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Stephen Jay Gould

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Stephen Jay Gould
Stephen Jay Gould by Kathy Chapman.png
Born September 10, 1941
Bayside, New York, United States
Died May 20, 2002(2002-05-20) (aged 60)
Manhattan, New York, United States
Nationality American
Fields Paleontology, Evolutionary biology, History of Science
Institutions Harvard University,
American Museum of Natural History,
New York University
Alma mater Antioch College,
Columbia University
Known for Punctuated equilibrium, Non-overlapping magisteria
Notable awards Linnean Society of London's Darwin–Wallace Medal (2008)
Paleontological Society Medal (2002)
Charles Schuchert Award (1975)
Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science (twice - 1983, 1990)
MacArthur Fellowship
National Book Award
National Book Critics Circle Award

Stephen Jay Gould (September 10, 1941 – May 20, 2002) was an American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, and historian of science. He was also one of the most influential and widely read writers of popular science of his generation. Gould spent most of his career teaching at Harvard University and working at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. In the latter years of his life, Gould also taught biology and evolution at New York University near his home in SoHo.

Gould's most significant contribution to evolutionary biology was the theory of punctuated equilibrium, which he developed with Niles Eldredge in 1972. The theory proposes that most evolution is marked by long periods of evolutionary stability, which is punctuated by rare instances of branching evolution. The theory was contrasted against phyletic gradualism, the popular idea that evolutionary change is marked by a pattern of smooth and continuous change in the fossil record.

Most of Gould's empirical research was based on the land snail genera Poecilozonites and Cerion. He also contributed to evolutionary developmental biology, and has received wide praise for his book Ontogeny and Phylogeny. In evolutionary theory he opposed strict selectionism, sociobiology as applied to humans, and evolutionary psychology. He campaigned against creationism and proposed that science and religion should be considered two distinct fields (or " magisteria") whose authorities do not overlap.

Many of Gould's essays for the magazine Natural History were reprinted in collections such as Ever Since Darwin and The Panda's Thumb. Popular treatises included books such as The Mismeasure of Man, Wonderful Life and Full House: The Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin.


Stephen Jay Gould was born and raised in the community of Bayside, a quiet, reasonably affluent neighbourhood of the northeastern section of Queens in New York City. His father, Leonard, was a court stenographer, and his mother, Eleanor, was an artist. When Gould was five years old, his father took him to the Hall of Dinosaurs in the American Museum of Natural History, where he first encountered Tyrannosaurus rex. "I had no idea there were such things—I was awestruck," Gould once recalled. It was in that moment that he decided to become a paleontologist.

Raised in a secular Jewish home, Gould did not formally practice religion and preferred to be called an agnostic. Though he "had been brought up by a Marxist father", he stated that his father's politics were "very different" from his own. In describing his own political views, he has said they "tend to the left of centre". According to Gould the most influential political books he read were C. Wright Mills' The Power Elite and the political writings of Noam Chomsky.

While attending Antioch College in the early 1960s, Gould was active in the civil rights movement and often campaigned for social justice. When he attended the University of Leeds as a visiting undergraduate, he organized weekly demonstrations outside a Bradford dance hall which refused to admit Blacks. Gould continued these demonstrations until the policy was revoked. Throughout his career and writings, he spoke out against cultural oppression in all its forms, especially what he saw as the pseudoscience used in the service of racism and sexism.

Interspersed throughout his scientific essays for Natural History magazine, Gould frequently referred to his nonscientific interests and pastimes. As a boy he collected baseball cards and remained a New York Yankees fan throughout his life. As an adult he was fond of science fiction movies, but often lamented their mediocrity (not just in their presentation of science, but in their storytelling as well). His other interests included singing in the Boston Cecilia, and he was a great aficionado of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. He collected rare antiquarian books and textbooks. He often traveled to Europe, and spoke French, German, Russian, and Italian. He admired Renaissance architecture. When discussing the Judeo-Christian tradition, he usually referred to it simply as " Moses". He sometimes alluded ruefully to his tendency to put on weight.

Marriage and family

Gould was married twice. His first marriage was to artist Deborah Lee on October 3, 1965. Gould met Lee while they were students together at Antioch College. They had two sons, Jesse and Ethan. His second marriage, in 1995, was to artist and sculptor Rhonda Roland Shearer, who is the mother of two children, Jade and London Allen, stepchildren of Gould.

