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Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
There are those who believe it should not be within the domain of science to discuss things such as birth, death, God and other esoteric subjects. Many feel these questions should be left to priests, minister, monks and witch doctors. This wonderful book (On Being: A scientist’s exploration of the great questions of existence by Peter Atkins) emphasizes through the use of reason, logic and rationality, that science not religion is best equipped to actually find the answers to the complex questions of life, death and existence.

I admit that this 111 page hardcover volume was not an easy read; nevertheless, the author’s dedication to using the scientific method in an attempt to answer some of the deeper mysteries of life is clearly explained. He uses some outrageous examples to get his points across which makes for an interesting approach. This book is organized into five subject areas. They include the beginning, progression, birth. death and ending.

This is the kind of book more scientists should write in order to respond to the mystical claims of religion. The author presents the material with such clarity that it is difficult to reject his conclusions. As a scientific minded person I found this book to be an interesting and informative read.
If you are seeking a book that makes you think about some of the mysteries of life from the scientific point of view this book is for you.

Rating: 5 Stars. Joseph J. Truncale (Author: Never Trust a Politician).
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2015
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
WARNING! A misleading title! The book addresses biological being, material, no relevance to spiritual, purpose etc..
I found this book through Sam Harris recommendations, but hugely disappointing!.
The author has great command of language, although may be difficult to understand for less fluent readers.
Lack of imagination, lack of holistic knowledge, no deeper understanding, just endless biological ramble etc... Example: In search of a purpose the author looks for a goal, rather than examine the path etc...
As a researcher of truth, spirituality and meaning of life I was expecting to learn something new, at least be presented with an inspiring new argument, yet this was not to be.
I like his definition of life, but this book has only reinforced my suspicion, that hard-core scientists have no desire to understand the implications of human consciousness... as I said, a misleading title, no offense meant to the author...
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This is a very short and very dense book that uses science as an antidote to faith based assertions regarding creation, god, life after death, the rapture, the universe etc.
Atkins is an eloquent writer with a wry sense of humor but his scientific rebuttal of these myths is too technical. To his credit he urges the reader to skip some parts making a short book even shorter. He justifies his style as being a necessary counter to various versions of myths but in the exposition of this style he becomes tedious and boring.
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8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I bought Atkin's book hoping to get a scientists view on fundamental questions regarding life and the universe. He did deliver on this, but it felt as if he were trying to defend himself against popular religious beliefs nearly the entire book. I was very conflicted over his this; his content was good, but the tone left something to be desired.

Being a chemist like Atkins I like a direct approach to addressing questions, but he dismisses myth and religious tradition as being naive. That would be like saying Aesop's Fables are naive. These myths, religions, and philosophies are meant to teach an uneducated mass (especially if you look at them through a historical context). The lessons in these stories are not proof of anything, but rather emblematic of underlying philosophies. When they were written there was very little understanding of the physical sciences. I do agree that people have taken these stories too literally, but there is also risk in dismissing them altogether.

Ultimately it comes down to the popular belief that science and philosophy conflict with one another (religion in my mind being philosophy). Science is meant to deal only with that which can be measured. On the other hand philosophy is meant to address wisdom. People get too caught up in the minutia and fail to see that these are two distinctly separate areas. Enough of my ranting though...

I did like his scientific approach to fundamental human questions. To be honest I could only really digest one chapter at a time, but the rest of the day I was left with that chapter stuck in my head. He presents these problems with as little fluff as possible and uses sound scientific reasoning. I just didn't care for his defensive tone.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Keep an open mind and read it twice before judging, There are many unanswered questions and that is the beauty of science, The book is REAL and difficult in many ways such as the chapter on death, but the author tries to break things down simply which is difficult to the layman's mind
Do not judge a book by its cover or the author who is breaking down accepted myths and giving you a new path to follow
He is not pushing his views on you but sharing different concepts for your consideration
I applaud him
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This is truly a testimonial to thinking in away that requires courage. One can. Only conclude that we are the masters of our own fate. It doesn't matter how the parade is doing,---only how we'll you're playing your notes.
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13 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on June 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Brilliant, beautifully brief, and written with a wonderful turn of phrase. This book is spot on as far as I am concerned. Best read with an open and skeptical mindset as it may challenge your pre-existing prejudices. I just read a borrowed copy, now I'm going to buy it so that I can have the pleasure of reading it again in a few months time.
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on January 14, 2015
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Excellent Item and Fast Shipping! Thanks!
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on November 30, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Very good shape no complaints
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14 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on May 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I like Peter Atkins - his small previous book about laws that drive the Universe. This one is short as well, 100 pages of musings. Title is a bit misleading in this case. Here we have the ode to science vs. myths (religious believes). Science is progressive, religion static and contributing to nothing. Plenty of cynicism towards myths, admiration for science, science that is able to explain why we stink after death, but cannot explain why penis is used for urination as well as procrastination (LOL).
So we learn how in theory "true" Nothing could be converted into physical nothing that we experience (interesting thoughts). Then we read about reason, purpose, random chances, evolution's facts and theory of natural selection.
Science is smart, discovered what is chromosome, DNA, ATP and concluded that life is information by the flux of energy, we are children of the chaos. Then we know with the large certainty how our Sun will die and when. To be honest, Professor Atkins does not hide facts that science has come across limitations, or at least now, is unable to explain all.

Now back to myths. Several pages are devoted to the myths called Creationism. Here I tend to agree with the author. He asks himself where such ideas are coming from and why people adopt such grotesquely primitive views that are close to being dangerous to society at large.. He throws into the same basket those who believe that there is "life after death" and even proposes to study the psychological and cultural viscera behind this "attack on reason".

My problem with "On Being"? - too harsh criticism of the myths. Children are encouraged to read fairytales and myths. Then why we adults are ridiculed by doing this? Does religion truly cut legs of a chair at which science sits? I do not see such scenario and this book just proves it. Therefore why bother? Myths/faith are like oil and do not mix with water, this should be obvious to any intelligent individual.

Now, for the sake of the balance, one can pick "God's Universe" by astronomer Owen Gingerich. Short and compact text as well showing that (quote):"the scientist with theistic metaphysics will approach laboratory problems in much the same way as his atheistic colleague across the hall."
Amen :)
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