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Michael Ruse

Michael Escott Ruse
Born (1940-06-21) June 21, 1940
Birmingham, England
Website /35805/full/view/
Institutions Florida State University (2000–present)
University of Guelph (1965–2000)
Main interests
Philosophy of biology
Philosophy of science

Michael Ruse, FRSC (born 21 June 1940) is a philosopher of science who specializes in the philosophy of biology and is well known for his work on the relationship between science and religion, the creation–evolution controversy, and the demarcation problem within science. Ruse currently teaches at Florida State University. He was born in England, attending Bootham School,[1] York. He took his undergraduate degree at the University of Bristol (1962), his master's degree at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario (1964), and Ph.D. at the University of Bristol (1970).


  • Career 1
  • Personal life 2
  • Selected works 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Ruse taught at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada for 35 years. Since his retirement from Guelph, he has taught at Florida State University and is the Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy (2000–present). In 1986, he was elected as a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Canada and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has received honorary doctorates from the University of Bergen, Norway (1990), McMaster University, Ontario, Canada (2003) and the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada (2007). In September 2014 he was made an Honorary Doctor of Science by University College London.

Ruse was a key witness for the plaintiff in the 1981 test case (McLean v. Arkansas) of the state law permitting the teaching of "creation science" in the Arkansas school system.[2] The federal judge ruled that the state law was unconstitutional.

Ruse delivered some of the 2001 Gifford Lectures in Natural Theology at the University of Glasgow. His lectures on Evolutionary Naturalism, "A Darwinian Understanding of Epistemology" and "A Darwinian Understanding of Ethics," are collected in The Nature and Limits of Human Understanding (ed. Anthony Sanford, T & T Clark, 2003). Ruse debates regularly with William A. Dembski, a proponent of intelligent design.[3] Ruse takes the position that it is possible to reconcile the Christian faith with evolutionary theory.[4] Ruse founded the journal Biology and Philosophy, of which he is now Emeritus Editor,[5] and has published numerous books and articles. He cites the influence of his late colleague Ernan McMullin.[6]

Personal life

Ruse has two children from his first marriage: Nigel and Rebecca. He has been married to his second wife, Lizzie, since 1985 and they have three children: Emily, Oliver and Edward. Ruse is an atheist but sees nothing wrong with trying to reconcile science and religion, a position which has brought him into conflict with Richard Dawkins and Pharyngula science blogger PZ Myers.[7][8] Ruse has also made several criticisms of prominent figures within New Atheism, and of New Atheism as a movement.[8][9] For example, Ruse has made the claim that Dawkins would fail "introductory" courses on the study of "philosophy or religion" (such as courses on the philosophy of religion), courses which are offered, for example, at many of the world's educational institutions such as colleges and universities.[8][9] Ruse also claims that New Atheism - which is perceived, by him, to be "a bloody disaster" - makes him ashamed, as a professional philosopher of science, to be among those hold to an atheist position, particularly as, according to him, New Atheism does science a "grave disservice" and does a "disservice to scholarship" at more general level.[8][9]

