Zimmer on Dawkins
Richard Dawkins' new book, The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimmage to the Dawn of Evolution, is finally available. At 688 pages it is Dawkins longest effort to date. I can't wait to get a copy! For now, I guess I'll have to make-do with Carl Zimmer's characteristically insightful review for the New York Times. Zimmer's review is mostly positive, but also makes a few criticisms. Here's his conclusion:
Despite these shortcomings, this is an ambitious, important book rich with fascinating insights. Also, it couldn't come at a better time. Evolutionary trees have become the lingua franca of biology. Virus hunters draw them to find the origin of SARS and H.I.V. Conservation biologists draw them to decide which endangered species are in most urgent need of saving. Geneticists draw them to pinpoint the genes that have made us uniquely humans. Genome sequencers draw them to discover new genes that may lead to new technologies and medical treatments. If you want to understand these trees -- and through them, the nature of life -- The Ancestor's Tale is an excellent place to start.
ID proponents are fond of telling their supporters that evolutionary theory has more to do with atheistic propaganda than actual biology. As Zimmer points out, you have to be deeply ignorant of modern biology to defend that conclusion.