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Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 26. Februar 2002

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Revered and eminently readable essayist Stephen Jay Gould has once again rendered the complex simple, this time mending the seeming split between the two "Rocks of Ages", science and religion. He quickly, and rightfully, admits that his thesis is not new, but one broadly accepted by many scientists and theologians. Gould begins by suggesting that Darwin has been misconstrued--that while some religious thinkers have used divinity to prove the impossibility of evolution, Darwin would have never done the reverse.

Gould eloquently lays out not "a merely diplomatic solution" to rectify the physical and metaphysical, but "a principled position on moral and intellectual grounds", central to which is the elegant concept of "non-overlapping magisteria". (Gould defines "magisteria" as a "four-bit" word meaning domain of authority in teaching.) Essentially, science and religion can't be unified, but neither should they be in conflict; each has its own discrete magisteria, the natural world belonging exclusively to science and the moral to religion.

Gould's argument is both lucid and convincing as he cites past religious and scientific greats (including a particularly touching section on Darwin himself). Regardless of your persuasions, religious or scientific, Gould holds up his end of the conversation with characteristic respect and intelligence. --Paul Hughes -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.

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"Gould is at his brilliant best... A truly convincing performance"

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For thinking people there really should be no conflict between science and religion. Science tells you how to build an atom bomb, but it can't even address the question of whether you should use it. Religion, on the other hand, grapples with serious moral questions and offers wisdom about how to live your life. Gould makes clear that only a fundamentalist (i.e Biblical literalist) views Religion and Science like "the Hatfields and the McCoys." (If you think the Bible can do a better job than science of explaining the fossil record, for instance, you won't find much sympathy here.) However, Gould - an agnostic - clearly concedes religion its domain. Reading this book could do a lot of people a lot of good. (Unfortunately, my guess is the ones who could use it most will never pick it up. Some folks aren't much for exposing themselves to contrary points of view.) The book is a good introduction for someone who hasn't really considered the separate realms and dual functions of science and religion. Gould, ordinarily a fabulous essayist, writes much more gracefully in his other volumes in my view. I might have supposed it was ghost written by Joe Friday: just the facts, mam.
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Gould is a master of clear and concise presentation. This most recent effort keeps his record on that score pristine.
As a reviewer writing from Kansas, a state racked by the most recent example of the long history of conflict between science and religion, this book could not be more timely or more on point. Gould deftly defines the line between the magisterium of religion and the magisterium of science and demonstrates that it is a line which is crossed all too often. Gould reminds us all of the absurdity of looking to religion to define the physical world around us. However, he just as effectively warns us of the danger in using science to provide answers to questions of ultimate meaning or morality.
That is not to say that Gould's clarity makes for easy acceptance. Much of what I found most convincing in Gould's presentation was also a source of greatest personal challenge. It seems unavoidable and natural that the "truths" of science will lead people to draw implications that affect personal answers to those ultimate questions about "truth" that are the usual domain of religion or philosophy. Many in our society can easily dismiss the biblical fundamentalist who clings to "Creation Science" as being hopelessly blinded by misplaced religious fervor but Gould's presentation challenges everyone to become aware of the assumptions and "facts" that are often silently inherent in our religious beliefs. Many will bristle, as I did, at Gould's apparent mitigation of the magisterium of religion to simply questions of morality but in the end, I can not disagree with such a characterization and it is not out of alignment with even the most personal of religious belief.
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Dr. Gould reconciles the separate and equally important domains of religion and science using the life, times and perspectives of some of science's great thinkers. His message of tolerance and understanding is made from an open, yet skeptical, perspective. His thumbnail biography of Charles Darwin is so touching that it can bring almost anyone to tears. As one who does not yet know enough to know the truth with respect to belief systems, I found much harmony with Gould, Darwin and Thomas Henry Huxley. It is a compact book (222 5" by 8" pages of large type with large margins) and easily read in a day. It is a satisfying read that, by its very nature, leaves you ready for more.
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If you like Gould, read this. As for the other reviews below this one, get a grip people. Evolution is, as Mayr put it, one long argument about the origin and development of life forms. It has nothing to do with politics, ethics, or any subject. Many use it as a metaphor and then forget that it was used this way; they start to believe it ought to be applied to other fields. Nope. I think this is Gould's main point, and he understands this well.
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Von Ein Kunde am 26. September 1999
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Rocks of Ages reads essentially like... Well, any of the recent Stephen Jay Gould books. It consists primarily of material rehashed from his previously published essays, it is built around a simplistic idea, and it provides succinct bulleted lists from which it strays constantly.
On the upside Gould is an extrodinarily eloquent writer, the book is chock full of interesting historical factoids -- and it's short (say, an evening to read).
Gould's theory makes enough sense to me, being an agnostic type who's always loathed philosophers that derive ethical systems on basis of natural law. But I can certainly see a few problems with the theory as a whole.
Gould tells us that empirical and normative studies shouldn't tresspass on each other's turf -- they should just play nice in the sandbox and engage in the occasional discourse for good measure. This is the obvious rational (not to mention pragmatic) conclusion. Unfortunately, rationality is the basis of science, hence science's preferential treatment in Gould's seperate but equal scenario. If science advances into the hinterlands of a topic that had previously been relegated to the world of religion (say, neurobiology and why people sin), religion must curtsey and back away. Religion gets stuck with second fiddle.
Presuppositions arn't a bad thing by any means, but why is a rational-functional model necessarily superior? The query is outside the scope of the book I realize; arguments like that often degrade into "what is reality," etc., but worth thinking about none the less.
Overall, it's certainly worth a few hours of your time to read, a good springboard to move on to (and synthesize with) other areas like education.
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