Evolution as a Religion: Strange Hopes and Stranger Fears

Evolution as a Religion: Strange Hopes and Stranger Fears

Evolution as a Religion: Strange Hopes and Stranger Fears

Evolution as a Religion: Strange Hopes and Stranger Fears

Synopsis

According to a profile in The Guardian , Mary Midgley is 'the foremost scourge of scientific pretensions in this country; someone whose wit is admired even by those who feel she sometimes oversteps the mark'. Considered one of Britain's finest philosophers, Midgley exposes the illogical logic of poor doctrines that shelter themselves behind the prestige of science. Always at home when taking on the high priests of evolutionary theory - Dawkins, Wilson, and their acolytes - she has famously described evolution as 'the creation-myth of our age'. In Evolution as a Religion she examines how science comes to be used as a substitute for religion and points out how badly that role distorts it. As ever, her argument is flawlessly insightful: a punchy, compelling, lively indictment of these misuses of science. Both the book and its author are true classics of our time. Go on, treat yourself!

Excerpt

This book had a very simple origin. in the early 1980s I was asked to speak at a conference on 'Evolution and Religion'. This suddenly made me wonder whether the link between these two things was perhaps closer than had been noticed. Was the idea of evolution somehow beginning to be used, not so much as an antidote against religion but as a substitute for it - indeed, as a form of religion itself?

I had been struck for some time by certain remarkable prophetic and metaphysical passages that appeared suddenly in scientific books about evolution, often in their last chapters. Though these passages were detached from the offcial reasoning of the books, they seemed still to be presented as science. But they made startling suggestions about vast themes such as immortality, human destiny and the meaning of life. These are diffcult topics with which philosophical and religious thinkers have long wrestled. But the scientific writers did not usually refer to any earlier discussions. They simply and confidently laid down their own surprising views about them. Their pronouncements seemed to be seriously intended. But it was far from clear on what level they were meant to be taken.

All this seemed to me to raise most interesting questions about the kinds of thought that can go on in the wide areas that lie outside both offcial science and offcial religion. Simply defining these two

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