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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; Reprint edition (1 Sept. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465019374
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465019373
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.6 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 73,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Berlinski knows his science and wields his rapier deftly. He makes great sport with his opponents, and his readers will surely enjoy it."--Tom Bethell, bestselling author of "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science""A powerful riposte to atheist mockery and cocksure science, and to the sort of philosophy that surrenders to them. David Berlinski proceeds reasonably and calmly to challenge recent scientific theorizing and to expose the unreason from which it presumes to criticize religion."--Harvey Mansfield, Professor of Government, Harvard University "Berlinski's book is everything desirable: it is idiomatic, profound, brilliantly polemical, amusing, and of course vastly learned. I congratulate him." --William F. Buckley Jr. "With high style and light-hearted disdain, David Berlinski deflates the intellectual pretensions of the scientific atheist crowd. Maybe they can recite the Periodic Table by heart, but the secular Berlinski shows that this doesn't get them very far in reasoning about much weightier matters."--Michael J. Behe, Professor of Biological Sciences, Lehigh University, bestselling author of "Darwin's Black Box "and "The Edge of Evolution" "David Berlinski plus any topic equals an extraordinary book." --Chicago Tribune "From the Hardcover edition."

About the Author

David Berlinski holds a PhD from Princeton University and has taught mathematics and philosophy at universities in the United States and in France. He is the best-selling author of such books as A Tour of the Calculus, The Advent of the Algorithm, and Newton’s Gift. Berlinski writes frequently for Commentary, among other journals. He lives in Paris, France.

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By The Doc VINE VOICE on 16 May 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The mechanistic philosophy that the only reality is to be found in the measurements of science, and the logical necessity for atheism of explaining the universe in these terms only, is certainly very blinkered. David Berlinski is a mathematician and logician who happens to detect in his observations evidence of intelligent order in the Universe. This shouldn't be too taxing - the laws of physics and maths are accepted by all scientists,and without them nothing could be predicted, nothing could exist. These laws exist outside of space-time; some scientists seem to worship them as the ultimate reality, the Devil's Delusion. I like this book, a learned and witty rebuttal of atheism's attempt to hijack science as its tool, and evolution as the ultimate reason for existence. Berlinski is not too gentle on the philosophical totalitarian regimes such as Communism and National Socialism that arise from distortions of Darwinian thought to justify experiments in state control and manipulation of populations. Neither should he be. Despite his self-definition as a secular Jew this book is useful for Theists because the arguments essentially support the Theistic world view.
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105 of 141 people found the following review helpful By P. M. Fernandez VINE VOICE on 16 Jun. 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There were certain lecturers at university - Hans Kornberg springs to mind - whose lectures nobody would miss. It wasn't because they were necessarily the crucially important courses. It was because there was something about the style of the lecturer - his or her humour, perhaps, or delivery - which captivated the undergraduate audience and held it until the end of the course.

Reading this book by Berlinski reminded me of some of those lecturers. Various things about it were captivating. The layers of meaning that can be found in so many of the sentences; the deft way in which opposing opinions are dismantled; the shocking mild political incorrectnesses; the carefully-measured putdowns; the rhetorical interaction with opponents and readers.

Berlinski is writing a book in defence of belief in a god. Nothing unusual about that - Dawkins' book "The God Delusion", and similar ones, have sparked a whole publishing industry in response, many of which I've already reviewed on Amazon. What is most unusual about this book is that Berlinski is not a religious believer - and yet he is quite adamant that belief in God is not unreasonable. Furthermore, he is substantially better informed - biblically, philosophically, scientifically - than Dawkins, Hitchens or Harris.

He makes his case persuasively. For example, in response to the insistence that "miracles don't happen" by anti-theists, he points out that whilst we can understand the chemical process by which the eye "sees" something, we don't have a clue about what perception really is, and just because it is part of our everyday experience doesn't mean that it is inappropriate to describe it as a miracle.
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31 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Morton on 12 Nov. 2010
Format: Paperback
As a Christian and a Science Teacher I enjoyed this book. The style is forthright and eminently readable, though the tone can be a little too pugilistic for my taste in places and sometimes a little hectoring. Also, when Berlinski is on slightly weaker ground he does seem to compensate with the same kind of bluster he identifies in those whose writings he criticises.

That said, he makes a number of highly valid and important points. He is, of course, right in pointing out that Science is not purely logical, rational and detached - nor should we imagine that it is or could be; it is an activity carried out by human beings who are not purely logical, rational and detached. He is also right in taking to task the suggestion - implied, usually, rather than baldly stated - that we are a hairsbreadth away from a complete naturalistic scientific understanding of everything and in suggesting that a determination to forbid God from "getting a toe in the door" lies behind such hubris.

He makes some valid points about the evidence (or its lack) for the theory of evolution by natural selection - as against the bald fact of evolution. I disagree with him, but am aware that the elegance and simplicity of Darwin's theory are contributory factors in its acceptance (which I share). Where I strongly agree with Berlinski is that there should be no question of attempting to stifle debate on this issue or any other in Science. That there have been such attempts - for purely dogmatic reasons - is clear from the examples he provides; indeed I recall a few years ago Scientific American magazine campaigned for students from schools that taught Intelligent Design to have that held against them in their application for university places.
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this is a brilliant, witty and erudite book...a philosophical book that deals with metaphysics from a totally non partisan position...more than unusual.
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35 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Anna on 6 Feb. 2010
Format: Paperback
This is a book that will be immensely divisive. At the moment, any book about God/religion/atheism/New Atheism will be hugely divisive, but a book written by a secular Jew, mathematical, philosophical and scientific giant, written solely to lambast Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris and the other less famous one... well, both "sides" are going to have something to say about it.

As a Christian, I'm probably supposed to give this 5 stars. Things have become so polemical we're supposed to forget objectivity and rabidly side with anyone we perceive to share (or, at least, be unwilling to attack) our views. And, here, Berlinski is against the very chaps that are most cruel about people of faith. But, when it comes down to it, it would be dishonest giving it 5.

Berlinski doesn't really defend God, so much as attack New Atheism and New Atheists... and for some it may sort of be a case of "My enemy's enemy is my ally", but for me it was uncomfortable. Because, I don't think New Atheists *are* an enemy, and even though Berlinski is defending our right to believe in God (again, not necessarily defending God Himself) I don't like his sarcasm and mockery any more than when it comes from the Atheistic bunch. It's all fire with fire and clashing swords, words and penises and if someone believes this entire debate needs to be kinder (as many of us do) a book as snarky as this isn't going to soothe anything.

That he puts them in their place is undeniable; he unquestionably shows up their avaricious pseudo-philosophical, hermeneutically-bankrupt rhetoric for precisely what it is - embarrassing (the nadir being that strange attempt to refer to each other as "Brights"... what *was* that?
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