Evolution is not just about human origins, dinosaurs and fossils, says Binghamton University evolutionist David Sloan Wilson. It can also be applied to almost every aspect of human life, as he demonstrates in his first book for a general audience, Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin's Theory Can Change the Way We Think About Our Lives (Bantam Press 2007).
Using witty, straightforward language and compelling anecdotes, Wilson outlines the basic principles of evolution in a way that can be easily understood by non-experts. He then uses the principles to explain phenomena as diverse as why beetles commit infanticide, why dogs have curly tails, and why people laugh and make art.
Wilson, a distinguished professor of biological sciences with a joint appointment in anthropology at Binghamton University, is convinced that evolution can become more widely accepted once its consequences for human welfare are appropriately understood.
"When evolution is presented as unthreatening, explanatory, and useful, it can be easily grasped and appreciated by most people, regardless of their religious or political beliefs and without previous training," says Wilson.
Wilson directs a campus-wide evolutionary studies program called EvoS that is being adopted by other universities. His book is a distillation of his popular course of the same name. Wilson’s research exemplifies the explanatory scope of evolutionary theory. Originally trained as aquatic ecologist, he now publishes in anthropology, psychology, economics, and philosophy journals in addition to his biological research. His book Darwin's Cathedral: Evolution, Religion, and the Nature of Society (University of Chicago Press, 2002) attempts to bridge the ultimate gap between evolutionary theory and religion.
“Unlike the futile controversy over creationism and intelligent design, my dialogue with religious scholars and believers is cordial and productive,” Wilson reports.
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