New Books About Darwin and Evolution
Last month, we celebrated Darwin Day here at the Robert R. Muntz Library. In addition to the film event (see our first link), we also created a display of books, which is still up in the library's third floor. During the film event, our speakers mentioned some books that may be of interest to people wishing to learn more about Darwin, his work, and evolution as well as about science education. I went ahead and ordered some of those books, and I am pleased to announce that the books have arrived and are ready to be checked out. This small list includes library call numbers. For now, you can find these books in the new books shelf in the library's reading room area in the second floor. After that, they will be moved to their regular location in the third floor general stacks. The list then:
- Francisco Ayala, Darwin's Gift to Science and Religion (QH375 .A93 2007). Ayala is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a biologist at UC Irvine. He writes about evolution with an eye to reconcile science and religion. For some readers, Ayala may be a bit more calm in tone than writers like Richard Dawkins. Publishers' Weekly says that this book "provides the single best introduction to Darwin and the development of evolutionary biology now available."
- Matthew Chapman, 40 Days and 40 Nights: Darwin, Intelligent Design, God, Oxycontin, and Other Oddities on Trial in Pennsylvania (KF228 .K589 2007). This is the book about the Dover trial written by Charles Darwin's great-great grandson, who is also a successful screenwriter. He argues that intelligent design should be taught in schools, but not for the reasons some readers may think. His reason: "as an exercise in removing the kid gloves with which religion is treated in this country, science teachers should demolish ID before their pupils' eyes" (from Publishers' Weekly). The book is an excellent report on the Dover trial.
- Edward Humes, Monkey Girl: Evolution, Education, Religion, and the Battle for America's Soul (QH362 .H86 2008). Humes is a Pulitzer prize winner who in this book takes complex scientific ideas and makes them more accessible to the general reader. The book also looks at the Dover trial and science education. The author's novelistic style makes for compelling reading.
- Kenneth R. Miller, Finding Darwin's God: a Scientist's Search for Common Ground between God and Evolution (BT712 .M55 2002). This is another book that tries to reconcile religion with evolution. Miller, a biology professor at Brown University, looks at the science, but he also explains the different sides in the issue from other scientists' aggressive reaction to religious believers to the fervent opposition of many religious believers to evolution.
- Neil Shubin, Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5 billion-year History of the Human Body (QM26 .S58 2009). Shubin is a fish paleontologist who looks at how the human body evolved to its current state. Shubin explains why he was able to write this book, "It turns out that being a paleontologist is a huge advantage in teaching human anatomy. Why? The best roadmaps to human bodies lie in the bodies of other animals. The simplest way to teach students the nerves in the human head is to show them the state of affairs in sharks. The easiest roadmap to their limbs lies in fish. Reptiles are a real help with the structure of the brain. The reason is that the bodies of these creatures are simpler versions of ours." Read about Dr. Shubin's fieldwork and learn more about the human body in this adventurous book.
- Carl Zimmer, Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea (QH361 .Z48 2006). Zimmer explores the history and future of the idea of evolution, showing that it is not "just a theory" as opponents tend to sneer. This book is a companion to the PBS series of the same title. By the way, the library does have the PBS Evolution series on DVD (we bought it bundled with the NOVA documentary Judgment Day, the film we presented for Darwin Day). Here is the call number for the Evolution DVD set: QH367 .E96 2008. Judgment Day call number is QH362 .J83 2008. Note that DVDs are kept in the Circulation Area and have to be requested.