Darwinism as Religion: What Literature Tells Us About Evolution

Oxford University Press USA (2016)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

The Darwinian Revolution--the change in thinking sparked by Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, which argued that all organisms including humans are the end product of a long, slow, natural process of evolution rather than the miraculous creation of an all-powerful God--is one of the truly momentous cultural events in Western Civilization. Darwinism as Religion is an innovative and exciting approach to this revolution through creative writing, showing how the theory of evolution as expressed by Darwin has, from the first, functioned as a secular religion. Drawing on a deep understanding of both the science and the history, Michael Ruse surveys the naturalistic thinking about the origins of organisms, including the origins of humankind, as portrayed in novels and in poetry, taking the story from its beginnings in the Age of Enlightenment in the 18th century right up to the present. He shows that, contrary to the opinion of many historians of the era, there was indeed a revolution in thought and that the English naturalist Charles Darwin was at the heart of it. However, contrary also to what many think, this revolution was not primarily scientific as such, but more religious or metaphysical, as people were taken from the secure world of the Christian faith into a darker, more hostile world of evolutionism. In a fashion unusual for the history of ideas, Ruse turns to the novelists and poets of the period for inspiration and information. His book covers a wide range of creative writers - from novelists like Voltaire and poets like Erasmus Darwin in the eighteenth century, through the nineteenth century with novelists including Elizabeth Gaskell, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, Henry James and H. G. Wells and poets including Robert Browning, Alfred Tennyson, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson and Gerard Manley Hopkins, and on to the twentieth century with novelists including Edith Wharton, D. H. Lawrence, John Steinbeck, William Golding, Graham Greene, Ian McEwan and Marilynne Robinson, and poets including Robert Frost, Edna St Vincent Millay and Philip Appleman. Covering such topics as God, origins, humans, race and class, morality, sexuality, and sin and redemption, and written in an engaging manner and spiced with wry humor, Darwinism as Religion gives us an entirely fresh, engaging and provocative view of one of the cultural highpoints of Western thought.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 74,662

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Darwinism and its Discontents.Michael Ruse - 2006 - Cambridge University Press.
Darwinism and Its Discontents. [REVIEW]Francisco J. Ayala - 2007 - Journal of the History of Biology 40 (3):592-594.
Evolution and Existentialism.Sharon M. Kaye - 2014 - Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism 22 (2):159-171.
Darwinism.Alister E. McGrath - 2006 - In Philip Clayton (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Science. Oxford University Press. pp. 681-696.

Analytics

Added to PP
2016-07-27

Downloads
6 (#1,096,005)

6 months
3 (#211,824)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Michael Ruse
Florida State University

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references