Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life

Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life - Stephen Jay Gould The book's theme is Science and Religion have non overlapping domains, Science can't give ethical and moral truths and that religion should be respected when it stays within it's own domain.

I'm glad this book is not influential today. When it was written (in 1998 according to the book itself) marriage equality was completely being shot down by the imprimatur of religion. Science actually refuted each of the arguments used by religion ("it's not natural", "people aren't born that way", "it's Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve who were in the Garden of Eden", and other statements which Religions defined as moral truths), and Science showed their statements to be false thus changing the dialog. Science didn't need to go into the ethical or moral sphere directly, but rather provided arguments to refute statements based on authority only. This book would have allowed the science but seems like it would have suggested it remain silent instead of challenging the religious dogma which was based on authority alone.

Another example, a current senator from Oklahoma has written a book on how climate change is impossible because his revealed religion tells him so based on his moral beliefs and his interpretation of his bible. That argument by itself deserves no respect. The science is speaking loud and clear and global warming is real and is man made. Once again, on strict reading of Gould's book he would have allowed the science to proceed, but he would have required respect in challenging the assertions. I would suggest the arguments put forth in that book should be attacked and shown no respect whatsoever.

He did say a couple things in the book that highlight its anachronistic nature. He says, what happened before the big bang is best left to religion since nobody can say what happened before. The overwhelming majority of today's physicist ignore that statement and give reasonable theories and speculate what happened before the big bang. Also, he thinks ID (intelligence design) is not significant (as he was writing in 1998). It is very relevant today. We even had a president since that time who thought Russia was Gog (or Magog) and is part of the 'end times' as prophesied in Daniel and Revelations.

Morality and ethics are complex. Reason, rational thought, experience and our empathy and concepts of reciprocity are good starting points. People who pretend to know things they don't know and thus have no doubt do not make for good starting points and are best ignored if possible, but unfortunately anti-Marriage Equality, Climate Denialism, Intelligence Design, and other such items have real world consequences and must be considered for what they are: absurd positions not worthy of respect.

Overall, the book is silly and is best ignored.