Synopses & Reviews
Charles Darwin has been at the center of white-hot public debate for more than a century. In Living With Darwin
, Philip Kitcher peers into the flames swirling around Darwin's theory, sifting through the scientific evidence for evolution, Creation Science, and Intelligent Design, and revealing why evolution has been the object of such vehement attack.
Kitcher ranges back in time to provide valuable perspective on the present controversy, describing the many puzzling issues that blocked evolution's acceptance in the early years, and explaining how scientific research eventually found the answers to these conundrums. Interestingly, Kitcher shows that many of these early questions have been resurrected in recent years by proponents of Intelligent Design. In fact, Darwin himself considered the issue of intelligent design, and amassed a mountain of evidence that effectively refuted the idea. Kitcher argues that the problem with Intelligent Design isn't that it's "not science," as many critics say, but that it's "dead science," raising questions long resolved by scientists. But after providing a convincing case for evolution, Kitcher points out that it is also important to recognize the cost of Darwin's success the price of "living with Darwin." Darwinism has a profound effect on our understanding of ourselves and our place in the universe, on our religious beliefs and aspirations. It is in truth the focal point of a larger clash between religious faith and the discoveries of modern science. Unless we can resolve this larger issue, the war over evolution will go on.
Evolution is a dangerous idea. In this balanced and sympathetic volume, Philip Kitcher illuminates this idea while suggesting ways to defuse the danger, suggestions that embrace both the religious impulse and the force of scientific evidence.
"How glad I am that a philosopher of Philip Kitcher's distinction should write such a comprehensive destruction of the argument for Intelligent Design. The attempts to demote Darwin by plausible and clever writers are exposed as shallow and, in the end, scientifically vacuous. Despite attempts to disguise the fact, the motivation for Intelligent Design has been religious, rather than scientific. Unlike some other critics of those who see Darwin as a threat to their beliefs, however, Kitcher writes sensitively about the comfort and inspiration that religion can bring to many people. I greatly admire the good sense and compassion exhibited in this book." Sir Patrick Bateson, Emeritus Professor of Ethology, University of Cambridge
"A powerful and provocative analysis of the historical conflict between Darwin and Western Christianity. Kitcher's book raises the questions with which Christians must wrestle: Can there be a Christianity without supernaturalism? God without Theism? A Christ who is not the incarnation of the supernatural, theistic deity? I think there can be and so I welcome this book with enthusiasm." John Shelby Spong, author of A New Christianity for a New World
"In a time of strident pronouncements on the intersection of science and religion, Kitcher has introduced a calm and humane voice. We Darwinians could do much worse than to listen to it." H. Allen Orr, The New York Review of Books
(read the entire New York Review of Books review
About the Author
is the John Dewey Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University. An eminent philosopher, he is the author of many books on science, literature, and music, including Abusing Science: The Case Against Creationism; The Lives to Come: The Genetic Revolution and Human Possibilities; Vaulting Ambition: Sociobiology and the Quest for Human Knowledge; Science, Truth, and Democracy
; and In Mendel's Mirror