Evolution as a Religion : Strange Hopes and Stranger Fears Paperback
by Mary Midgley
Part of the Routledge Classics series
According to The Guardian, Midgley is 'the foremost scourge of scientific pretentions in this country; someone whose wit is admired even by those who fee she sometimes oversteps the mark'. This book examines how science comes to be used as a substitute for religion and points out how badly that role distorts it. Her argument is flawlessly insightful: a punch, compelling, lively indictment of these misuses of science. Both the book and its author are true classics of our time.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 224 pages, 1 black & white tables
- Publisher: Taylor & Francis Ltd
- Publication Date: 21/02/2002
- Category: Western philosophy, from c 1900 -
- ISBN: 9780415278331
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Review by twitham
An interesting take by a philosopher on the science/religion conflict, or non conflict. Midgley argues two broad cases. Firstly, she critiques the way scientists piece together the meaning of their research into a narrative (followers of Darwin and proponents of the Big Bang origin of the cosmos in particular), and promote this narrative as a myth. She notes how cautious Darwin was. He avoided the meta-narrative that leads to absurdities like stating that their are no purposes in evolution and then using the metphor of selfishness as if it were a biological fact.The second case she puts forward concerns the range of ethics. Because 'scientism' promotes the idea of the solitary individual, many ethicists can argue only about ethics where there is a covenant between equals. The language of rights and duties applies to some extent here, but beyond this narrow band, we need other language to show what is right and wrong in our treatment of e.g. the dead, children, the insane, plants, animals and ourselves. Robinson Crusoe would not have thought it good to destroy his island!Midgley's writing is clear, but I was unsure how the two main threads were to work together.