4.0 out of 5 stars
Not a profound book, but delightful to read., April 4 1999
Gould's "Rocks of Ages" explores the long-standing and misunderstood conflict between science and religion and offers "... a blessedly simple and entirely conventional resolution to this apparent conflict." As he correctly points out, his basic thesis "... follows a strong consensus accepted for decades by leading scientific and religious leaders alike." Stated simply, the contributions of science (rock-hard facts and knowledge) and the contribution of religion (the "Rock of Ages" spiritual and mystical contributions to life) are both important to a fulfilled life. Nontheless, they clearly occupy different domains of inquiry which should not overlap, Gould therefore proposes to "... encapsulate this central principle of respectful noninterference ... by enunciating the Principle of NOMA, or Non-Overlapping Magisteria." He chooses the "four-bit" word "magisterium" as it represents for him "...a domain of authority in teaching." that practioners of science and religion should acknowledge and respect. If all that Gould did was to revisit the unique contributions of science and religion, the book would be only mildly interesting. What makes it worthwhile reading is Gould's historical research. Here he comes across as a fine scholar. For example, his detailed discussions of Darwin and the imapct of the "Origin of Species", the conflict between Galileo and the Catholic Church and the Scopes Trial are both enlightening and fascinating. Throughout the book he quotes extensively from historical records which add to reading enjoyment. As part of his criticism of the overlapping of science and religion, Gould cannot resist dwelling at length on the legal conflicts that have raged over the teaching of evolution and the current political agenda of the "Creation Science" movement. He makes it clear that there are those who still wish to keep alive the supposed warfare between science and religion with no peaceful resolution in sight. In summary, is the book profound? No. Is it worth reading?Yes. Gould is a talented essayist and, once again, this talent shows through in his book.