Science has historically been positioned, or at least perceived, as an opponent of religion. Though, as time moves on, many scientific discoveries that were once considered heretical have now been embraced by the church as an accepted part of their theology. Many of these discoveries were first put forth in dense academic tomes that were difficult for the average person to comprehend, but in modern times science has been popularized and made more consumable. These are some of the most popular science books of the modern day that are still considered controversial by more conservative religions.
10. Why Evolution Is True by Jerry A. Coyne
Evolution vs Creation is one of the longest running conflicts between science and religion. Jerry Coyne's relatively recent book is directed at skeptics of the theory of evolution. It is a very light and easy to read introduction to evolution and outlines exactly why it is accepted as true in the scientific community (and increasingly in the general population).
9. Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin
Neil Shubin presents some very interesting details about evolution in the context of your relationship to your common ancestors in his book, Your Inner Fish. As the title might suggest, you are introduced to various features of human biology that can be traced back directly to fish, reptiles, and ape ancestors. The book's central thesis is that Creationism simply cannot explain many human biological features, whereas evolution can.
8. The Greatest Show On Earth by Richard Dawkins
This list would not be complete without a book from one of the foremost critics of religion, Richard Dawkins. Dawkins scientific background is in biology and he has made it his life's work to educate the public about the wonders of evolution. This is one of Dawkins' more recent publications and it serves as a deeper dive into the mechanisms of evolution.
7. Cosmos by Carl Sagan
Published as a supplementary book to the educational television series of the same name, Cosmos presents a wonder-filled overview of the universe and our place in it. It is a timeless piece that inspired a generation to take up careers in science and technology. Sagan's passion for the universe is on full display as he explains how our planet is an ancient cosmic accident, much to the dismay of religious fundamentalists who believe that the Earth is only 6,000 years old.
6. The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins
Richard Dawkins' extensive career in biology and science communication deserves a second mention on this list. The Selfish Gene is one of his first publications and it still holds up to this day. Dawkins focuses his efforts here on explaining the intricacies of DNA as opposed to how previous works by other authors on evolution focused more on the organisms or species more generally.
5. The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow
Hawking has said, "One can't prove that God doesn't exist, but science makes God unnecessary." Throughout this book Hawking and Mlodinow explain how the fundamentals of physics alone can explain the origins of the universe. With subject matter than can be difficult to understand without a PhD, these iconic authors somehow make it infinitely approachable and fascinating.
4. A Universe From Nothing by Lawrence M. Krauss
Lawrence Krauss makes a compelling argument here that the classical idea of "nothing" may not be even possible. According to Krauss, in physics, the state of "nothingness" at the beginning of time and space was perfectly suited for creating everything that now exists. It's a common thread among astrophysicists to insist that there is simply no need for a creator.
3. Astrophysics For People In A Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
Neil deGrasse Tyson has quickly risen through the ranks of science personalities of the 21st century, but he stands on the shoulders of those before him. Notably, Carl Sagan, whose Cosmos series Tyson relaunched in 2014. Astrophysics For People In A Hurry is Tyson's wonderful, bite-sized approach to explaining some of the most complex phenomena in the universe.
2. A Brief History Of Time by Stephen Hawking
The modern era of popular-science writing owes a lot to Stephen Hawking. If you've ever wanted to learn about quarks or quantum mechanics, this is the place to start. There is a reason that it sold more than 10 million copies in 20 years. And there is a reason that Hawking's statements are still contentious with religious institutions today.
1. A Short History Of Nearly Everything
You may not know his name compared to the other authors on this list, but Bill Bryson has crafted a concise and wide-reaching science title that has exploded in popularity. In a style more similar to travel guides, Bryson walks the reader through multiple scientific areas of study including evolution, chemistry, and physics. In nearly every chapter you will find something that the churches of the world once deemed heretical, and perhaps still do.
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