From Publishers Weekly
Science is the only way of knowing—everything else is just superstition, says physicist Park (Voodoo Science
) in this thinly argued rehash of the debate between science and religion. Among other questions, Park revisits experiments regarding the healing power of intercessory prayer (prayer for the healing of others), citing several studies that he claims are meaningless because it is impossible to measure prayer. Further, he says, only science, not prayer, con protect us from so-called acts of God, like a tsunami. Park argues against the existence of the soul by debunking a tale of reincarnation and even interprets the Bible to his own purposes. But this chapter also shows how disjointed his arguments can be, as he jumps from the Plan B contraceptive to genes and memes to stem cells and ghosts. Such issues have been covered more eloquently and in greater depth by thinkers like Daniel Dennett in Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon
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For Princeton physicist Robert Park, science serves as a rapier for skewering all beliefs not sustained by empirical proof. Predictably, religion heads the list of targets. And much to Park’s credit, he engages some of the most scientifically respected exponents of scriptural faith, including fellow physicist Charles Townes and pioneering geneticist Francis Collins. Park particularly challenges the religious argument that the cosmos reflects a divine purpose and that the human moral sense ultimately depends upon sacred revelations. Devout readers may resist Park’s reasoning, but his refreshingly lucid style ensures that all will understand its internal logic. That logic pits experimental rigor not only against the creeds of antiquity but also against the irrationality of New Age gurus who evangelize for alternative medicines or extrasensory perception. Strong when crusading against others’ credulity, Park leaves unanswered questions when he begins extolling the liberating virtues of his own atheism. In particular, readers may wonder why he never addresses the problem of free will within his life-is-just-chemistry metaphysics. Sure to spark sharp debate. --Bryce Christensen