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Darwin, God and the Meaning of Life
How Evolutionary Theory Undermines Everything You Thought You Knew

$21.99 (P)

  • Date Published: November 2010
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521762786

$ 21.99 (P)
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About the Authors
  • If you accept evolutionary theory, can you also believe in God? Are human beings superior to other animals, or is this just a human prejudice? Does Darwin have implications for heated issues like euthanasia and animal rights? Does evolution tell us the purpose of life, or does it imply that life has no ultimate purpose? Does evolution tell us what is morally right and wrong, or does it imply that ultimately nothing is right or wrong? In this fascinating and intriguing book, Steve Stewart-Williams addresses these and other fundamental philosophical questions raised by evolutionary theory and the exciting new field of evolutionary psychology. Drawing on biology, psychology and philosophy, he argues that Darwinian science supports a view of a godless universe devoid of ultimate purpose or moral structure, but that we can still live a good life and a happy life within the confines of this view.

    • Brings together philosophy and evolutionary psychology in a way that will open up debate between the two disciplines
    • Goes beyond the God question to consider the implications of evolutionary theory for all areas of philosophy
    • Topics covered include: God, life after death, whether we are superior to other animals, the meaning of life, voluntary euthanasia, and the proper treatment of other animals
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "Steve Stewart-Williams explains how evolutionary thought challenges many deep-seated assumptions about God, morality, and human superiority and raises significant questions about such things as euthanasia, suicide, and the way we treat non-human animals. While it has become commonplace for many to equate Darwin's legacy with the stripping away of the moral and the good and to replace it with unpalatable 'Darwinist' alternatives that advocate a morality, nihilism, and a world where 'might makes right', Stewart-Williams carefully and entertainingly shows that, on the contrary, the world after Darwin remains meaningful, wondrous, and intrinsically moral."
    --Stephen Hill, Massey University

    "This is an important, accessible, and timely book for anyone wishing to understand the implications of evolutionary theory for standard views of human nature, morality and religion."
    --Stephen Boulter, Oxford Brookes University

    "....If you are a broad thinker, you will really enjoy Stewart-Williams’ work...."
    --David W. Boles, memeingful.com

    "....Stewart-Williams leverages the "God of the gaps" argument in addressing the many models that have been put forth to explain evolutionary theory within the context of a universe directed on some level by supernatural forces.... Essential...."
    --J.A. Hewlett, Finger Lakes Community College, CHOICE

    "....This book is clearly written and vigorously argued. It covers a lot of ground.... This book would be fine for an introductory undergraduate course. The discussion is a bit more focused and systematic than recent New Atheist books...."
    --Guy Kahane, University of Oxford, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

    "...terrific tome.... If you are interested in formulating a comprehensive and defensible worldview, one that accepts our scientific understanding of how life evolved, then this book provides a sound basis for your further deliberations and quests in a wide range of disciplines.... This book deserves a place in every atheist’s library." "This important, well-written, incisive post-doctoral work addresses the consequences - for philosophy, religion, morals and ethics - of taking Darwin seriously. It is the kind of holistic treatise on Darwinian (r)evolution that its author has been seeking to read."
    --Dierk von Behrens

    "...Darwin, God and the Meaning of Life is a trailblazing advancement of the application of scientific values to traditionally metaphysical questions. Stewart-Williams presents his arguments clearly and concisely, making the book accessible, informative, and enjoyable. While certain to spark debate, this book is a valuable step in opening up the grand questions of life to the realm of scientific inquiry and reason."
    --Christopher W. Land and Todd K. Shackelford, Oakland University, Evolutionary Psychology,

    "Darwin, God, and the Meaning of Life is a welcome addition to the literature on belief and disbelief. It is clearly written and highly readable."
    --George Lăzăroiu, PhD /IISHSS, New York, Review of Contemporary Philosophy

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2010
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521762786
    • length: 352 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 161 x 25 mm
    • weight: 0.69kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Darwin and the big questions
    Part I. Darwin Gets Religion:
    2. Clash of the Titans
    3. Design after Darwin
    4. Darwin's God
    5. God as gap filler
    6. Darwin and the problem of evil
    7. Wrapping up religion
    Part II. Life After Darwin:
    8. Human beings and their place in the universe
    9. The status of human beings among the animals
    10. Meaning of life, RIP?
    Part III. Morality Stripped of Superstition:
    11. Evolving good
    12. Remaking morality
    13. Uprooting the doctrine of human dignity
    14. Evolution and the death of right and wrong.

  • Author

    Steve Stewart-Williams, University of Wales, Swansea
    Steve Stewart-Williams is a lecturer in evolutionary psychology at Swansea University. Before taking this position, he did his PhD at Massey University in New Zealand, and then did a postdoctoral fellowship at McMaster University in Canada. His research and writing covers a diverse range of topics, including the placebo effect, the philosophy of biology, and the evolution of altruism and mating behaviour.

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