Care2 will go offline for site maintenance July 31 at 9pm PST.
START A PETITION 25,136,189 members: the world's largest community for good
Group Discussions
| track thread
« Back to topics
Book recommendations
9 years ago
| Hot!
In this thread, group members may recommend books that deal with the creation-evolution controversy. Here are my first recommendations:

"The Origin of Species" by Charles Darwin, 1859. ANY studies of evolution must include this, which is full of recorded observations and arguments regarding the credibility of evolution as opposed to creationism.

"Darwin's Ghost: The Origin of Species Updated" by Steve Jones, 1999. Since most present day readers may find both the language and the historical references of the original work by Darwin to be confusing, Jones completely rewrote the book in present day language and added more modern historical references as well as scientific findings made since Darwin's time.

"Science on Trial: The Case for Evolution" by Douglas J. Futuyma, 1982. This was published when political conservatives under Ronald Reagan (who himself endorsed Creationism) threatened to impose through acts of state legislations the teaching of Creationism in public classrooms.

"Scientists Confront Creationism", edited by Laurie R. Godfrey, 1983. Another response to the wave of American conservatism in the early 1980s.

May I also add
9 years ago

The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design

by Richard Dawkins, 1986

One of the most famous arguments of the creationist theory of the universe is the eighteenth-century theologian William Paley's: Just as a watch is too complicated and too functional to have sprung into existence by accident, so too must all living things, with their far greater complexity, be purposefully designed. But as Richard Dawkins, professor of zoology at Oxford University, demonstrates in this brilliant and eloquent riposte to the Argument from Design, the analogy is false. Natural selection, the unconscious, automatic, blind yet essentially non-random process that Darwin discovered, has no purpose in mind. If it can be said to play the role of watchmaker in nature, it is the blind watchmaker.

Patiently and lucidly, Dr. Dawkins - in this book which has been acclaimed as perhaps the most influential work on evolution written in this century - identifies those aspects of the theory which people find hard to believe and removes the barrier to credibility one by one.

New book!
9 years ago
The Atlas of Life on Earth by Dougal Dixon, Ian Jenkins, Richard Moody, and Andrey Zhuravlev, 2004.
This is an incredibly detailed work about how life has evolved throughout the history of Earth. Both the maps of Earth in the past and the charts showing how organisms may have evolved are really stunning!

9 years ago

Anything by Stephen Jay Gould -- he is by far my favorite author (I cried when he died a few years ago from cancer).  His books include:

Ever Since Darwin

The Mismeasure of Man

Hen's Teeth and Horse' Toes

The Panda's Thumb

Bully For Brontosaurs

9 years ago

Oops!  I didn't notice that you only wanted books that talk about the creationism-evolution debate. 

As it turns out, most of Stephen Jay Gould's books are compilations of his articles, so they deal with a wide range of subjects (I haven't read all of the books yet, so I cannot speak for all of the books).  And, off the top of my head, I know that he does write about the creationism-evolution debate in Ever Since Darwin and in Bully For Brontosaurus, so there may be articles about this topic in his other books as well.

No problem, Valerie.
9 years ago
If a book refers to evolution and is by a scientist who is a well known evolutionist, like Carl Sagan, it is welcome here too.

Here's another great example:
The Dragons of Eden, Speculations of the Evolution of Human Intelligence, by Carl Sagan, 1977.
A true classic, with most of the information in it still useful today. Discusses possible causes of various human traits, such a right-handedness being more common than left-handedness, or what purpose dreams may serve, or how language may have developed in our ancestors.
Another new book!
9 years ago
Just a Theory: Exploring the Nature of Science
by Moti Ben-Ari, 2005.
This book provides an explanation of terms and issues relating to what is really science and what isn't. Includes references to evolution, Creationism and Intelligent Design. This book contains some highly technical language and mathmatical equations.
An older historical reference
9 years ago
THE CREATION CONTROVERSY: Science or Scripture in the Schools, by Dorothy Nelkin, 1982
This book takes a critical look at what the Creationists were doing from the 1960's to the 1980's and identified in detail the leaders and organizations promoting Creationism. This book is useful today for comparing the Creationist movement then with the Intelligent Design movement now.
8 years ago

EVOLUTION VS. CREATIONISM: An Introduction, by Eugenie C. Scott, 2004

This is THE book to get if you want to know the latest details about the controversy, as well as a comprehensive history of the Creationist movement. Deals with many misconceptions that still confuse the public and illustrates Creationist arguments in explicit detail. Scott is the Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education.

