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No Sense of Obligation: Science and Religion in an Impersonal Universe Paperback – July 10, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Matt Young is Adjunct Professor in the Department of Physics and the Division of Engineering at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado, and was formerly Physicist with the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, Colorado. While with NIST, he earned the Department of Commerce Gold and Silver Medals for his work in optical fiber communications and was named Fellow of the Optical Society of America. His previous positions include Assistant Professor of Physics at the University of Waterloo, Assistant Professor of Electrophysics and Electronic Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Associate Professor of Natural Science at Verrazzano College, and Visiting Scientist at the Weizmann Institute of Science. Professor Young is a member of the Optical Society of America, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Federation of American Scientists, the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, and the Rocky Mountain Skeptics. He is the author or co-author of roughly 100 publications and was twice Guest Editor of the prestigious Conference on Precision Electromagnetic Measurements. He is the author of Optics and Lasers, including Fibers and Optical Waveguides (fifth edition, 2000) and The Technical Writer's Handbook: Writing with Style and Clarity (1989); both books have appeared in foreign translations and are still in print.Finally, Professor Young is a former Trustee of Congregation Har HaShem, a Reform synagogue in Boulder, Colorado, and of the Hillel Council of Colorado, a Jewish campus organization.The author's home page is

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: AuthorHouse; 1 edition (July 10, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0759610894
  • ISBN-13: 978-0759610897
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,146,376 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Taner Edis on June 5, 2003
Format: Paperback
An engaging, well written book on science, religion, and pseudoscience. Young, a physicist, explains why he thinks the universe is an impersonal place, not presided over by any God or other spiritual force, and puts all of this in the context of skepticism and the paranormal. There are similar books out there, but No Sense Of Obligation distinguishes itself in two ways particularly. One is that it is amazingly easy to read, given the complexity of some of the topics he addresses. Young is totally lacking in academic pomposity, and knows how use personal anecdotes as well as scientific references to keep his narrative flowing. Second, Young is careful to explain how even without theological beliefs, he considers himself Jewish and strongly religious in a profound sense. Overall, this is a thought-provoking book which will appeal to every skeptic.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Duwayne Anderson on April 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
There are lots of books in the world about science, and lots of books about religion. There are even lots of books about science and religion. But there are just a handful of books on science and religion that are written with intellectual honesty, knowledge, and style. Matt's book is in this elite group.

Many popular books on science and religion are written by theists convinced from the start that their god exists, and determined to find some trace of him/her/it in scientific knowledge. Typically the author is a mystic or theologian, but occasionally they might even be a converted physicist or astronomer. It's not uncommon for such authors to exhibit a poor sense of what science is, or how it works, and too often their books are filled with abysmal reasoning and grossly misrepresented scientific evidence.

Matt's book is refreshing precisely because he is the antithesis of the popular garbage. He is both a competent scientist as well as impeccably honest with the evidence and the conclusions they lead to.

This is a relatively long book (308 pages, if you include the appendix - which I recommend) but it's relatively easy to read, very enjoyable, and quite engaging. I finished reading it in a week (I read over half of it on the airplane, while traveling to/from Hawaii).

Matt's thesis is that the scientific evidence speaks to the unlikelihood of a purposeful, caring, and intelligent creator of the universe. He's an atheist, though he specifically disavows the term because he considers it too dogmatic and disrespectful of religion (page 253). Though atheistic in fact, I think Matt's obvious devotion to high ideals in secular Judaism will give him a sense of credibility with even the most devout theists.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Thomas R. Scott on April 19, 2003
Format: Paperback
In this book, Matt Young has done an excellent job analyzing the merits of religious faith and presenting a skeptics (I use the word "skeptic" in a positive sense) view of the world. Using logic and evidence, he examines the credibility of the Bible and religion in general showing their numerous weaknesses. The reader will find that his conclusions are all based on solid analyses backed by established data which is, of course, the way science should work. I found his book to be one of the most enjoyable that I've read in quite a while, even better than Michael Shermer's "Why People Believe Weird Things" and other articles in the Skeptical Inquirer. Due to lack of specific knowledge and interest, I didn't follow all the details regarding the Bible's history in the book but I truly enjoyed Matt's philosophical approach to life (at least as expressed in the book). Matt's style of writing make this book extremely easy & interesting to read and I felt that he clearly answered any questions that would arise in the reader's mind as the book is read.
In summary: great book!
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Michael Cavanaugh on October 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
As president of IRAS (The Institute on Religion in an Age of Science) I am frequently frustrated with the treatment given by science/religion authors of the various physics concepts and experiments that are supposed to have relevance to the science/religion dialogue. This book makes more sense of them than any I have read, and it does so in language accessible to any non-specialist reader. Young is a physicist at the Colorado School of Mines, but he writes like an Communications Major - clearly. It is a great combination, and a great read.
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