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The Prophet and the Astronomer: Apocalyptic Science and the End of the World Paperback – July 17, 2003
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Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
-From someone who has never studied physics nor astronomy in a classroom yet wants to know the "real" science behind humanity's "big" questions.
Beyond the complicated physics theories, I found this book to provide quite an interesting look at cosmology through the ages. The author discusses how several hundred years ago, most people believed that such things as comets & shooting stars were actually meant to warn them of bad things to come - famine, war, death, etc... This is how cosmology began to influence, and be influenced by, theology/religion.
He then goes on to show how many cults of past & present still use this type of information to scare their followers into continued cult association, and how they also use such things as comets & shooting stars to then explain away why their predictions didn't come about as they said it would - for ex., they might say that they just saw a shooting star, and this means that God has changed his timing...
It's also shown how each culture tends to believe that the end of the world will occur in their lifetime - people have been preparing for this for thousands of years...
One can see through the progression of this book how some people today still believe much the same things as those in times past re: cosmology & the end.Read more ›
There is a brave attempt to explain inflation theory in an original way, but it too fails. The most interesting chapters are on comets and asteroids, but apart from introducing the subject by pointing out that people had always thought of comets as ill omens there is no real link between how people may have thought then and how or what they think now. The fact is there is a huge difference in our understanding of cosmology. We may want to know about the stars for many of the same reasons. But that is a trivial observation. Science is no longer a religious occupation.
In short I think it is another attempt to fill a market niche of "science-religion", but without any real ideas it fails. I wish Mr. Dyson would actually read the books that he recommends.
By Marcelo Gleiser
By Richard E. Noble
"In this book I explore religion's assimilation of cataclysmic cosmic phenomena and its influence on scientific thought through the ages from the pre-Socratic philosophers of ancient Greece to modern day cosmology ... Indeed, I will argue that we create a scientific world as we do a spiritual one - in order to overcome fear, to defy time, to understand our place in the world, and to justify our lives ... Drawing on the Book of Danial, the Book of Revelation, and an investigation of apocalyptic sects, art and literature we will examine the formation and evolution of the solar system, the extinction of dinosaurs, Einstein's general theory of relativity, pulsars and black holes, the big bang and the inflationary universe, all the way to the latest ideas on cosmology."
Reading the above, a curious reader who is not familiar with Marcelo Gleiser might conclude that this is a book by some right wing religious preacher type who is going to do a mystical tap dance on the science of the Universe.
Marcelo Gleiser is the real thing. He is a professor of Natural Philosophy, physics, astronomy at Dartmouth College.
If you are like me and found your way to an interest in the origins of the Universe and science in general via early religious training followed by studies of early Greek and Roman philosophers, then you will enjoy reading this book.
This author keeps it as simple and understandable as could be expected while dealing with highly complicated cosmological theory and speculative particle physics.
The first part of the book was right up my alley.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
First the good news. The author knows his science very well. The bad news is he does a poor job of blending the theme of religion's effect on the science of astronomy. Read morePublished on July 3, 2007 by E. King
Cosmology is a contact sport. I learned this through watching the careers of my father, Ralph A. Alpher, now Emeritus Distinguished Research Professor of Physics and Astronomy at... Read morePublished on December 4, 2005 by Dr. Victor S. Alpher
The Prophet and the Astronomer attempts as its goal to connect historically religious attitudes toward the heavens with the modern cosmological implications for spiritual identity. Read morePublished on October 22, 2005 by Y. Sageev