This book presents an ardent defense of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution against its many critics by one of the leading experts on this subject. Offering a clear and comprehensive exposition of the thinking of Darwin, Michael Ruse brings the story up to day, examining important issues such as the origins of life, the fossil record, the mechanism of natural selection, and rival theories such as punctuated equilibrium, the story of human evolution (including the recently found “hobbits,” Homo floresiensis), fraud in biological science, literary approaches to evolution, and the philosophical and religious implications of Darwinism, notably a discussion of Creationism and its modern day offshoot, Intelligent Design Theory. Ruse draws upon the most recent discoveries, but writes with a minimum of jargon. His book will appeal to many readers, from professional biologists to concerned citizens who worry that Darwinism is a naturalistic religion that is forced on school children in face of their own deeply held Christian convictions. Openly revealing his own beliefs, Ruse ‘s aim throughout is to present information and critical tools so that the reader can make informed decisions for him or herself.
1. Charles Darwin and his revolution; 2. The fact of evolution; 3. The origin of life; 4. The path of evolution; 5. The cause of evolution; 6. Limitations and restrictions; 7. Humans; 8. Fact or fiction?; 9. Dishonest science; 10. Philosophy; 11. Literature; 12. Religion.
"Anyone who wants to understand evolutionary theory and the fascinating issues that surround it, can find no better place than Michael Ruse's Darwinism and Its Discontents. He discusses the objections raised to evolutionary theory down through the most legitimate to those that are anything but legitimate. His discussions are fair, measured and informed. High school students, undergraduates and the public at large would find this book worth reading."
-David Hull, Northwestern University
"Of all the literally hundreds of books out there that claim to have the true, right or only line on Darwin, Ruse has the beating of them all. He shows the wonder in both the natural world and Darwin's efforts to understand it."
-Allan C. Hutchinson, Toronto Globe and Mail
"Darwinism and Its Discontents is vintage Ruse: clear, incisive, focused on fundamental and controversial topics, written with verve. Michael Ruse is a philosopher, comfortably at home with the biology, and sensitive to the religious controversies."
-Fancisco J. Ayala, University of California, Irvine
"Ruse is unique in his combined knowledge of evolutionary principles, history of science, philosophy, and theology, and he brings them all to bear with clarity and effect in evaluating the present-day status of evolutionary thought."
-Edward O. Wilson, Harvard University
"The enemies of a thorough-going Darwinism are many: fundamentalists who think it a damnable doctrine; social-constructionists who would drain away its blood; and even some evolutionary biologists who balk at taking the last step. Over the years, Michael Ruse has engaged them all with scholarship, intelligence, and wit--his most potent weapon. Now in a more synthetic mode, Darwinism and Its Discontents brilliantly marshals these instruments to disarm the recalcitrant and convince the fair minded. The book displays a humane thinker who yet flexes muscle and moxie."
-Robert J. Richards, University of Chicago
"Ruse, a well-known evolutionary historian and philosopher, defends Darwin from all comers, whether religious critics; those who have accused Darwin of being a second-rate scientist; or postmodernist critics who say science is a social construction and not objective truth...this should interest fans of the philosophy of science and readers caught up in the contemporary debate about evolution."
"Darwinism and Its Discontents is Ruse's most comprehensive look at Darwinism to date...He negotiates the terrains of history, philosophy, and theology well enough to offer cogent versions of the central issues and their multiple sides...For an introduction to the mainstream Darwinian view and its wider context, one might not find a better entrée than Ruse's account."
-Horace L. Fairlamb, University of Houston-Victoria, symploke
"Ruse is a skilled writer able to present the most intricate details of evolutionary theory in an understandable way. He is more than well-informed...this book offers a good selection and a relatively fair picture of standard criticisms of Darwinism...It should be read by anyone wishing to be introduced to or reminded of the 'state of the art' of the 'Darwin wars'. --Tomislav Bracanovic, University of Zagreb: Philosophy in Review