The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution
, 2009 - Science
- 470 pages
'It is no accident that we see green almost wherever we look. It is no accident that we find ourselves perched on one tiny twig in the midst of a blossoming and flourishing tree of life; no accident that we are surrounded by millions of other species, eating, growing, rotting, swimming, walking, flying, burrowing, stalking, chasing, fleeing, outpacing, outwitting a We are surrounded by endless forms, most beautiful and most wonderful, and it is no accident, but the direct consequence of evolution by non-random natural selection - the only game in town, the greatest show on Earth.' 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. In this brilliant tour de force he pulls together the incontrovertible evidence that underpins it. 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 around us 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 truth 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.