This days I read some debates on evolution. That made me more interested to read something reliable on topic - I mean books.

I'm christian - although I think it doesn't matter on that topic - and I would like to read a book that presents all weaknesses and strengths (as much as possible) of evolution. I want that not to be presented as a debate on creationism, but to be a book on evolution theory explanation and presentation.

I also would appreciate if you know to give some details about the author that wrote the recommended book. I mean if he/she is atheist or a christian or a skeptic.


7 Answers 7


You won't find a good book that presents the 'weaknesses' of the theory of evolution, and for good reason. There has to date been no convincing challenge to the theory, whilst it has been supported by experimental and circumstantial evidence as well as clear logic over and over and over again, as well as actually being observed taking place numerous times. The closest to what looking for is a book which presents our best understanding of how evolution works, or which discusses competing ideas about how evolution works - there's no question about whether it works.

The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins, whilst it contains some errors, has some very clear thinking about evolution in it, and in particular explains why group selection is a misguided idea.

The Logic of Chance: The Nature and Origin of Biological Evolution by Eugene Koonin is a more up-to-date coverage of our current understanding of evolution, in particular with insights from modern genomics.

There are plenty of terrible books about the weaknesses of evolution, but they are deeply flawed. Pick one and I'll be happy to debunk it for you.

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    $\begingroup$ I really liked "Almost Like a Whale" by Steve Jones. He revisits the Origin of Species with 150 years of molecular biology - Darwin's logic all fits with the findings, and makes for an excellent read (far easier to get your teeth into that the original). Apparently the title refers to Darwin's observation that a bear, swimming in a lake and catching insects in its mouth, might conceivably evolve over time into a creature "almost like a whale". $\endgroup$
    – Luke
    Commented Jul 19, 2012 at 8:22
  • $\begingroup$ Hi @Richard, I would only have a question. During my research, I found one claimed weakness of evolution theory from which it is deduced evolution more like a kind of belief, not like a scientific proved fact. This would be the fact that there are no transitional fossils. I also, in some poor research that I made, I found out that absolute dating is note quite reliable, and also it creates possibility of many more interpretations. Any suggestions on those two topics? (Especially scientific works that would treat this topic.) $\endgroup$
    – artaxerxe
    Commented Nov 17, 2015 at 20:17
  • $\begingroup$ N.B. I don't want to challenge you, although maybe that's an implication of my question. I'm mainly in search of some material on this issue that makes approaches from a scientific point of view as much as possible. Thanks. :). $\endgroup$
    – artaxerxe
    Commented Nov 17, 2015 at 20:18
  • $\begingroup$ @artaxerxe A little late, but I felt compelled in case others visit here. It's worth noting first that fossils are not the strongest evidence for evolution; rather, they provide pleasant corroboration for other fields and are easier to explain to non-scientists. That being said, the number of transitional fossils is still quite large. E.g. see [[1]](en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_transitional_fossils), [[2]](transitionalfossils.com), [[3]](rationalwiki.org/wiki/List_of_transitional_forms). $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 31, 2017 at 19:00
  • $\begingroup$ Its not a book but the stated clearly series, statedclearly.com/videos/what-is-evolution it probably the best short clear summation of evolution I have ever seen, the berkeley understanding evolution site which is based in their book is more in-depth and also amazing. evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/home.php $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Jan 30, 2020 at 20:29

Almost anything by Richard Dawkins would be excellent value. I especially like his Climbing Mount Improbable as a short but gripping account of why evolution can achieve such astoundingly complex results.

Richard Dawkins (from my link above)

Richard Dawkins taught zoology at the University of California at Berkeley and at Oxford University and is now the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford.

He is definitely an atheist.


Two recommendations:

1 - The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. This is a very accessible book, filled with clear explanations and examples, and conveys the wealth of evidence that Darwin collected as he developed his theory. It includes a chapter on issues that people might see as "weaknesses", and convincing explanations as to why they are not.

Darwin began life as a Unitarian, and considered a career as a minister. By the end of his life he had no belief in God.

2 - The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins, mentioned several times above.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 for The Blind Watchmaker. As for The Origin of Species, I haven't read it myself, but I suspect something more modern, such as the Selfish Gene, is better suited for an introduction. $\endgroup$
    – a06e
    Commented Jul 19, 2012 at 20:19
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    $\begingroup$ I found The Origin of Species quite readable, but our understanding has developed somewhat since the 1850s. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 19, 2012 at 20:29
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    $\begingroup$ The Voyage of the Beagle I would also add. $\endgroup$
    – shigeta
    Commented Jul 20, 2012 at 4:11

Another book by Dawkins which I find quite excellent is The Greatest Show on Earth. Unfortunately, you might find it a bit preachy in episodes since Dawkins gets – rightfully! – exasperated with some vocal, stupid critics.

Nevertheless, it’s a very compelling and interesting read, especially since it tackles some very complementary avenues of evidence for evolution. A similar outline is followed by Sean B. Carroll in The Making of the Fittest although he clearly focuses on the most compelling evidence for evolution: DNA – hence the subtitle: “DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution”.

I have no idea whether Carroll is religious or atheist – but shouldn’t that be strictly irrelevant?


Evolution is only fun when it is used to try to explain something. So to depart from the theme of Dawkins-books, consider:

Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin

Shub is a Professor of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, Associate Dean of Organismal Biology and Anatomy and Professor on the Committee of Evolutionary Biology at the University of Chicago. He is famous for disocovering the Tiktaalik roseae or 'fish-with-hands'. The reason the book is fun is that it not only explains the basics of evolution, it uses it to show you something: why the human body is the way it is.


I also recommend Jerry Coyne's book, "Why Evolution is True."

As an introductory text book, I recommend "Evolution" by Douglas J. Futuyma. This is a very good introductory book covers almost everything about evolution. It aims to give you an overview not the detail.


The Ancestor's Tale .

This is an utterly, utterly fascinating book.


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