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e-Book Genes, Genesis, and God: Values and their Origins in Natural and Human History epub download

e-Book Genes, Genesis, and God: Values and their Origins in Natural and Human History epub download

Author: Holmes Rolston III
ISBN: 052164108X
Pages: 418 pages
Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (February 13, 1999)
Language: English
Category: Humanities
Size ePUB: 1675 kb
Size Fb2: 1761 kb
Size DJVU: 1609 kb
Rating: 4.4
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e-Book Genes, Genesis, and God: Values and their Origins in Natural and Human History epub download

by Holmes Rolston III



Holmes Rolston challenges the sociobiological orthodoxy that would naturalize science, ethics .

Holmes Rolston challenges the sociobiological orthodoxy that would naturalize science, ethics, and religion. The book argues that genetic processes are not blind, selfish, and contingent, and that nature is therefore not value-free. The author examines the emergence of complex biodiversity through evolutionary history. Especially remarkable in this narrative is the genesis of human beings with their capacities for science, ethics, and religion. The book is written by one of the most well-respected figures in the philosophy of biology and religion.

The book is thoroughly up to date on current biological thought and is written by one of the most well-respected figures in the philosophy of biology and religion.

Holmes Rolston III, Genes, Genesis and God: Values and Their Origins in Natural and Human History. Authors and affiliations.

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Holmes Rolston challenges the sociobiological orthodoxy that would naturalize science, ethics .

Genes, Genesis, and God book. Holmes Rolston III is a philosopher who holds a . in physics and mathematics from Davidson College (1953) and a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary (1956). He is best known for his views on environmental ethics and the relationship between science and religion.

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Bibliographic Citation. Social Theory and Practice 2000 Fall; 26(3): 530-535.

has written a careful but bold challenge to the claims of sociobiologists that human values .

has written a careful but bold challenge to the claims of sociobiologists that human values can be deduced only from nature. Rolston's challenging and provocative, but modest, way of interpreting the story of evolution will stimulate other philosophers to carefully examine recent scientific discoveries about nature and carry further dialogue he has begun. In his published lectures, titled Genes, Genesis, and God and organized under six chapters, Rolston skillfully reworks his stated positions on natural history, objective natural value, the nature-culture distinction, human nature, and the divine-world relationship.

Can the phenomena of religion and ethics be reduced to the phenomena of biology? Holmes Rolston says no, and in this sweeping account of the subject, written with considerable verve and clarity, he challenges the sociobiological orthodoxy that would naturalize science, ethics, and religion. The book is thoroughly up to date on current biological thought and is written by one of the most well-respected figures in the philosophy of biology and religion. It is likely to provoke considerable controversy among a wide range of readers in such fields as philosophy, religious studies, and biology, as well as being suitable for courses on science and religion.
Era
"river run, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve to shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs."

My impression of "Genes, Genesis and God" is as a brilliant translation of "Finnegans Wake" into a sort of Alexandrian dialect of scientific jargon. It is a Progressio Harmonica in the spirit of Henry Corbin and James Joyce: "And this intensity measures a time in which the past remains present to the future, in which the future is already present to the past, just as the notes of a musical phrase, though played successively, nevertheless all persist together in the present and thus form a phrase." - Creative Imagination in the Sufism of Ibn 'Arabi, 35-36

There are assertions with which you will not agree of course but it is a rewarding read, a rewarding read indeed.

Rolston carefully separates morality from nature by denying creatures other than man the ability to conceptualize their acts of morality and thus maintains that the appearance of morality in them is only an anthropomorphic projection. Most people I know concur as do most philosophers. He refers to Jane Goodall as support for this but Goodall only supports the notion that apes do not conceptualize this behavior. There is an interesting rebuttal of this in "The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism Among the Primates."

