Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life (Google eBook)
"People of good will wish to see science and religion at peace. . . . I do not see how science and religion could be unified, or even synthesized, under any common scheme of explanation or analysis; but I also do not understand why the two enterprises should experience any conflict." So states internationally renowned evolutionist and bestselling author Stephen Jay Gould in the simple yet profound thesis of his brilliant new book.
Writing with bracing intelligence and elegant clarity, Gould sheds new light on a dilemma that has plagued thinking people since the Renaissance. Instead of choosing between science and religion, Gould asks, why not opt for a golden mean that accords dignity and distinction to each realm?
At the heart of Gould's penetrating argument is a lucid, contemporary principle he calls NOMA (for nonoverlapping magisteria)--a "blessedly simple and entirely conventional resolution" that allows science and religion to coexist peacefully in a position of respectful noninterference. Science defines the natural world; religion, our moral world, in recognition of their separate spheres of influence.
In elaborating and exploring this thought-provoking concept, Gould delves into the history of science, sketching affecting portraits of scientists and moral leaders wrestling with matters of faith and reason. Stories of seminal figures such as Galileo, Darwin, and Thomas Henry Huxley make vivid his argument that individuals and cultures must cultivate both a life of the spirit and a life of rational inquiry in order to experience the fullness of being human.
In his bestselling books Wonderful Life, The Mismeasure of Man, and Questioning the Millennium, Gould has written on the abundance of marvels in human history and the natural world. In Rocks of Ages, Gould's passionate humanism, ethical discernment, and erudition are fused to create a dazzling gem of contemporary cultural philosophy. As the world's preeminent Darwinian theorist writes, "I believe, with all my heart, in a respectful, even loving concordat between . . . science and religion."
From the Hardcover edition.
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
Stephen Jay Gould’s central theme in Rocks of Ages is that – far from being in eternal, irreconcilable conflict – science and religion are non-overlapping realms of human endeavor that proceed from different premises, ask different questions, and use different methods to seek answers. Not only are the two realms (he calls them “non-overlapping magisteria”), not in conflict, they cannot be in conflict. Episodes like the trial of Galileo in 1632 and the Scopes Trial of 1925 – routinely cited as major battles religion’s in eternal “war” with science – have their real roots, Gould argues, in the cultural anxieties of specific places and times. So, for that matter, does the idea of the “war” itself. Gould has a track record of writing well -- sometimes brilliantly – both about broad, abstract concepts and about small, telling details. He writes well -- though not brilliantly – about both here. His explanation of the “separate spheres” argument is clear and careful, and his analysis of the Galileo and Scopes affairs vivid and compelling. Neither will surprise professional historians or philosophers, both neither is meant to. Both, however, will come as revelations to much of the general public that is his intended audience. Both book and author, however, get into trouble in the broad middle ground between abstract philosophical arguments and concrete historical details. Gould offers up his two-spheres model as a solution to the real-world conflict over science and religion in late-twentieth-century America. If only both sides would see the truth of it, he argues, the conflict would evaporate, and “intelligent design” advocates like Michael Behe would be free to lie down (metaphorically, anyway) with militant atheists like Richard Dawkins. Alas, it’s not that easy, particularly in large swaths of the American South and Midwest. Gould – culturally Jewish and religiously agnostic; New Yorker by birth and Bostonian by choice; grad student at Columbia and professor at Harvard – fatally underestimates the commitment of culturally conservative evangelical Protestants to the idea that science and religion do overlap, pronouncing on the same questions of fact. For the substantial number of Americans who see Biblical texts as literally true, the core ideas of a half-dozen scientific disciplines – which flatly contradict them – must then be false. The encounter between science and religion thus becomes, for such believers, precisely the zero-sum game that Gould wishes it were not. Rocks of Ages, eloquent thought it often is, stands little chance of reversing that position.
Review: Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of LifeUser Review - Goodreads
If only Stephen Jay Gould had outlived Richard Dawkins! In Rocks of Ages, he presents his argument for non-overlapping magisterial, a mode of thought by which science and religion can both be ...
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The Struggle Against Modern Creationism
4PSYCHOLOGICAL REASONS FOR CONFLICT
Can Nature Nurture Our Hopes?
Natures Cold Bath and Darwins Defense of NOMA
The Two False Paths of Irenics
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
A Note on The Library of Contemporary Thought
The Contingent Basis for Intensity