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Science and Nonbelief Paperback – November 30, 2007

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Editorial Reviews


"In the context not only of the intellectual debates between scientific and supernatural or transcendent realities, but also the political relationship between the social institutions of science and religion, Edis explores what he calls science-minded nonbelief, which takes the naturalism of current science as the leading reason to reject the existence of spiritual realities. He touches on social and well as natural science, discusses philosophical disputes and scientific ideas, and incorporates the complex historical interactions between science and nonbelief."


SciTech Book News

"[T]his is an intelligent and well-balanced book that carefully considers all the arguments offered on both sides of the issue of science and belief. The author refuses to take the easy way out of saying that science and religion are dealing with different realms: one being limited to facts, the other focusing on meaning….Overall, this is an excellent book for the layman and professional alike. Anyone interested in the subject would find this to be one of the few contemporary books that approaches these controversial issues with more light than heat."


Catholic Library World

"This clear, balanced survey of the interactions between science and religious doubt includes issues raised by physics, biology, neuroscience, pseudoscience, and philosophy. Designed for advanced students, it includes some primary sources."



"This book, which defends nonbelief effectively from some attacks based on science (particularly those using intelligent design, anthropci principles or paranormal phenomena), could influence an inquirer to that that the claims of Christianity are false. Edis seeks to protect the scientific community's ability to benefit society, both against restrictions coming from religious conservatives, and against recognition of pseudoscientific ideas. The committed Christian reader could be helped to identify arguments to avoid in apologetics, and unresolved conflicts between science and faith."


Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Book Description

Provides an overview of the complex history of the secular tradition of science and its interactions with religions and spiritual traditions

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 283 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books; Updated Paperback Ed edition (November 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591025613
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591025610
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,615,681 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Taner Edis was born in Istanbul, 1967, to Turkish and American parents. After completing his undergraduate work at Boğaziçi University, he received his Ph.D. from The Johns Hopkins University in 1994, in theoretical and computational condensed matter physics. Working in diverse areas, from atmospheric modeling with collaborators at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to the philosophy of machine intelligence, he is currently professor of physics at Truman State University, Kirksville, MO.

Fascinated by the plethora of supernatural and fringe science beliefs around him, and concerned about the rise of Islamist politics back in Turkey, Edis first got involved with skeptical inquiry into religious and paranormal claims during his graduate studies. He has since written and spoken extensively on such subjects, particularly on the topic of anti-evolutionary thought. His writing has characteristically combined scientific rigor with an ability to reach a broad audience.

Edis's first book, The Ghost in the Universe: God in Light of Modern Science, an accessible defense of a naturalistic view of the world, was published by Prometheus Books, and received the Morris D. Forkosch award for "best humanist book of 2002." With Matt Young, he co-edited Why Intelligent Design Fails: A Scientific Critique of the New Creationism. Hen then wrote Science and Nonbelief, and, most recently, An Illusion of Harmony: Science and Religion in Islam, which is a unique examination of science, religion and pseudoscience in a Muslim context.

While working on his writing, Edis also finds devious ways to get his students to understand physics, serves as a slave to some very self-satisfied cats, and grumbles about his wife being away at conferences too often. He is also a great fan of science fiction, where playing fast and loose with the laws of physics is not only acceptable, but positively fun.

Taner Edis can be reached through his web site,

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

82 of 82 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Adam L. on January 21, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Taner Edis has written a marvelously critical overview of where naturalism and supernaturalism collide. Books in this vein tend to be overly biased in favor of one side or the other, but Edis somehow maintains an edge of skepticism toward even his own viewpoints. Strength rests in this book where it points out the incomplete and weak areas of a fully naturalistic account of existence. The tactic utilized seemed to be very effective in that, generally speaking, he shows why naturalistic accounts are the best explanations, why their supernaturalistic rivals are woefully inadequate or just plain wrong, and then he points out the potential weak spots for those who hold to naturalism. I found this approach especially refreshing seeing that this method invites critical reflection on the issues at hand - something that the epistemological methodology of supernatural belief often lacks.

Chapter 1: Science, Philosophy, and Religious Doubt

This chapter is a very good overview for framing the thesis of the book. It contains the historical background of science, philosophy, and doubt and traces their beginnings in ancient Greece, their revitalization during the Enlightenment and how this trend is (and isn't) being carried into today. This chapter also gives a good introduction to the meta-representational differences between naturalism and supernaturalism.

Chapter 2: An Accidental World

Providing a primer on our current and mature physical picture of the universe, Edis explains why "commonsense" notions of believing in a Designer-god such as the "anthropic principle" are inadequate when one has a good understanding of physics.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By T. Tomocik on April 19, 2008
Format: Paperback
Of all the books I've read on this topic, this one takes the cake. Edis presents well-thought out, logical, and unbiased arguments - a combination particularly difficult to find on a subject like this. The author examines each of his topics thoroughly, and his writing demonstrates skill, fair-mindedness, and expertise that far exceeds other books I have read on science and nonbelief. This book expounds complex ideas in a digestible way that holds the reader's interest while introducing intricate concepts and ideas. Edis explicates the politics and history behind creationism, intelligent design, and Darwinism in addition to their principles, claims, and assertions. It is quite easy to take this author's writings seriously because he does not make the mistake of appearing elevated, bombastic, or egotistical; he simply offers the facts and spreads his prodigious knowledge on to the rest of us.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By J. Pietersen on May 14, 2008
Format: Paperback
If all physicists had the grasp of philosophy, biology, human prehistory, religion and new age bunkum that this writer has the world would have been a better place. Having read Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Paul Kurtz, Sam Harris, Matt Ridley, Steven Weinberg, Jared Diamond, Peter Watson, Frederick Streng, Peter J Gould, Joseph Campbell, Ninian Smart, Michael Shermer, Stephen Hawking, Simon Blackburn, Philip Kitcher, Charles Freeman, Karen Armstrong, Hector Avalos, Robert M Price and many others, Taner Edis stands apart with this single volume that introduces the reader to just about all the important topics that these writers have explored.

The book (dare I call it a landmark publication?) leads the reader effortlessly through all the important topics related to nonbelief. The style is clear and convincing, the scope expansive and the author self-assured and well informed. His insights are wider than most of his peers and his exposition of the subject convincing. Unlike Dawkins he never snaps at religion, unlike Harris he doesn't stop short at vague mysticism, and unlike anyone else I've read his understanding of the central issues seems unmatched. And he adds just that touch of sarcasm where opportune, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle's "oracular" reputation outside physical science being a juicy example. I also appreciated his unapologetic naming of the phenomenon under discussion as nonbelief rather than atheism, agnosticism or "bright-ism".

And he puts his finger on the pulse when he laments science and skepticism's standing in society amid the pseudosciences, new age bunkum and other intellectual hallucinations.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By El Cid on May 23, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book presents a very comprehensive and fair-minded accessment of how science and religion differ in shaping human thoughts about life and the nature of our universe. Additionally and of equal importance, it offers an extensive description of the socio-political implications that these differences hold for a society such as ours in the USA. While it is written in language for an intellectually astute audience, I recommend this book for skeptics and believers alike. It will open a few eyes and a few minds.
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Format: Paperback
Scientists have raised religious questions since the discipline's earliest development. Today many scientists are also nonbelievers - but can scientific inquiry and religious belief coexist? Science and Nonbelief is an overview detailing the history and theories of this relationship, examining scientific and spiritual developments alike. Any collection strong in science, philosophy or religion will find Science and Nonbelief a satisfying blend of inquiry and analysis.
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