most influential scientists of the 20th century, and here he delivers yet another valuable addition to the field of evolutionary theory. Mayr, who was also a curator at the American Museum of Natural History for two decades, guides lay readers through evolutionary thought from the book of Genesis and creationist theory through Darwin's theories and "soft" evolution and on to more contemporary, inclusive concepts. He takes readers on a whirlwind voyage from the scala naturae (the Great Chain of Being, in which everything in the world was accorded a position in a developmental hierarchy) to Mayr's own work, which builds on Darwinian theory and environmental factors. No one but Mayr could explain evolution so well, and though the text is peppered with many scientific terms, overall the author is triumphant in his goal to teach "first and foremost... biologist or not, [anyone] who simply wants to know more about evolution." While many authors suggest their tomes are the authoritative source, Mayr remains humble, reminding readers that "many details remain controversial." And the combination of his expertise, his elegant prose and the sheer pleasure of so many enthralling facts (the 145-million-year-old Archaeopteryx is a near perfect link between reptiles and birds, for example) means that studying the fossil record has rarely been so absorbing. Appendixes answer FAQs and respond to various objections to evolutionary theory, while a glossary offers entries from acoelomate to zygote.

From Library Journal
Mayr (emeritus, Harvard Univ.; This Is Biology) has written a clear, comprehensive, and very informative introduction to the theory of evolution. He offers major insights into taxonomy, adaptation, common descent, biodiversity, and those mechanisms of organic evolution that result in the process of speciation. His analysis points out important contributions that molecular biology and population thinking have made to both understanding and appreciating modern Darwinism. Mayr stresses that an individual organism is the unit of natural selection, while a population is the unit of biological evolution. He rejects essentialism (typology), creationism, and teleology (orthogenesis) and gives much attention to the various aspects of macroevolution. Other topics discussed include extinction, mosaic evolution, exobiology, and the roles that both chance and necessity play in organic evolution. Of special interest is a chapter on human evolution. Mayr presents the empirical evidence substantiating hominid evolution, as well as the most recent scientific interpretation for the emergence of our species over the past five million years from an apelike ancestral group in Africa. This significant contribution to science will be of enormous value to anyone interested in evolution. Strongly recommended for all academic and public library science collections.

From Booklist
*Starred Review* Almost 150 years after Origin of Species, the edifice of evolutionary science still rests securely on the foundation Darwin laid. A pioneer in using modern genetics to enlarge that science, Mayr guides his readers through the entire evolutionary structure, from paleontology to chromosomal chronology. But what will perhaps most surprise nonspecialists is not the latest research but rather the astonishing durability of Darwin's original theory. Indeed, it will come as news to most readers that Darwin's theory--actually a composite of five theories--won complete acceptance only in the second Darwinian revolution of the 1940s, when scientists finally rejected evolutionary discontinuities in favor of gradual change in biopopulations. Since that belated second revolution, biologists have acquired powerful new tools for peering into evolutionary transformations at the molecular level. Yet in Mayr's marvelously lucid explanations of these recent advances, he fits everything within the sturdy premises of the Darwinian paradigm. But for all of the enduring explanatory power of Darwinism, Mayr still confronts stubborn mysteries: Why, for instance, do living fossils (like the horseshoe crabs) not evolve? And how did high intelligence and idealistic altruism appear among those strange creatures called humans? The general reader will find no better guide to evolutionary thought.

Edited by: Chris OConnor  at: 9/15/06 6:26 pm



Fri Sep 15, 2006 3:41 pm
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Post Re: Q4 2006 Freethinker Book Poll
BOOK 4 of 4: Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction by Eugenie C. Scott

Book Description
Almost eighty years after the Scopes trial, the debate over the teaching of evolution continues to rage. There is no easy resolution--it is a complex topic with profound scientific, religious, educational, and legal implications. How can a student or parent understand this issue, which is such a vital part of education? Evolution vs. Creationism provides a badly needed, comprehensive, and balanced survey. Written by one of the leading advocates for the teaching of evolution in the United states, this accessible resource provides an introduction to the many facets of the current debate--the scientific evidence for evolution, the legal and educational basis for its teaching, and the various religious points of view--as well as a concise history of the evolution-creationism controversy.
Each of the four sections of Evolution vs. Creationism provides a resource that will assist the reader in better understanding these issues. The first section addresses the nature of how evolution works as part of the scientific enterprise, as well as a summary of the relationship between religious beliefs and science. A section on the history of the controversy provides a handy synopsis of the lengthy struggles, from before Darwin to the present day, between advocates of creationism and the proponents of evolution. A collection of primary source documents addressing cosmology, law, education, and religious issues from all sides of the debate constitute the third section. The book concludes with a selection of resources for further information for those who wish to study the topic in more depth.

