Review: Why Evolution Is True

I’ve just finished reading Why Evolution Is True by Jerry Coyne. I personally don’t (and never did) have any doubts about the scientific Theory of Evolution, or Darwinism. Unfortunately, it is staggering how many people do. I was wasting some time a few days ago playing with the app, Voice Polls. It’s a kind of instant opinion poll.



Only 37% answer “science and evolution”; 33% say “god” and 30% “both”

It’s a bit hard to read the numbers for anything but the top choice, so I’ve added them in the caption. What this amounts to is that 63% of responders think god had a hand in human creation.

The answers to this question are a little more promising.


Evolution: 56%; Creationism: 16%; Neither 7%; Don’t know: 20%.

Obviously, the people who play with Voice Polls are a self-selected group on whom we don’t have any demographic data. However, I did find this question, which is suggestive:


First place: 43%; second place: 57%

Anyway back to Why Evolution Is True: I knew that I didn’t have a good grasp of the evidence. And that is precisely what this books provides. Covering topics such as the fossil record, biogeography, molecular biology and genetics, vestigial traits and embryonic development, Coyne makes an overwhelming case. Of course, there are still people who don’t want to accept that Evolution is as good a scientific fact as you can get. As Coyne says in the preface:

For those who oppose Darwinism purely as a matter of faith, no amount of evidence will do—theirs is a belief not based on reason.

The book is a fascinating read. It’s well-written and the material presented in a very accessible fashion. The book is not popular with Creationists, Young Earthers, and proponents of Intelligent Design—a quick scan of some 1-star reviews on Amazon will tell you that.

I created a mind map—using the excellent iThoughts app, which is equally good on the iPad—of what I saw as the key points. I sprinkled a few direct quotes about, but didn’t include much, if any, detail about the actual evidence. You should read the book. If you have iThoughts in either version, you can download the map from the link below. For those who don’t have iThoughts, I exported a Markdown version, which is included in the next pages of this post.

Jerry Coyne also produces an excellent blog under the same name, Why Evolution Is True, which deals with related topics, atheism and religion, and cats. One thing that Jerry and I have in common is that we have both studied the fruit fly, Drosophila. Of course, he’s done so for years and years, and I spent a few weeks during an obligatory two-semester course on biology way back when I started university.

Why Evolution Is True mind map

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  1. […] The variety of life is explained by the Theory of Evolution; the evidence for which is overwhelming. […]

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