8 years ago

"INTELLIGENT THOUGHT: Science Verses the Intelligent Design Movement" edited by John Brockman, 2006

This book is to the present day what "Scientists Confront Creationism" was to the 1980's. Of course, comparing the two books only supports the assumption that Intelligent Design is simply Creationism in different clothing!

8 years ago

WHY DARWIN MATTERS: The Case Against Intelligent Design, by Micheal Shermer, 2006

Written by a former Creationist and evangelical Christian who now is editor-in-chief of Skeptic, the magazine he founded, this book illustrates that not all our current opponents need be seen at the enemy. Some merely need to be educated better!

8 years ago

The Triumph of Evolution…And the Failure of Creationism by Niles Eldredge (Hardcover - 2000)

Paperback ISBN:0805071474
Pub. Date: December 2001

I love this book, and I believe it to be an important read. But why listen to boring ol' me. Read what notable critics had to say...

Stephen Jay Gould
I can't imagine a better book by a finer scientist and writer on a more vital and contemporary subject. Eldredge refutes creationism with the best tools of scientific facts and logic but then shows how all good science cannot debase, but can only complement, our search to find ethical values and to grasp the meaning of our existence.

David L. Hull
The separation of church and state to one side, should Bible stories be taught in biology courses as if they are on a par with the results of a century and a half of genuine science? Eldredge argues, no, but he also realizes that politics, not cogent arguments, are the essence of this conflict. In this book, Eldredge confronts the usual nonsense that creationists try to pass off as science, but more importantly, he presents the grandeur that characterizes the evolutionary view of life. Evolutionary biology is genuinely scientific, but more than that it opens the door to a world more marvelous than any Christian fundamentalist has ever read into the pages of the Bible.

Kenneth R. Miller
The Triumph of Evolution destroys any notion that evolution is a theory in crisis or that science is a closed activity driven by philosophical agenda. Niles Eldredge's hard-hitting book makes it clear that the ultimate motivation for doing evolutionary science is neither cultural, nor religious, nor political. Rather, in the best tradition of human inquiry, it is the search for truth. There is, in his plainly-stated view, an objective reality, a genuine and natural world that invites our inquiry and rewards our efforts to understand. Throughout his career, Niles Eldredge has been a scientific leader, analyzing the ebb and flow of great biological dramas that have played out over millions of years of natural history. With this lucid and convincing book, he also takes a leading position in the modern struggle for rationality and common sense.

8 years ago

Not in Our Classrooms: Why Intelligent Design is Wrong for Our Schools
edited by Eugenie C. Scott and Glenn Branch

"If you're concerned about scientific literacy, read this book. The authors of Not in Our Classrooms are authorities on the various battles fought over the teaching of evolution--biology's fundamental discovery."
--Bill Nye the Science Guy
8 years ago

Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea, by Carl Zimmer, 2001

Includes an introduction by Stephen Jay Gould. This book details the struggle of evolution as a concept to gain acceptance in the 19th Century, and illustrates how it has been applied by scientists ever since those difficult times. It also exposes Intelligent Design as a shallow anti-evolution dogma and details court battles in the United States referring to evolution and "Creation science".

8 years ago
The origin of humankind: Unearthing of our family - by Richard Leakey is quite a nice easy to read book people interested in human evolution. Probably a bit dated now (its from 1994). Actually I became a big fan of Richard Leakey after watching a BBC series called The Making of Mankind, created by him. The images have remained in my mind ever since I saw the series as a young boy - a treat for anyone interested in human evolution.
8 years ago
Dale, what would one book would you recommend as a starting point for reading about evolution?
William K
8 years ago

For an introduction to evolution, you can't get much better than Darwin's Ghost, The Origin of Species Updated, which is mentioned above.

8 years ago
Thanks, I'll certainly check it out soon. When are you going to publish your book? You have so much information here! I remember seeing a link to your essays. Is that still available?
8 years ago

Of course, William! My list of essays on evolution is red pinned and is always available, but is also a work in progress that I add to occationally as the inspiration hits me to write. And there are many good references on the internet regarding evolution as well.

