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Showing 1-8 of 8 reviews(3 star). See all 62 reviews
on 17 June 2011
I enjoyed reading this book as I like to see the arguments of Dawkins, Hawkin, Stenger and their fellow travellers given a run for their money, and at times thoroughly skewered. In this book, Professor Andrews does both admirably.

However, I have reservations too. I cannot fault Andrews for his dissection of their arguments, or for the science he presents. Some of the latter was new to me, and I found it thought provoking. Where I think this book falls short is in the theology and Biblical analysis Andrews presents. I think it is a fundamental error - I would say categorical, but my philosophy is rusty - to try and harmonise stories and writing from a culture that drew its understanding of the world from myth and poetry with the scientific understanding of the world that has grown up from the time of the Enlightenment.

For example, I think one simply cannot make a causal connection between the Fall and what we see in the natural world (pp244 and following). In addition, I do not think he can simply dismiss the Fall as mythological (reasons please) and assert, against most current Biblical scholarship, that one can view it as a simply historical narrative (once more, reasons please).

However, this and some other minor Biblical quibbles aside, I think this book is well worth reading, and a welcome addition to the ongoing debates.

Edited 17 June 2011 for a minor mistake in names cited at beginning of the review.
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on 10 February 2010
From their comments, it seems that all the previous reviewers of this book (except for Mr Lonely 2 star!), are faithful believing Christians. And the book obviously appeals to them as, I suggest, a tract of Christian propaganda validating their faith in the supernatural. I had assumed that it was also meant for non-Christian atheists and agnostics. Have any such read it? Where are their reviews?

My main problem with the book is that it so frequently turns to preaching - for instance taking Old Testament stories as literal truth (Noah, Crossing of the Red Sea, the Genesis creation myth, etc.) The frequent verses quoted from the books of the Bible seems to imply that they all carry the same scientific authority as the more recent research papers which the Prof also references. Presumably had Prof Andrews been a Muslim his book would have been full of quotes from the Koran?

I couldn't quite work out if Prof Andrews is an out and out creationist (he seems more of a fundamentalist Christian than even CS Lewis), or how old he thinks the earth is (I don't think he mentions this in the book), or how long God took to create the universe. Prof Andrews also seems to believe in a biblical Satan, but doesn't ask the obvious question "Who made the Devil, and why?", or offer an answer to that question. From the book, it's not clear to me if the Prof believes that miracles still occur, or did they stop around 1 AD, or whether God could have prevented the Boxing Day tsunami, or more recent earthquakes, if He so chose?

Perhaps I was reading the wrong book for answers to questions such as the above, but surely they are the questions more-often-than-not posed by the "new atheists" supposedly being addressed by this book.
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on 11 March 2011
Professor Andrews does an admirable job in demonstrating that life could not have come about through sheer chance. I'm not a scientist, but, assuming that all his facts are correct, then he puts forward a very good case for there being a Creator. For the majority of his book his reasoning is sound and he goes to great lengths to rebuff the claims made by atheists. However, in the closing chapters of the book where he attempts to identify the Creator as the Christian God, his arguments become less than water-tight and he ducks many of the questions that an atheist or agnostic would have asked. To attribute mutations to the Fall of Man requires a huge amount of scientific evidence to back that claim up. If Professor Andrews wants to treat Adam and Eve as actual historic individuals, he needs to do provide a theory of how and when they could ever have existed. This book may provide comfort to theists and provides a lot for the atheist to ponder. However, it won't convert anyone to Christianity.
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on 10 May 2014
I read this book on holiday after hearing a recording Prof Andrews at the 1986 Oxford debate but before hearing Prof Dawkins response. I found Prof Andrews in the book to be good on the subject of material science, as perhaps should be expected, but less good when it came to biology and evolution. The book, like Prof Andrews at the debate, seemed to me to be unclear in certain key areas of the creation v evolution debate. For example I was not at all clear from the book as to how old Prof Andrews considered either the earth or the universe to be. He also seemed to rather skate over the question of the evidence of stratification of life forms found in the fossil record. His suggestion at the end of the book that one could explain 'nature red in tooth and claw' on the basis of 'the fall' seemed to me ludicrous. That idea is also clearly contrary to the fossil records. This is a book that may well convince fundamentalist creationists that they are correct but I very much doubt if it will convince many theistic evolutionists, such as myself, or atheists.
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on 26 January 2014
The positives of this book are its clear, engaging, witty style, the impeccable scientific credentials of its author and the breadth of his knowledge. The early chapters are a (very good) primer on modern physics and cosmology. Andrew's proposal is that God is an uncaused agency outside of the material realm and responsible for its creation and all that follows. He then tests some predictions from his hypothesis against different domains of science (cosmology, genetics, information theory, evolution and psychology). Some of his arguments work well, for example the big bang theory has underscored that the universe had a beginning and therefore religious questions about origins are perfectly legitimate. His statements about evolutionary psychology (chapter 16), which suffers from `story-telling', ring true as do his ideas about an information-giver (chapter 12). Christians would agree too that human effort alone will never deal with sin (Chapter 17). However as a believer from a different theological persuasion I have a number of questions, comments and concerns.