Selected works

  • The Darwinian revolution (1979) ISBN 0-226-73164-2
  • Is science sexist? and other problems in the biomedical sciences (1981) ISBN 90-277-1250-6
  • Darwinism defended, a guide to the evolution controversies (1982) ISBN 0-201-06273-9
  • Sociobiology, sense or nonsense? (1st ed. 1979, 2nd ed. 1985) ISBN 90-277-1798-2
  • Taking Darwin seriously: a naturalistic approach to philosophy (1986) ISBN 0-631-13542-1
  • Homosexuality: A Philosophical Inquiry (1988) ISBN 0-631-17553-9
  • The Philosophy of biology today (1988) ISBN 0-88706-911-8
  • The Darwinian paradigm: essays on its history, philosophy and religious implications (1989) ISBN 0-415-08951-4
  • Evolution: The First Four Billion Years. (edited with Michael Travis) (2009) ISBN 978-0-674-03175-3
  • Evolutionary naturalism: selected essays (1995) ISBN 0-415-08997-2
  • Monad to man: the concept of progress in evolutionary biology (1996) ISBN 0-674-58220-9
  • But is it science? the philosophical question in the creation/evolution controversy (1996) (ed.) ISBN 0-87975-439-7
  • Mystery of mysteries: is evolution a social construction? (1999) ISBN 0-674-00543-0
  • Biology and the foundation of ethics (1999) ISBN 0-521-55923-5
  • Can a Darwinian be a Christian? the relationship between science and religion (2001) ISBN 0-521-63716-3
  • The evolution wars: a guide to the debates (2003) ISBN 1-57607-185-5
  • Darwin and Design: Does evolution have a purpose? (2003) ISBN 0-674-01631-9
  • Darwinian Heresies (edited with Abigail Lustig and Robert J. Richards) (2004) ISBN 0521815169
  • The Evolution-Creation Struggle (2005) ISBN 0-674-01687-4
  • Darwinism and its Discontents (2006) ISBN 0-521-82947-X
  • Cambridge Companion to the Origin of Species (edited with Robert J. Richards) (2008) ISBN 978-0-521-87079-5
  • Philosophy after Darwin (2009) ISBN 0-691-13553-3
  • Defining Darwin: Essays on the History and Philosophy of Evolutionary Biology (2009) ISBN 1-59102-725-X
  • Science and Spirituality: Making room for faith in the age of science (2010) ISBN 0-521-75594-8
  • The Philosophy of Human Evolution (2012) ISBN 0-521-11793-3
  • The Gaia Hypothesis (2013) ISBN 9780226731704


  1. ^ Bootham School Register. York, England: Bootham Old Scholars Association. 2011. 
  2. ^ "Testimony of Dr. Michael Ruse". 1981. Retrieved 14 September 2010. 
  3. ^ Stewart, R.B. (2007). Intelligent Design: William A. Dembski & Michael Ruse in Dialogue. New York:  
  4. ^ Ruse, Michael (2000). Can a Darwinian be a Christian?. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 
  5. ^ "Editorial Board". Biology and Philosophy ( 
  6. ^
  7. ^ Ruse, Michael (2 June 2010). "A Scientific Defense of the Templeton Foundation". Huffington Post. Retrieved 14 November 2014. 
  8. ^ a b c d Ruse, Michael (August 2009). "Why I Think the New Atheists are a Bloody Disaster". Beliefnet. The BioLogos Foundation as a columnist of Beliefnet. Retrieved 19 August 2015. … the new atheists do the side of science a grave disservice … these people do a disservice to scholarship ... Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion would fail any introductory philosophy or religion course. Proudly he criticizes that whereof he knows nothing … the poor quality of the argumentation in Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens, and all of the others in that group … the new atheists are doing terrible political damage to the cause of Creationism fighting. Americans are religious people ... They want to be science-friendly, although it is certainly true that many have been seduced by the Creationists. We evolutionists have got to speak to these people. We have got to show them that Darwinism is their friend not their enemy We have got to get them onside when it comes to science in the classroom. And criticizing good men like Francis Collins, accusing them of fanaticism, is just not going to do the job. Nor is criticizing everyone, like me, who wants to build a bridge to believers – not accepting the beliefs, but willing to respect someone who does have them … The God Delusion makes me ashamed to be an atheist … They are a bloody disaster … 
  9. ^ a b c Dougherty, T; Gage, LP (2015). "4/ New Atheist Approaches to Religion, pp. 51-62". In Oppy, Graham. The Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Philosophy of Religion. Oxon and New York: Routledge. pp. 52–53.  

External links

  • Michael Ruse's Homepage at Florida State
  • Michael Ruse on Charles Darwin: Evolution Is No Monkey Business
  • Can a Christian be a Darwinian? Lecture given in 2007 at The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion
  • Speech by Michael Ruse 1993 to American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Biography and summary of Gifford Lectures (2001, University of Glasgow), by Dr Brannon Hancock
  • An autobiographical interview with Michael Ruse at What Is It Like to Be a Philosopher?
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