The Plausibility of Life

The Plausibility of Life

Resolving Darwin's Dilemma

Book - 2005
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In the 150 years since Darwin, the field of evolutionary biology has left a glaring gap in understanding how animals developed their astounding variety and complexity. The standard answer has been that small genetic mutations accumulate over time to produce wondrous innovations such as eyes and wings. Drawing on cutting-edge research across the spectrum of modern biology, Marc Kirschner and John Gerhart demonstrate how this stock answer is woefully inadequate. Rather they offer an original solution to the longstanding puzzle of how small random genetic change can be converted into complex, useful innovations.

In a new theory they call "facilitated variation," Kirschner and Gerhart elevate the individual organism from a passive target of natural selection to a central player in the 3-billion-year history of evolution. In clear, accessible language, the authors invite every reader to contemplate daring new ideas about evolution. By closing the major gap in Darwin's theory Kirschner and Gerhart also provide a timely scientific rebuttal to modern critics of evolution who champion "intelligent design."
Publisher: New Haven : Yale University Press, c2005.
ISBN: 9780300108651
Branch Call Number: 576.8 KIRSCHNE
Characteristics: xiii, 314 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.
Additional Contributors: Gerhart, John 1936-


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Apr 13, 2013

This fascinating book examines how evolution by variation and natural selection could produce the novelty and complexity seen in living things. The book takes the reader down to the building blocks of life with the latest scientific knowledge on cellular and molecular mechanisms. It's a course in modern biology that most people will find very readable. A refreshing feature of this book is that it does not digress from science when discussing evolution. There are no anti-religious pronouncements or "proofs" for atheism. At the end of the book, there's an excellent scientifically-based argument against intelligent design. The authors also take the trouble to point out that not all religious people are at war with evolution, even quoting from the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1909 that evolution “is in agreement with Christian view of the the greater glory of God’s Divine power and wisdom”.


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