Evolution for beginners

ChosenByPasta
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Evolution for beginners

Hi,

I'm an atheist that has been studying religion debates for a couple of months. I've become genuinely interested in studying evolution but I don't even know where to begin. I don't know anything about biology. There are so many books on the subject and I was just wondering if there are any books anyone would recommend that cover the basic fundamental issues. I've listened to a lot of radio interviews and know a lot about the politics of it, how creationism is an intellectual problem in our time. I still have a lot of unanswered questions floating around in my head about evolution, how it is a fact, what evidence we have, what we know, and what controversy there is. I'm just looking for some short books that cover those issues. I don't want dig too deep into it.

I know there is a lot of good information on the web, but I can't stand reading on my computer. I have to zone out and read somewhere. Any help would be great. Thanks.

"Every true faith is infallible -- It performs what the believing person hopes to find in it. But it does not offer the least support for the establishing of an objective truth. Here the ways of men divide. If you want to achieve peace of mind and happiness, have faith. If you want to be a disciple of truth, then search." - Nietzsche


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Evolution for beginners

The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins, it's answered every single question I had.


ChosenByPasta
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Evolution for beginners

Awesome, Dawkins is the greatest.


Yellow_Number_Five
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Evolution for beginners

A more complete view of evolution can be found in Dawkin's The Ancestor's Tale, though the book is a good deal more involved than the Watchmaker.

As far as I'm concerned, Evolution or Evolutionary Biology by Doug Futuyama is the freaking bible when it comes to the subject (the former is the undergrad version of the textbook). These are pretty involved, but necessarily so as they are so complete.

A great overview of the subject can be found in What Evolution Is by the late great Ernst Mayer.

The Stucture of Evolutionary Theory, Wonderful Life, and The Panda's Thumb by the late great Stephen Gould kick ass as well.

I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world. - Richard Dawkins

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Evolution for beginners

Yeah the blind watchmaker is more of a refutation of all creationist arguments against evolution. Which I imagine would be more useful to you if you intend to be informed outside of general biology study. However, no prior knowledge is needed.

"Character is higher than intellect... A great soul will be strong to live, as well as to think."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson


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Evolution for beginners

Thanks for the help. I'm definantly going to check those out.


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Evolution for beginners

of course you should also read the great book, The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin Smiling

Also check these links out:
Arizona State University's Institute for Human Origins reviews four million years of human evolution...
www.becominghuman.org/

and the Howard Huges Medical Institute's Holiday Lectures on Evolution, They discuss how evolution works, etc.......they also have a great discussion about creationism/evolution with a catholic priest, a philosopher, and 2 evolutionary biologists. It's good.

http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/evolution/lectures.html

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Evolution for beginners

right on, thanks.


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Evolution for beginners

http://www.talkorigins.org/ has a metric buttload of info on evolution, creationism, ID, and the fights between them all.

Carl Sagan's Cosmos TV series did an episode about evolution where he narrated an animated history of life from the first replicating molecules to humans showing many of the evolutionary deadends and different branches. Amazingly concise, simple, and intuitive explanation that any idiot, short of a devout creationist, could follow.

So remember, when you're feeling very small and insecure,
How amazingly unlikely is your birth;
And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere out in space,
'Cause there's bugger all down here on Earth!
- Eric Idle, from The Galaxy Song


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Darwin's Dangerous Idea

Darwin's Dangerous Idea by Daniel C. Dennett is an excellent read when it comes to the overall impact of Darwin's ideas and their defense. Every page is full of ideas... he's an incredible explainer and the book is insightful on multiple levels. It also doesn’t hold back when it comes to the religious impact of the belief in evolution and is firmly grounded in a pure naturalistic view of the world.

Quote:
A more complete view of evolution can be found in Dawkin's The Ancestor's Tale, though the book is a good deal more involved than the Watchmaker.

This is where I'd start though, after that look into The Selfish Gene and The Blind Watchmaker both by Dawkins. After reading Ancestor's and Seflish Gene I ended up reading all of Dawkins work... and within each of his books is a spring board to other material that is worth a look. The Extended Phenotype is worth the effort if you can get to it.

'We are all atheists about most of the gods that societies have ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.' - Richard Dawkins
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Thanks... I've been reading

Thanks... I've been reading the ancestors tale and I've never been so fascinated in my life. I can't wait to read other books on it.

"Every true faith is infallible -- It performs what the believing person hopes to find in it. But it does not offer the least support for the establishing of an objective truth. Here the ways of men divide. If you want to achieve peace of mind and happiness, have faith. If you want to be a disciple of truth, then search." - Nietzsche


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in short, evolution requires

in short, evolution requires two mechanisms. and it absolutely requires both of these:

genetic mutation - causes changes, but is completely random. evolution can't happen purely because of genetic mutations alone.

natural selection - the process of weeding out the changes that simply do not work under the circumstances. the ones that do work, live on.


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Apokalipse wrote:in short,

Apokalipse wrote:
in short, evolution requires two mechanisms. and it absolutely requires both of these:

genetic mutation - causes changes, but is completely random. evolution can't happen purely because of genetic mutations alone.

natural selection - the process of weeding out the changes that simply do not work under the circumstances. the ones that do work, live on.

Well, as Dawkins would put it life is the non-random survival of randomly varying relicators.

Mutations are random, selection is the the exact opposite of that - it simply has no goal, purpose, intent or intelligence behind it.

I think it is actually more instructive and more explanatory to think of the weeding out process as the loss of those who simply could not hack it or keep up with changing environs and other selective pressures. I just have a problem with teleology. perhaps. Gazels didn't become fleet of foot in order to survive, rather, gazels who were not fleet of foot got eaten. The distinction is very important.

I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world. - Richard Dawkins

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Apokalipse
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exactly; hence the

exactly; hence the defenition process
a process is not something that actually exists, it's an explanation to things that
(a) just happen
(b) are intentionally done (by things with a conscience)

natural selection falls under (a)


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Just wanted to recommend the

Just wanted to recommend the podcast "Evolution 101." The guy has a blog at http://evolution-101.blogspot.com/. He's pretty basic, but gives a really nice clean explanation of evolution.