The Jesuit and the Skull

( 8 )

Overview

From the New York Times bestselling author of Fermat's Last Theorem, 'an extraordinary story'( Philadelphia Inquirer) of discovery, evolution, science, and faith.

In 1929, French Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was a part of a group of scientists that uncovered a skull that became known as Peking Man, a key evolutionary link that left Teilhard torn between science and his ancient faith, and would leave him ostracized by his beloved Catholic Church. His struggle is at ...

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The Jesuit and the Skull

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Overview

From the New York Times bestselling author of Fermat's Last Theorem, 'an extraordinary story'( Philadelphia Inquirer) of discovery, evolution, science, and faith.

In 1929, French Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was a part of a group of scientists that uncovered a skull that became known as Peking Man, a key evolutionary link that left Teilhard torn between science and his ancient faith, and would leave him ostracized by his beloved Catholic Church. His struggle is at the heart of The Jesuit and the Skull, which takes readers across continents and cultures in a fascinating exploration of one of the twentieth century's most important discoveries, and one of the world's most provocative pieces of evidence in the roiling debate between creationism and evolution.

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Editorial Reviews

Los Angeles Times
[A] superb story.
Cleveland Plain Dealer
Exiled from France, forbidden to publish on evolution, denied prestigious academic appointments, Teilhard suffered mightily for his conviction. Aczel...is such a good storyteller, that I was caught up in the scientific discovery and taken by the personal anguish of this remarkable priest.
Boston Globe
[Aczel] writes elegantly and accessibly about the history of science...An important work of historical excavation.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594483356
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/4/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 935,282
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Amir D. Aczel, Ph.D., is the author of 17 books on mathematics and science, some of which have been international bestsellers. Aczel has taught mathematics, statistics, and history of science at various universities, and was a visiting scholar at Harvard in 2005-2007. In 2004, Aczel was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. He is also the recipient of several teaching awards, and a grant from the American Institute of Physics to support the writing of two of his books. Aczel is currently a research fellow in the history of science at Boston University. The photo shows Amir D. Aczel inside the CMS detector of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, the international laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland, while there to research his new book, "Present at the Creation: The Story of CERN and the Large Hadron Collider"—which is about the search for the mysterious Higgs boson, the so-called "God particle," dark matter, dark energy, the mystery of antimatter, Supersymmetry, and hidden dimensions of spacetime.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 11, 2009

    Excellent historical and scientific perspective; easy to read.

    Having read both The Divine Milieu and The Phenomenon of Man back in college in 1970, understanding only half the concepts, yet fascinated by the metaphysical approach Teilhard took to human evolution, it was refreshing to read Amir Aczel's short biography of this dedicated Jesuit. Neither books were required reading at my Fordham University theology classes, but a Jesuit professor had recommended them. The academic freedom we have enjoyed since Teilhard's time are in stark contrast to the resistance he experienced from the Vatican and his own religious society during the first half of the 20th century. It was a relief to read that Teilhard remained faithful to his religious vows to the end, while staying dedicated to his scientific vocation. Aczel has put flesh to the bones of that great scientist and thinker, and placed Teilhard in the proper historical and anthropological contexts.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 19, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Jesuit Philosopher and Paleontologist Struggles with Beliefs in Evolution

    The Jesuit and the Skill is a thought provoking biography of the famous Jesuit philosopher and paleontologist, Teilhard de Chardin, well known for his part in the discovery of the Peking Man. Teilhard's integration of evolution and modern science into Catholic belief led to a lifelong controversy with church officials and exile from his French homeland to silence his influence. Paradoxically, when Teilhard was exiled to China, he became key to the discovery of the Peking Man fossil, establishing the existence of early man. In a simple straightforward manner, Aczel summarized Teilhard's philosophy of human development and the future of evolutionary convergence to the concept of the Omega Point. Thoughts of Teilhard on the "moment in human development at which hominids became rational beings" was intriguing. In spite of his tribulations with the Catholic church, he remained a Jesuit priest to the end. His books and writings were published posthumously in order to follow the church decree. He died in exile in New York City in 1955.
    I recommend this book for a life well-lived with its philosophical controversies, the mystery of the missing Peking Man bones, and the heroism of being a modern man in religion. People struggling with the concept of evolution today would do well to read this book.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 10, 2012

    Highly Recommended for those Interested in the Evolution of Man

    This was the first book by Amir Aczel I have read and I will definitely explore other of his works. The Jesuit and the Skull is a fantastic story about a Priest that was able to combine the scientific evidance for Evolution with his Faith and come up with solution that satisified both. It is a story about one persons quest and devotion to his God and ability to become a well respected Scientist in the process. His discoveries and postions of Education allowed others to expand their knowledge about the world around them and understand that the Earth is not static as some believe (and still do), but is a continual changing place for all of us and the life it contains. The end point was his Omega Point which you will have to read for yourself to appreciate.

    He was a devoted man of God and Christ despite the fact that the Vatican continually placed him in exile and prevented any publicans of his works. Fortunately for us all, he was exiled to China where he helped in the discovery of Peking Man and before his death in NYC, he willed his writings to an American lady that then had them all published. He was presuaded to do this by his many friends in the Scientific community as well as some of his fellow Jesuits, otherwise his works would still be sealed away at the Vatican as are some of the other pieces of information about him. Secrets still remain and are out of bounds by the church.

    Despite this mistreatment at their hands, he remained a loyal servant to Christ and the Church. More importantly for us, as you will see when you read the book, he helped enlighten us all regarding our orgins and how the conflict between science and religion is man made. Outstanding book and makes me want to read more in the area of Mans evolution. It is also a wonderful book for those that seem to find it difficult to accept Evolution yet remain within their faith.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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