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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Looking for God (and not through a telescope...)
Paul Davies, a professor of theoretical physics, has written extensively both for the scientific and the popular audiences on topics of current interest in physics and cosmology. In particular, he concentrates on issues to do with quantum theories, relativity and beginning/end of the universe issues.
In his book 'God and the New Physics', Davies continues a new...
Published on 1 Mar 2006 by Kurt Messick

versus
1.0 out of 5 stars Avoid this
The whole Paul Davies books are full of crap, very out dated. No point purchasing
Them.
Published 23 days ago by S Hussain


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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Looking for God (and not through a telescope...), 1 Mar 2006
By 
Kurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (London, SW1) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: God and the New Physics (Penguin Science) (Paperback)
Paul Davies, a professor of theoretical physics, has written extensively both for the scientific and the popular audiences on topics of current interest in physics and cosmology. In particular, he concentrates on issues to do with quantum theories, relativity and beginning/end of the universe issues.
In his book 'God and the New Physics', Davies continues a new tradition in which physicists particularly and scientists more generally write about their fields in philosophical, nearly theological terms discussing first causes, ultimate meanings, and the place of God and humanity in the overall scheme of the universe. Our understanding of the universe has changed dramatically in the last century, having been a fairly stable image for the past several hundred years. This has understandably made the philosophic and anthropomorphic considerations of the universe change dramatically as well.
'Science and religion represent two great systems of human thought. For the majority of people on our planet, religion is the predominant influence over the conduct of their affairs. When science impinges on their lives, it does so not at the intellectual level, but practically, through technology.'
Davies explores first the idea of genesis of the universe, exploring the intricacies of the big bang theory. This is a theory that has difficulties philosophically, that a purely scientific approach does not have an answer to, not least of which because it isn't asking the same question. Essentially, according to the big bang theory, the universe began as a singularity, essentially an infinitely small point from which all space and time (and all that is in it) emerged in an explosion-like phenomenon. Davies explores problems associated with conventional thinking around this unconventional theory -- what is the first event? what is the first event after the big bang? what is the purpose? what is the cause?
It is a bizarre twist of quantum theories that causes and effects are not neatly, logically arranged along timelines which we have become accustomed to. Thus, can the universe be considered to be self-causing?
'The fact that modern cosmology has provided hard physical evidence for the creation is a matter of great satisfaction to religious thinkers. However, it is not enough that a creation simply occurred. The Bible tells us that God created the universe. Can science throw any light at all on what caused the big bang?'
Alas -- even with exotic causality strains and quantum mechanisms which may remove the need for a first cause (as Davies tends to argue, using modern science essentially to refute already largely-refuted cosmological arguments for the existence of God), it does not adequately explain why there is a universe at all, that would have as part of its nature not needing a first-cause.
In the course of his discussion of the ideas of theoretical physics and traditional religious views, Davies explores the mind/matter connexion, the nature and direction of time, the scientific and philosophic issues around free will and determinism, and the idea of what nature truly is (and isn't).
Near the end of the book, Davies recaps the argument thus far:
'In spite of the spectacular success of modern science, it would be foolish to suppose that the fundamental questions concerning the existence of God, the purpose of the universe, or the role of mankind in the natural and supernatural scheme has been answered by these advances. Indeed, scientists themselves have a wide range of religious beliefs.'
There are no easy answers here. This book is not intended to settle anything, but rather to help clarify the issues in the debate, particularly in an era where there is as much misconception over what modern science really means as there is over what religious interpretations really mean. This is not a book for the intellectually timid. There is a presumption of scientific literacy in all of Davies' work; one needn't be a rocket scientist (or theoretical physicist), but those intimidated at basic algebra will most likely not benefit from this volume.
'I am sometimes asked whether the insight which physicists have gained into the inner workings of nature through the study of fundamental processes throws any light on the nature of God's plan for the universe, or reveals the struggle between good and evil. It does not. There is nothing good or evil about the way quarks are united into protons and neutrons, or the absorption and emission of quanta, the bending of spacetime by matter, the abstract symmetries that unite the fundamental particles, and so on.'
That having been said, many of the philosophical and theological questions remain unanswered, but now have a new element to be considered. Davies' work helps to reframe questions.
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent overview of the big questions in science, 23 Jun 2002
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This review is from: God and the New Physics (Penguin Science) (Paperback)
A good introduction to the more thought provoking aspects of modern science.I read this book,along with others,to brush up on the general theories in science of the origins of the universe,life, and our place in it,and was quite suprised by the author`s lucid style and ability to explain complex theories in a simple manner.The book gives an overview of the current understanding of how our universe began and of how it may eventually end,and looks at our place within this.The author examines the nature of life,and how this can give rise to the mental world of consciousness.The big questions are all here;Is there a God?How could there be a God?Why is there a universe,how was it brought about and how did it become so organised in the way that it is?Why these laws of nature?Is consciousness a biological product or do we have a soul?What is the nature of time?Is all of this an accident or a design?And finally a view of nature as a physicist sees it is presented.
I really came away from this book with a much clearer understanding of the way in which our material,and for that matter non material world is built up.I understand much more about modern quantum theory,the nature of time,how it all began and how it will all end,and our place in this seemingly alien and fundamentally strange universe.I can now see the direction in which modern physics is progressing and why.
An excellent introduction to the direction in which physics is heading.I have now ordered all of Mr Davies`books and look forward to delving a lot deeper.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good but makes you feel like Marvin, 13 July 2007
By 
A. Gothorp - See all my reviews
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This review is from: God and the New Physics (Penguin Science) (Paperback)
This book is all about considering how at the forefront of human science there is still room for God. Davies deals with some of the really big concepts that have come out of modern Physics and how those concepts match up with theology and religion and especially how the scientific approach could make room for the existence of God.