How can an endorsement of an entropic universe energised by God (Chapter 8) be compatible with a universe created originally in pristine state not subject to decay (chapter 15)? In an entropic universe isn't death and decay inevitable? To quote the Christian scientist John Polkinghorne `the possibility of disease is not gratuitous, it is the necessary cost of life' (1). How does invoking the Fall of man (chapter 15) solve this problem (`corrupting' the biosphere) if, as we understand, humans were not around at the origins of life on earth? How can we have been responsible for `corrupting' what came before us? Doesn't this view of creation (gone wrong because of man) diminish God's universe, increasingly revealed by science to be more wondrous than we can have imagined? Of supernatural miracles, like the raising of the dead, merely stating that God can overturn the natural laws (chapter 11) leaves questions. Consider this: the human body is estimated to have 3.72x1013 cells (2). From four days after death (in the Jewish 1st century from 1-3 days mistakes occurred - the dead might not be dead), most cells will have died; perhaps some skin and hair cells will still be survivable - let's arbitrarily assume 75% death. Calculate the energy needed (for Andrews tells us that the reversal of high entropy requires energy input) to render these 2.79 x 1013 cells, highly complex structures as Andrews reminds us, back to their premorbid healthy function, every organelle, every component of DNA, almost immediately. Where would this energy come from? Even if we knew, this amount of energy input would not go unnoticed. When a patient's heart is revived by an electric shock, we can't fail to notice the defibrillator. Here we may be dealing with the energy of a power station or, for all I know, all the energy in the universe. This does not rule out a spiritual resurrection, as some Christians believe about Jesus. Andrews presumably would not approve of this but he does seem to support a spiritual life independent of the physical (chapter 16), although I question his discussion of monism and dualism. Yes, the mind can affect the body but if Prof Andrews took a dose of amphetamine I can assure him his mind would be affected by this somatic event. Nearly 40 years of medical practice has taught me that the mind and body are interactive not separate.

Several chapters are devoted to questioning evolution, specifically natural selection and mutations. Fair points, but as a scientist he must know that partial understanding is normal in science and does not disprove a theory. Andrews' views on evolution are unclear as he seems to criticise both atheist and theist representations of it. Merely stating that God ordained the diversity of creation tells us nothing about how it happened (in other words his hypothesis is not mechanistic, as we would expect from a true science-based hypothesis). Dismissing complexity as `improbable' (p22) and not explained by evolution (chapter 14) misses important factors such as co-evolution (each of our cells has a power house derived originally from bacteria) and besides most life forms are indeed simple, as one would predict from evolutionary theory. Most baffling of all is his assertion that Man's Fall has led to genetic mutations across the biosphere. This relies on Biblical literalism (a literal Adam and Eve) that only certain sorts of Christians subscribe to. Again, this risks a diminished view of God's good creation. Finally, he asserts the moral case for God, with which many Christians would agree. But he avoids the difficulty of the morally ambiguous God described in the Old Testament, merely skating around the issue of God's genocide of the Canaanites and even switching the argument to the biblical flood with a proposal that it shows God's mercy in sparing human annihilation. Extinction events are generally believed to be natural and one theory is that the Flood may have been based on a previous ice-age melt in the Black Sea area. Would Andrew's argue that extinction events (volcanos, climate change, comets, etc) are God's handiwork? If I and many others can see the moral difficulty in ascribing these events to a good God (using precisely the same moral discernment Andrews outlines Chapter 17), it would render me more moral than God. Since clearly I am not, it leads me to question a literalist view of the Bible. Herein lies the real difficulty with Andrew's work - by elevating the Bible to the ultimate source of knowledge, scientific enquiry is inhibited.

1. Polkinghorne, J (2005) Quarks, Chaos and Christianity SPCK, p44.
2. Bianconi, E et al, (2013) Annals of Human Biology 40:471
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on 13 January 2012
Edgar Andrews deserves credit for the skill he has shown in presenting his case; often humorous, sometimes patronizing. His scientific commentary is impressive as you would expect, the arguments thought provoking. But his cleverly built arguments all lack the same essential ingredient, proof. He may be right, but there is nothing in this book, or anywhere else for that matter, to prove he is.

Interestingly I could just as well have written the last paragraph for THE GOD DELUSION by Richard Dawkins. Both authors fail to demonstrate manifest superiority in their arguments.

Andrews has decided, like others before him, that science has limits. Apparently God is unknowable to science; that science can only "describe" but cannot "explain". Who can say? God's purpose for science remains veiled. It's just as valid (or invalid) to say the exact reason for science is to help us find God, to decipher God's corporeal blueprints to reality, to walk both the spiritual and corporeal paths of enlightenment to where he presides. Presently all explanations are still just conjecture.

Science gets his backing when it fits his hypothesis, as in Genesis and the theoretical big bang. Better hope proof doesn't settle on one of the multiverse theories, unless you are Hindu that is.

His discussion on life and evolution is very interesting. He doesn't like evolution. But the observational evidence supporting it is huge, just like the enigmatic force of gravity. His conclusion is the fall of man has a direct bearing on genetic mutation and we are witnessing devolution not evolution. The bible is infallible for the evangelical, but at what point does the interpretation become fallible.

There are many things he says I can relate to, and his passion adds to this well constructed book. Unfortunately his hypothesis shows a creationist (assumption) view of God that presides in what most people would view as an arcane world of antique science fiction.

The Old and New Testaments along with all the great religious texts clearly do relate to the modern world and will continue to do so, because of the wisdom they hold. Spiritualism is a personal truth and the notably broad sweep of human faiths can inform and comfort. Andrews does not under estimate the power of the mind. You should also be wary of it. Literal interpretations of ancient texts are highly debatable to say the least, making them questionable guides to any ultimate truth.
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on 14 February 2011
Mr Andrews is obviously a brilliant intelligent man & tries hard to write in a style that will appeal to us lesser mortals! He has a charming sense of humour.It is not a book that can be read in one or two sittings; it has to be taken in small bites. However I shall persevere!
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on 13 June 2011
It was about time that somebody issued a rebuttal to the hugely egotistical King of the Atheists, Richard Dawkins.
This small book cuts the ground from underneath RD's arguments.
Pefectly understandable for simple people like me.
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