[asa] Ayala: Darwin's Gift: To Science and Religion

From: PvM <pvm.pandas@gmail.com>
Date: Wed May 16 2007 - 23:34:31 EDT

Sounds like an interesting book

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Taking a more pacific tone than Richard Dawkins and
Daniel Dennett in this marvelous little book, Ayala, a UC-Irvine
biologist and member of the National Academy of Sciences, offers a way
to reconcile religion and science on the issue of evolution. He is
uniquely well suited to address this: before becoming an evolutionary
biologist, he trained for the Catholic priesthood. According to Ayala,
Darwin provides both a clear understanding of the nature of the
physical world and an explanation for its flaws that takes the onus
for them off of God. Natural selection gives scientists an eminently
plausible and verifiable explanation of the shape species and members
of those species have taken over millions of years. For religious
believers, evolution offers an explanation for the flawed designs—such
as the too narrow human birth canal and our badly designed
jawbone—that might call into question the work of a benevolent
designer. Ayala points out that science and religion perform different
roles in human understanding: science offers a way of knowing the
material world, but matters of value and meaning—the core of
religion—are outside of the scope of scientific investigation. This
elegant book provides the single best introduction to Darwin and the
development of evolutionary biology now available. Illus. (June)
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier
Inc. All rights reserved.

From the Publisher
With the publication in 1859 of On the Origin of Species by Means of
Natural Selection, Charles Darwin established evolution by common
descent as the dominant scientific explanation for nature's diversity.
This was to be his gift to science and society - at last, we had an
explanation for how life came to be on Earth.

Scientists agree that the evolutionary origin of animals and plants is
a scientific conclusion beyond reasonable doubt. They place it beside
such established concepts as the roundness of the earth, its
revolution around the sun, and the molecular composition of matter.
That evolution has occurred, in other words, is a fact.

Yet as we approach the bicentennial celebration of Darwin's birth, the
world finds itself divided over the truth of evolutionary theory.
Consistently endorsed as "good science" by experts and overwhelmingly
accepted as fact by the scientific community, questions nevertheless
remain it is not generally accepted by the public - and our schools
continue to be battleground for this conflict on which this war is
fought. From the Tennessee trial of a biology teacher who dared to
teach Darwin's theory to his students in 1925 to Tammy Kitzmiller's
2005 battle to keep intelligent design out of the Dover district
schools in Pennsylvania, it's clear that we need to cut through the
propaganda to quell the cacophony of raging debate.

With the publication of Darwin's Gift, a voice at once fresh and yet
familiar brings a rational, measured perspective to the science of
evolution. An acclaimed evolutionary biologist with a background in
theology, Francisco Ayala offers clear explanations of the science,
reviews the history that led us to ratify Darwin's theories, and
ultimately provides a clear path for a confused and conflicted public.

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Received on Wed, 16 May 2007 20:34:31 -0700

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