Sunday Book Notes

29 07 2007

I got off to a bit of a late start today, and being that I’m a bit under-the-weather I don’t know if I have any substantial posts in me. Still, here are some more superficial notes about this weekend’s reading;

Medals of Creation; While I did not read every page of Mantell’s two-volume work, I was very much impressed by it and had previously been misled as to its contents. While I had previously been told it was a pious appeal to reconcile geology with the Bible, it is instead a general and well-organized summation of fossils known at that time. Indeed, Mantell does make some great observations, although the lack of an evolutionary mindset holds him back from the brink of complete brilliance. Still, there is much that can be learned from the book, that not only surveys fossils but where they can be found and how to collect them, the religious aspect seeming more like an aside or requisite inclusion rather than an overarching theme. If you can find this book, I would highly endorse a reading of it.

A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Chritendom; This is an absolutely mammoth work (my arm began to fall asleep holding it), but it was exceptionally well-written and researched. While I wish White would include more original source material concerning the origins of the Jewish/Christian Genesis myth in earlier mythologies, the book is nonetheless a wonderful history of the emergence of scientific thought from confused theology. White, however, highly respects most of the figures covered in the book no matter how wrong they might be, making this a joy to read (rather than one extremely long polemic attack on the suppression of science by religion). If you have the time to read it, it would be in your best interest to do so (no matter what your personal beliefs are).

Chances are I’ll be on White’s book for the better part of this week, at which time I’ll probably switch over to Cope and then Darwin, finishing out the summer with the works on biogepgraphy I’ve accumulated. By that time I’ll likely be in the market for some more books, but I won’t make any selections until I’m at least finished with Darwin.


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3 responses

29 07 2007
Michael Barton

It seems the text of “Medals of Creation” is freely available here:
http://www.geology.19thcenturyscience.org/books/1844-Mantell-MedalsCreation/htm/doc.html

29 07 2007
29 07 2007
laelaps

Thanks for the links Michael! I probably could have saved a good deal of money had I known, but at least I can look at some of the others now. I know White’s book and Gosse’s Omphalos are online now too, so it’s good to see that people are making so many works available.

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