EFE: Booklist

Wilson, the author of Darwin’s Cathedral (2002), tends to approach evolution from slightly offbeat angles. Describing himself as simply an evolutionist (rather than an evolutionary biologist, or some other qualifier), he uses the principles of evolution to understand “all things human.” Can evolutionary theory explain the horizontal-vertical dimensions in religion (“out there” versus “up there”)? Is there a genetic basis for the human desire to dance? Is there an evolutionary explanation for the simplest human traits, such as laughter? The author describes his book as a “journey from the origin of life to human morality and religion,” and that sums it up pretty nicely. Sure to be derided or condemned by some evolutionary specialists–especially those who live in the Ivory Archipelago, Wilson’s “home” for scientists who microscopically examine Darwin’s theory while ignoring its larger, real-world implications–the book is nevertheless ambitious, thoughtful, and intellectually stimulating. Readers will agree or disagree with Wilson to varying degrees, but they will all agree on one thing: he makes you think hard about how we got the way we are.  – David Pitt

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