Initially published in 1990, so if you are looking for something from the current forefront of scientific thinking, then some developments, especially in particle physics won't be covered here.

Davies looks at Genesis, Creation and the Big Bang. We consider that cause does not necessarily precede effect and that the Big Bang does not necessitate an external influence. We try and grasp the concept of how God could exist outside of space and time that is our own physical universe. We touch on some really hard to grasp concepts such as a primordial force acting just billionths of a second after the big bang, timewarps and singularities. We look at order and disorder and the teleological argument for the existence of God, matter and antimatter, particles and quantum physics. He then examines Life itself and the concept of mind. So you can see that as a reader you cover a lot of ground here and not all of it is easy going.

Some of the physics presented here is hard to grasp. Not because Davies uses complex mathematics but because the concepts are a bit tricky to understand. I am not sure if the lack was in the explanation or in my understanding. There is the problem of translating a precise mathematical theory into the imprecise language that we all read and speak. In the majority Davies does a splendid job of explaining some complex science in terms that a layman can understand and appreciate. The balance is lost when we get to the section on quantum theory and particle physics and it does feel a bit like reading a physics text book. (I wasn't very good at reading physics text books even when I did my physics A level). However, it is worthwhile to persevere and see where Davies is going when describing the apparent chaotic and unpredictable events that occur at the quantum level.

There is a lot here about entropy and the Third law of thermodynamics which is regarded as fundamental to human understanding of the cosmos. So if you are not interested in such things then this probably won't be the book for you.

There are also lots of interesting theories here, including the seemingly bizarre, that go against all common sense. For example, I find the theory of parallel universes as explained here to be totally unconvincing. Every movement of a particle causes the creation of parallel universe!

There is also some consideration as to how humans might develop in the unthinkably far future and how what intelligent life might be able to do in future would undoubtedly be given a supernatural explanation now. This leads to discussion how God might act within the laws of nature and might be a natural rather than supernatural being.

There are lots of questions and ideas here and much that is thought provoking. I was encouraged to look at more books in this field to do with arguments for and against the existence of a supreme God or Prime Mover as Aristotle would say. Although I have taken on board a lot of interesting stuff about entropy, thermodynamics, singularities and the concept of time I would not want a book that delved any deeper into the physics. With the exception of the particle physics sections the balance of science to theology was about right

There is little here to be inspired about, however. Is the universe and everything in it just an incredibly improbable accident? Some of the later sections, especially considering the death of the universe (the big crunch and other scenarios) lead you inevitably to the question `what is the point of it all?' and become quite depressing. The more you know the more depressed you get, it's a bit like Marvin the Paranoid Android from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars courageous effort, 8 May 2009
By 
A. I. Faraj - See all my reviews
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This review is from: God and the New Physics (Penguin Science) (Paperback)
Paul Davis handles a very difficult subject very well indeed.He is honest in his approach & personal views which is refreshing.It makes a change to read a well informed book as this without the biggotry of both atheist and theists
The impact of STRING/M-Theories was not discussed at all which very surprising to say the least.
Dr.J FARAJ
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This book is great., 13 May 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: God and the New Physics (Penguin Science) (Paperback)
It would be a mistake to buy this book under the misconception that it is a science book; although it is a book about science, most technical details are merely skimmed over, as Davies concentrates on the philosophy behind modern science- principally, on where the discoveries of the last century leave God, free will etc.. Both cases for and against the existence of a Deity are well argued, and Davies tries to remain impartial throughout, although some bias does show towards the end of the book... the author sometimes makes sweeping statements such as "a supernatural God cannot make 2=3" which, to me, seem unjustified; although I'm going over my head here.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can we infer the existence of God from science?, 6 Jan 2010
By 
Dr. H. A. Jones "Howard Jones" (Wales, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: God and the New Physics (Penguin Science) (Paperback)
God and the New Physics by Paul Davies, Dent 1983, Penguin 1990, 272 ff.

Can we infer the existence of God from science?
by Howard A. Jones

Though the particle physics in this book is somewhat dated by now (2010), I revisited this book in view of more recent titles on the same theme by the same author, who was Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne when this book was written and is now at Arizona State University This was one of the first of Davies' titles on this theme and I wanted to see if his world-view had changed: essentially, I don't think it has.

