evolution and natural selection resources

Whenever I talk to someone about evolution and natural selection, I recommend that they read one of the many books available on the subject. My favorite is The Blind Watchmaker. But sometimes it’s not that easy for everyone to have access to these books.

Please post some good online resources as an alternative.

One of the more popular arguments used by anti-evolutionists is the supposed difficulty of order arising from chaos, and complexity from simplicity. Though not directly in the field of evolutionary theory, there is an analogue in the field of computation, specifically from the area concerned with cellular automata. This analogue, called John Conway’s Game of Life, shows how very rapidly order and complexity can come about from a complete mess. More than that, coordinated, self-replicating and/or motile arrangements often occur quite spontaneously.

In the analogue, it is convenient to think of the cellular automata as organisms, the playing field, including the cellular automata on it, as the environment, and the rules (being four very simple ones) by which they live, procreate or die as the laws of nature in that environment. An initial playing field arrangement that is completely random is commonly used. The energy for moving forward through the generations ultimately comes, as it does in real life on Earth, from the Sun.

The simulations become especially interesting when the rules are applied probabilistically, rather than rigidly adhered to, i.e. there is an individual probability assigned to each of the rules as to whether it is applied or not. Unfortunately, I know of no web-based simulator that permits this modification, but the results are even more surprising and illustrative.


There’s a lot of info here:
What is Science?
What is Evolution?

Understanding Evolution
No Answers in Genesis

http://www.talkorigins.org/ of course, although I find the site a bit chaotic :wink:

I have a copy of “The view from mount improbable” which is an extract from “Climbing mount improbable”. Short little book with just enough to get a person interested in the subject.
I think I paid R20 for it at Exclusive books.


An in-depth review: Of Pandas and People, the creationists’ “biology textbook.” This easy-to-read review gives ample descriptions of creationism’s failings, clearly outlines the more important evidence for evolution, and covers some history of the legal disputes between the two opposing camps.


Ernst Mayr: What Evolution Is with an introduction by Jared Diamond of Guns, Germs and Steel fame. This short interview touches conceptually on many of the issues facing evolutionary theory today, including the onslaught of creationism.


Just finished “Evolution. What the fossils say and why it matters” by Donald R Prothero. Should be compulsory reading material in every high school and church.

Lol Tweefo I can only hear the Ministers/Priests/Pastors say:
“Over my Dead body” ;D We can only wish :wink:

Creationism = Wilful Ignorance & Intelligent Design = Creationism in Drag.

Creationists are Wilfully Ignorant and Proud of it.


I am reading Dawkins’s “The Greatest Show on Earth” which became available a few days ago.

Excellent stuff and probably the best for non-biologists. There are chapters on “artificial” selection by human intervention (dogs and flowers) which places the rest of the material within the grasp of ordinary people like me.

I particularly enjoyed the explanation of Lenski’s now famous experiment with bacteria. I could not understand the experiment from reading the research paper, but after reading Dawkins, I do.

The book is not that pricey - I paid R240.00.

By the way - Dawkins’s site, http://richarddawkins.net, is a superb resource.

Hi Slowpoke - Welcome here. ;D

Good to know that The Greatest Show on Earth is worth reading. I was looking for that book just yesterday! From where did you pick up a copy?


Thanks, Mintaka

I picked mine up from Estoril Books in Cresta, Randburg. I ordered a copy weeks ago and they were kind enough to sms me when it arrived.

I also saw copies in Exclusive Books.

Astonishingly, neither bookstore gave it pride of place and it was simply added to the shelves as if it were nothing special - the book that has been No 1 in the UK for weeks!

I knew many of the arguments previously, but there is a lot more detail. Can you imagine that plate tectonics support the FACT of evolution? I must admit that the writing style is not as tight as I would have liked, but that is a personal preference and it does not detract from the value of the information and explanations for the uninitiated.

I am gorging myself and have just finished the chapter on DNA comparison. Fascinating.

Ta, will try Exclusive Books periodically.


I am currently reading Prothero’s book - Evolution: What the fossils say and why it matters, and I can fully agree with Tweefo - should be compulsory.

I am new to my interest in Paleontology, and I have not had any formal training in that field, but his book is well set out with the evidence, and point by point reasonable interpretations of that evidence. He also explains the provisional nature of science and clarifies the scientific understanding and usage of “theory” and “fact”.

I have been trying to prepare for battle with an Astronomer who has certain Creationist leanings - I am no Astrophysicist, but hell I’m trying (and learning along the way).

Astrophysics is rather difficult (for me at least) so when I searched for other scientific arguments against his position (to evaluate myself), it took me quite a while to find some.

This site seems great:

I have not read the entire site, but if you have an Astronomy Creationist battle on your hands, this may be a good start point.

I am no astrophysicist myself and had to “stretch” considerably to understand what this is all about. I found Hawking’s A Briefer History of Time very useful as I could understand (most ;D) of the material. The book is not pro- or anti anything, but very sound arguments can be found in it.

Some excellent non-book resources especially for teaching and/or preaching (?!) …

Amazing article in National Geographic November 2004 “Was Darwin Wrong?” The original publication is much better as it has some great images but otherwise it’s here - http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0411/feature1/fulltext.html

Also a useful PDF resource, very well presented for the layman from atheismresource.com - http://www.atheismresource.com/evolution

Especially the PDF - Top ten Myth of Evolution - concise and clear and of course indisputable :wink:http://atheismresource.com/wp-content/uploads/top-10-evolution-myths.pdf

Happy Darwin Day!

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