First bout with cancer

In July 1982, Gould was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer affecting the abdominal lining and frequently found in people who have been exposed to asbestos. After a difficult two-year recovery, Gould published a column for Discover magazine, entitled, "The Median Isn't the Message", which discusses his reaction to discovering that mesothelioma patients had a median lifespan of only eight months after diagnosis. He then describes the true significance behind this number, and his relief upon realizing that statistical averages are just useful abstractions, and do not encompass the full range of variation.

The median is the halfway point, which means that 50% of patients will die before eight months, but the other half will live longer, potentially much longer. He then needed to determine where his personal characteristics placed him within this range. Considering that the cancer was detected early, the fact he was young, optimistic, and had the best treatments available, Gould figured that he should be in the favorable half of the upper statistical range. After an experimental treatment of radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery, Gould made a full recovery, and his column became a source of comfort for many cancer patients.

Gould was also an advocate of medical marijuana. During his bout with cancer, he smoked the illegal drug to alleviate the nausea associated with his medical treatments. According to Gould, his use of marijuana had a "most important effect" on his eventual recovery. In 1998, he testified in the case of Jim Wakeford, a Canadian medical-marijuana user and activist.

Final illness and death

Gould survived for 20 years until another cancer ended his life. Gould died on May 20, 2002, from a metastatic adenocarcinoma of the lung, a form of cancer which had spread to his brain. This cancer was unrelated to his abdominal cancer. He died in his home "in a bed set up in the library of his SoHo loft, surrounded by his wife Rhonda, his mother Eleanor, and the many books he loved."

Scientific career

Gould began his higher education at Antioch College, graduating with a double major in geology and philosophy in 1963. During this time, he also studied abroad at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom. After completing his graduate work at Columbia University in 1967 under the guidance of Norman Newell, he was immediately hired by Harvard University where he worked until the end of his life (1967–2002). In 1973, Harvard promoted him to Professor of Geology and Curator of Invertebrate Paleontology at the institution's Museum of Comparative Zoology and he very often described himself as a taxonomist.

In 1982, Harvard awarded him with the title of Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology. The following year, 1983, he was awarded fellowship into the American Association for the Advancement of Science, where he later served as president (1999–2001). The AAAS news release cited his "numerous contributions to both scientific progress and the public understanding of science." He also served as president of the Paleontological Society (1985–1986) and the Society for the Study of Evolution (1990–1991).

In 1989, Gould was elected into the body of the National Academy of Sciences. Through 1996–2002 Gould was Vincent Astor Visiting Research Professor of Biology at New York University. In 2001, the American Humanist Association named him the Humanist of the Year for his lifetime of work. In 2008, he was posthumously awarded the Darwin-Wallace Medal, along with 12 other recipients. Until 2008 this medal had been awarded every 50 years by the Linnean Society of London.

Punctuated equilibrium

Early in his career, Gould and Niles Eldredge developed the theory of punctuated equilibrium, in which evolutionary change occurs relatively rapidly, alternating with longer periods of relative evolutionary stability. According to Gould, punctuated equilibrium revised a key pillar "in the central logic of Darwinian theory". Some evolutionary biologists have argued that while punctuated equilibrium was "of great interest to biology", it merely modified neo-Darwinism in a manner that was fully compatible with what had been known before. Others, however, emphasized its theoretical novelty, and argued that evolutionary stasis had been "unexpected by most evolutionary biologists" and "had a major impact on paleontology and evolutionary biology".

Some critics jokingly referred to the theory as "evolution by jerks", which elicited Gould to respond in kind by describing gradualism as "evolution by creeps".

Evolutionary developmental biology

Gould made significant contributions to evolutionary developmental biology, especially in his work Ontogeny and Phylogeny. In this book he emphasized the process of heterochrony, which encompasses two distinct processes: pedomorphosis and terminal additions. Pedomorphosis is the process where ontogeny is slowed down and the organism does not reach the end of its development. Terminal addition is the process by which an organism adds to its development by speeding and shortening earlier stages in the developmental process. Gould's influence in the field of evolutionary developmental biology continues to be seen in such areas as the evolution of feathers.

Selectionism and sociobiology

Gould championed biological constraints such as the limitations of developmental pathways on evolutionary outcomes, as well as other non-selectionist forces in evolution. In particular, he considered many higher functions of the human brain to be the unintended side consequence or by-product of natural selection, rather than direct adaptations. To describe such co-opted features he coined the term exaptation with Elisabeth Vrba. Gould believed this understanding undermines an essential premise of human sociobiology and evolutionary psychology.

