- Series: Philosophy in Action
- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (April 28, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195384342
- ISBN-13: 978-0195384345
- Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 0.7 x 5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 32 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,276,230 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Living with Darwin: Evolution, Design, and the Future of Faith (Philosophy in Action) 1st Edition
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"[Contains] useful contributions to the critique of creationism and the defense of science and evolution." --International Socialist Review
About the Author
Philip Kitcher is the John Dewey Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University. An eminent philosopher, he is the author of many books on science, literature, and music, including Abusing Science: The Case Against Creationism; The Lives to Come: The Genetic Revolution and Human Possibilities; Vaulting Ambition: Sociobiology and the Quest for Human Knowledge; Science, Truth, and Democracy; and In Mendel's Mirror.
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Top customer reviews
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As I said, Kitcher is a philosopher so is good in his field, discussing, contrasting, unveiling positions. For a reader like me, not a philosopher, the discussion is, in some passages (just a few), a little bit boring. To me, some topics didn't deserve to be touched at all, but this book is a battle field so any flank or wing or front is going to be disputed.
On the other hand, creationist and all that tribe are always looking for a gap in the theory. If they don't find it they can "create" it only as a sophist can do. So, in cases like this, we need someone like Kitcher to unmasking them.
If you believe that there's something wrong with saying that "'[e]volution is the root of atheism, of communism, Nazism, behaviorism, racism, economic imperialism, militarism, libertinism, anarchism, and all manner of anti-Christian system of belief and practice'" you should read "Living with Darwin."
To Kitcher's credit, he seems to recognize the narrow and comprehensive levels of the debate. He addresses the former in the first four chapters of this book. Arguing that creationism/ID has several varieties, he focuses on what he calls "Genesis creationism," which denies the ancient age of the earth; "novelty creationism," which claims that at least certain species are acts of special creation, thereby denying the one tree of life foundation of standard evolutionary theory; and "anti-selectionism," which argues that selection isn't a sufficient explanation for certain transitions, either from one species to the next in the development of "irreducibly complex" organs or organisms. Patiently and logically, these positions are addressed, respectively, in chapters 2-4.
What I found most intriguing in Kitcher's book is his effort in the final chapter to reflect on the more comprehensive worldview clash that fuels the more specific ones between ID and evolution. Kitcher argues that evolution destroys the possibility of divine design in the universe, and that textual analysis and comparative religion studies destroys faith in the literal truth of sacred scripture. Supernatural religion, then, is as dead as ID. But the "music of faith" (p. 158) is still something we yearn for. To fill that need, Kitcher recommends "spiritual" rather than supernatural religion, with the former being very much what John Dewey defended in his A Common Faith: an embrace of the religious experience without ascribing to it culturally fashioned notions of the supernatural.
This is a commendable argument. But it's one that leaves me dissatisfied for three reasons. First, it seems to me that Kitcher has illegitimately jumped from science to metaphysics--from a methodological naturalism, if you will, to a metaphysical one--in his conviction that evolution destroys the possibility of supernaturalism. Second, while it's absolutely the case that theology and God-belief needs to come to terms with (rather than denying) the Darwinian evolution, it's not at all clear that the only way to do that is by self-erasure. John Haught, for one, has worked on a consistent and sophisticated post-Darwinian theology. Finally, it's not clear to me that the human malaise which Kitcher thinks spiritual religion will ameliorate are just symptoms of social and economic injustice (which Kitcher believes). This account seems to me to ignore deeper questions of what might be called existential despair or loneliness with spiritual religion may simply not be equipped to deal with.
The author has thought long and hard about the issues and has written about it on previous occasions. Those projects have allowed him to hone the issues to the core and explore them fully.