The official site of bestselling author Michael Shermer The official site of bestselling author Michael Shermer

The Demon of Determinism

written April 2003
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A review of Daniel C. Dennett’s Freedom Evolves.

Next to the question of God’s existence there is arguably no greater conundrum in Western thought than the problem of free will and determinism, and the two are inextricably interdigitated. God’s omniscience and (continue reading…)

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Darwin’s Duomo and Gould’s Pinnacle

written April 2002
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A review of Stephen Jay Gould’s The Structure of Evolutionary Theory.

We live in the Age of Science. Scientism is our worldview, our mythic story about who we are, where we came from, and where we are going. As such, scientists are our preeminent storytellers, the mythmakers of our epoch. (continue reading…)

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Is God All in the Mind?

written July 2001
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A review of Andrew Newberg, Eugene D’Aquili, and Vince Rause’s Why God Won’t Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief.

About ten years ago I began research on the question of why people believe in God, I asked a colleague in a religious studies program to recommend the latest path-breaking scientific work in this area. (continue reading…)

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The Metagene Gene

written January 2001
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A review of Matt Ridley’s Genome: the Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters.

We are at a unique confluence of science and publishing where the results of the former are being dispersed by the latter at such a rate that even the most ardent reader of popular science books can hardly keep up. This is good news for science, of course, since its products are outstripping even Moore’s law of doubling every eighteen months, so updates and revisions are called for just as frequently. Lucky for publishers that readers are willing and able to plunk down a quarter of a hundred bucks to discover the secrets of the cosmos and life, and literary agents specializing in science tomes are demanding — and getting — five- and six-figure advances for their clients. And by most counts publishers are earning out those advances in a matter of months, thereby closing indefinitely the gap between C.P. Snow’s two cultures. (continue reading…)

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The Evolution Wars

written July 2000
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A review of three books: Ullica Segerstråle’s Defenders of the Truth, Robin Marantz Henig’s The Monk in the Garden, and Jeffrey K. McKee’s The Riddled Chain.

Creationism, in some form, will probably be with us as long as biblical fundamentalists continue their misguided efforts to squeeze the square peg of religion into the round hole of science. But the debate over whether evolution happened was (continue reading…)

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