His exegesis of physical and biological evolution(s) reads like the sacred narrative which it is of course. He injects Christological tidbits like his assertion that "Jesus transformed Judaism" into this very rich and well told narrative. This is brilliantly refuted by Daniel Boyarin in "Border Lines: The Partition of Christianity." I do hardily recommend this one. He refers to "Chance and Necessity" by Jacques Monod very selectivity for an elegant description of chance but nothing about necessity. In order to set up his idea that God ma yinsert information into DNA under cover of chance by reference to Daniel Dennett's hypothetical speculation of a Martian examining a laying hen and a pekingese and failing to distinguish between natural and artificial DNA. Monod gives a more authoritative and definitive statement in "Chance and Necessity" where he says that if you shuffle a deck of cards which represent all the amino acids in the proportions that they occur in nature and then deal out a sequence, there is no amount of objective criteria by which this sequence can be distinguished from a naturally occurring sequence; however, this is less complementary to the idea that God might smuggle information into DMA sequences under cover of chance. A nit of picking I suppose. Ironically, Rolston thus illustrates Dennett's three word description of the intelligent design proponent's core argument: "We don't know." Dennett would surely have appreciated this.

Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed Rolston's narrative and it is the best attempt in my experience at a convincing presentation of intelligent design. Very glad to have read both books.

As regards fine tuning as evidence of God's interest in life I will simply offer this quote: "And when we do finally succeed in understanding life as a function of inert matter, it will be to discover that the latter has properties very different from those previously attributed to it. Levels of reduction cannot therefore be classed as superior and inferior, for the level taken as superior must, through the reduction, be expected to communicate retroactively some of its richness to the inferior level to which it will have been assimilated. Scientific explanation consists not in moving from the complex to the simple but in the replacement of a less intelligible complexity by one which is more so." Source: final chapter of "The Savage Mind," October 1961

If you are a proponent of intelligent design then you will like this book. If you oppose intelligent design then you should like this book.
Iphonedivorced
It seems clear that the author knows his subject matter and the issues surrounding evolution and genetics as well as philosophy and ethics. It's much less clear that he has anything useful to add to the discussion. Instead, he devotes much of the book to quoting other scientists and writers, then criticizing their terminology and logic as being misleading or incomplete. Often it seems that he's missing the point of what those authors were trying to say; other times he's simply refuting an obvious misinterpretation.
The first 100 pages or so are spent in arriving at the following conclusions:
1. Life becomes more complex.
2. The word "selfish" should not be used about genes, because someone might mistakenly take it literally. Likewise the word "blind".
Regarding 1: Okay, I realize there is some debate about the reason for this and whether this is inevitable, but it seems clear that this has happened in our case, so why belabor the point?
Regarding 2: Well, if the intended audience for this book is those who might take it literally, I guess this was worthwhile. But then Rolston is doing a disservice to those of us who were never in danger of thinking that genes could be literally selfish. And, even worse, after firmly denouncing this terminology and taking shots at Dawkins for using it, he proceeds to infuse the entire remainder of the book with statements that genes are anything but selfish, rather they are "sharing". And far from being blind, genes are "smart". The author needs to read his own argument about mistakenly assigning human values to genes and apply it to this book.
On p. 141, Rolston asks "What is happening when a developed nation sends food to those underfed in a developing nation?" And responds with "...it no longer seems plausible to hold that the principal determinant is producing more offspring in the next generation." Again, does anyone actually think that? In a similar question on p. 267: "But then just where is Wilson getting these oughts that cannot be derived from biology, unless from the insights of ethicists (or theologians) that transcend biology?" The answer should be clear: all humans including scientists get their oughts from our genetic heritage. In the ancestral environment, it was an advantage to have these "moral" tendencies, and now we try to use logic to apply it to the whole world, even though it only evolved among small groups. Nothing more to it than that.
On pp. 192-211, Rolston contends that human minds evolved to use science, then argues that science is the result of "evolution transcending itself". But human minds did not evolve to use science. They evolved to help humans survive in the ancestral environment. Now we use them for other things, such as science, and again, I don't think the reader should ever have been in danger of thinking that this is the best way to use our minds in order to maximize our offspring. So what is the point of refuting this?
I'm afraid that much of this book falls into this pattern of quoting others, musing about possible failings in their logic, then moving on to the next subject as if the conclusion is left as an exercise for the reader. In fact, I'm not entirely sure what the conclusion of this book is. If I had to guess, it would be "science is not sufficient to address moral questions". While that may be true in some sense, the criticism in this book leveled at scientific writings on the subject is not convincing, nor even particularly relevant to that issue. Science does have something to tell us about morality - though Rolston, and indeed many of us, might not comfortable with what it's telling us.