Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Anarchy Evolution (Review)

Being the Bad Religion fan that I am, I had to at least check this book out as it was written by Bad Religion front man Greg Graffin, one of the first musicians to show me that Brains and Punk Rock music CAN go together.
Graffin is not only a musician but also has a PhD in zoology from Cornell University and lectures on life sciences and paleontology at UCLA.  Graffin has also been a nearly lifelong student of biological evolution, studying books on his own as a kid as well as formal education as an adult.
Anarchy Evolution spends it's pages jumping back and forth between documenting the evolution of the punk band Bad Religion and Graffin's own take on evolution vs. religion, occasionally being able to draw (lose) parallels and metaphors between the two.
I enjoyed the book over all and even through the science portions was relatively easy to read, a sort of laymen's terms explanation of the evolution vs. religion debate.  I found his references to religious people, Christianity in particular, to be rather vague generalities.  However, his observations are likely well founded especially since a great number of people claim to be Christians yet very few of them actually read the bible or adhere to its recommended practices (my words, not his).  I was quite surprised and rather pleased to read his explanation of a Naturalist that it is a philosophy or worldview and not simply someone who studies plants & animals, although that can have a very distinct impact on a Naturalist's worldview, and why someone who does not follow a religion can actually be a moral individual with a positive outlook on life.  Graffin also made a point about atheists that although I had observed it, especially in what I call "evangelical atheists", I never really could put my finger on it-atheists define themselves by something they are not, rather than something they are.  A rather dismal and negative approach to life if you ask me.
Graffin even finishes the book on a positive note, with the chapter A Meaningful Afterlife, where he explains his personal view on what that means from the perspective of someone who does not believe in another life following this one as virtually all religions do.  This chapter was refreshing as he illustrates that our imminent death with nothing to follow it is actually a great reason to live our lives as fully as we can and to make a positive impact on our friends and loved ones since those memories and the characteristics we pass on to them are the most important thing we will leave behind. 

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