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Other titles in the Very Short Introductions series:
Fossils: A Very Short Introductionby Keith Thomson
Synopses & Reviews
Fossils have been vital to our understanding of the formation of the earth and the origins of life. However, their impact has not been limited to debates about geology and evolution: attempts to explain their existence has shaken religion at its very roots, and they have remained a subject of ceaseless fascination for people of all ages and backgrounds. In this readable and wide-ranging book, Keith Thomson provides a remarkably all-encompassing explanation of fossils as a phenomenon. How did Darwin use fossils to support his theory of evolution? What are "living fossils"? What fossils will we leave behind for future generations to examine? Beyond the scientific aspects, Thomson highlights the impact of fossils on philosophy and mythology, our concept of time, and today's popular culture. From the black market to the Piltdown Man, and from mythological dragons to living dinosaurs, fossils hold a permanent place in the popular imagination.
A distinguished scholar urges scientists and religious thinkers to become colleagues rather than adversaries in areas where their fields overlap
Each age has its own crisis—our modern experience of science-religion conflict is not so very different from that experienced by our forebears, Keith Thomson proposes in this thoughtful book. He considers the ideas and writings of Thomas Jefferson and Charles Darwin, two men who struggled mightily to reconcile their religion and their science, then looks to more recent times when scientific challenges to religion (evolutionary theory, for example) have given rise to powerful political responses from religious believers.
Today as in the eighteenth century, there are pressing reasons for members on each side of the religion-science debates to find common ground, Thomson contends. No precedent exists for shaping a response to issues like cloning or stem cell research, unheard of fifty years ago, and thus the opportunity arises for all sides to cooperate in creating a new ethics for the common good.
About the Author
Keith Thomas is Emeritus Professor of Natural History at the University of Oxford.
Table of Contents
2. A cultural phenomenon
3. In the popular imagination
4. Some things we know, some things we don't
5. Against the odds
6. Bringing fossils to life
8. Of molecules and man
9. Fakes and fortunes
10. Back to the future
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History and Social Science » World History » Oxford Very Short Introductions