Anarchy Evolution: Faith, Science, and Bad Religion in a World Without Godby Greg Graffin, Steve Olson
Most people know Greg Graffin as the lead singer of the punk band Bad Religion, but few know that he also received a PhD from Cornell University and teaches evolution at the University of California at Los Angeles. In Anarchy Evolution, Graffin argues that art and science have a deep connection. As an adolescent growing up when "drugs, sex, and trouble/i>
Most people know Greg Graffin as the lead singer of the punk band Bad Religion, but few know that he also received a PhD from Cornell University and teaches evolution at the University of California at Los Angeles. In Anarchy Evolution, Graffin argues that art and science have a deep connection. As an adolescent growing up when "drugs, sex, and trouble could be had on any given night," Graffin discovered that the study of evolution provided a framework through which he could make sense of the world.
In this provocative and personal book, he describes his own coming of age as an artist and the formation of his naturalist worldview on questions involving God, science, and human existence. While the battle between religion and science is often displayed in the starkest of terms, Anarchy Evolution provides fresh and nuanced insights into the long-standing debate about atheism and the human condition. It is a book for anyone who has ever wondered if God really exists.
With the assistance of science journalist Olson (Mapping Human History: Discovering the Past Through Our Genes, 2002, etc.), Bad Religion leader Graffin presents a memoir of a life lived "at the intersection of evolutionary biology and punk rock."
In 1980, at age 15, Graffin co-founded the seminal punk band and also became fascinated with the writings and ideas of evolution. Bad Religion still plays and records, and the author is an evolutionary biologist with a doctorate in zoology from Cornell University. For Graffin, the appeal of both worlds was that, at their best, they challenged authority, dogma and given truths and opened up space for the anarchic process of creativity. As a naturalist, the author states that "the physical universeisthe universe"—there is nothing more. But that is more than enough for him, as having a role in the unfolding adventure of life on earth—which includes both tragedy and death—sustains him. Life, he writes, is not simply an inexorable process of natural selection, in which the fittest survive and procreate, but an anarchic creative collision of biology and environment, chance and circumstance. Graffin and Olson explain this view of evolution in clear, accessible language. While avoiding easy analogies with evolution, a large part of the book is devoted to the evolution ofBad Religion, as its art and career careened in unpredictable directions. Along the way, Graffin provides a wonderful depiction of the early L.A. punk scene, a detailed account of his adventures doing field work in the remote Amazon region of Bolivia and an honest appraisal of his failure to successfully balance science, music and family. In the end, writes the author, it is the human trait of empathy—not religion or any other authority—that allows us to recognize our common humanity and to accept the uniqueness of each individual.
Humble, challenging and inspiring.
- HarperCollins Publishers
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- 5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)
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Meet the Author
Greg Graffin, born in Madison, Wisconsin, is the lead vocalist and songwriter of the legendary punk band Bad Religion, which he co-founded in Los Angeles in 1980. Graffin obtained his Ph.D. in Zoology at Cornell University. He has served as a lecturer in Life Sciences and in Paleontology at the University of California, Los Angeles. He splits his time between a family farm near Ithaca, New York, and Los Angeles.
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