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BEYOND COSMIC DICE Hardcover – June 22, 2009
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About the Author
Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara is an evolutionary biologist with a doctorate from the University of California. He serves as a marine policy advisor to various national and international bodies, and has recently represented Italy in multilateral environmental negotiations. Through appearances on television and radio, and the publication of articles and books, he has been striving to increase public awareness of marine conservation. Giuseppe lives with his family in Northern Italy.
More About the Author
Dr. Schweitzer's work is based on his desire to introduce a stronger set of ethics into American efforts to improve the human condition worldwide. He has been instrumental in designing programs that demonstrate how third world development and protecting our resources are compatible goals. His vision is to inspire a framework that ensures that humans can grow and prosper indefinitely in a healthy environment.
Formerly, Dr. Schweitzer served as an Assistant Director for International Affairs in the Office of Science and Technology Policy under former President Clinton. Prior to that, Dr. Schweitzer served as the Chief Environmental Officer at the State Department's Agency for International Development. In that role, he founded the multi-agency International Cooperative Biodiversity Group Program, a U.S. Government that promoted conservation through rational economic use of natural resources.
Dr. Schweitzer began his scientific career in the field of marine biology. He earned his Ph.D. from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego. He expanded his research at the Center for Learning and Memory at the University of California, Irvine. While at U.C. Irvine he was awarded the Science, Engineering and Diplomacy Fellowship from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Dr. Schweitzer is a pilot and he founded and edited the Malibu Mirage, an aviation magazine dedicated to pilots flying these single-engine airplanes. He and his wife Sally are avid SCUBA divers and they travel widely to see new wildlife, never far from their roots as marine scientists.
Top Customer Reviews
Chapter 1 is an extremely compelling description of the difficulties in defining life. Schweitzer explains quite convincingly that life is not an either-or proposition. Rather, the difference between life and non-life is a gradation. Instead of life being white and nonlife being black, life is closer to blue and nonlife is closer to green, with gradual shades in between. One can look at a dog and say, "this dog is definitely alive" and one can look at a rock and say, "this is definitely not alive", but not all things are so easily classified. As he puts it, "Nobody would deny the existence of green or blue, yet nobody can define when one color becomes the other. That inability to draw a clear line between them does not diminish the reality of the two colors" (pp 46). This is important to understand because when people ask, "how did life arise out of nonlife" they imagine life and nonlife as binary constructs, when in fact they are constructs on a spectrum. "Life" is nothing more than "an arbitrary label we apply to distinguish extremes of complexity along a continuum" (pp 47).
After explaining that life is an arbitrary label, Schweitzer goes on to briefly explain evolution. What I find most spectacular about this chapter is that while I am a seasoned reader of explanations and treatises on evolution, he offered a very unique perspective. He explains that evolution has no direction, purpose or drive toward complexity.Read more ›
The author, in an unemotional, fact based manner, helps the reader understand how religions became a crutch, and then a corrupt crutch, praying on the weakness and fear of the unknown of the masses.
Ultimately, the author presents a set of guidelines by which our species can live a morally sound life answering only to the basic instincts of good and bad without necessarily creating a totalitarian tautology to describe and encourage such behavior.
The irony is that in some future society, they may uncover a copy of this book and its straight-forward ideas, and decide to create an organized following of those ideas that ultimately becomes a religion (the world according to Schweitzer???) in spite of itself!
Excellent read! Some chapters are rather demanding of attention (i.e. wading thru all of the contemporary moral philosophies in order to break them down) but for the most part, a very informative and intellectually inspiring book to read.
A brief summary: He lays out why our modern religions and theories of ethics have failed to provide a meaningful moral code, in addition to closing the perceived gap between living and non-living. Life is special, but not sacred. He also argues that man evolved to have a special adaptation of a large brain; however, this does not make us automatically superior to other organisms. Our ability to create technologies to survive is just as unique as a Sperm whale's ability to dive kilometers under the ocean's surface or a bird's natural ability to fly. Evolution didn't culminate or end at homo sapiens. We are only a single branch of the evolutionary tree. His new morality is based on this premise; we must live in harmony with earth rather than as rulers of it. Near the end he lays out basic principles to live by.
Review: Beyond Cosmic Dice reminded me of Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit by Daniel Quinn. Schweitzer, however, seems to take the idea behind Ishmael, put it in front of the reader, and make a straightforward argument for it rather than build up to it as Quinn did through a fictional story and broad examination of human history. I thought he dissected religion a little too much, but it may have been necessary to establish why religious moral codes are ultimately improper to live by. The chapters he aimed at recognizing and debunking the perceived difference between life and non-life as a quantum leap were interesting and very enlightening. Anyone who cares about the future of mankind should read this book in order to BEGIN understanding how humans should live on planet earth.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have personally been looking for a moral foundation broader than Secular Humanism. This book addresses that need by sketching a 'Natural Ethic' that rests on biological... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Allessio77
Others have reviewed the contents of this book so I shall comment from a different angle with an offer of my own hypothesis. Read morePublished on November 6, 2013 by Lewis Tagliaferre
The outline of most of today's myth's and their lack of basis in reality is eye opening. If you read this with an open mind then realisation of man's place in a universe without... Read morePublished on February 18, 2013 by Robin Wyatt
Overall this is a pretty good book. It makes a strong argument for a natural approach to morality and does an excellent job of debunking religious morality. Read morePublished on January 28, 2012 by Book Fanatic
Beyond Cosmic Dice by Jeff Schweitzer and Guiseppe Notarbartolo-di-Sciara
"Beyond Cosmic Dice... Read more
I was looking forward to reading this book very much so in part due to the fantastic ratings this book has gotten on Amazon. Read morePublished on June 6, 2010 by Reader 6
Nicely presented argument for a moral society despite religion. I agreed with almost everything presented. Read morePublished on December 1, 2009 by Charles R. Anderson
I have listened to the author, Jeff Schweitzer, on the 4/30/2009 podcast from Point of Inquiry and I was most favorably impressed. I have listened to many (hundreds? Read morePublished on September 22, 2009 by Ken Kressin
Even without the science, we see the proof that organized religion isn't working and that the morality needs to be a personal choice; however, the science makes it all the more... Read morePublished on July 2, 2009 by Amy