The Greatest Show on Earth – Book Review

Reading The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins has been my first exposure to a literature (a popular science book in this case) that provides a thorough backed-by-evidence explanation of the theory of evolution. As a somewhat, unorthodoxly, religious person, I have not been in a denial of evolution prior reading the book. Honestly, I have gone through many online contents about the matter since I have been aware of it and I personally do not see any irresolvable irreconcilable clash between science, particularly in topics related to the theory of evolution, and my personal beliefs and practice of religion. It has been a very interesting read and evolution, in my opinion, is a must-understand topic to whoever has a STEM background.

I can say that the book has offered me a clear and a systematic list of evidences confirming that evolution is a fact. Dawkins’ rhetorical way of writing is greatly attractive and enjoyable. With a blend of wit and, somewhat, simplified semi-technical demonstrations of the propositions and their associated evidences, I think the book is neither very complicated nor very superficial for a layman. It is sufficient. Although the context is clear, I have referred to YouTube videos and have done some external readings for further details and to approach the topics presented from different angles.

The only thing that I have found irritating is when the author presents cases against the flawed intelligent design and the beneficent deity. The author wants to refute some of the claims made by the so called creationists to reinforce the case for evolution, and there is nothing wrong with that, but the author is sometimes caught extensively in such discussions and they turnout as a lengthy nagging. I have never been through many creationism vs. evolutionism debates since a long time but I do not personally confirm that the religious and indoctrinated individuals I live with in my Middle Eastern culture are proponents of the “intelligent designer” proposition rather than a “designer” proposition. I do not think the religious scriptures I am aware of explicitly explain the emergence of species, and in particular our human species, so that design flaws (Many so called flaws can be found here) can be attributed to God, if it is concluded from the religious scriptures that He created everything in one shot and not by means of something similar to evolution. I rather find some religious scriptures very metaphorical and symbolic regarding the emergence of species, making it inconclusive to tell whether there is a conflict between religious beliefs and the acknowledgement of evolution as a fact. God might have catalyzed evolution through first beings (i.e. species) to eventually have all these species with the so claimed flaws as traces of the evolution process. who knows?

The parts discussing the beneficent deity are philosophically extensive topics but Dawkins presents them in somewhat straw-man fallacy manner. Are all species expected to live in life without pain and suffering if we are to consider the topic from a religious perspective? I do not think that my religious beliefs has ever validated pain-free and suffer-free lifetime. Should species live in a “heaven on earth” status so can God be considered beneficent and omnipotent? I do not think religions advocate such notion, religions are much more complicated than the straw man Dawkins is trying to refute.

I highly recommend the book to whoever is interested in learning about evolution. I also highly recommend it to those opposing evolution. The book has indeed answered many of the questions I have had and has reinforced my stance regarding evolution.

4.5 out of 5

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