Evolution as a Religion: Strange Hopes and Stranger Fears
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Evolution as a Religion: Strange Hopes and Stranger Fears

3.57 of 5 stars 3.57  ·  rating details  ·  46 ratings  ·  9 reviews
Midgley exposes the illogical logic of poor doctrines that shelter themselves behind the prestige of science. Always at home when taking on the high priests of evolutionary theory - Dawkins, Wilson and their acolytes - she has described evolution as the creation-myth of our age. In Evolution As A Religion she examines how science comes to be used as a substitute for religi...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published March 29th 2002 by Routledge (first published 1985)
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I read this book as a sort of challenge to myself. This book doesn't so much challenge Evolution as a scientific principle, but all the social hoo-hah that gets built up around it. As a person who is never quite sure what to make of how Evolution gets used, but tends to side with the scientists in most battles of this kind, the book seemed provocative in all the right ways. Midgley is also the apparent philosophical adversary of Richard Dawkins, and I was intrigued to hear why.

All in all, I enjo...more
Will Napier
Midgley is a pleasure to read. Her turn of phrase is amusing and engaging. Her perspective seems very sane. The claim is that evolution is not just a parsimonious theory about origins and life, but that it functions as a metaphor, indeed a myth (in its neutral sense), that can take on a life of its own. Midgley's method of giving the thumbs down is to use amusingly gentle words such as 'odd' and 'curious' for the tendency of some scientists to become so excited about their findings in their part...more
Chris Lynch
How could I resist a book with such an inflamatory title!?

The first thing to make quite clear is that Mary Midgley isn't in any way, shape or form launching an attack on science here, nor is she making the claim that science, in itself, is a form of religious belief like any other. Nor is her viewpoint one that insists we surrender all notions of objective reality, and that science is merely a politicised or socially contextualised narrative or dialogue that we accept or reject according to our...more
Richard Newton
This is not a book about science or even really about evolution, it is about the use of scientific thinking in non scientific ways. (If you doubt Midgeley's acceptance of evolution see the quote at the start of the book - it is actually dedicated to Darwin). Reading this in 2012, some of the references seem old and with one or two major exceptions are not books that I think have a significant influence now. It might be helpful to have newer references, but the flaws and habits Midgeley criticise...more
Kevin K
This book identifies a number of quasi-religious belief systems which derive credibility from their association with science and evolution:

1) Social Darwinism
2) The "Superman" (in Nietzsche's sense), which today appears in forms like Transhumanism and the Singularity
3) The unstoppable ascent of human technical progress (what Midgley calls the "Escalator Fallacy")

These are all fascinating doctrines, and Midgely is right to draw the comparison with religion. Items 2) and 3) in particular are cl...more
Monica Perez
This is one of the books I found in the bibliography of Michael Crichton's Next. Good philosophy and I liked it until she put her politics in at the end. Basically, her point is, science is treading on the domain of religion to its peril.
Joseph Sverker
A very interesting book with many valid points. I would like to see the response from the sociobiologists. Somewhat dense in her style which makes it difficult to follow her line of thought at times.
(I don't own a Kindle; I bought the paperback version of the book...)
A.J. Jr.
One of the smartest people on the planet!
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Mary Midgley is an English moral philosopher. She was a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Newcastle University and is known for her work on science, ethics and animal rights.
More about Mary Midgley...
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“As Darwin pointed out in The Origin of Species (opening pages of chapter three), the 'struggle for existence' can often be described just as well as a mutual dependence. And harmless coexistence as parts of the same eco-sphere is also a very common relation. . . . Among social creatures, positive gregariousness, a liking for each other's company, is the steady, unnoticed background for the conflicts.” 1 likes
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