Links to information on evolution

List of essays about evolution written by Dale Husband

You should go here too:

Special essays by Brian E (aka Spark E)

A short history of creation "science"

8 years ago

The Creationists: From Scientific Creationism to Intelligent Design, Expanded Edition, by Ronald L. Numbers, 1992


A few recommendations
8 years ago

Philip Kitcher  Abusing Science: The Case Against Creationism. MIT Press, 1982 (paperback 1983). ISBN 0-262-61037-X   This book takes apart creationist claims, which haven't ever really changed much, and also has a good discussion about exactly what science is, from the point of view of a philosopher. 

Douglas J. Futuyma Evolutionary Biology. 3rd ed. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, Massachusetts. (dated 1998, published 1997) ISBN 0-87893-189-9   This is an excellent undergrad textbook with great substantial evidence to shoot down creationist's claims.  You might not want to read it all, and some bits are fairly technical, but it's understandable even if you skip around.

Michael Ghiselin, "The Triumph of the Darwinian Method" first publishes 1969, with new intro 1984, also. 2003 publication.  I haven't seen the 2003 edition and don't know if it has changed. I read the 1984 edition all the way through two years ago after reading parts from time to time earlier.  Ghiselin read ALL of Darwin's published work, a titanic undertaking, the barnacle books alone were about 2000 pages.  Ghiselin shows how Darwin transformed science, and how all of his works fit into a grand scheme.  Ghiselin doesn't waste any space on the creationists in this book. 

See also:
"The Illogic of Creationism" An Essay Review  by Michael T. Ghiselin, a review of  "Evolution: A Theory In Crisis" by Michael Denton, Adler & Adler, Bethesda, MD 1986,$19.95
This wonderful, amusing, and concise essay is available on the web at:

Since I've just joined this group, I'll try to introduce myself.  I'm a chemist by education, but I've been reading about evolution, natural history, and geology for a few decades.  I don't really have the energy to engage in long-winded arguments with people who refuse to understand evolutionary science, but I am interested in educating people about evolution, as well as delving deeper into evolutionary science.

8 years ago

The Encyclopedia of Evolution: Humanity's Search for Its Origins, by Richard Milner, 1990

Contains thousands of little known facts about all sorts of issues relating to evolution.

Scientists Confront Intelligent Design and Creationism
7 years ago

The book sold on

This is an updated version of the original "Scientists Confront Creationism" recommended earlier in this thread. Original editor Laurie R. Godfrey is now joined by Andrew J. Petto.

7 years ago

The Counter-Creationism Handbook, by Mark Isaak, 2005

Has a long, long list of Creationist claims, ordered according to type, and then the responses to those claims. You may also find this on the web as:

7 years ago

Deception by Design: The Intelligent Design Movement in America  

By Lenny Flank, Jr.  ISBN 978-0-9791813-0-6 .  Hardcover 6x9, 244pp.  .   

A history of the anti-evolution "Intelligent Design" movement in the US, from the Scopes trial in 1925, through the rise of creation "science" in the 1980's, to the rise of intelligent design "theory" in the 1990's. Appendix includes the Wedge Document, a leaked internal document which spells out the theocratic political goals of the Intelligent Design movement.  

Buy this book now from Amazon.Com

7 years ago
Thanks very much for all the book info, I just sent for "Darwin's Ghost, The Origin of Species Updated" at, cost me $3.92 and shipping. I am and always have been a firm beleiver in evolution and also study into solar mutation, the change in life on earth caused by the suns natural cycles every so many thousands of years altering and killing off different species.
Science, Evolution, and Creationism
7 years ago


How did life evolve on Earth? The answer to this question can help us understand our past and prepare for our future. Although evolution provides credible and reliable answers, polls show that many people turn away from science, seeking other explanations with which they are more comfortable.

In the book, Science, Evolution, and Creationism, a group of experts assembled by the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine explain the fundamental methods of science, document the overwhelming evidence in support of biological evolution, and evaluate the alternative perspectives offered by advocates of various kinds of creationism, including "intelligent design." The book explores the many fascinating inquiries being pursued that put the science of evolution to work in preventing and treating human disease, developing new agricultural products, and fostering industrial innovations. The book also presents the scientific and legal reasons for not teaching creationist ideas in public school science classes.

Mindful of school board battles and recent court decisions, Science, Evolution, and Creationism shows that science and religion should be viewed as different ways of understanding the world rather than as frameworks that are in conflict with each other and that the evidence for evolution can be fully compatible with religious faith. For educators, students, teachers, community leaders, legislators, policy makers, and parents who seek to understand the basis of evolutionary science, this publication will be an essential resource.

