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Australian philosopher, literary critic, and professional writer. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE.

Monday, May 26, 2008

New issue of Cosmos

The new issue of Cosmos magazine contains my review of Francisco J. Ayala's Darwin's Gift to Science and Religion. Ayala has some good material in defence of evolutionary theory, but the most interesting aspect of the book, from my viewpoint, is the way he attempts to use the fact of evolution to excuse God for the many imperfections, as we see them, with the world. The world contains various evils, says Ayala, because it is not the product of God's direct design.

However, as I observe in the review, an all-powerful, all-knowing deity need not resort to such clumsy and uncertain mechanisms as those of Darwinian evolution to bring about whatever world it wants. If this being is also benevolent, why did it not engage in direct design of a world without the evils that Ayala discusses?

The issue also contains a review by Jenny of Claire Brock's The Comet Sweeper, and a shortish article by me on Australian science fiction (I do have a nit-pick here, though, since my name has ended up being spelled incorrectly in the article's by-line; it looks like a sub-editor made a slip and forgot that "Russell" has two l's). The article has a little bit to say about Greg Egan's work, as you'd expect, but I haven't yet read Greg's new book, Incandescence. I'll be getting to that soon, and look forward to reviewing it for a future issue.

Then there's all the main articles up the front, including some interesting stuff about robotics.

Cosmos is a beautifully presented magazine whose content seems to get better all the time. Maybe it's worth your while to check out the current issue next time you're in an Australian newsagency and have time to browse the magazine rack.

1 comment:

stuart said...

Good to hear such praise for Cosmos magazine - we actually just started advertising on their website. (I work for melbourne uni now in the department of land and food resources).