on June 15, 1999
This is my first Gould book and must say that I wasn't terribly impressed. Plenty of history, but nothing more than simple comparisons and analysis. He seemed to use plenty of fancy sounding words in a rather dull argument.
It's a quick read as well, yet further indication that it's superficial (no aha's or points to ponder in more detail). If you're looking for something light, though, it's not a bad choice.
on December 4, 1999
In this book Gould takes another step in mixing science with his wonky social views, in this case arguing for a convergence of religious fundamentalism and evolutionary theory, which has not taken place and cannot take place as argued by the much superior Richard Dawkins, Unweaving the Rainbow, etc. Apparently Dr. Gould is also something of an apologist for the industrial appropriation of the biosphere as well.
on March 25, 2004
This book was not the great for me, mainly because most of the materials covered are addressed in his books like Ever Since Darwin, Bully for Brontosaurs, and It's a Wonderful Life. If you have not read some of those works then this would be great.
Gould finally shows some emotion when he comes right out and says creationists have never contributed anything to science and are not scientists. He has mentioned similar epithets elsewhere, but not to this degree. I wondered though, while reading those quotes how Gould accepted that one of his best students, Kurt Wise, is not only a creationist but a YEC. Gould comments about Darwin and his views up until his death and how Darwin's view remained, as far as anyone knows, intact. Further I wonder, though, if Gould ever had any second thoughts about his views before his death.
on May 16, 2004
This book, ROCKS OF AGES, was ok, but repetitive and simplistic in its evaluation of the problem to religion offering a duh solution without any way to work out the problem in real life. Gould also seems full of himself as well as boring, making for a rather unpleasant reading.
on December 30, 2003
This book is certainly worth reading, but Gould writes from the (very rational and intellectual) standpoint of a scientist who admires and yet does not hold Faith. A self-avowed "wise agnostic" has no more credibility in dictating the relationship between science and religion than would a bishop lacking any scientific background. He continually treats religion as nothing more than a system of moral teachings meant to comfort people. The only God that Gould can conceive of is the Deist notion of a cold and aloof "watchmaker" -- but there are very good reasons why Deism died out two centuries ago. Furthermore, Gould rejects even the possibility of miracles, and thus casually dismisses many of the founding premises of the world's major Faith traditions.
In short, this is certainly worth reading for people of science, religion, Faith, or all of the above. Yet understand that Gould writes purely as a skeptic and as a SCIENTIST, and a true conception of Faith eludes him. This book is best read if you mentally replace every instance of the word "religion" with "philosophy." Still, at least Gould tried.
For a far, far superior discussion of science and religion, pick up Polkinghorne's GOD OF HOPE AND THE END OF THE WORLD. Polkinghorne is not only an Anglican priest, but he held the Cambridge Physics Chair. Polkinghorne, unlike Gould, truly understands both aspects of his subject matter.
on April 29, 2004
The NOMA concept defended by Sephen Jay Gould in pages 47 ss. is a trap that no serious christian should fall in to. By now Stephen Jay Gould must have realized how wrong it is.
The NOMA concept assumes that science is objective and rational, and that religion is subjective and emotional. It assumes that science is about statements of fact, and religion is about value judgements.
In its apparent plausibility, this notion couldn't be more naíve. Perhaps naive is not really the best word, since Stephen Jay Gould chose is words carefully so as to promote his naturalistic agenda.
The fact of the matter is:
1) Evolution is itself interpretative, speculative and fideistic. In evolutionary theory, conjectures are much more important than the empirical data as such, because all the empirical data available (v.g. absence of intermediate forms in the fossil record and molecular biology, DNA information; catastrophism in geology; molecular machines; fine-tuning of the universe; mathematical improbability of evolution) points towards criation, not evolution. Evolutionary theory has not yet proved the casual origin of life, the existence of the prebiotic soup, the existence of the needed intermediate life forms, nor has it identified the evolutionary mechanism. On the other hand, the Big Bang theory has not yet explained the Big Bang itself, the inflation of the Universe, the origin of galaxies, stars, the solar system, the sun and the moon. So when Stephen Jay Gould says that evolution is based on objective empirical data, I really don't understand what he is talking about.
On the other hand,
2) The Bible clearly speaks of instantaneous creation ex nihilo, of the fall, the curse, and the flood. It also speaks about the comming of the Messiah. Lets talk about this last aspect for a while. Is there any historical evidence of the comming of the Messiah? Well, there is plenty. Jesus Christ was simply the most important single person that the World has haver known. So the Bible is about historical facts, not value statements. In the case of Jesus Christ, there is abundant circunstantial evidence that God rose him from the dead, thus creating life from inorganic matter and inteligently designing a new and glorious body in a few seconds, not billions of years. This historical fact is more than enough for us to believe in the factual and objective ability of the Creator to create the world in six days. I understand that this may seem incredible, but the fact is that it is not blind faith. There is good empirical evidence for that, such as the fine-tuning of the Universe for life, the incredible ammounts of DNA information, the extremly complex proteins, molecular machines, cells and biological systems. In facto, the needed simultaneous presence of millions of nucleotides precisely sequenced to specify extremly complex biological structures and functions speaks more about instantaneous creation than about evolutionary gradualism or saltationism. The fotosynthesis mechanism is an example of an extremely complex structure that must be put in place at once or else it wont' work, and I don't see how gradualism or saltationism can solve that, nor does any scientist, not even all of them together.
Much more could be said about the objective nature of christian religion, as in the case of the curse, the flood, Babel, etc.
Some religions, along with many scientific theories of origins, are no doubt subjective and speculative and even counterfactual. But Biblical faith is as solid, objective and factual as anything else can be.
The whole notion of NOMA makes no sense. The Bible is magisterial and science can only be ministerial. NOMA is a naturalistic trap in which, alas, many christians of good faith and bad arguments have fallen. It is not so much about Bible v. Science. It is abou the possibility of acquiring real knowledge about the origins, the meaning and the destiny of our lives. Contrary to commom held beliefs, faith in the Bible leads to Homo Sapiens. Faith in evolution produces Homo Ignorans.