Against "Sociobiology"

In 1975, E. O. Wilson introduced his analysis of human behaviour based on a sociobiological framework. In response, Gould, Richard Lewontin, and others from the Boston area wrote the subsequently well referenced letter to The New York Review of Books entitled, "Against 'Sociobiology'". This open letter criticised Wilson's notion of a "deterministic view of human society and human action".

But Gould did not rule out sociobiological explanations for many aspects of animal behavior, writing: "Sociobiologists have broadened their range of selective stories by invoking concepts of inclusive fitness and kin selection to solve (successfully I think) the vexatious problem of altruism—previously the greatest stumbling block to a Darwinian theory of social behaviour... Here sociobiology has had and will continue to have success. And here I wish it well. For it represents an extension of basic Darwinism to a realm where it should apply."

Spandrels and the Panglossian Paradigm

A spandrel from the Holy Trinity Church in Fulnek, Czech Republic.

With Richard Lewontin, Gould wrote an influential 1979 paper entitled, "The Spandrels of San Marco and the panglossian paradigm", which introduced the architectural term " spandrel" into evolutionary biology. In architecture, a spandrel is a curved area of masonry which exists between arches supporting a dome. Spandrels, also called pendentives in this context, are found particularly in Gothic churches.

When visiting Venice in 1978, Gould noted that the spandrels of the San Marco cathedral, while quite beautiful, were not spaces planned by the architect. Rather the spaces arise as "necessary architectural byproducts of mounting a dome on rounded arches." Gould and Lewontin thus defined spandrels in evolutionary biology to mean any biological feature of an organism that arises as a necessary side consequence of other features, which is not directly selected for by natural selection. Examples include the "masculinized genitalia in female hyenas, exaptive use of an umbilicus as a brooding chamber by snails, the shoulder hump of the giant Irish deer, and several key features of human mentality."

In Voltaire's Candide, Dr. Pangloss is portrayed as a clueless scholar who, despite the evidence, says that "all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds." Gould and Lewontin asserted that it is Panglossian for evolutionary biologists to view all traits as atomized things that had been naturally selected for, and criticised biologists for not granting theoretical space to other causes, such as phyletic and developmental constraints. The relative frequency of spandrels, so defined, versus adaptive features in nature, remains a controversial topic in evolutionary biology. An illustrative example of Gould's approach can be found in Elisabeth Lloyd's case study of the female orgasm as a by-product of shared developmental pathways. Gould also wrote on this topic in his essay "Male Nipples and Clitoral Ripples", prompted by Lloyd's earlier work.

Evolutionary progress

Gould favored the argument that evolution has no inherent drive towards long-term progress. Uncritical commentaries often portray evolution as a ladder of progress, leading towards bigger, faster, and smarter organisms, the assumption being that evolution is somehow driving organisms to get more complex and ultimately more like humankind. Gould argued that evolution's drive was not towards complexity, but towards diversification. Because life is constrained to begin with a simple starting point, any diversity resulting from this left wall will be perceived to move in the direction of higher complexity. But life, Gould argued, can easily adapt towards simplification, as is often the case with parasites.

In a review of Full House, Richard Dawkins approved of Gould's general argument, but suggested that he saw evidence of a "tendency for lineages to improve cumulatively their adaptive fit to their particular way of life, by increasing the numbers of features which combine together in adaptive complexes. ... By this definition, adaptive evolution is not just incidentally progressive, it is deeply, dyed-in-the wool, indispensably progressive."


Gould never embraced cladistics as a method of investigating evolutionary lineages and process, possibly because he was concerned that such investigations would lead to neglect of the details in historical biology, which he considered all-important. In the early 1990s this led him into a debate with Derek Briggs, who had begun to apply quantitative cladistic techniques to the Burgess Shale fossils, about the methods to be used in interpreting these fossils. Around this time cladistics rapidly became the dominant method of classification in evolutionary biology. Inexpensive but increasingly powerful personal computers made it possible to process large quantities of data about organisms and their characteristics. Around the same time the development of effective polymerase chain reaction techniques made it possible to apply cladistic methods of analysis to biochemical features as well.

