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Rocks of Ages

Rocks of Ages

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Written by Stephen Jay GouldAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Stephen Jay Gould

  • Format: Trade Paperback, 256 pages
  •  
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
  • On Sale: February 26, 2002
  • Price: $16.00
  • ISBN: 978-0-345-45040-1 (0-345-45040-X)
Also available as an eBook.
about this book

"People of good will wish to see science and religion at peace. . . . I do not see how science and religion could be unified, or even synthesized, under any common scheme of explanation or analysis; but I also do not understand why the two enterprises should experience any conflict." So states internationally renowned evolutionist and bestselling author Stephen Jay Gould in the simple yet profound thesis of his brilliant new book.

Writing with bracing intelligence and elegant clarity, Gould sheds new light on a dilemma that has plagued thinking people since the Renaissance. Instead of choosing between science and religion, Gould asks, why not opt for a golden mean that accords dignity and distinction to each realm?

At the heart of Gould's penetrating argument is a lucid, contemporary principle he calls NOMA (for nonoverlapping magisteria)--a "blessedly simple and entirely conventional resolution" that allows science and religion to coexist peacefully in a position of respectful noninterference. Science defines the natural world; religion, our moral world, in recognition of their separate spheres of influence.

In elaborating and exploring this thought-provoking concept, Gould delves into the history of science, sketching affecting portraits of scientists and moral leaders wrestling with matters of faith and reason. Stories of seminal figures such as Galileo, Darwin, and Thomas Henry Huxley make vivid his argument that individuals and cultures must cultivate both a life of the spirit and a life of rational inquiry in order to experience the fullness of being human.

With his previous works, Wonderful Life, The Mismeasure of Man, and Questioning the Millennium, Gould has written on the abundance of marvels in human history and the natural world. In Rocks of Ages, Gould's passionate humanism, ethical discernment, and erudition are fused to create a gem of contemporary cultural philosophy.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:
1. The Problem Stated: Preamble; A Tale of Two Thomases; The Fate of Two Fathers; 2. The Problem Resolved In Principle: NOMA Defined and Defended; NOMAS Ilustrated; Coda and Segue; 3. Historical Reasons for Conflict: The Contingent Basis for Intensity; Columbus and the Flat Earth: An Example of the Fallacy of Warfare Between Science and Religion; Defending NOMA from Both Sides Now: The Struggle Against Modern Creationism — Creationism: A Distinctly American Violation of NOMA, —Trouble in Our Own House: A Brief Legal Survey From Scopes to Scalia, —The Passion and Compassion of William Jennings Bryan: The Other Side of NOMA; 4. Psychological Reasons for Conflict: Can Nature Nuture Our Hopes?; Nature's Cold Bath and Darwin's Defense of NOMA; The Two False Paths of Irenics; Index.