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Deeper Than Darwin: The Prospect For Religion In The Age Of Evolution Hardcover – May 13, 2003

3.4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Haught, director of the Georgetown Center for the Study of Science and Religion, makes a solid and sometimes elegant case that an evolutionary universe can still manifest divine purpose and promise, whatever some interpreters have said. The basic idea of "evolutionary theism" is nothing new, and Haught's theological touchstones-Whitehead, Tillich and Teilhard de Chardin-are not exactly cutting edge. But this book invigorates the debate by interacting with more recent literature while introducing some fresh lines of argument. Haught takes issue with mutual antagonists from Daniel Dennett to Philip Johnson (whose only point of consensus seems to be that Darwin and God don't mix), by showing how they themselves tend to amalgamate scientific and religious beliefs. At the same time, Haught distrusts the most obvious strategy for making Darwinism and religion "compatible" by partitioning religious from scientific truth, reading in Michael Ruse and the late Stephen Jay Gould a patronizing-if superficially polite-attitude toward religion. Haught prefers to relate Darwinism and religion in another way, by showing that the evolutionary story itself, or even the existence of a universe in which evolution is possible, raises "deeper" religious questions. This is a volume full of methodical argument, fine distinctions and some measure of rhetorical stretching; a few chapters, adapted from academic journal articles, become abstruse at points. But on the whole, Haught succeeds in making the metaphor of "depth" deeper, and more illuminating, than it has been in some previous discussions of evolutionary theism.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

John F. Haught is professor at Georgetown University and Director of the Georgetown Center for the Study of Science and Religion. He lives in Arlington, Virginia.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; 1 edition (May 13, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813365902
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813365909
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,047,047 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
John Haught has no problem reconciling his religious beliefs with evolution. He argues that evolution, and all science, only goes so deep in explaining the world. He points out his objection to scientists, such as Dawkins, using evolution as a weapon to promote their own atheistic beliefs. He sees this as science overstepping it's bounds and becoming a religion of it's own. I am an evolutionist, butI agree with him here.
He also takes strict creationists and "intelligent designers" to task for trying to recast their religious beliefs as science. The "God of the Gaps" approach of taking anything currently under debate in the scientific community as evidence of evolution being wrong, and therefore creationism or intelligent design being right, ultimately will backfire as science progresses to fill in the gaps. He sees this as poor reasoning, since science isn't done yet.
But Haught goes on to say that untimately science cannot provide the final answers or final truth, and this is where religion can step in and reach deeper. I agree with this; science can only explain so much and religion has plenty to explain after that.
All in all, a very positive book that presents a "middle way" in the current evo-creation debate. Science and religion are compatible if the two side will recognize where science ends and religion begins.
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Format: Hardcover
This is one of the most annoyingly schizophrenic books I have ever read.
The author launches off into many wonderful attacks against literalism then employs literalism himself! The author points out the problems of metaphysics and especially the problems we encounter when we are not able to put off "metaphysical gratification" then lapses into his own brand of feeble metaphysics, the idea that there is "in fact" inexhaustible "depth" to the universe or that the Cosmos is "narrative to the core."
I believe the author gets pulled off course because his personal agenda requires conclusions that his arguments do not allow him to reach, so he leaps. In fact, to some extent this book is a fascinating record of a learned mind veering away from its own awesome conclusions. I do not use the word "awesome" lightly. Indeed, I think the book's strengths far, far outweigh its weaknesses. The attacks on literalism and metaphysics (though undercut) are highly inspirational and informative, the straining toward a new view of religion essential, the attack on scientific literalism necessary.
This book does not heal the rift between science and religion as much as it shows the width and depth of a chasm that continues to open. With all its flaws, "Deeper Than Darwin" is an engrossing and important book that should be read and reread by anyone interested in religion, science or philosophy.
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Format: Paperback
While reading this book I imagined a discourse community of endless time - a Shangri-la - where all of us fully explore philosophical points from every possible angle. I'd like to think Haught's book can be a challenge for believer, non-believer, seeker, or agnostic alike. Instead of looking for weaknesses, why not find the meat of the author's thought and engage him/her exactly there--with respect? For example, his concept of depth permeates every page of the book, yet one reviewer feels it was not explained.

Depth implies one is willing to go where things are not finally or fully grasped, and Haught's point is that evolutionary science with its "irreversibly temporal and prodigiously prolonged narrative," always open to contingency, actually points toward depth and a future that is open. (Those who rest content under the banner of religion equally need to be reminded of this.)

"The unbending rigor of natural selection need not, however, lead to a philosophical fatalism, as it has done so often among Darwinians. Nature's predictable laws, abstracted in one way or another by every science, can instead be read as necessary grammatical rules that any incarnation of deeper meaning must adhere to if it is to receive embodiment. Just as the sentences on this page have to obey inviolable grammatical regulations, the novelty that emerges in evolution can become actualized only if there is an underlying constancy in the laws of nature. p. 59

"Why, we may ask again, is the universe so unaccountably composed of the compound of contingency, predictability and temporality that are essential to story? Why, in other words, is nature narrative to the core? Why does it possess the openness to novelty that is resident in the accidents essential for evolution?
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Format: Paperback
For those who think God, religion, Darwin, and evolution this book shows that they can. Haught, in my opinion, is one of the best theologians today. He shows that one does not have to be stuck in the mode of thinking that is either evolution or God. There are more than one way to look at reality and deep levels of meaning in reality. People do not go deep enough in there views of science and religion. Please read this book and Haught will do a much better job explaining all this than I ever can.
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