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Customer Review

on 1 November 2011
Dawkins, most ably assisted by his illustrator, sets himself a major task, and succeeds. In clear, flowing, enjoyable language he describes the current state of scientific knowledge on everything from the origin of the universe to the evolution of life. Even more importantly, he places our knowledge in the context of how we acquired it, what evidence it is based on, and in an even-handed discussion gives an overview of mythological, pre-scientific explanations, from both Judaeo-Christian and other sources. Finally, he conveys the deep emotional (some would say spiritual) satisfaction that comes from reality-based exploration of our wonderful universe.

I found two small errors. His attribution of Hubble's law to Hubble's observations is incorrect, as is his assertion that elements heavier than iron are made only in supernovas (Hubble used observations by various colleagues, and his law was formulated earlier by de Maitre; r-process nuclei are formed in supernovas, but s-process nuclei in massive "asymptotic branch" red giants).

Why only four stars? Because I consider his final chapter to be a serious error of judgement. Here the subject matter is not any area of science, but belief in miracles, which he attacks on predictable Humean grounds. I completely agree with him in this, but think it would have been far more educational to leave this exercise to the reader, when the reader is ready for it.
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