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Moral Darwinism: How We Became Hedonists (Christian Classics Bible Studies) Paperback – 27 Feb 2003

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Abortion. Euthanasia. Infanticide. Sexual promiscuity. Ideas and actions once unthinkable have become commonplace. We seem to live in a different moral universe than we occupied just a few decades ago. Consent and noncoercion seem to be the last vestiges of a morality long left behind. Christian moral tenets are now easily dismissed and have been replaced with what is curiously presented as a superior, more magnanimous, respectful and even humble morality. How did we end up so far away from where we began? Can the decline be stopped? Ben Wiker, in this provocative and insightful book, traces the amazing story that explains our present cultural situation. Wiker finds the roots of our moral slide reaching all the way back to the ethical theory and atheistic cosmology of the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus. Christian teaching had been in contention with this worldview long before it reached its pinnacle with the rise and acceptance of Darwinism. But it was Darwinism, Wiker contends, that provided this ancient teaching with the seemingly modern and scientific basis that captured twentieth-century minds. Wiker demonstrates that this ancient atomistic and materialistic philosophy supplies the guiding force behind Darwinism and powerfully propels the hedonistic bent of our society while promoting itself under the guise of pure science. This book is a challenge not only to those who believe Darwinism to be purely scientific fact but to Christian who have at times inconsistently lived out their Christian moral convictions and so have failed to recognize and address the ancient corrosive underpinnings of our present moral and intellectual crisis.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 26 reviews
70 of 84 people found the following review helpful
From Epicurus to Darwin 21 Dec. 2002
By Phillip Johnson - Published on
Format: Paperback
Although I have written six books about Darwinism, I learned much from Ben Wiker's book. Wiker tells the engrossing story of the centuries-long contest between Epicureanism and Christianity, with the Epicureans finally winning their long battle to impose their philosophy on science and the cultural definition of "knowledge." Exploiting the authority of science, Epicureans were able to seize the high moral and intellectual ground for agosticism and materialism,thereby demoting Christianity from its prior intellectual prominence into the marginalized status it now occupies in the intellectual and university world. The Epicurean objective always has been and remains to achieve a moral objective by effectively banning the supernatural from reality, and with it any fear of judgment after death. Attaining this objective prepared the way for all the events we associate with the 1960s. Ben Wiker's intellectual history tells us far more than any scientific book could of the purpose and effect of the long campaign to establish matrialism as the governing philosophy of the world. I highly recommend it.
by Phillip Johnson (author of "Darwin on Trial)< Berkeley, CA USA
44 of 56 people found the following review helpful
Western Civilization in a Nutshell 28 April 2005
By Brad Shorr - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Anyone seeking to understand the moral plight of the Western world should drop everything and read this book. The author presents a sweeping history of materialist moral philosophy from ancient Greece to current day. For Wiker, Western morality is split crisply and catastrophically into two utterly irreconcilable camps: the Epicurean, in which man is the measure of all things, and the Judeo-Christian, in which God is the measure of all things. Epicurus believed the goal of man is to reduce his personal pain and discomfort. Starting with this conclusion, he backed into a cosmology to support it, one which excludes the possibilities of (a) an afterlife and (b) divine interference with human affairs, both of which constrain our actions and leave us in a continual state of apprehension. It follows in the Epicurean view that nature is random and therefore without purpose. If nature is random, then there are no values or behaviors we humans are required to embrace. This conception of morality and its supporting cosmology, dormant from roughly Constantine to the Renaissance, revived when scientific discovery seemed to support Epicurean cosmic theories. It gained momentum as science advanced and eventually overwhelmed Judeo-Christian cosmology and morality, at least in terms of our social practices and laws. Wiker does an absolutely magnificent job of critiquing a host of enormously influential materialist figures including Newton, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Rousseau, and Darwin himself, elegantly and convincingly tracing their ideas back to their Epicurean sources, and revealing the true essence and implications of their ideas. Unfortunately, in a world where one person's idea of right and wrong is as good as another's, where the only true definition of right and wrong is how it makes us feel, abuses, miseries, and horrors are bound to ensue. As Wiker reviews the thought of such modern day monsters as Ernst Haeckel, Margaret Sanger, and Alfred Kinsey, we begin to get an idea of how awful the materialist's reality can be. And yet, Wiker points out that although scientific advances in our day undermine the random view of nature and strongly support a designer universe, the materialist habit of thought is so deeply ingrained that we cling to relativistic moral positions required by random nature anyway. There are so many fascinating ideas in this book it is almost impossible to summarize. But, I think it can help anyone put his/her ideas in perspective and offer some refreshingly sensible insight about our culture, which seems so irreconcilably split over issues like abortion, euthanasia, recreational drugs, etc., etc.
39 of 56 people found the following review helpful
All seriousness aside... 13 Aug. 2002
By Jennifer A. Atkinson - Published on
Format: Paperback
I would like to share my personal knowledge of the author. I have had the pleasure of studying under Dr. Wiker's guidance in three classes at my college. He is intelligent and humourous. He can take a complex subject, break it down, and help you come to understand it and appreciate it, similar to that great writer, C.S. Lewis. I have read a number of other articles that he has written on various subjects, and I have yet to be disappointed by his ability to convey an important and valid idea with simplicity and and a sense of the practical applications of the theoretical. If you have any interest in philosophy, or evolution, or theology: this is a book that is sure to offer a new perspective on all three. You will enjoy it, and come away with new knowledge and new thoughts that you might need to mull over, and consider, before you come back for a second read.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
well worth the price & time 5 Mar. 2010
By Rev. David Keuss - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have come across few books that are so useful as far as tracing cultural ideas. When one delves into philosophy more and more, the connections that Wiker makes appear highly credible. The ancient Greeks can be somewhat boring to read in my opinion, however the way that Wiker lays out his arguments make this an interesting read. For someone to cover a select strand of thought over history this well is impressive. I believe anyone would benefit from reading this book either as a refresher in ideas or else as a way to cover new territory. It is good either way. Highly recommended for a readers of all backgrounds.
11 of 17 people found the following review helpful
The Sexual Revolution is Over-- and Sex Lost 30 Jun. 2006
By Gord Wilson - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is a bombshell of a book, not because it unveils radical new ideas or a shocking revolutionary viewpoint, but simply because it inconveniently unearths long-buried and decently dead history. In that sense it's less like a grenade than a ticking time bomb.

It's about a dirty little secret called Eugenics or social engineering, widely promoted at the turn of the century in America and reaching its culmination in world war II. It's heyday was the '20s in America when immigration was restricted by race, Germans being the most desirable immigrants. Margaret Sanger originally started Planned Parenthood to limit the number of blacks, Jews and Irish Catholics--considered undesirables. Later she travelled to Nazi Germany and gave their eugenics program her stamp of approval.

Fast forward to the '60s and an example of lying with statistics called the Kinsey Report. The so-called poll came from convicts jailed for sexual crimes and was extrapolated to provide a survey of the sexual proclivities of Americans. Kinsey decisevely divided sex from marriage and procreation, saying there were only six types of sex and including in that sensual activities which previously wouldn't have been considered sex. In doing so he led the way for pornography to separate sex from the person. Kinsey's many "findings" and statistics are still quoted today by both friends and foes to inflate the numbers of sexual adventurers when, if anything, the trend is the other way, with a rediscovery of marriage and a return to stable families.

It's not that you can't read the facts that Wiker has compiled elsewhere, it's just that you won't, if the so-called "progressive" media has its way. As Wiker shows, it's all been done before. Desperate Housewives-- that's so last Tuesday.
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