A Tale of Two Religions?

I had to hastily finish Michael Ruse's wonderful book The Creation-Evolution Struggle because it's due back to the public library. But it will repay a second loan. Ruse, a philosopher by training, has here written a bit of a page-turner history of the emergence of evolutionary theory and the ensuing debates and clash with religion--particularly creationism and intelligent design.

Ruse is eminently fair to both sides, without pulling any punches. It's particularly interesting to find a non-Christian scholar (Ruse variously describes himself as a "deist" and an "agnostic") who recognizes the long history of how legitimate evolutionary science is regularly morphed into a kind of secular religion. Ruse distinguishes these with the rubric of "evolution" or "evolutionary science" vs. "evolutionism"--the latter being the equivalent of a "secular religion." Ruse is at pains to argue that evolution did not necessarily entail evolutionism; but nevertheless, contingently and historically it did and has regularly yielded the latter.

Curiously, Ruse the philosopher here avoids properly philosohical questions (e.g., the epistemic conditions of "science," etc.), but he has addressed those questions elsewhere. This book provides an excellent history of the emergence of evolutionary theory and should be required reading for anyone interested in these questions.