Synopses & Reviews
"People of good will wish to see science and religion at peace.... I do not see how science and religion could be unified, or even synthesized, under any common scheme of explanation or analysis; but I also do not understand why the two enterprises should experience any conflict." So states internationally renowned evolutionist and bestselling author Stephen Jay Gould in the simple yet profound thesis of his brilliant new book.
Writing with bracing intelligence and elegant clarity, Gould sheds new light on a dilemma that has plagued thinking people since the Renaissance. Instead of choosing between science and religion, Gould asks, why not opt for a golden mean that accords dignity and distinction to each realm?
At the heart of Gould's penetrating argument is a lucid, contemporary principle he calls NOMA (for nonoverlapping magisteria) a "blessedly simple and entirely conventional resolution" that allows science and religion to coexist peacefully in a position of respectful noninterference. Science defines the natural world; religion, our moral world, in recognition of their separate spheres of influence.
In elaborating and exploring this thought-provoking concept, Gould delves into the history of science, sketching affecting portraits of scientists and moral leaders wrestling with matters of faith and reason. Stories of seminal figures such as Galileo, Darwin, and Thomas Henry Huxley make vivid his argument that individuals and cultures must cultivate both a life of the spirit and a life of rational inquiry in order to experience the fullness of being human.
In his bestselling books Wonderful Life, The Mismeasure of Man, and Questioning the Millennium, Gould has written on the abundance of marvels in human history and the natural world. In Rocks of Ages, Gould's passionate humanism, ethical discernment, and erudition are fused to create a dazzling gem of contemporary cultural philosophy. As the world's preeminent Darwinian theorist writes, "I believe, with all my heart, in a respectful, even loving concordat between...science and religion."
"Entertaining...Gould makes his points with authority, insight, and his trademark good humor." Christian Science Monitor
"[A classic that] should be priority reading for school board members...and anyone else seeking to reconcile the legitimate interests of religion and science." Washington Post
"[The] author engages us with evident delight in the subtle dance of language and ideas....Reading it, we feel ourselves in the great tradition of Montaigne and his successors." Los Angeles Times
"Daring and thought-provoking." Atlanta Journal-Constitution
About the Author
The author of more than fifteen books, Stephen Jay Gould was also the author of the longest-running contemporary series of scientific essays, which appeared monthly in Natural History. He was the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology and professor of geology at Harvard; curator for invertebrate paleontology at the university's Museum of Comparative Zoology; and served as the Vincent Astor Visiting Professor of Biology at New York University.