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Can a Darwinian be a Christian?: The Relationship between Science and Religion Paperback – Sep 6 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (Sept. 6 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521637163
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521637169
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.5 x 22.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 318 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #739,151 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

From Amazon

You will have to look hard to find a better explanation of the relationship between basic Christian tenets and the Darwinian theory of evolution than Can A Darwinian Be A Christian? by Michael Ruse. The author, a professor of philosophy and zoology at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, writes with bracing candour ("Let me be open", he begins, "I think that evolution is a fact and that Darwinism rules triumphant") and sophisticated sympathy to Christian doctrine ("if one's understanding of Darwinism does include a natural evolution of life from nonlife, there is no reason to think that this now makes Christian belief impossible"). Writing this book, he also clearly had a hell of a lot of fun (disarming sceptical Christian readers at the beginning, he asks, "Why should the devil have all the good tunes?").

Can A Darwinian Be A Christian? answers its title question with heady confidence--"Absolutely!"--but the book journeys towards that answer with circumspect integrity. Covering territory from the Scopes Monkey Trials to contemporary theories of Social Darwinism to the question of extraterrestrial life, Ruse applies an impressive wealth of knowledge that encompasses many disciplines. Readers may or may not be swayed, but they can't help but be challenged and edified by this excellent book. --Michael Joseph Gross --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

For those dissatisfied with the tenor of the evolution vs. creationism debate, or who simply long for a more moderate intellectual engagement, Ruse (philosophy and zoology, Univ. of Guelph, Canada; Mystery of Mysteries) offers another perspective here: one designed to help rationalists come to terms with religion. Written from the viewpoint of a scientist willing to engage Christian literalism on its own terms, he systematically compares historical Darwinism and Christian beliefs and sensibilities, finding surprising parallels in both methodologies as they search for the meaning of life. While the author can be faulted in spots for minor misinformation (Augustine was not raised a Christian but underwent a conversion in midlife), he succeeds in offering as basic and thoroughgoing an engagement of biology and belief as one might hope for. And his honesty is noteworthyDa Darwinian can be a Christian, but, as Ruse notes, nobody claims that that's an easy path. Recommended for public and academic libraries.DSandra Collins, Duquesne Univ. Lib., PA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Paperback
In this work, Michael Ruse presents a slew of propaganda for why a fundamentalist Christian can also be a Darwinian. Of late, Ruse has felt that secular Darwinists are never going to win the ideological war against fundamentalist Christianity in the American South. So, he has decided it is better to 'water down' darwinian evolution so as to be more acceptable to the Christian, who, if presented with the full account, would simply revert back to his simple-mindedness. Replete with comparisons demonstrating that Darwinism really is like Christianity after all - that is, if you know very little about either -, "Can a Darwinian be a Christian" presents a naive form of both Christianity and evolution. Now Ruse, being one of the foremost Darwinian scholars living, surely knows better than this, but believes that if we can't beat them, we should try to convince them not to burn all the textbooks on evolution when they take over the world.

If you are a serious Darwinian, skip this one and read Ruse's other works. If you are a committed Christian, skip this one and read Ruse's other works to see why you should be a Darwinian.
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By Andrea Stengel on Jan. 27 2004
Format: Hardcover
Generally when one is asked whether one has read such-and-such a book, the implication is that the interlocutor has read the book and was persuaded by its arguments, so the challenge really is:
"are you persuaded by the arguments that persuaded me?"
And it may be very irritating to discover that others are not as persuaded as we are.
For example, I'm not persuaded that a consensus among experts necessarily reflects the truth - as far as I'm concerned it merely indicates agreement. Neither am I persuaded that, because there are many different speculations attempting to show spontaneous generation of life, this proves that life did generate spontaneously. It just shows me that people are imaginative.
Nor do I consider faith a proposition which must not court any risk of rebuttal, a kind of pull-your-head-in and count prudence as the better part of testimony: when we have prudently waited for all the proofs, and seen for ourselves the fulfilment of some proposition, there is no room left for faith - only acquiescence if we are not to appear stupid.
I certainly do not accept Ruse's statement on page 66 that "nothing terribly important rests on this scientific matter, either way." If that were so, Michael Ruse would not have gone to the trouble of writing this book.
To those who genuinely seek reconciliation between science and religion, this book will be a disappointment. The oft tried ruse of redefining the terms to be reconciled may satisfy a shallow desire to hold onto a philosophical investment in the face of conflict, but it only fools those who already have made their committment and who have no intention of changing their mind.
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By Robert Graves on Sept. 4 2003
Format: Hardcover
There. I just saved you twenty bucks. Seriously, I don't think Ruse ever really comes close to solving the problem and ultimately this book will leave you more confused than when you started. Something that he never completely explores (and a fellow reviewer didn't consider when he deemed this problem "insoluble") is the idea that Genesis 1 and 2 are in fact a mixture of symbolic truth combined with actual theological truth. If you consider that the point of Genesis is to show "who and why," not "when and how" (which is the actual case with these chapters and in other extra-biblical writings of the same time period) then it is well within the realm of possibility that God did insert his image into man at some point, thus making him different from the rest of the animal kingdom. This allows for a fall of man and doesn't contain the need for God to create Adam and Eve from dust in order to do it.
This is just one possibility that I don't think was properly explored, and ultimately no viable option is presented. I'd recommend Kenneth Miller's "Finding Darwin's God" as a much more informative source, a book that actually provides answers and has the courage to challenge longstanding theories and theorists.
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By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on June 24 2003
Format: Hardcover
Someone should buy Michael Ruse a new dictionary. The term "polemic" doesn't appear in his. He doesn't engage in polemics, and pours balm on those that occur. The "war between science and religion" is something he deplores. His subtitle sets the tone of this book in describing "The Relationship Between Science and Religion", deftly eschewing conflict at the outset. In reconciling the discipline of science with the dedication of faith, Ruse follows the labyrinthine path of Christian teachings. His Quaker upbringing and background in the history of science has prepared him well for this torturous task. His sense of wit allows him to achieve this without becoming ensnared in arcane theological questions or sectarian strife. Few, if any scholars have accomplished this level of detachment with such charming style.
Ruse establishes his credentials promptly, offering a succinct account of "Darwinism" [a term i loathe]. He explains the history and mechanisms of evolution by natural selection with aplomb. The book is valuable for this summation, if nothing else. He explains various forms of evidence such as the similarity of animal body structures [homology]. He continues with various dialogues between Christians who view evolution as a threat to morals, society, ethics and the other tired arguments and why they have no basis.
Finally, Ruse states the obvious: many scientists are and have been, successfully practicing Christians. Whether or not they've made the effort to rationalise this disparity, he saves them the effort in examining how the reconciliation can be achieved. For centuries, he reminds us, the study of Nature was in order to glorify a deity. He uses Augustine frequently in support of the view that Nature deserves serious study.
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