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

Hardcover | June 9, 2015

byEric Dietrich

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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. The book 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, revealing a universe worthy of awe and wonder.

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From the Publisher

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 m...

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, epistemo...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:208 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.98 inPublished:June 9, 2015Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231171021

ISBN - 13:9780231171021

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Table of Contents

Author's NoteAcknowledgmentsWho's in Charge of the World's Mysteries?1. The Traveler to Excellent Beauty: Invited Rather Than DraftedPart I. Of Spiritual Journeys2. What Is a Religion?3. The One Billion4. The Traveler's Dark Night of the SoulAppendix to Chapter 4: Statistics and Probability Meet JobPart II. The Biology of Religion, the Psychology of Morality5. Justifying the Ways of God to Man via EvolutionAppendix to Chapter 5: Yes, There Really Is Such a Thing as a Coincidence6. Does God Want You Dead?7. Good Without GodsPart III. The Journey in Tatters8. Beyond Atheism: The Religion Illusion9. The Janus-Faced HominidPart IV. Ther Heretic's Way: Into the Mysterious Realm10. Some Strangeness in the ProportionAppendix to Chapter 10: A Compendium of Mysteries11. The Beauty of Seeing More Than We Can UnderstandAppendix to Chapter 11: Welcome to the Inscrutable12. The Personal Mystery and the Impersonal God13. Summa MysteriologicaNotesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

Science, Eric Dietrich claims, is the most open door into profound mystery that human beings have yet invented. Excellent Beauty urges science to wrest control of the discourse of mystery from religions, which have fiercely defended their claim to be the exclusive purveyors of mystery for centuries. The mystery science reveals is not a god who loves us, but an unknowable universe in which we must learn to take care of ourselves.