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Readings in evolution

Nicolle Rager Fuller / NSF
Scientific and religious leaders are sharing their thoughts on the influence of
Charles Darwin's ideas, 150 years after the publication of "The Origin of Species."

Charles Darwin's 200th birthday may now be history, but the story behind the origins of species continues to be told. In fact, you might be hearing more about "The Origin of Species" at church this weekend, right after the scriptural readings: More than 1,000 religious congregations around the world have signed up to give sermons on the theme of religion and science as part of the fourth annual Evolution Weekend.

The event, which has been attracting more interest from clerics every year, demonstrates the falsity of claims that religious belief and evolutionary theory are incompatible. One of the best things about the project's Web site is that you can peruse the sermons from past years - and easily make every weekend an Evolution Weekend if you wish.

To close off our coverage of Darwin Week, we provide a list of additional readings on the topic of evolution, including pointers to past recommendations from the Cosmic Log Used Book Club:

  • On the Web and in print: In honor of the Darwin birthday, as well as this year's 150th anniversary of the publication of "The Origin of Species," the National Science Foundation has put together an anthology on the current state of evolutionary theory titled "Evolution of Evolution." You can read it as a print publication on the Web, or take it in as a multimedia presentation. (And while we're on the topic of print on the Web, the "Darwin at 200" roundups from Seed magazine, Discover magazine, Science News and Scientific American are not to be missed.)

  • Fresh reads: Here are a few recently published works mentioned in Phillip Manning's weekly roundup of science books: "The Young Charles Darwin," by Keith Thomson; "Darwin's Sacred Cause: How a Hatred of Slavery Shaped Darwin's Views on Human Evolution," by Adrian Desmond and James Moore; "The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution," by Gregory Cochran and Henry Harpending; "The Well Dressed Ape: A Natural History of Myself," by Hannah Holmes; "Why Evolution Is True," by Jerry A. Coyne; "Banquet at Delmonico's: Great Minds, the Gilded Age and the Triumph of Evolution in America," by Barry Werth.

  • Human evolution: These Cosmic Log Used Book Club recommendations have been around for a while, but they're still fresh enough to give you a sense of what science has learned about human origins: "Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors," by Nicholas Wade; "The First Human: The Race to Discover Our Earliest Ancestors," by Ann Gibbons; "Lucy: The Beginnings of Humankind," by Donald Johanson. If you're looking for a brand-new look at human evolution, get ready for Johanson's latest, "Lucy's Legacy: The Quest for Human Origins."

  • More CLUB Club selections: The Cosmic Log Used Book Club highlights books with cosmic themes that have usually been around enough to become readily available at your local library or secondhand-book shop. Among past selections: "The Making of the Fittest," by Sean B. Carroll; "Evolution," Stephen Baxter's sweeping science-fiction epic; and our very first CLUB Club pick, "The Sparrow," a sci-fi novel by Mary Doria Russell that makes you think about how different intelligent species may or may not get along. (Are you listening, Mr. Neanderthal?) I'll add another CLUB Club selection to the list for this month: "Radical Evolution" by Joel Garreau, one of the books that inspired our own special report on "Fast Forward: The Future of Evolution."

  • Pharyngula's picks: Here are a few selections that P.Z. Myers, the biologist behind the Pharyngula blog, passed along last year: "Coming to Life" by Christiane Nusslein-Volhard; "Your Inner Fish" by Neil Shubin; "Bones, Rocks and Stars" by Chris Turney; and "Endless Forms Most Beautiful," another one by Sean B. Carroll. And then there's Carroll's latest, "Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origins of Species."

That should tide you over for the next week or so. I'll be spending some days out of the office, and the posting schedule will be significantly lighter than usual until I'm back at my desk on Feb. 23. So in the meantime, hit the books - and if you have other recommendations for evolutionary reading, post them as comments below. If I use your pick as a future CLUB Club selection, I'll send you a copy of "Remarkable Creatures."


For additional food for thought, take a look at these other Cosmic Log postings:

And for much, much more, search for Darwin on msnbc.com.