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The Genetic Gods

Evolution and Belief in Human Affairs

John C. Avise

$32.95

Paperback

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Harvard University Press
02 May 2001
They mastermind our lives, shaping our features, our health, and our behavior, even in the sacrosanct realms of love and sex, religion, aging, and death. Yet we are the ones who house, perpetuate, and give the promise of immortality to these biological agents, our genetic gods. The link between genes and gods is hardly arbitrary, as the distinguished evolutionary geneticist John Avise reveals in this compelling book. In clear, straightforward terms, Avise reviews recent discoveries in molecular biology, evolutionary genetics, and human genetic engineering, and discusses the relevance of these findings to issues of ultimate concern traditionally reserved for mythology, theology, and religious faith.

The book explains how the genetic gods figure in our development--not just our metabolism and physiology, but even our emotional disposition, personality, ethical leanings, and, indeed, religiosity. Yet genes are physical rather than metaphysical entities. Having arisen via an amoral evolutionary process--natural selection--genes have no consciousness, no sentient code of conduct, no reflective concern about the consequences of their actions. It is Avise's contention that current genetic knowledge can inform our attempts to answer typically religious questions--about origins, fate, and meaning. The Genetic Gods challenges us to make the necessary connection between what we know, what we believe, and what we embody.
By:   John C. Avise
Imprint:   Harvard University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Edition:   New edition
Dimensions:   Height: 235mm,  Width: 156mm,  Spine: 16mm
Weight:   390g
ISBN:   9780674005334
ISBN 10:   0674005333
Pages:   288
Publication Date:   02 May 2001
Audience:   College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  Professional & Vocational ,  A / AS level ,  Further / Higher Education
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

John C. Avise is Professor of Genetics at the University of Georgia and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1994 he served as President of the Society for the Study of Evolution.

Reviews for The Genetic Gods: Evolution and Belief in Human Affairs

[Avise's] account of the role genes play in shaping the human condition is wholly involving...In addition to presenting ample biological information in a form accessible to the non-specialist, Avise does a superb job of discussing many of the ethical implications that have arisen from our growing knowledge of human genetics. Just a few of the topics covered are genetic engineering, the patenting of life, genetic screening, abortion, human cloning, gene therapy and insurance-related controversies. - Publishers Weekly


  • Nominated for Don K. Price Award 2001

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