Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop All Amazon Fashion Up to 70% off Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Shop Amazon Fire TV Shop now Shop Fire HD 6 Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop now

Customer Reviews

36
3.8 out of 5 stars
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 1 November 2013
Steve Jones' 'The Serpent's Promise' illustrates the limitations of science more than those of religion, not least in his attempt to divide opinions into two camps one of rationality and one of faith. This is in tune with the picture of an apple on the front cover, presumably they couldn't find the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Jones veers from Laplace's observation that he had no need for the hypothesis of a God in understanding celestial mechanics to the false assertion that Christians must believe the Big Bang was sparked off by God. He makes no reference to the fact that the Big Bang, like natural selection, is a working hypothesis which attracts intellectual investment from scientists too lazy to ask questions. Similarly, while some Christians believe in the literal truth of the Bible it is irrelevant to the question of empirical confirmation. Augustine, who created the doctrine of 'original sin' long after the life of Jesus, recognised parts of the Bible were allegorical even when based on fact.

Jones is selective in his choice of 'evidence'. He claims Wars of Religion were 'among the longest ever recorded. Secular wars, in contrast, continue for less than half a decade'. He forgets to mention the latter killed far more people, some in the name of genetics and others with the application of science. He ignores the political nature of the wars of religion which represented a conflict of power dressed up as doctrine. Politicians may have taken the decision to drop the Atomic bomb but it was made by scientists, many of whom adhered to Jones's notion that the abolition of organised religion will allow people to 'be free to form a single community united by an objective and unambiguous culture whose logic, language and practices are permanent and universal'. As Kuhn pointed out, science is neither permanent nor universal but Kuhn doesn't even get a mention.

Jones refers to the problem by admitting that whole subjects within science collapse in the face of new evidence but claims scientists rebuild a new temple of scientific knowledge. He refuses to acknowledge that science is very often a matter of opinion rather than fact. Hence his assertion 'that science is a more consistent, universal and satisfying tool with which to organise human lives' is at odds with social reality. Stating this does not imply subjectivity merely observation of proven facts. Accepting there are benefits from the application of science is a long way from the blind faith conviction Jones assumes applies to all believers. He presents everything in an either/or format which detracts from the 'objectivity' of his argument.

In addition he is very careless with his 'evidence' both within and outside science. For example, he claims his local golf course was the site of the Battle of Brunanburgh in 937, a proposition advocated by a scientist who was an amateur historian. In fact there are six proposed sites for the battle, none of which have sufficient weight to prove their validity. He also fails to distinguish between racial theories, which were fictional accounts of mythical peoples developed for political purposes and accurate accounts of factual lineage. He claims that 'on the global scale, universal common ancestry emerges no more than a hundred generations ago' although there is insufficient evidence in support of his contention. Confucius was wiser in his comment that 'by nature men are nearly alike: by practice, they get to be wide apart' than Jones's claim that nature 'has drawn us closer together'. Aristocratic families apart social breeding is wider than ever.

Jones is similarly careless with his 'scientific' evidence. He states scientists know quite a lot a about matter after it emerged but 'much less about chemistry transmuted itself into biology'. He claims that in 1953 Stanley Miller 'had made amino acids' which is untrue. Miller tested the hypothesis that the organic compounds which serve as the basis of life were formed when the earth's atmosphere consisted of methane, ammonia, water and hydrogen instead of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, oxygen and water. His experiment showed amino acids did form under those conditions, although the percentage was small compared to the energy expended.

When science and facts come together Jones deserts integrity for politics. He states, ' Bush banned all federal support on research of stem cells derived from embryos, apart from upon a few lines already cultured in the laboratory'. That is inaccurate Bush did not ban anything he restricted federally-funded stem cell research to the $100 - $250m already being spent on adult and animal stem cells. The restriction of federal funds led to a rapid increase in privately raised funds. Jones overlooks the fact that stem cell research is not solely a scientific issue, it is a bio-ethical one incorporating distrust of scientists, politicians and visions of the 'Boys from Brazil'.

