Books  General Natural History  Philosophy, Ethics & Religion 

Excellent Beauty: The Naturalness of Religion and the Unnaturalness of the World

By: Eric Dietrich(Author)

Columbia University Press

Hardback | Jul 2015 | #221191 | ISBN-13: 9780231171021
Availability: Usually dispatched within 4 days Details
NHBS Price: £20.50 $28/€23 approx

About this book

Flipping convention on its head, Eric Dietrich argues that science uncovers awe-inspiring, enduring mysteries, while religion, regarded as the source for such mysteries, is a biological phenomenon. Just like spoken language, Dietrich shows that religion is an evolutionary adaptation. Science is the source of perplexing yet beautiful mysteries, however natural the search for answers may be to human existence.

Excellent Beauty undoes our misconception of scientific inquiry as an executioner of beauty, making the case that science has won the battle with religion so thoroughly it can now explain why religion persists. Excellent Beauty also draws deep lessons for human flourishing from the very existence of scientific mysteries. It is these latter wonderful, completely public truths that constitute some strangeness in the proportion and reveal a universe worthy of awe and wonder.

"Excellent Beauty boldly breaks the code of silence that keeps coolly rational academics from attempting to link evolution and theology. Dietrich reflects on some of the deepest mysteries of religious thought, but he does so from the viewpoint of a philosopher with deep training in logic and firmly grounded reasoning."
- John Sullins, Sonoma State University

"This is, quite simply, one ofthe most eloquent books on religion and science I have read in recent years. Dietrich writes clearly and accessibly, with a touch of humor and a great deal of personality. His book moves fluidly between historically supported arguments and pedagogically minded examples, all presented in a limpid style that will be attractive to the general reader."
- William Egginton, The Johns Hopkins University


Author's Note

Introduction: Who's in Charge of the World's Mysteries?
1. The Traveler to Excellent Beauty: Invited Rather Than Drafted

Part 1
2. What Is a Religion?
3. The One Billion
4. The Traveler's Dark Night of the Soul
Appendix to Chapter 4: Statistics and Probability Meet Job

Part 2
5. Justifying the Ways of God to Man via Evolution
Appendix to Chapter 5: Yes, There Really Is Such a Thing as a Coincidence
6. Does God Want You Dead?
7. Good Without Gods

Part 3
8. Beyond Atheism: The Religion Illusion
9. The Janus-Faced Hominid

Part 4
10. Some Strangeness in the Proportion
Appendix to Chapter 10: A Compendium of Mysteries
11. The Beauty of Seeing More Than We Can Understand
Appendix to Chapter 11: Welcome to the Inscrutable
12. The Personal Mystery and the Impersonal God
13. Summa Mysteriologica


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Eric Dietrich is professor of philosophy at Binghamton University and the founding editor and current editor in chief of the Journal of Experimental and Theoretical Artificial Intelligence. He is the author of numerous papers and several books focusing on cognitive science, consciousness, artificial intelligence, metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophy of mind.

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