Greg Graffin / Steve Olson - Anarchy Evolution: Faith, Science and Bad Religion in a World Without God [book] (Cover Artwork)

Greg Graffin / Steve Olson

Greg Graffin / Steve Olson: Anarchy Evolution: Faith, Science and Bad Religion in a World Without God [book]Anarchy Evolution: Faith, Science and Bad Religion in a World Without God [book] (2010)
iT Books (Harper Collins)

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:

Contributed by: frankiebos516frankiebos516
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I'm currently living on Catholic Church property. I read this book while I've been here. I'm not a religious person, but I do have my beliefs and I'm living on this property because I'm doing the type of work (not evangelizing or indoctrinating) where I feel that the ends justify the means. Like I s.

I'm currently living on Catholic Church property. I read this book while I've been here. I'm not a religious person, but I do have my beliefs and I'm living on this property because I'm doing the type of work (not evangelizing or indoctrinating) where I feel that the ends justify the means. Like I said, I do have my faith, though, and reading Anarchy Evolution has challenged every thread of it.

Greg Graffin is smarter than you'll probably ever be. If not smarter, he's probably way better at articulating his smarts. I guess a PhD from Cornell will do that to you. That and an undergraduate and master's degree from UCLA. Those and 30 years of driving his point straight home via fronting Bad Religion. He's got some good practice and it almost feels way past due that he's written something like Anarchy Evolution. What's great about it, though, is that he has enough experience to cull from, where much like almost any Bad Religion song, there's no filler. Every line complements the last and will keep you engaged throughout.

Paralleling science with playing in a punk rock band and being involved in its surrounding culture seems like no easy task. Graffin takes it on and conquers it, though. He uses ecological analogies to describe the continued popularity of Bad Religion. He also compares crate diggers, or what he refers to them as "vinyl vermin," to himself as a scientist early on in his career.

Here's what he has to say about Bad Religion's 30 years of success...

"We consider our audience a precious and finite resource... Whenever we prepare to go on tour or produce a new Bad Religion record, we think about the negative aspects of overmilking our fans. We liken this overmilking to overhunting during the late Pleistocene or overfishing off the Peruvian coast. We respect our fans' intelligence and their desire to see and hear something new and special from us. Without our "core" fans, the band could not continue. We need to cultivate them by offering them new songs and playing live concerts for them with the hope that their enthusiasm for us will grow."

Here's another good one, especially for you know-it-all Punknews.org readers...

"Have you ever met anybody with an encyclopedic knowledge of obscure rock bands?... There could be an obscure garage band from England that released just five hundred copies of a single album. None of the rest of us would have ever heard of the band, but the vinyl vermin could tell you more about it than you ever wanted to know... The problem with most vinyl vermin, I've found, is that they let their knowledge of trivia overwhelm their judgment. Despite their encyclopedic learning, I can't recall having a single discussion with them about whether any of the bands were actually any good... The lesson I learned from the vinyl vermin was that the most important thing about gathering information is what you do with it. The 'secret language' of taxonomy might have made me feel special, but words applied to fossil species (or obscure words) didn't satisfy me."

It's like that.

He also includes some amazingly candid stories, in which he is unabashed in his nerdiness, such as one about when he'd just played a show in Brazil and had women lined up at his hotel to sleep with him. Here's what he did in that situation...

"It was nearly midnight when our tour manager alerted me about my 'guests' downstairs. I was lonesome and far from home, and Rio women are legendary... I was dreaming instead of my planned adventure for the coming morning ?? seeing the last vestiges of Atlantic rain forest."

Dude, seriously?

I guess it's better than, like, dandelions in a field or something, but c'mon man!

But seriously, Greg Graffin has worked with the best in the world of science and seems to be one of them now. He speaks of his time spent conversing and sipping tea with Richard Dawkins, author of the highly acclaimed The God Delusion, as well as with his various experiences with high-ranking scientists and professors in the scientific fields. But, while Anarchy Evolution, which might as well be short for "There Is No God, Nor Intelligent Design, All Things Happen Randomly," comes off like a well-written thesis from start to finish, and it's not condescending, which is most impressive. The facts are there and they're there in bold form, but his intention is not to force them down your throat.

