Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
Fire in the Mind: Science, Faith, and the Search for Order Paperback – September 17, 1996
Top 20 lists in Books
View the top 20 best sellers of all time, the most reviewed books of all time and some of our editors' favorite picks. Learn more
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
The first part of his book is a fairly straightforward tour of cosmology, albeit at a bit more intellectual level than most popular descriptions. One theme he starts with, and to which he returns several times throughout the book, is that our interpretation of the universe is determined by our inherited ability to understand, by our genetic evolution. That is to say, we see the universe through our own lens, tempered by our limitations. Nothing startlingly different here from my previous readings. In fact, it's rather intuitive. However, he delves into chaos theory, with which I am only slightly acquainted, and brings attractors into the discussion, about which I know nothing. The point about attractors is that they may account for the evolution of the universe (and, as I would see later, the evolution of complex organisms on Earth). Things were starting to warm up.
He goes on into an understandable discussion of quantum mechanics and quantum physics. Wrapped in here is the epiphany: the fundamentals upon which the universe are built (as we understand it) are mass, energy, space and time.Read more ›
Fundamentalists who try to fit earth history (and indeed the history of the whole universe) into 6,000 years are almost certainly wrong. However, because of the nature of science we cannot congratulate ourselves just yet. While our data tell us that the earth itself is several billion years old, we also have made some unsupported assumptions (certainly not as many as the fundamentalists, but more than a few). Even mathematics and physics are not completely free of assumptions that cannot be tested, at least not yet.
Researchers such as Murray Gell-Mann and Stuart Kauffman at the Santa Fe Institute are busily probing the frontiers of complexity and in the process may be starting to get glimpses of just how weird our universe really is. Johnson, who is not a scientist, but a science writer, captures the excitement of this possibly ground-breaking research which may eventually show us a universe much different from that we had previously imagined. Questions arise about our immediate corner of that universe, the part with which we should be the most familiar. Is the evolution of life contingent as Steven Jay Gould might imagine it, or is it inevitably to result in creatures such as ourselves, as Simon Conway Morris believes?Read more ›
A good many authors have taken a shot at illuminating these questions in the popular press, with varying degrees of success. Too often the author falls into the trap of proferring metaphor in place of explanaition, and finally settling for a bit of hocus-pocus handwaving- "and then something magical happens, and life arises".
Johnson's book is different. He manages, without recourse to excessively complex mathematics, chemestry or biology, to clearly elucidate the big questions as well as the various theoretical approaches that have been taken to answer them. And the way he does so is as entertaining as it is educational.
Johnson's stories all begin in Santa Fe, where three very different entities serve to illustrate many of the principles he discusses. One is the landscape of Santa Fe itself, the rocky outcroppings that serve not only as an illustration of geography, but also as metaphor for the notion of a "fitness landscape" and as the home of the Pueblo Peoples of New Mexico.
The second entity is the peoples of the Pueblo themseves. Through the evolution of their culture and their biology, Johnsom explore change in a population as it interacts with its environment, including other populations.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a great book. It's well written, laid out logically. However, the starting point is that you understand the physics. Read morePublished 16 months ago by worksalright
What is endlessly fascinating about this book -- which lays out the human search for patterns and meaning -- is the quality of the writing. Read morePublished on February 9, 2013 by Victor Aral
Great thesis tying the human need to find structure and order to science and religion. Atheists can learn from the religion drivers, and religious folks can have a succinct and... Read morePublished on December 26, 2012 by Turkish Rabbi
When Steven Johnson wrote "Emergence" Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software, I found myself pulled into the concept that ordered systems could... Read morePublished on August 13, 2010 by Mark A. Moorstein
This book flirts with profundity, but in the end never really crosses over into the "epiphany" category for me. Read morePublished on June 8, 2010 by Robert Carlberg
I'm reading this book for the third time in under 10 years. Even with this third reading, the passages in the book tickle the neurons in my head with new thoughts and perspectives. Read morePublished on April 9, 2008 by S. Stern
Fire in the Mind passionately relates mans quest for understanding. Johnson sits backs, smiles and equivocates the Anasazi's expressions of order through their beliefs with... Read morePublished on March 22, 2006 by Peyton E. Phillips