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Darwin's Religious Odyssey [Paperback]

By William E. Phipps (Author)
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Item Number 120296  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   208
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.94" Width: 5.92" Height: 0.62"
Weight:   0.8 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Sep 1, 2002
Publisher   Trinity Press International
ISBN  1563383845  
EAN  9781563383847  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
In the twenty-first century, Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution remain at the center of religious controversy. More than any scientific discovery, his work seems to challenge world religions and cause ordinary religious people to confront their own core values. With all we know about his ideas on geology and biology, we know much less about Darwin s own journey of faith. In Darwin s Religious Odyssey, William Phipps uses newly available material to explore the evolution of Darwin s religious outlook. It is a fascinating faith odyssey, because it mirrors the struggles of other scientists trying to harmonize their findings with their own religious worldviews. Darwin's detractors tend to depict him as an anti-religious man determined to undermine biblical faith; even some of Darwin s admirers agree. Yet Darwin's autobiography and his journals tell a much different story. It is clear that Darwin did not sail directly from Christian orthodoxy to atheistic materialism. His journals, for example, disclose an attempt to reconcile his evolutionary views with Anglican doctrines. Phipps paints the important aspect of Darwin's religious life against the background of his times. This book examines not only Darwin's changing theology but compares his religious and moral viewpoints with those of his family and associates. Phipps concludes that Darwin was both a product of his religious culture and the shaper of future scientific culture.

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More About William E. Phipps

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! William Phipps is Professor Emeritus of Religion and Philosophy, Davis and Elkins College. His numerous books on sexual themes in biblical and church history include Genesis and Gender, Was Jesus Married? and Influential Theologians on Wo/Man. He lives in Richmond, Virginia.

William E. Phipps currently resides in Richmond, in the state of Virginia. William E. Phipps was born in 1930.

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology   [0  similar products]
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Darwin was an agnostic  Dec 11, 2007
This is an excellent book; I have no doubts about it. William Phipps has done a fine job in presenting a compact, detailed overview of the life and religious views of Charles Darwin. Darwin was an agnostic, or became an agnostic when he rejected or questioned conventional Christian doctrines, and remained uncertain about whether there existed a Creator or Designer. Note, this does not mean that Darwin was hostile towards religion or towards Christianity. In fact, Darwin maintained a healthy respect for religion and Christianity into his later years. He does seem very clearly, however, a self-professed agnostic, unsure of or critical about religious or specifically Christian doctrines, but not an atheist, and not hostile towards religion. This much Phipp's truly scholarly and compact book makes clear. Phipps has done a fine job, and this makes great introductory reading for anyone interested in the topic of Darwin's religious views, or the compatibility of Christianity with evolution (Phipps also suggests they are compatible). There is also some fine material here on Darwin's peers such as Asa Gray, the Harvard scholar and Christian who accepted Darwinian theory, as well as Thomas Huxley, the famous agnostic.
Deserves a wide readership  Jul 17, 2005
In the midst of the culture wars over creation versus evolution, this book deserves a wide readership beyond those interested in Darwin as a person and scientist. This is not narrowly limited to Darwin's personal beliefs, but discusses theological responses to such issues as biblical literalism and the comprehensibility of god. The focus is on Darwin's period, but Phipps also reaches back to early Christian theologians and forward to present thinkers. It is, on the one hand, encouraging to see such a passionate middle ground, and on the other discouraging to see that the same battles are repeatedly fought. I wish that I had been steered towards such profound and subtle thinkers during my own crisis of faith.

Darwin is such a major cultural figure and so abundantly documented that it is impossible to do justice to him in a single biography. I therefore welcome such specialized biographical works, particularly in the hands of someone as careful and thoughtful as Phipps. I read the book with great interest and have been left with considerable food for thought.

Michael Ruse has written some complementary books on similar topics, including The Evolution-Creation Struggle.
Puts a human face on Darwin  Mar 3, 2003
Very interesting and readable account of how Darwin's views on religion and evolution developed over the course of his life. As well as being a towering figure in modern science, Darwin was also a highly principled and compassionate person, as this book makes clear. He struggled all his life with the contradiction between the orthodox Christianity he espoused as a young man and the ideas that science inevitably lead him to, and this may have been a factor in his persistent ill health. It is outrageous that a man as brilliant and humble as Darwin has been so villified by ignorant bigots with anti-scientific agendas. Far from being a racist as hypocritical biblical creationsists often claim, Darwin hated racism and slavery, and longed for the day when all men would see each other as brothers:

"As man advances in civilisation, and small tribes are united into larger communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual that he ought to extend his social instincts and sympathies to all the members of the same nation, though personally unknown to him. This point being reached, there is only an artificial barrier to prevent his sympathies extending to the men of all nations and races." (The Descent of Man)

Darwin (and Phipps) also explode the idea that the theory of evolution preaches selfishness and apathy towards one's fellows:

"Darwin thought of humans more as protectors of one another than as predators on one another. When two tribes are in competition, he stated, the one that warns its members of danger and engages in mutual defense is more likely to succeed. The 'fittest' are not necessarily the brawniest, nor even those who sire the most offspring, but those who live cooperatively." (Chapter 6)

The point is also made that a god-magician who must continually interfere with the universe in order to keep it going smoothly is less worthy of worship than one who works indirectly by allowing the full potential of the universe to unfold through scientific law - a point always lost on the biblical creationists. It's a pity that these "creationists" are the people who most need to read this book but are the least likely to do so.


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