The Genetic Gods: Evolution and Belief in Human Affairs

John C. Avise, Author Harvard University Press $31.5 (288p) ISBN 978-0-674-34625-3
Addressing himself to the ""open-minded reader who would appreciate a simplified discussion of recent evolutionary-genetic findings,"" Avise, professor of biology at the University of Georgia, states that genes control so much of our behavior, health and thoughts that they can be considered ""gods,"" with more say in our everyday lives than those of the world's major religions. ""Genes are tangible entities, with profound influences on humanity. Indeed, over the last century, the genetic gods would seem to have wrestled from the supernatural gods considerable authority over human affairs. Does any room remain for a metaphysical god?"" Although Avise takes this metaphor too far, his account of the role genes play in shaping the human condition is wholly involving, paying particular attention to issues of reproduction, aging and death. In addition to presenting ample biological information in a form accessible to the nonspecialist, 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. 21 line illustrations. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 09/01/1998
Ebook - 289 pages - 978-0-674-02035-1
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-674-00533-4
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