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astrocurly (Near Frankfurt, Germany)

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God and Stephen Hawking: Whose Design is it Anyway?
God and Stephen Hawking: Whose Design is it Anyway?
by John C. Lennox
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Does not add anything new to the argument, 28 Nov. 2014
I've read a lot of books by Hawking, Dawkins and Co. and looked forward to reading John Lennox's little book from the other side of the Science vs. God argument. As others have pointed out, Lennox makes a valiant attempt, but there is really nothing new in what he says.
The book highlights the problems of those supporting the notion of a God. If you have a God who is all-powerful, then anything goes, since God can do anything. However, to verify its theories science has to investigate everything down to the last detail to eliminate error. As well, for every scientist putting up a theory, there are many more waiting to shoot it down. To get round this problem where laws are so well tried and tested, Lennox attacks physical laws as though they were entities in themselves. Of course, they are not – the physical laws only describe what we see and measure. Towards the end of the book we are reminded that the physical laws were created by God anyway, so if he wants to "modify" them temporarily to allow a miracle to take place then that is OK too.
I particularly liked the quote from Paul Davies about the multiverse. In a multiverse containing an infinite number of universes allowing all possibilities, then there must be a universe where water really did change to wine. Taking this to the limit, I've read that there is supposed to be an extremely small but finite possibility of being able to walk through the front door without opening it first. Who's going to be the first one to try it?

Superstition: Belief in the Age of Science
Superstition: Belief in the Age of Science
by Robert L. Park
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.95

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Plain talking and a lot of common sense, 20 Oct. 2010
A refreshing book and a great read. I agree with all that the previous reviewers have said. I particularly liked the way the author dealt with acupuncture, homeopathy and the other superstitions with his analytical approach. He also has a way of explaining human behaviour - he explains, for example, the attraction between boy and girl in terms of chemical effects.

Above all he highlights just how crazy these superstitions are although they enjoy widespread belief. I can thoroughly recommend this book - you won't want to put it down.

From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time
From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time
by Sean Carroll
Edition: Hardcover

22 of 33 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not really worthy of the title, 22 May 2010
Although I'm an engineer with my feet firmly on the ground, I like to ponder on the wider aspects of science and was attracted by the terrific title of this book. Unfortunately, I found its content a little disappointing.

The author's treatment of Schrödinger's cat, quantum entanglement and the basic concept of entropy I thought were very instructive. I wasn't completely unaware of entropy as the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is part of basic engineering. But I had no idea that it was so important when considering the arrow of time. So this was somewhat revealing.

The problem is that a large part of the book deals specifically with entropy in its various forms. So much so, that after a while I found myself ploughing through the book, forcing myself to finish it. To me there are a few chapters in the middle of the book that are just not interesting enough. The book ends with some speculation about cosmology which I found more interesting even if very near the edge scientifically.

I've read a great many science books, many of which I haven't been able to put down and some of which I've read again. But I won't be doing that with this one, despite its attractive title!

Dynamics of Faith (Perennial Classics)
Dynamics of Faith (Perennial Classics)
by Paul Tillich
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.44

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A different approach to faith, 16 Oct. 2009
I gave up on religion many years ago, but even as an atheist I remain interested in religions and faith. In fact I was drawn into reading Tillich after reading God and the New Atheism: A Critical Response to Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens by John Haught who cites Tillich a great deal. One question always bothering me is that how can so many smart, intelligent people have a faith which is so full of holes, untruths and ambiguities?

This book goes a little way in answering this question. At first I found the book difficult to read, mainly because Tillich uses a special sort of vocabulary. "Faith is the state of being ultimately concerned" says the author. If you plough on, you can gain an insight into what he means. Man is finite, but God or the content of one's ultimate concern is infinite. Revelation is when one experiences the infinite.

Tillich also relates Christian faith to other religions, science and secularism. If a secularist has an ultimate concern, the he/she also has faith. I buy into that, but some sweeping statements are made about such things as morals, love and human emotion which I find difficult to accept. Tillich tends to tie them all into faith, anything else being idolatrous. However, Tillich regards symbolism and myths as important in keeping faith alive.

This book doesn't explain all about God, but it does explain how and why people put their faith in God. For that, the book is well worth reading!

God and the New Atheism: A Critical Response to Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens
God and the New Atheism: A Critical Response to Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens
by John F. Haught
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

17 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not much of a response, 5 May 2009
The author attempts to give a critical response to the books by Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens (The God Delusion, The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason, God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. As an atheist myself, though not quite so radical as the ones mentioned, I was very much looking forward to hearing an opposite view.

Haught criticises the three atheist authors in not getting to grips with theology as a subject in itself, several times mentioning that his own theology students would have no difficulty in finding holes in their arguments. Unfortunately, it is only about half way through the book that the reader has some insight into what these holes might be. The author cites "Meaning, Truth and Goodness" and that "Faith" is the surrender to "Being". Whereas this might mean something to the reader if he/she has signed up to a religion or has attended Mr. Haught's lectures, such esoteric language means nothing to a feet-on-the-ground atheist.

True, the new aggressive atheists may not be fully acquainted with the works of Tillich and others cited by Haught, but their argument surely deserves a more vigorous response than that offered by the author.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 8, 2015 11:35 AM BST

The Origin of Life (Penguin Science)
The Origin of Life (Penguin Science)
by Paul Davies
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking, 19 Jun. 2005
One might think that by renaming a book "The Origin of Life", the writer is claiming to provide an answer to the ultimate question of how life started. While he supplies no definite answer as such, Davies both widens and deepens the debate on how life might have started. He demonstrates possible links between "inanimate" complex molecular structures and the simplest microbial lifeforms through steps such as self-assembly molecules. The importance of extremophiles at the start of the evolutionary chain is highlighted - an argument he uses to point out that life may have travelled through the solar system in rocks and comets. Although I was at first very sceptical about minute Martians "seeding" the Earth in this way, the author convinced me that this is a possibility worthy of consideration.
The book is very easily read as the science does not go too deep and there are extensive references for those wishing to go further. I would recommend Ward and Brownlee's "Rare Earth" for the reader wanting to delve deeper into the science. Generally though, "The Origin of Life" will appeal to anyone interested in evolution and astrobiology. All in all, a super book and well written!

If the Universe Is Teeming with Aliens - Where Is Everybody?: Fifty Solutions to Fermi's Paradox and the Problem of Extraterrestrial Life
If the Universe Is Teeming with Aliens - Where Is Everybody?: Fifty Solutions to Fermi's Paradox and the Problem of Extraterrestrial Life
by Stephen Webb
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.99

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pleasantly surprised, 7 Jan. 2004
Not being a science fiction fan, initially I doubted the scientific value of the book as the author includes some rather sci-fi solutions to the Fermi paradox early in the book. Presumably they have to be included for completeness. But he presents some very sensible, interesting solutions with his own as the last one, No. 50. I was particularly interested in the solutions dealing with the evolution of human characteristics, such as language and the probability of an extraterrestrial civilisation developing it. These factors are also treated like terms in the Drake equation.
I can recommend it to anyone wondering if there really is intelligent life in space. A less scientific, but worthwhile companion to "Rare Earth" which to me still represents the "bible" on planetary evolution.

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