Technical work on land snails

Most of Gould's empirical research pertained to land snails. He focused his early work on the Bermudian genus Poecilozonites, while his later work concentrated on the West Indian genus Cerion. According to Gould "Cerion is the land snail of maximal diversity in form throughout the entire world. There are 600 described species of this single genus. In fact, they're not really species, they all interbreed, but the names exist to express a real phenomenon which is this incredible morphological diversity. Some are shaped like golf balls, some are shaped like pencils.…Now my main subject is the evolution of form, and the problem of how it is that you can get this diversity amid so little genetic difference, so far as we can tell, is a very interesting one. And if we could solve this we'd learn something general about the evolution of form."

Given Cerion's extensive geographic diversity, Gould later lamented that if Christopher Columbus had only cataloged a single Cerion it would have ended the scholarly debate about which island Columbus had first set foot on in America.


Gould is one of the most frequently cited scientists in the field of evolutionary theory. His 1979 "spandrels" paper has been cited more than 4,000 times. In Palaeobiology—the flagship journal of his own speciality—only Charles Darwin and G.G. Simpson have been cited more often. Gould was also a considerably respected historian of science. Historian Ronald Numbers has been quoted as saying: "I can't say much about Gould's strengths as a scientist, but for a long time I've regarded him as the second most influential historian of science (next to Thomas Kuhn)."

The Structure of Evolutionary Theory

Shortly before his death, Gould published a long treatise recapitulating his version of modern evolutionary theory: The Structure of Evolutionary Theory (2002).

As a public figure

Gould became widely known through his popular science essays in Natural History magazine and his best-selling books on evolution. Many of his essays were reprinted in collected volumes such as Ever Since Darwin and The Panda's Thumb, while his popular treatises included books such as The Mismeasure of Man, Wonderful Life and Full House.

A passionate advocate of evolutionary theory, Gould wrote prolifically on the subject, trying to communicate his understanding of contemporary evolutionary biology to a wide audience. A recurring theme in his writings is the history and development of pre-evolutionary and evolutionary thought. He was also an enthusiastic baseball fan and made frequent reference to the sport in his essays. Many of his baseball essays were anthologized in his posthumously published book Triumph and Tragedy in Mudville (2003).

Although a proud Darwinist, Gould's emphasis was less gradualist and reductionist than most neo-Darwinists. He fiercely opposed many aspects of sociobiology and its intellectual descendant evolutionary psychology. He devoted considerable time to fighting against creationism, creation science, and intelligent design. Most notably, Gould provided expert testimony against the equal-time creationism law in McLean v. Arkansas. Gould later developed the term "non-overlapping magisteria" (NOMA) to describe how, in his view, science and religion could not comment on each other's realm. Gould went on to develop this idea in some detail, particularly in the books Rocks of Ages (1999) and The Hedgehog, the Fox, and the Magister's Pox (2003). In a 1982 essay for Natural History Gould wrote:

Our failure to discern a universal good does not record any lack of insight or ingenuity, but merely demonstrates that nature contains no moral messages framed in human terms. Morality is a subject for philosophers, theologians, students of the humanities, indeed for all thinking people. The answers will not be read passively from nature; they do not, and cannot, arise from the data of science. The factual state of the world does not teach us how we, with our powers for good and evil, should alter or preserve it in the most ethical manner.

The anti-evolution petition A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism spawned the National Centre for Science Education's pro-evolution counterpart Project Steve, which is named in Gould's honour.

Gould also became a noted public face of science, often appearing on television. In 1984 Gould received his own NOVA special on PBS. Other appearances included interviews on CNN's Crossfire, NBC's The Today Show, and regular appearances on the Charlie Rose show. Gould was also a guest in all seven episodes of the Dutch talk series A Glorious Accident, in which he appeared with Oliver Sacks.

Gould was featured prominently as a guest in Ken Burns's PBS documentary Baseball, as well as PBS's Evolution series. Gould was also on the Board of Advisers to the influential Children's Television Workshop television show 3-2-1 Contact, where he made frequent guest appearances.

In 1997 he voiced a cartoon version of himself on the television series The Simpsons. In the episode " Lisa the Skeptic", Lisa finds a skeleton that many people believe is an apocalyptic angel. Lisa contacts Gould and asks him to test the skeleton's DNA. The fossil is discovered to be a marketing gimmick for a new mall. During production the only phrase Gould objected to was a line in the script that introduced him as the "world's most brilliant paleontologist". In 2002 the show paid tribute to Gould after his death, dedicating the season 13 finale to his memory. Gould had died two days before the episode aired.


