Darwin’s Dangerous Idea

I found this book walking through a random garage sale around 6 years ago. I picked it up thinking it would provide valuable insight into the theory of Darwinism. I was right, but boy was it a challenging read! 

An Honest Review:

This book took me 4 years to finish. Not because it’s long (it’s only 521 pages), but because it is hands down the most difficult book I’ve ever read. Daniel Dennett provides a subjective look at the hot topic of Darwinism vs. Creationism. He maintains a fairly “Switzerland” stance throughout this back and forth argument, which I found quite refreshing. While he does state his opinion on certain aspects, he maintains his search for what he seems to be cranes and sky-hooks. Cranes are described as segues or steps toward the truth, where sky-hooks represent the inexplicable. Dennett shares his knowledge with a little side of humor, which I found to be a nice break from the scientific explanations he provided.

I think it’s important to note that I do not have any scientific background nor education, and theocabulary used to write this book is insane. For the first half of the book I was whipping out my dictionary for every page. Using words like permutations, combinatorially, unscrupulous, and endogenously, I found it challenging to keep up with Dennett’s ideas, sometimes reading pages two or three times and still not being sure I understood it. Overall, I think that I would recommend this book to people with a strong passion for evolution.

What I Learned:

I learned so much within the context of this book, but the biggest thing I learned is how rewarding it can be to finish something that is challenging. I can’t count the amount of times I wanted to give up on this book, it was kind of my Everest, but I’m so very glad I didn’t.

Favorite Quote:

“I do not suggest that Darwinian thinking gives us answers to such questions; I do suggest that Darwinian thinking helps us see why the traditional hope of solving these problems is forlorn.”

Fun Fact:

Meme, while we know them today as funny pictures on social media, was actually a scientific term, coined by Richard Dawkins, to explain an item in cultural evolution where a learned behaviour can change the operational system of the human brain.

Related Reads:

On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin – For very obvious reasons. I wish I would have read the Origin of Species first so I had a better understanding of his theories going into this book, but I was already committed.

Book Credit:

Dennett, Daniel. (1995). Darwin’s Dangerous Idea: Evolutions and the Meaning of Life. New York, USA: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks.


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