Copyright ©1999 Stephen Jay Gould; Copyright (P)1999 NewStar Media Inc.
I love Gould's insights, read almost all his books and mourned his passing. This book is different, rather than letting the data and drive conclusion, Gould decided on the conclusion and presented little that opposed this.
For example, Gould is correct that Galileo's problems were more political then scientific. But he never explores the damage to popular science that the Catholic Church did by Galileo's public trial. If you inadvertently knock a flowerpot off a 22 story building and the impact destroys a pedestrian's head; there may be a legal difference if it was intentional or accidential, but to the poor walker it matters not, nor if the flower was an almost dead marigold or a prize winning orchid. Gould basically talks about how wonderfully you grew orchid and not the consequences as he expounds upon how the higher ups in the Church discuss and debate all sorts of scientific and philosophical ideas. He ignores that these discussions do not lead to any ground-breaking policies or reforms.
Still this is Gould and as always he has unique ways of looking at science and religion that exposed some of my own prejudices about science and religion.
I liked it. It was interesting, but I was never sure it needed to be written. I wonder if those that need to understand the concept of Non-overlapping Magisteria would ever read the book. I think he cited great examples, and explained himself well. I did learn that 1) the flat Earth idea wasn't how we viewed the world in the Middle Ages, we only started to say we did in the 1870's. and 2) that the idea of the conflict of science and religion was a made up idea. Those were both good to know. Seemed like a lot of work for a simple idea. I liked it. I like Stephen Jay Gould. Wouldn't call this his best book, but still interesting. It was worth reading. It definitely help my attention.
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