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Anarchy Evolution: Faith, Science, and Bad Religion in a World Without God Hardcover – September 28, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 84 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Graffin is a rare breed, indeed. He is a longtime punk rocker with the group Bad Religion who happens to have a PhD in zoology and is currently teaching evolution at UCLA. With the assistance of cowriter Olson, Graffin attempts to draw parallels between punk rock and various other subjects, including naturalism, evolution, and faith. Throughout, the author recounts events and perspectives from his life in punk, but he fails at times to keep his reminiscing in check. The book often reads like an autobiography, interlaced with scientific and philosophical observations. He does offer several thought-provoking chapters on atheism (a label Graffin eschews), natural selection, and the afterlife. Still, some of Graffin’s analogies may leave readers puzzled. In the chapter describing his particular brand of faith, Graffin compares the unspoken rules of mosh-pit conduct with evolutionary biology. With that in mind, the question is not whether punkers with an affinity for science will appreciate this book but whether anyone else will. Definitely a book that is as unique as its author. --Wade Osburn

Review

“Take one man who rejects authority and religion, and leads a punk band. Take another man who wonders whether vertebrates arose in rivers or in the ocean, is fascinated by evolution, creativity, and Ice Age animals. Put them together, what do you get? Greg Graffin, and this uniquely fascinating book.” (Jared Diamond, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse)

“A worldview eloquently expressed.” (Chicago Tribune)

“[Graffin] explains how evolution can be a guide to life.” (Scientific American)

“Humble, challenging, and inspiring.... For Graffin, the appeal of both worlds was that, at their best, they challenged authority, dogma and given truths and opened up space for the anarchic process of creativity.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))

“Graffin is one of those rare people who seem to have combined two lives into one. He’s one of a small but growing number of atheists in the United States willing to talk about the damage they believe religion can do.” (Paste)

“Bucking authority and the religious views of his family, Graffin explains how he has developed a personal philosophy that celebrates the power of nature.” (Nature)

“Anarchy Evolution sets out to draw connections between evolution, naturalist thought and punk, an undertaking that might sound rife with the potential to be reachy—or preachy. But Graffin and Olson manage to weave the seemingly disparate concepts together into a satisfying narrative.” (LA Weekly)

“Whether you’re a believer, an atheist, an agnostic, or anything in between, this is a necessary book.” (PopMatters)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: It Books (September 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061828505
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061828508
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #192,726 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Saganite VINE VOICE on October 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Here's how nerdy I am: My introduction to Greg Graffin and Bad Religion came through his doctoral dissertation, which I purchased from Graffin and got autographed. And then I read it. And it wasn't very good. Since then I've read a couple of other things that Graffin has written or co-written (Is Belief in God Good, Bad or Irrelevant?: A Professor And a Punk Rocker Discuss Science, Religion, Naturalism & Christianity), but nothing prepared me for just how damned GOOD "Anarchy" is.

It must be said that the best parts of the book are the parts that only Graffin could have written--the autobiographical sections about his earlier childhood in Wisconsin, his transition to the California punk scene, his approach to music, and so forth. Much of what he write about evolutionary biology will be familiar, at least, to people who have taken some evolution classes or read books such as Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body (Vintage), and Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo. But he does have an interesting take on natural selection. Graffin makes it abundantly clear that his slightly unorthodox view of the importance of natural selection to overall evolutionary theory should give no aid and comfort to creationists (or their better-dressed cousins, Intelligent Design advocates).
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An astonishing insight into a man who is not only a legend in the punk rock scene, but also a doctor in evolutionary biology. Graffin shares tales of life as the front man of Bad Religion and his years of study and fieldwork. He also discusses his insights on evolution, as separate biological and cultural phenomena, and how they relate to his naturalist worldview. Recommended for anyone with an interest in the sciences or into Bad Religion.
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I admit I was skeptical about this book. I saw the titles of the chapters included "The False Idol of Natural Selection" and "The False Idol of Atheism" and wondered just what Greg was going to be rambling about. Now, Bad Religion has been one of my favorite punk bands ( and maybe band in general ) for a few years now. Punk wise, their only competition for the title of favorite is the Misfits, but since the Misfit's lineup has been chaotic, Bad Religion's overall consistency ( apart from the few albums without Brett) makes them the current holder of that title. I've admired Gregg for balancing a band and a PhD with a career in both teaching and science. This book has led me to a whole new level of respect for Greg and Bad Religion.

Greg tells you everything you could want to know. He talks about his childhood, his high school years ( which upon reading about, I STRONGLY relate to -- both of us had a small circle of friends, were into punk rock, but not the illegal shenanigans and drugs most are into, and have had a passion for science rooted in our childhoods ), how the band came about ( I'll leave the names that they almost called themselves as a surprise for you ) , how he got interested in science, and many other interesting things about his youth. As far as his adult life goes, I've come to apperciate that he balances school, science, and music with raising kids and having a wife. Greg is not arrogant about his life. He's honest about the difficulties in it, and about the mistakes he has made in his life.

Other than getting to know the great singer, he presents some scientific views and philosophical views covered in the two suspect chapter names I listed above. Fear not, he's not out to destroy Natural Selection. In fact, he's just putting it in it's place.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I found this book at the perfect time in my life. I grew up as a Bad Religion fan, but I was also raised as a Jehovahs Witness. It wasn't untill I left that faith that I realized the true meaning of the lyrics. This book helped me get through some rough times and to find a real purpose in life. I can't thank Graffin enough. Not only is this a thoughtful book, but its entertaining and a breeze to read as well. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the evolution of punk rock and science.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Greg Gaffin's journey through high school and college is told here through the context of his growing affinity for science and the punk rock scene of California. Gaffin shows how each lens shaped him as he grew older. How his science influenced his music. It is a love story of a man discovering nature. The high point is, truly, Gaffin's recounting of his trip to South America.
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After purchasing this book based on title and author alone over 5 years ago, I finally opened it up several weeks ago and steadily plowed through it, piece by piece, any free opportunity I had. I have never been so appreciative of an author's efforts as I am with Greg Graffin and Anarchy Evolution.

Growing up a punk rock kid in high school, Bad Religion was and remains one of my favorite musical groups. The depth and intelligence of their lyrics, their hauntingly beautiful harmonies, and their stalwart dedication to improvement of their craft and society is a combination rarely found in any musical genre, and I credit their songs with advancing my views of social and environmental justice.

The beauty of what Graffin does in this book is difficult to put into words. It offers something for everyone who is a fan of his work, and plenty for those who have never listened to a measure of "Suffer," let alone suffered a broken nose in the pit while stomping around to "Generator." Knowledge of Bad Religion and their songs is not a prerequisite for appreciating this book, but it certainly enhances the experience.

I expected this to be a critique of static institutions and the status quo, but it is far more. Graffin seamlessly weaves between autobiographical anecdotes, evolutionary biology, contemporary philosplophy, and creates a manifesto of his naturalist worldview. He is confident in his opinions, yet leaves debate open in those areas where reasoned and rational views could differ. He does not shy away, however, from shutting down those perpectives based on fallacies, fairy tales, or misinformation.

Rarely does one come across a book which offers so much in such a small volume.
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