Take one man who rejects authority and religion, and leads a punk band. Take another man who wonders whether vertebrates arose in rivers or in the ocean, is fascinated by evolution, creativity, and Ice Age animals. Put them together, what do you get? Greg Graffin, and this uniquely fascinating book.
Bucking authority and the religious views of his family, Graffin explains how he has developed a personal philosophy that celebrates the power of nature.
Graffin is one of those rare people who seem to have combined two lives into one. He’s one of a small but growing number of atheists in the United States willing to talk about the damage they believe religion can do.
A worldview eloquently expressed.
Anarchy Evolution sets out to draw connections between evolution, naturalist thought and punk, an undertaking that might sound rife with the potential to be reachy—or preachy. But Graffin and Olson manage to weave the seemingly disparate concepts together into a satisfying narrative.
Whether you’re a believer, an atheist, an agnostic, or anything in between, this is a necessary book.
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.