Bernard Shaw had ambitions much beyond the usual playwright and thus left a legacy of unusual size and scope, of nothing less than a “world-betterer,” plausible considering the global reach of the British Empire, which needed a lot of “bettering.” Less plausible because the would-be “betterer” was an unknown Irish immigrant whose unique style of writing and speaking in combinations of workaday prose mixed with hyperbole, paradox, irony, satire, and leg-pulling levity, though eye-catching, confused some who couldn't tell literal from figurative. Fintan O'Toole in his recent book, Judging Shaw, likened the way Shaw conducted his “world-bettering” to a man on a high wire without a net. This article discusses the risky way Shaw conducted himself on this “high wire,” focusing on his promotion of a new science-based religion called “Creative Evolution,” which he adapted from Henri Bergson's version of it to a semireligious approach that presented “Creative Evolution” as an evolution from and “bettering” of Christianity.

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