He states, "When I create, I feel that I am a participant in the grand pageant of life, a part of the ongoing creative engine of the universe. I don't know if that feeling is enough to replace the solace of religion in the lives of most people, but it is for me."



People who liked this also liked:
Bad Religion - The Dissent of ManNOFX - The DeclineThe Menzingers - Chamberlain WaitsBad Religion - True NorthRise Against - Revolutions Per MinuteThe Flatliners - CavalcadeNone More Black - IconsMinor Threat - Complete DiscographyAgainst Me! - Searching For A Former ClarityThe Clash - London Calling

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
MaxwellMurder (January 7, 2011)

Spot on, EZ3.

killtaker (November 8, 2010)

To Outbreak below: this is not an academic book or a scientific dissertation. This is a "pop" book. It is basically an autobiography in which Graffin writes about his life as a musician and a scientist. He draws some parallels between the two but if you are look for some type of academic research study this isn't it.

EZ3 (November 7, 2010)

I refuse to participate in the charade that Graffin is smart. His lyrics read like high school essays, his politics match mine when I was 14. Is he actually an anarchist, or does he just throw the word vaguely everything until its meaningless? What arguments could he possibly bring to table that haven't been done better by Dawkins, Hitchens, or Harris?

sweetser (November 6, 2010)

Good review, and I'm looking forward to reading this. Steve Olson wrote a great book a few years ago, "Mapping Human History" which breaks down the human genome project for popular consumption. Anyone interested in human evolution should consider reading that book, which explains how new research of our genetic history can track early human migrations around the world. I'm excited to see the product of the collaboration between Olsn & Graffin.

fox82 (November 5, 2010)

So let me see if I got this right; this is not really an academix discussion on evolution or the history of Bad Religion, but Graffin and Olson rambling about everything? Like they've both just had a couple beers and they're just shooting the shit?

burntorangepeel (November 4, 2010)

I forgot to type "Probably" after my own rhetorical question.

burntorangepeel (November 4, 2010)

Am I alone in my belief that "American Lesion" is a most depressing but equally great album?

MaxwellMurder (November 4, 2010)

"is it just poorly drawn parallels between punk and evolution to make him seem smart"?

Yes. That being said, the parts where he talks about the history of Bad Religion were pretty cool; his discussion of evolution is really superficial and might as well have been left out all together.

opies (November 3, 2010)

Basically, the book is a synopsis of his educational and musical life. He tries to explain how the "anarchy" in living life led him to being in BR and how the "anarchy" in nature has led to this planet being the way it is now. It is a good read. But then again, I'm a huge Bad Religion fan.

outbreak (November 3, 2010)

The review is a little unclear about the subject matter of the book. Is it an exploration of evolutionary theory that has some of greg graffin's tales from being in bad religion (if so why?). If so is it worth reading from a scientific perspective. As an undergraduate biochemist (for which I have to read a fair amount of scientific papers) am I going to learn anything or is it just poorly drawn paralles between punk and evolution to make him seem smart. Also, I don't see how he is connecting evolution and bad religion with anarchy? I cant see any way in which bad religion could be perceived as anarchic regarding their actions as band. Or is it similar to that poorly argued, incredibly smug, unoriginal pile of wank, the god delusion, in that it rehashes plenty of well established arguments in a somewhat simplistic fashion.
When you said that it was well articulated was that in comparison to rancid lyrics, or to nature articles.

burntorangepeel (November 3, 2010)

I am enjoying this book immensely. Good book, nice review.

Wesley_Snipes (November 3, 2010)


sawdonkey (November 3, 2010)

The book comes signed too. I got it but haven't dove in yet.

punk_sk (November 3, 2010)

inb4 someone posts his video chat picture

publichousing (November 2, 2010)

I really want to get this book. It doesn't matter if I agree with him on everything or not, what's important is that he makes me think...

Also (as Mikey pointed out) that quote at the end is "cute".

MusicFiend2310 (November 2, 2010)

I'm reading it. It's really interesting.

mikexdude (November 2, 2010)

I really want to pick this up. That last quote is pretty cute.

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