5.20.2009

"Non-Overlapping Magisteria"

This opinion piece, inspired by the release of this book, takes a look at the political implications of evolutionary theory as seen through the eyes of prolific biologist/paleontologist and writer Stephen Jay Gould. Gould had complex opinions regarding the interrelationship of science and politics, particularly within the realm of religion--and they remain relevant today.

On religion, Gould used science to bash creationist propaganda and all efforts to have religion taught as science in America's public schools. At the same time, he attempted to defuse the conflict between science and religion, famously claiming that they occupy "non-overlapping magisteria." Science addresses the natural world, he said, and religion the moral world.


I think Gould is right in that while many of today's neuroscientists and primatologists might make arguments that science does address the "moral world," it fails to explain it to same degree that it can explain the natural world, regardless of data.

2 comments:

ben said...

Every time I read his stuff I get ticked he didn't make it to graduation that year.

Mike Orcutt said...

I think about that a lot, too.