Edward Burnett Tylor (1832-1917) may not be a household name today, but during the second half of the nineteenth century the Victorian anthropologist and scientific naturalist was a figurehead for anthropology throughout the British Empire. At his seventy-fifth birthday in 1907, his former student and friend Andrew Lang (1844-1912) argued that ‘he who would vary from Mr. Tylor’s ideas must do so in fear and trembling (as the present writer knows from experience)’ (Lang, 1907, p.1). Continue reading Edward Burnett Tylor and the Evolution of Religion
If a person answers in a survey that they do not accept evolution, it sounds like the simplest and clearest thing. Surely, we can conclude that the person turns their back on evolutionary science as a relevant approach to assess the natural world and thinks that no organisms evolve. Or can we? What if, when answering a question about evolution, the person was not really thinking about evolutionary science, science or even nature? In this territory of ‘Something Else’, what could “no” then mean?
The philosopher, logician and peace activist Bertrand Russell lived for almost a century, with his life spanning from the late-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century. He grew up in Britain at the height of its empire, and lived through much of the twentieth century’s major upheavals including two European world wars, the rise of communism, women’s emancipation, America’s rising imperialism and the cold war. By the age of 40 Russell was deeply involved in political movements. Russell’s achievements in philosophy and logic had given his opinions on broader political and contemporary issues deeper significance. Many of these opinions concerned both science and religion. Although Russell gave up his Christian faith in childhood, he continued to write about religion as well as moral, ethical, and scientific questions in books and essays such as Mysticism and Logic (1917), “Why I am not a Christian” (1927), The Scientific Outlook (1931) and Religion and Science (1935). The media, including many British newspapers and BBC radio and television programs, sought out Russell’s perspective on many topics including those on science and religion. Continue reading Why I am not a Christian: Bertrand Russell on Science and Religion