It usually comes in a 2 volume set along with "The Descent of Man," and although it has been a while since I've read it you should find both books to be an interesting read. One doesn't need a strong biology background to enjoy and understand the book; however, you may find the writing style somewhat stiff and formal.
I'm reading it right now. I was a lover of the sciences - especially biology - in junior high school but didn't take any sciences in university so that might give you an idea of my level of interest/knowledge.
I'm finding Origin of the Species to be fine. It's quite plain language and not too dissimilar to current writing style. Well, not as dissimilar as I would have thought with it being written 150 years ago, anyway! :)
I'm about a third of the way through it. It's amazing what can be deduced with no knowledge of molecular genetics. As Dawkins says, Darwin had an encyclopedic knowledge of biology, but he leaves very little to assumption and always follows up concepts with several examples; it is highly referenced with real-world observation. There is a section on domestic pigeons toward the beginning that was a little difficult for me to follow, but don't let it stop you - it gets more engaging as you continue. You'll see that most creationist arguments are refuted within just this core text, including the infamous "complexity of the eye" quotemine the creationists are so fond of.
I've been reading about 10 different books at the same time, which is a summer thing for me.
A couple things I should have already read, but was too young to enjoy having forced on me: 'Ulysses,' by James Joyce; 'The Wasteland,' T. S. Eliot; 'In the Beauty of the Lilies,' John Updike.
I just finished reading 'How Stupid Are We,' by Rick Shenkman, which was brief, absorbing, and depressing. Then I read 'America Alone' by conservative blowhard Mark Steyn. Read this to be really terrified about the Muslim population explosion in Europe.
I met Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon at Princeton a few months ago, and I'm reading an anthology of his, 1968-1998; and a great book of poems called 'Still Life in Milford' by an undertaker called Thomas Lynch.
The big one that takes the most time is called 'A Short History of Nearly Everything,' by Bill Bryson. I actually learned about this book from the Atheist Forum at craigslist.com. It's a historical look at what we know, and how we know it, in just enough detail to be interesting but not overwhelming.
Hi everyone, what a great idea for a group.
Right now I'm reading Kids Who Think Outside The Box by Stephanie Learner, it's a really good book for those of us who are raising children who don't follow their conforming cohorts. There are a bunch of personal writings from successful people who are at the top of their fields and public figures who have shaped cultural consciousness. Among the contributors are Spike Lee, Sir Paul McCartney, PayPal founder Elon Musk, Oscar winning director Philippe Rousselot, and even Michael Bloomberg, plus many more.
I have all kinds of pages bookmarked to let my sons read them, there are so many inspirational stories directed at kids who don't always get a fair shake from peers.
I am currently reading "The New Kings of NonFiction" edited by Ira Glass as well as re-reading "Infinite Jest" one of my favorite books of all time. I know I have some other bookmarks hidden in the bookshelves somewhere but I can't recall... I'm getting old
My preferred reading device is now the Amazon Kindle and not an actual paper based book. It's a great ebook reader.
I just finished The Age of American Unreason by Susan Jacoby and The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives by Leonard Mlodinow. It's amazing how many people think random events are god's intervention. Both of these books are very interesting reads and are highly recommended.
Currently I'm dividing my time between Why Intelligent Design Fails: A Scientific Critique of the New Creationism and Philosophers without Gods: Meditations on Atheism and the Secular Life.
I agree that "Moral Minds" is an interesting read. He didn't convince me that morality is a lot like language in the way it is "learned" but I think that he is on the right track. There does appear to be a "basic" morality across many cultures that seems to be shaped and sharpened by cultural influences. This is fasinating research and books like this, the research papers that spawned this book, and ultimately the science that will be done in this area will begin help us understand our morality apart from the notion of an imaginary being in the sky.
BTW - That looks like a stogie in your hand. Do I see a fellow cigar lover?
I have not read "Moral Minds" but reading through your comment made me start thinking about universal features of morality. Humans being such a social species and evolving from social ancestors would have evolved specific features of group living. I would think that your hierarchical position within a group would determine what would be acceptable behavior. I am equating acceptable group behavior with morals. Not to get to detailed but morals in my opinion would only emerge when one interacts with other active agents on a regular basis. I suppose one could have implicit morals which steam from selfish genes but I am digress. The point I am trying to get at, I think, is that morals to me mean acceptable behaviors towards promoting prosocial interactions. And these prosocial behaviors would vary somewhat based on ones status within a group. A group leader would be able to better get away with taking others resources and killing in-group members. While a beta member of a group would have to face more serve punishment for engaging in such behaviors. I would argue that morals are adaptations toward group living and our own selfish interests. I agree that more science needs to be done to dismiss the assumption that morals come from supernatural agents. A good analytical route for this would be studying morals from a evolutionary perspective, but then again in my opinion I think that using a evolutionary perspective is paramount in studying almost all types of human behaviors.