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Evolution and Ethics: Human Morality in Biological and Religious Perspective Paperback – August 4, 2004

3.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Christians frequently resist evolutionary theory, believing it to be incompatible with the core values of their tradition. But what exactly are the tensions between evolution and religious faith in the area of human morality? "Evolution and Ethics examines the burning questions of human morality from the standpoint of Christian thought and contemporary biology, asking where the two perspectives diverge and where they may complement one another.

Representing a significant dialogue between world-class scientists, philosophers, and theologians, this volume explores the central features of biological and religious accounts of human morality, introducing the leading theories and locating the key points of contention. Central to these discussions are the questions of whether human actions are ever genuinely selfless, whether there is something in the moral life that transcends biological function, and whether one can sensibly speak of an overall purpose to the course of evolution.

Certain to engage scholars, students, and general readers alike, "Evolution and Ethics offers a balanced, levelheaded, constructive approach to an often divisive debate.

Contributors: Larry Arnhart
Christopher Boehm
Craig A. Boyd
Robert Boyd
Michael J. Chapman
Philip Clayton
Loren Haarsma
John Hare
S. Mark Heim
David C. Lahti
Thomas Jay Oord
Gregory R. Peterson
Joseph Poulshock
Peter J. Richerson
Philip A. Rolnick
Holmes Rolston III
Michael Ruse
Jeffrey Schloss
Rene van Woudenberg

About the Author

Philip Clayton is Ingraham Professor of Theology at theClaremont School of Theology and professor of philosophyand religion at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont,California. He is also the author of Explanation fromPhysics to Philosophy: An Essay in Rationality andReligion (Yale) and the Templeton Prize?winning bookGod and Contemporary Science (Eerdmans).


Jeffrey Schloss is Professor of Biology at Westmont Collegein Santa Barbara, California.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Eerdmans (August 4, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802826954
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802826954
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,104,465 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Evolution and Ethics examines the burning questions of human morality from the standpoint of Christian thought and contemporary biology, asking where the two perspectives diverge and where they may complement one another. Representing a significant dialogue between world-class scientists, philosophers, and theologians, this volume explores the central features of biological and religious accounts of human morality, introducing the leading theories and locating the key points of contention. Central to these discussions are the questions of whether human actions are ever genuinely selfless, whether there is something in the moral life that transcends biological function, and whether one can sensibly speak of an overall purpose to the course of evolution. Evolution and Ethics offers a balanced, levelheaded, constructive approach to an often divisive debate.

Of interest in this volume are articles by Jeffrey P. Schloss and Discovery Fellow Joseph Poulshock. Poulshock recognizes that Darwinian explanations like "kin selection" can account for altruism within groups of closely related individuals. However human social interactions clearly require explanations which go far beyond Darwinian explanations. That is, nearly every major religion has proscriptions similar to the "Golden Rule." For instance, Christian notions of being the "good Samaritan" and Hebraic moral codes calling for kindness to foreigners, require explanations beyond reference to "selfish genes."

Poulshock explains that social groups with strong moral codes eventually become governed by those codes. Thus it is ideas--communicated through written and spoken language--which seem to have the greatest impact upon human ethics.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a terrific overview of the questions concerning the ULTIMATE SOURCE of moral values. Have values developed as part of human socio-cultural evolution? Are they nothing but the outer manifestation of the innerworkings of "selfish" genes? Is "morality" just a particular type of discourse used for conveying personal emotions about certain activities? Or do they arise from our "intuitions of the divine?" (Or perhaps some combination of these?). Highly recommended for anyone interested in current trends within the science/religion dialogue, and anyone interested in evolutionary psychology.
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Used it in book club. Discussion so lively, hard to break away at the end of the evening.
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The author's suggestion of "evolutionary ethics" is seriously confused. T. H. Huxley in the 1890s wrote a valuable essay, evolution AND ethics. That work has been republished by Princeton University Press with sociobiologist George Williams' epilogue. Unlike the book under review, neither Huxley nor Williams confuse IS for OUGHT, or OUGHT for IS.

It's one thing to find VALUES compatible with FACTS, it is a logical fallacy to claim a FACT is a VALUE, or a VALUE is a FACT. The Fact/Value Divide, implicit in Aristotle, was made explicit in Hume's Treatise (1740) and G. E. Mooore's Principia Ethica (1903), which the present author ignores to everyones' detriment.

Crime is a fact. Do we value it? Of course not! Love is a value? Does that make it a fact? Of course not! Something SO basic as the Fact/Value Divide is not basic to this author or his book. His entire edifice collapses because he stretches facts into values, and values into facts.

Whether insights are valuable or not cannot be determined with so much confused thinking and writing. Some call it "contamination" and "pollution" so toxic not even metaphysicians can make it pure. All I know is that he cannot make facts into values, and values into facts. So what does he make?
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