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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Free excerpt from Michael Ruse's Evolution-Creation Struggle

According to Harvard University Press's blurb, in his latest book, Darwinian evolutionist Michael Ruse,

a preeminent authority on Darwinian evolutionary thought and a leading participant in the ongoing debate, uncovers surprising similarities between evolutionist and creationist thinking. Exploring the underlying philosophical commitments of evolutionists, he reveals that those most hostile to religion are just as evangelical as their fundamentalist opponents. But more crucially, and reaching beyond the biblical issues at stake, he demonstrates that these two diametrically opposed ideologies have, since the Enlightenment, engaged in a struggle for the privilege of defining human origins, moral values, and the nature of reality.

Ruse has addressed this theme before in his The Evolution Wars, where he discussed the way in which museums have functioned as temples of naturalism. Anyway, have a look at the free excerpt from the new one,
Evolution-Creation Struggle.

Ruse promises, in the excerpt,

I will tell a tale of evolution and religion that will hold surprises for all of today’s controversialists. The full story is far more complex than any of us, including (especially) us evolutionists, have realized. The dispute, as we shall see, is more than merely a matter of right and wrong. At some deeper level, it involves commitments about the nature of reality and the status and obligations of humans in this reality. In particular, I argue that in both evolution and creation we have rival religious responses to a crisis of faith—rival stories of origins, rival judgments about the meaning of human life, rival sets of moral dictates, and above all what theologians call rival eschatologies—pictures of the future and of what lies ahead for humankind. But these rivals are blood relatives. And, paradoxically, the bitterness of the controversy can be traced in large part to the fact that this is a family feud. The two sides share a common set of questions and, in important respects, common solutions. With these things uncovered, I will offer what I hope are fertile and constructive suggestions for moving forward.

The excerpt then gallops through the history of Christianity from its origin to the present day, attempting to explain how many philosophers of recent centuries became skeptical of Christianity and theistic religion generally. I would find it hard to evaluate the progress of the argument in the excerpt because he deals with so much in such short order that the scenery goes by too fast for me, but you be the judge.

(Note: If this is not the story you were looking for, see the Blog service note below or the stories listed in the sidebar.)
If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

Blog service note: Did you come here looking for any of the following stories?

- The op-ed by Catholic Cardinal Schonborn in the New York Times? Note also the Times's story on the subject, some interesting quotes from major Darwinists to compare with the Catholic Church's view, as expressed by the Cardinal, and an example of the kind of problem with Darwinian philosophy that the Cardinal is talking about.

- the Privileged Planet film shown at the Smithsonian, go here for an extended review. Please do not raise cain about an "anti-evolution" film without seeing it. If your doctor forbids you to see the film, in case you get too excited, at least read my detailed log of the actual subjects of the film. If you were one of the people who raised cain, ask yourself why you should continue to believe the people who so misled you about the film's actual content ...

- the showing of Privileged Planet at the Smithsonian, go here and here to start, and then this one and this one will bring you up to date.
Blog policy note: This blog does not intentionally accept fully anonymous Comments, Comments with language unsuited to an intellectual discussion, URLs posted without comment, or defamatory statements. Defamatory statement: A statement that would be actionable if anyone took the author seriously. For example, someone may say “O’Leary is a crummy journalist”; that’s a matter of opinion and I don’t know who would care. But if they say, “O’Leary was convicted of grand theft auto in 1983,” well that’s just plain false, and probably actionable, if the author were taken seriously. Also, due to time constraints, the moderator rarely responds to comments, and usually only about blog service issues.

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