Gould received many accolades for his scholarly work and popular expositions of natural history, but was not immune from criticism by biologists who felt his public presentations were out of step with mainstream evolutionary theory. The public debates between Gould's supporters and detractors have been so quarrelsome that they have been dubbed "The Darwin Wars" by several commentators.

John Maynard Smith, an eminent British evolutionary biologist, was among Gould's strongest critics. Maynard Smith thought that Gould misjudged the vital role of adaptation in biology, and was critical of Gould's acceptance of species selection as a major component of biological evolution. In a review of Daniel Dennett's book Darwin's Dangerous Idea, Maynard Smith wrote that Gould "is giving non-biologists a largely false picture of the state of evolutionary theory." But Maynard Smith has not been consistently negative, writing in a review of The Panda's Thumb that "Stephen Gould is the best writer of popular science now active... Often he infuriates me, but I hope he will go right on writing essays like these." Maynard Smith was also among those who welcomed Gould's reinvigoration of evolutionary paleontology.

One reason for criticism was that Gould appeared to be presenting his ideas as a revolutionary way of understanding evolution, and argued for the importance of mechanisms other than natural selection, mechanisms which he believed had been ignored by many professional evolutionists. As a result, many non-specialists sometimes inferred from his early writings that Darwinian explanations had been proven to be unscientific (which Gould never tried to imply). Along with many other researchers in the field, Gould's works were sometimes deliberately taken out of context by creationists as "proof" that scientists no longer understood how organisms evolved. Gould himself corrected some of these misinterpretations and distortions of his writings in later works.

Gould disagreed with Richard Dawkins about the importance of gene selection in evolution. Dawkins argued that evolution is best understood as competition among genes (or replicators), while Gould advocated the importance of multi-level selection, including selection amongst genes, cell lineages, organisms, demes, species, and clades.

Dawkins also found that Gould deliberately played down the difference between rapid gradualism and macromutation in his theory of punctuated equilibrium. Criticism of Gould and his theory of punctuated equilibrium can be found in Dawkins' The Blind Watchmaker and Unweaving the Rainbow, as well as chapter ten of Dennett's Darwin's Dangerous Idea.

Cambrian fauna

Gould's interpretation of the Cambrian Burgess Shale fossils in his book Wonderful Life emphasized the striking morphological disparity (or "weirdness") of the Burgess Shale fauna, and the role of chance in determining which members of this fauna survived and flourished. He used the Cambrian fauna as an example of the role of contingency in the broader pattern of evolution.

His view was criticized by Simon Conway Morris in his 1998 book The Crucible Of Creation. Conway Morris stressed those members of the Cambrian fauna that resemble modern taxa. He also promoted convergent evolution as a mechanism producing similar forms in similar environmental circumstances, and argued in a subsequent book that the appearance of human-like animals is likely. Paleontologists Derek Briggs and Richard Fortey have also argued that much of the Cambrian fauna may be regarded as stem groups of living taxa, though this is still a subject of intense research and debate, and the relationship of many Cambrian taxa to modern phyla has not been established in the eyes of many palaeontologists.

Paleontologist Richard Fortey noted that prior to the release of Wonderful Life, Conway Morris shared many of Gould's sentiments and views. It was only after publication of Wonderful Life that Conway Morris revised his interpretation and adopted a more progressive stance towards the history of life.

Richard Dawkins also disagreed with Gould's interpretation of the Burgess Shale, arguing:

The extreme Gouldian view—certainly the view inspired by his rhetoric, though it is hard to tell from his own words whether he literally holds it himself—is radically different from and utterly incompatible with the standard neo-Darwinian model.... For a new body plan—a new phylum—to spring into existence, what actually has to happen on the ground is that a child is born which suddenly, out of the blue, is as different from its parents as a snail is from an earthworm. No zoologist who thinks through the implications, not even the most ardent saltationist, has ever supported any such notion.