Much of Jones's scientific argument is speculative, qualified by terms such as 'perhaps' and 'may have been' but does not allow such qualification to create doubt his assertions are 'facts' when clearly they are speculation. He claims, 'Evolution is a series of successful mistakes - and a far greater number of failures - in the endless battle against the world outside. Its tactics, once its machinery lumbers into action, seem in retrospect almost inevitable.' Only if one imposes a 'scientific' world-view on it. Twentieth century scientists attribute what they cannot prove to evolution demonstrating their irrationality. Humans are united in their tunnel vision when it suits them and Jones is no different. Given the frequent secularist decisions by the European Union's highest court of Justice Jones's claim that its decision on the patenting of processes and products based on human embryonic stem cells was given 'with plentiful advice from the Church' is hogwash.

The book is written in a lively style but lacks the rigour one associates with science. Worth four stars and should be read by everyone whatever their intellectual standpoint.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
4 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 4 May 2013
I have just enjoyed the sample of this book but would suggest that the illustration at the head of the Preface is not The Temptation and Fall of Eve which should show Adam, Eve, Serpent and Tree but The Primaeval Giants Sunk in the Soil that relates to the Prologue. I look forward to the rest of the book which seems set to continue in the inimitable Jones style.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 11 August 2013
If you are a person uncertain of how your religion balances with scientific opinions you may still not be able to plump for one against the other.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 28 May 2013
Heavy going first 3 chapters hope it improves else may have to give up. Not really my kind of book sorry to say
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
0 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 7 June 2014
I have just finished the prologue, having been excited to read this book as I love God and Science. But sadly I have to report the Stephen has not read the bible to understand it, but just relies on third-hand cliches. The Fall and sex is a good example: Stephen simply asserts that sex and sin are entwined from the beginning. But the only reference to sex in Genesis 1-3 is indirect: 'go and multiply'. Only when the bible is distorted through Greek dualistic culture does the body (along with all other 'material') become profane. Tell me: who made the clitoris Stephen? Who designed and 'installed' orgasms? Who got the entry angles perfect? Who made feminine curves and male angles? Silly boy Stephen.
Oh well, I'll do my best to read the book and come back with any further useful comments, but it's a poor start for what could be a great subject. Perhaps it's one of those books where you have to take the best and leave the rest?
11 commentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Mr Jones' book crashes in flames on the front cover, though since I doubt he painted the illustration, or even designed it, we probably shouldn't hold it against him.

However it is a pretty dumb illustration on a book that allegedly explains the Bible in scientific terms.
Why?
Because the Genesis account has God laying a curse on the "serpent" that it should henceforth crawl in the dust on its belly (Genesis 3:14). But what kind of curse is that if the serpent was in fact a snake and already crawled on it's belly?

The second major error is all Mr Jones' own work, his attempt to demonstrate that modern science can answer important questions that 'religion' - that's "New" atheist code for Christianity - can't.

In this context it might seem very clever to review the Bible as though it was "the first science textbook". In fact, however, this is a truly delusional notion given that the Bible is quite clearly NOT a textbook on anything. Especially in the face of the numerous objections by genuine scientists over misguided attempts by believers to justify their beliefs by co-opting scientific ideas.

According to Christian teaching, the Old Testament is nothing more or less than a lengthy narrative about the relationship between the creator God and mankind, and God and the early Hebrew nation in particular. The New Testament completes the narrative by opening up the relationship with the Hebrews to the entirety of mankind.
To characterise this narrative as a scientific or even a potentially scientific discourse is quite simply nonsense. And therefore so is this book.

(I refer to "Mr" Jones in this context because the author's field of excpertise is genetics, not history or theology. Thus referring to him as a professor irrationally extends his genuine qualification into an areas where he has no apparent claim to be anything other than a simple layman.)
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
     
 
Customers who viewed this item also viewed


 
     

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.