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Distinguished Science Lecture Series Archives

The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution

Richard Dawkins, discussing his book The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution, begins by explaining that all of his previous books naïvely assumed the fact of evolution, which meant that he never got around to laying out the evidence that evolution is true. Dawkins also came to realize that a disturbingly large percentage of the American and British public didn’t share his enthusiasm for evolution. In fact, they actively abhorred the idea, since it seemed to contradict the Bible and diminish the role of God. So Dawkins decided to write a book for these history-deniers, in which he would dispassionately demonstrate the truth of evolution beyond sane, informed, intelligent doubt. If Charles Darwin walked into a 21st-century bookstore and wanted to know how his theory had fared, this is the book he should pick up. As Darwin famously noted, “There is grandeur in this view of life.” What Dawkins demonstrates is that this view of life isn’t just grand: it’s also undeniably true.

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