The Greatest Show on Earth
In "The Greatest Show on Earth", Richard Dawkins takes on creationists, including followers of 'Intelligent Design' and all those who question the fact of evolution through natural selection. Like a detective arriving on the scene of a crime, he sifts through fascinating layers of scientific facts and disciplines to build a cast-iron case.
Reviewed on 31st July 2010
I started reading this reluctantly, not because I disagree with its sentiment but because in previous books by Dawkins that I've read he has come across as a little too aloof and over the top. This book did contain a little too much overt criticism of what Dawkins describes as 'history deniers' - especially as these are exactly the people he claims to be writing this book for.
I got over my religious phase several years ago, and while I have returned to accepting evolution as scientific fact, this book is just what I, as a non-biologist, needed to explain the evidence it has left behind. Dawkins fills the book with examples from nature and the details of relevant studies and its hard not to want to know more. He knows exactly how much detail to go into though and stops before going to far. The level of science in the book is suitable for anyone regardless of their background.
What I think many readers will not like though is Dawkins choice of language. Not only is he very harsh to those who do not agree with evolution, but the language he uses comes across as written in a quite snooty tone. He uses lots of long words where shorter synonyms would do.
Each chapter deals with a separate aspect of the evidence, from fossils to molecular clocks and deals with each to a sufficient degree that the lay reader can understand the point.
I don't think that anti-evolutionists will be persuaded though. Dawkins is a fantastic teacher but only to those who already want to learn. I think those of sufficient religious inclination will find enough to put them off. Those who, like me, want to understand though will find this an excellent read. Great book - probably Dawkins best.