The idea that the grandeur of the natural world, or that there is a world for us to live in at all, implies the existence of a creator God has been used by theologians for at least two millennia as the so-called Cosmological and Design Arguments, referred to by Davies in Chapter 12, Accident or Design? Newton and many other 17th century scientists as well as some contemporary theologians like John Polkinghorne and Richard Swinburne have used similar arguments to infer the existence of God from the discoveries of science about the complex intricacies of the natural world.

As recipient of the Templeton Prize in 1995, Davies is not the only physicist by any means to see parallels between the symmetry of the cosmic dance of fundamental particles and their energies and the creative continuum of energy and consciousness postulated by eastern, and increasingly by western mystics. Theists may well interpret this all-pervading cosmic spirit as God or Infinite Mind while scientists committed only to rationalism clearly will not. Davies discusses many aspects of the divine in this book - as creator and designer, as shaper of the laws of nature, as mind or consciousness, and in many other capacities.

This book gives a lucid overview of this area of overlap between physics, philosophy, psychology and religion and Davies does a sound job of a cohesive if sometimes controversial presentation of such a wide subject area. There are chapters on such diverse subjects as Genesis, Mind and Soul, The Self, Free Will, Time, Black Holes and Miracles! If you want to see how all these different subjects can be inter-related, this is an excellent place to start. You should not be put off by the fact that the book was written nearly three decades ago. There are several pages of Notes and References, a Bibliography for further reading, and an Index.

Dr Howard A. Jones is the author of The Thoughtful Guide to God (2006) and The Tao of Holism (2008), both published by O Books of Winchester, UK.

Science and Creation: The Search for UnderstandingThe Coherence of Theism (Clarendon Library of Logic and Philosophy)
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5.0 out of 5 stars best book i have ever read, 5 Jan 2014
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Definitely all you want from a book, challenging, though provoking, insightful and takes you through all the . Questions we only sometimes dare to ask... great read!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Book review, 26 Dec 2013
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This review is from: God and the New Physics (Penguin Science) (Paperback)
I bought this book as a gift for someone who is interested in the subject so I couldn't review it and I don't think the person I gave it to as a Christmas gift has had time to read it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars theologians get up to speed or you'll miss out, 11 Nov 2013
By 
Mr. D. P. Jay (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: God and the New Physics (Penguin Science) (Paperback)
St. Augustine of Hippo was quite advanced for his day. He corrects those who see the cosmological argument as seemingly contradictory because you can't ask `Who made God?' Augustine points out that time and space were created at the same time.

The true believer is envisaged as one who stands by his faith regardless of any evidence to the contrary. While this can be encountered in fundamentalist circles, particularly in the United States, it has never been the mainstream view of either Christianity or Islam.

'If there is one solitary fact which emerges directly from evolutionary studies, it is that evolution is not the execution of a consummate overall plan, divine or otherwise. There have been far too many false starts, bosh shots and changes of intention for that.'

Physics and chemistry can't give full account of living things - humans made up of water and other chemicals but these don't define what it is to be human.

There is a fascinating musing on the nature of time and its relativity. It's like the conundrum in Doctor Who. If you could travel back in time and kill your mother, you would never have been born. So you could intervene to change history that had already happened.

On the seeming randomness of it all and of our inability to make sense, he says; Imagine a machine-gunner facing a target screen. As he fires the gun, he sweeps his aim at a steady rate from side to side. The end result is a pattern of equispaced bullet holes. A two-dimensional creature living permanently in the flatland of the screen would perceive this sequence of events as the regular appearance of holes in is world. He would deduce that the holes aren't formed at random but periodically and geometrically simple. He would say that each hole causes the next one. After all, each one is followed by another one. He misses entirely that each hole is independent of the others and the regularity is entirely due to the machine-gunner's activity.

`It may seem bizarre, but in my opinion science offers a surer path to God than religion...There is a more to the world than meets the eye.'

The author has some misunderstandings of Christian doctrine, e.g. life everlasting suggests that there is no end to time. `Eternal' - of the age - is a better translation of the Greek. However, this scientist may misunderstand some theology. This is as nothing to those theologians who misunderstand science.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Exhilarating and stimulating, 2 Oct 2013
By 
Philip Mayo - See all my reviews
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Inside the front cover of this book the author quotes Albert Einstein as saying.....

"Religion without science is blind.
Science without religion is lame".

In this excellent and highly readable book Professor Paul Davies expands on this theme and discusses how religion is, and is not, affected by advances in scientific knowledge. He talks about how science is now coming closer to answering some of the cosmic and philosophical questions which previously were considered beyond its reach and were confined more often to religious discussions. For example: Where did the universe come from? Why is there a universe? Why is there anything at all? What is life? Have we each got a soul? Have we free will? What is time? And much more. These are huge questions and considering that this book was written in 1983 it is remarkable how well Mr Davies suggests some answers and equally remarkable how he does so in a way that is very accessible to the ordinary unscientific reader, such as myself.

This is an exhilarating and stimulating book and I highly recommend it to both believer and nonbeliever alike, neither of whom it offends.
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God and the New Physics (Penguin Science)
God and the New Physics (Penguin Science) by Paul Davies (Paperback - 25 Oct 1990)
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