New Textbook
6 years ago

I would like to call the members' attention to a wonderful new (2007) textbook on evolutionary biology.  It is entitled simply, Evolution and it has been written jointly by Nicolas H. Barton and a number of other authors.  It has been published by Cold Springs Harbor Laboratory Press.  The book does an excellent job in introducing the student to all aspects of evolutionary biology.   The first part of the book is devoted to the history of evolutionary thinking and the evidence for the evolutionary process.  This part also deals with misconceptions that students (mostly in the U.S.) have concerning evolution and "Intelligent Design."  An up-to-date discussion of the origin and diversification of life is the subject of the second part.  Finally, the last half of the textbook covers the genetic mechanisms of evolution, including a good explanation of speciation.  In sum, this is an excellent new textbook that deserves a closer look by all of us interested in evolution education.

An Annotated Bibliography in Honor of Darwin’s 200th Birthday
6 years ago
5 years ago

Richard Dawkins does it again!

4 years ago

Evolution: The Story of Life

by Douglas Palmer, illustrated by Peter Barrett, 2009


A lavishly illustrated book detailing the latest findings about evolution and paleontology as well as their history. A masterpiece!

4 years ago

i cant believe it isn't already on here;
but this book changed my life and the way i view the world,
it shaped most of my beliefs:

ISHMAEL, by Daniel Quinn.
Also by Quinn:
My Ishmael
The Story of B
Beyond Civilization


Free evolution book downloads from the NCSE
3 years ago


The National Center for Science Education has since 2009 been offering free PDF downloads of chapters from a variety of books related to evolution. The most recent is The Evolutionary World: How Adaptation Explains Everything from Seashells to Civilization.

Here’s their list of past offerings that are still available:

Am I a Monkey? (Johns Hopkins University Press) by Francisco J. Ayala

Charles Darwin’s On the Origin Of Species: A Graphic Adaptation (Rodale) by Michael Keller

The Darwin Archipelago (Yale University Press) by Steve Jones

The Darwinian Tourist (Oxford University Press) by Christopher Wills

Darwin’s Lost World (Oxford University Press) by Martin Brasier

Part 2
3 years ago

Darwin’s Armada: Four Voyages and the Battle for the Theory of Evolution (WW Norton) by Iain McCalman

Darwin’s Universe: Evolution from A to Z (UC Press) by Richard Milner

Evidence of Evolution (Abrams Books) by Susan Middleton and Mary Ellen Hannibal

The Evidence for Evolution (University of Chicago Press) by Alan R. Rogers

Evolution, 2nd Edition (Sinauer Associates) by Douglas J. Futuyma

Evolution, Creationism, and the Battle to Control America’s Classrooms (Cambridge University Press) by Berkman and Plutzer

Evolution vs. Creationism, 2nd edition (Greenwood) by Eugenie C. Scott

Evolution: How We and All Living Things Came to Be (Kids Can Press) by Daniel Loxton

Part 3
3 years ago

Evolution: The Story of Life (UC Press) by Douglas Palmer

Evolution: The Story of Life on Earth (Hill and Wang) by Jay Hosler. Illustrated by Kevin Cannon and Zander Cannon

The Fossil Hunter (Palgrave Macmillan) by Shelley Emling

In the Light of Evolution: Essays from the Laboratory and Field (Roberts & Company Publishers) edited by Jonathan B. Losos

Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution (W.W. Norton) by Nick Lane

Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming (Bloomsbury Press) by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway

The Missing Link: An Inquiry Approach for Teaching All Students About Evolution (Heinemann) by Lee Meadows

Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk (University Of Chicago Press) by Massimo Pigliucci

Part 4
3 years ago

The Origin Then and Now: An Interpretive Guide to the Origin of Species (Princeton University Press) by David N. Reznick

Principles of Life (Sinauer Associates) by Hillis, Sadava, Heller, and Price

Stones & Bones (Polebridge Press Norton) by Char Matejovsky and Robaire Ream

Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America’s Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion (Basic Books) by Edward J. Larson

The Tangled Bank (Roberts and Company) by Carl Zimmer

Written in Stone: Evolution, the Fossil Record, and Our Place In Nature (Bellevue Literary Press) by Brian Switek