Opposition to sociobiology and evolutionary psychology

Gould also had a long-running public feud with E. O. Wilson and other evolutionary biologists about human sociobiology and its later descendant evolutionary psychology (which Gould, Lewontin, and Maynard Smith opposed, but which Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Steven Pinker advocated). These debates reached their climax in the 1970s, and included strong opposition from groups like the Sociobiology Study Group and Science for the People. Pinker accuses Gould, Lewontin, and other opponents of evolutionary psychology of being "radical scientists", whose stance on human nature is influenced by politics rather than science. Gould stated that he made "no attribution of motive in Wilson's or anyone else's case" but cautioned that all human beings are influenced, especially unconsciously, by our personal expectations and biases. He wrote:

I grew up in a family with a tradition of participation in campaigns for social justice, and I was active, as a student, in the civil rights movement at a time of great excitement and success in the early 1960s. Scholars are often wary of citing such commitments. … [but] it is dangerous for a scholar even to imagine that he might attain complete neutrality, for then one stops being vigilant about personal preferences and their influences—and then one truly falls victim to the dictates of prejudice. Objectivity must be operationally defined as fair treatment of data, not absence of preference.

Gould's primary criticism held that human sociobiological explanations lacked evidential support, and argued that adaptive behaviors are frequently assumed to be genetic for no other reason than their supposed universality, or their adaptive nature. Gould emphasized that adaptive behaviors can be passed on through culture as well, and either hypothesis is equally plausible. Gould did not deny the relevance of biology to human nature, but reframed the debate as "biological potentiality vs. biological determinism". Gould stated that the human brain allows for a wide range of behaviors. Its flexibility "permits us to be aggressive or peaceful, dominant or submissive, spiteful or generous… Violence, sexism, and general nastiness are biological since they represent one subset of a possible range of behaviors. But peacefulness, equality, and kindness are just as biological—and we may see their influence increase if we can create social structures that permit them to flourish."

The Mismeasure of Man

Gould was the author of The Mismeasure of Man (1981), a history and inquiry of psychometrics and intelligence testing. Gould investigated the methods of nineteenth century craniometry, as well as the history of psychological testing. Gould claimed that both theories developed from an unfounded belief in biological determinism, the view that "social and economic differences between human groups—primarily races, classes, and sexes—arise from inherited, inborn distinctions and that society, in this sense, is an accurate reflection of biology."

It was reprinted in 1996 with the addition of a new foreword and a critical review of The Bell Curve. The Mismeasure of Man has generated perhaps the greatest controversy of all of Gould's books. It has received both widespread praise and extensive criticism, including claims of misrepresentation.

In 2011, a study conducted by six anthropologists reanalyzed Gould's claim that Samuel Morton unconsciously manipulated his skull measurements, and concluded that Gould's analysis was poorly supported and incorrect. They praised Gould for his "staunch opposition to racism" but concluded, "we find that Morton's initial reputation as the objectivist of his era was well-deserved." Ralph Holloway, one of the co-authors of the study, commented, "I just didn't trust Gould...I had the feeling that his ideological stance was supreme. When the 1996 version of ‘The Mismeasure of Man’ came and he never even bothered to mention Michael's study, I just felt he was a charlatan." The group's paper was reviewed in the journal Nature, which recommended a degree of caution, stating "the critique leaves the majority of Gould's work unscathed," and notes that "because they couldn't measure all the skulls, they do not know whether the average cranial capacities that Morton reported represent his sample accurately." The journal stated that Gould's opposition to racism may have biased his interpretation of Morton's data, but also noted that "Lewis and his colleagues have their own motivations. Several in the group have an association with the University of Pennsylvania, and have an interest in seeing the valuable but understudied skull collection freed from the stigma of bias."

Non-overlapping magisteria

In his book Rocks of Ages (1999), Gould put forward what he described as "a blessedly simple and entirely conventional resolution to...the supposed conflict between science and religion." He defines the term magisterium as "a domain where one form of teaching holds the appropriate tools for meaningful discourse and resolution." The non-overlapping magisteria (NOMA) principle therefore divides the magisterium of science to cover "the empirical realm: what the Universe is made of (fact) and why does it work in this way (theory). The magisterium of religion extends over questions of ultimate meaning and moral value. These two magisteria do not overlap, nor do they encompass all inquiry." He suggests that "NOMA enjoys strong and fully explicit support, even from the primary cultural stereotypes of hard-line traditionalism" and that NOMA is "a sound position of general consensus, established by long struggle among people of goodwill in both magisteria."

However, this view has not been without heavy criticism. For example, in his book The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins argues that the division between religion and science is not as simple as it seems, as few religions exist without claiming the existence of miracles, which "by definition, violate the principles of science". Dawkins also opposes the idea that religion has anything meaningful to say about ethics and values, and therefore has no authority to claim a magisterium of its own.