About the Author
Eugenie C. Scott is Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education. She has written extensively on the evolution-creationism controversy and is past president of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists. Niles Eldredge is Curator in the Division of Paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Edited by: Chris OConnor  at: 9/15/06 6:31 pm



Fri Sep 15, 2006 4:00 pm
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Post Re: Q4 2006 Freethinker Book Poll
As with the above Q4 2006 Nonfiction Book Poll you get 3 total votes to assign to the 4 choices however you see fit.




Fri Sep 15, 2006 4:36 pm
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Post Re: Q4 2006 Freethinker Book Poll!
3 for Why Darwin Matters.




Fri Sep 15, 2006 5:40 pm
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Post Re: Q4 2006 Freethinker Book Poll!
I have read the Ernst Mayr (science rest his soul!) book, and while I enjoyed it very much, it is not much more than a short textbook on evolution. I would not suggest it, as I do not think it would do much to stimulate conversation.

I like Shermer, but I have been wanting to read the Euginie Scott book, so:

3 Votes for Creationism v Evolution.

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Edited by: misterpessimistic  at: 9/15/06 7:40 pm



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Post Re: Q4 2006 Freethinker Book Poll!
Dont get me wrong...I suggest people read the Mayr book...excellent work...but it is a bit dry.

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Sat Sep 16, 2006 12:26 am
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Post Re: Q4 2006 Freethinker Book Poll!
I see what you're saying, but I can't help but think many of us would benefit from a course in evolution. One of these days we need to read some of Darwin's books. ::80




Sat Sep 16, 2006 1:17 am
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Post Re: Q4 2006 Freethinker Book Poll!
I agree with Misterpessimistic. The Mayr book wouldn't spark much conversation, because it reads like a textbook in paperback form. It is a very excellent introduction to evolution, no doubt, but I think writers like Dawkins, Gould, and so on, have a more interesting, discussion-sparking manner of presenting these topics on evolution.

Anyway, I cast my three votes for the Evolution versus Creationism book.




Sat Sep 16, 2006 11:59 am


Post Re: Q4 2006 Freethinker Book Poll!
2 votes: Why Darwin Matters
1 vote: Aethist's Universe

These all look like very good reads. ::80

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Sat Sep 16, 2006 2:11 pm
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Post Re: Q4 2006 Freethinker Book Poll!
Why Darwin Matters - 5
Atheist Universe - 1
Evolution vs. Creationism - 6

Mr. P's place. I warned you!!!

The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.

The pain in hell has two sides. The kind you can touch with your hand; the kind you can feel in your heart...Scorsese's "Mean Streets"

I came to kick ass and chew Bubble Gum...and I am all out of Bubble Gum - They Live, Roddy Piper





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Post Re: Q4 2006 Freethinker Book Poll!
Last call on votes for this poll.




Tue Sep 26, 2006 8:58 am
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Post Re: Q4 2006 Freethinker Book Poll!
2 for What Evolution Is
1 for Evolution Vs. Creationism




Tue Sep 26, 2006 10:10 am
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Post Re: Q4 2006 Freethinker Book Poll!
Including Dissident's recent vote we're now looking at...

By the way Dissident - you are free to change your votes in the Nonfiction Poll up till the closing of the poll. It doesn't look like The Joy of Philosophy stands a chance of winning, although that poll is rather close, so you might want to redistribute your votes to your second choice of books.

Current Score


6 Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design

1 Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism

5 What Evolution Is

15 Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction




Tue Sep 26, 2006 9:27 pm
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Post Re: Q4 2006 Freethinker Book Poll!
Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction wins with 15 total votes!




Tue Sep 26, 2006 11:07 pm
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