Gould's publications


During his lifetime, Stephen Jay Gould's publications were numerous. One review of his publications between 1965 and 2000 noted 479 peer-reviewed papers, 22 books, 300 essays, and 101 major book reviews by him. A select number of his papers are listed online.


The following is a list of books either written or edited by Stephen Jay Gould, including those published posthumously, after his death in 2002. While some books have been republished at later dates, by multiple publishers, the list below comprises the original publisher and publishing date.

  • 1977. Ontogeny and Phylogeny, Cambridge MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, ISBN  0-674-63940-5 online preview
  • 1977. Ever Since Darwin, New York: W. W. Norton, ISBN  978-0-393-06425-4
  • 1980. The Panda's Thumb, New York: W. W. Norton, ISBN  0-393-01380-4
  • 1980. Gould, Stephen Jay (1980-12), The Evolution of Gryphaea, New York: Arno Press, ISBN  0-405-12751-0,'The+Evolution+of+Gryphaea%22&q
  • 1981. The Mismeasure of Man, New York: W. W. Norton, ISBN  978-0-393-31425-0
  • 1983. Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes, New York: W. W. Norton, ISBN  978-0-393-01716-8
  • 1985. The Flamingo's Smile, New York: W. W. Norton, ISBN  0-393-02228-5
  • 1987. Time's Arrow, Time's Cycle, Cambridge MA: Harvard Univ. Press, ISBN  0-674-89198-8 online preview
  • 1987. An Urchin in the Storm: Essays about Books and Ideas, N.Y.: W. W. Norton, ISBN  0-393-02492-X
  • 1987. (with Rosamond Wolff Purcell) Illuminations: A Bestiary, N.Y.: W. W. Norton, ISBN  0-393-30436-1
  • 1989. Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History, New York: W. W. Norton, ISBN  0-393-02705-8. 347 pp.
  • 1991. Bully for Brontosaurus, New York: W. W. Norton, ISBN  978-0-393-02961-1. 540 pp.
  • 1992. (with Rosamond Wolff Purcell) Finders, Keepers: Eight Collectors, New York: W. W. Norton, ISBN  978-0-393-03054-9
  • 1993. Eight Little Piggies, New York: W. W. Norton, ISBN  0-393-03416-X
  • 1993. The Book of Life. Preface, pp. 6–21. New York: W. W. Norton (S. J. Gould general editor, 10 contributors). ISBN 0-393-05003-3 review citing original publishing date
  • 1995. Dinosaur in a Haystack, New York: Harmony Books, ISBN  0-517-70393-9
  • 1996. Full House: The Spread of Excellence From Plato to Darwin, New York: Harmony Books, ISBN  0-517-70394-7
  • 1997. Questioning the Millennium: A Rationalist's Guide to a Precisely Arbitrary Countdown, New York: Harmony Books, ISBN  0-609-60541-0
  • 1998. Leonardo's Mountain of Clams and the Diet of Worms, N.Y.: Harmony Books, ISBN  0-609-60141-5
  • 1999. Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life, New York: Ballantine Books, ISBN  0-345-43009-3
  • 2000. The Lying Stones of Marrakech, New York: Harmony Books, ISBN  0-609-60142-3
  • 2000. Crossing Over: Where Art and Science Meet, New York: Three Rivers Press, ISBN  0-609-80586-X
  • 2002. The Structure of Evolutionary Theory, Cambridge MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, ISBN  978-0-674-00613-3 online preview
  • 2002. I Have Landed: The End of a Beginning in Natural History, New York: Harmony Books, ISBN  0-609-60143-1
  • 2003. Triumph and Tragedy in Mudville: A Lifelong Passion for Baseball, New York: W. W. Norton, ISBN  0-393-05755-0
  • 2003. The Hedgehog, the Fox, and the Magister's Pox, New York: Harmony Books, ISBN  0-609-60140-7
  • 2006. The Richness of Life: the Essential Stephen Jay Gould, London: Jonathan Cape, ISBN  978-0-09-948867-5 This is an anthology of Gould's writings edited by Paul McGarr and Steven Rose, introduced by Steven Rose.
  • 2007. Punctuated Equilibrium, Cambridge MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, ISBN  0-674-02444-3 Book review
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