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55 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read - regardless of your beliefs
Scientists are becoming aware that our universe is remarkably friendly to the development of life. It is as if it was designed for life. How can this be explained? Theists will claim that it was designed for life by God. Atheists will claim otherwise. But the question is how to explain this? Davies does a great job laying out the issues that make our universe so...
Published on October 24, 2008 by Michael Watkins

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beating around the topic but not addressing it as often as he should
The book, of course, is supposed to address the anthropic cosmological principle. It does that, but Davies wanders off too much chasing rabbits. It's a 150 page book packed inside a 336 page tome. It would be much more useful if someone could take out all the irrelevant dead horses he beats and the endless rabbit trails he follows.
Published 10 months ago by aopmike


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55 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read - regardless of your beliefs, October 24, 2008
This review is from: The Goldilocks Enigma: Why Is the Universe Just Right for Life? (Paperback)
Scientists are becoming aware that our universe is remarkably friendly to the development of life. It is as if it was designed for life. How can this be explained? Theists will claim that it was designed for life by God. Atheists will claim otherwise. But the question is how to explain this? Davies does a great job laying out the issues that make our universe so biofriendly. He then examines eight theories that have been invoked to explain this. Many scientists are atheists and have worked hard to develop theories that could explain our fortunate circumstances. A prevailing theory is that there are an infinite number of universes, or multiverses. The conditions of most of them are hostile to life formation. Davies does a fair and even-handed examination of each of the 8 theories, from intelligent design to the multiverse theory. He presents the scientific information in a way that a layman can understand. He points out the strengths and especially the weaknesses of each theory, even his own. I believe in God, and Davies is an atheist. But his writing is very fair and very thought provoking. This is a very interesting book, regardless of the reader's beliefs.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars same book as cosmic jackpot, March 18, 2009
By 
J. Jenkins (Toronto, Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Goldilocks Enigma: Why Is the Universe Just Right for Life? (Paperback)
I bought this book because I'm a big fan of Paul Davies, but I was disappointed to find out the paperback edition of 'the cosmic jackpot' (which I had read when it came out) was simply given a new title. I would read the reviews for the earlier book instead of this one, since the two are identical. All in all it's a fantastic book that discusses why life needs to be properly explained in a properly complete 'theory of everything'. At the moment of course there is not the beginning of an explanation, unless one is willing to entertain the idea of a multiverse plus anthropic selection.
In summary, see reviews of cosmic jackpot.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars must read, September 9, 2008
By 
invictus (queensland australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Goldilocks Enigma: Why Is the Universe Just Right for Life? (Paperback)
Must Read

Davies has written a book about physics generally and cosmology in particular. To a person interested in but not formally trained in these th disciplines, it must necessarily be hard going. But anyone who can find a better up-to-date attempt at what Davies has achieved will be indeed fortunate. I am in my seventies and count myself blessed that I have survived long enough to become knowledgeable about the the universe as a whole, albeit understanding aspects of it very imperfectly.

Davies has performed an extraordinary service to those afflicted with curiosity about the topics he tries to elucidate. I am confident that there is no better work of this scope in print.

INVICTUS
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars English edition of "Cosmic Jackpot", July 25, 2009
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This review is from: The Goldilocks Enigma: Why Is the Universe Just Right for Life? (Paperback)
This is a wonderful book for those who want to share the confusion held by all honest cosmologists. I don't know why it happened, but there must have been some kind of slip at Amazon or elsewhere. "Goldilocks Enigma" was originally published in the UK. Americans have different taste in titles and the US edition was called "Cosmic Jackpot." I sympathize with any Davies fan who thought it was something new. I'm sure this wasn't a rip-off, but rather a screw-up. BTW: fans should track down Davies' Op-Ed for the New York Times a couple of years back calling for a solution to cosmology that didn't rest on either the claims of divinity or the idea that natural laws were self-generating and thus couldn't be explained. That little piece really ticked off our materialist friends - probably didn't help that Davies won the Templeton Prize either. A traitor to his class I guess.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Meal, July 5, 2009
This review is from: The Goldilocks Enigma: Why Is the Universe Just Right for Life? (Paperback)
The author Davies' background has included theoretical physics, cosmology, and astrobiology; his research has been mainly in the area of quantum field theory in curved space-time. Like a great chef, he has cooked up a delicious dish by combining the ingredients of science, philosophy and metaphysics. He covered this dish in a subtle gravy he calls religion.

This book discusses the propositions that the conditions of our universe are "just right" for life to exist: hence Goldilocks. This idea is known as the anthropic principle which is the philosophical consideration that observations of the physical Universe must be compatible with the conscious life that observes it. Davies summarizes the current state of knowledge in cosmology and provides a 101 introduction to particle physics.

Davies explores numerous theories which may explain this "just right" condition including multiverses. He seems to sum up his own opinion with what he calls a "life principle" in the cosmos. Of course he recognizes that this "is something I feel more in my heart than in my head."

The main gist of this book, like many other Davies works, always boils down to the main question: Does the design of the universe imply the existence of an intelligent designer?

I would not describe the book as a page turner as one reviewer has. Too much of this material is in his other books; therefore, there is never the surprise around the bend. Davies used his own `intelligent design' to weave these pages from former works of the same arena. So, you don't feel the need to race through the book just as fast as your feet can fly.

Davies always writes in a concise and elegant style and his books are fun to read whether you really `get' the science behind the talk or not. He has a way of distilling the complex so it can be understood by many of the non-scientist. His talent is comparable to Michio Kaku whose Parallel Worlds: A Journey Through Creation, Higher Dimensions, and the Future of the Cosmos are a very similar book.

We all know the past affects the future. In this book you will the future may be able to affect the past. The bizarre implications of past/future causality, the multiverse, dark energy and dark matter will give anyone plenty of food for thought.

I highly recommend this book for those that have not previously read the "Cosmic Jackpot".

Michael L. Gooch, Author of Lessons from the Ranch: Cowboy Wisdom for Human Resources Leaders.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very important, December 2, 2006
This is a very important book because it is about a cosmological principle that links humans to the forces and structure of the universe by way of many coincidentally balanced features, (The Goldilocks Enigma), that are necessary to our existence, and at the same time are relevant to the structure of the universe. These coincidences range from the near-perfectly "flat" balanced structure of the universe, itself, all the way down to our local ecosystem, and any sustained deviation from this anthropically fixed balance sends conditions racing drastically far away from anything conducive to life.

A cosmological principle is a specific theory or model of structure and dynamics, so I only gave Paul's book four stars because backwards causation won't be accepted in any form, and a true anthropic constraint on the forces will necessarily include a reciprocal connection to the human evolutionary process, which indicates that Professor Davies should be looking for an inherent mechanism that enables the universe to "leap" to higher orders of the same basic structure.

This would be the result if Davies and Dawkins actually got on the same page for a change, and I believe that this fine physicist was also very much on the trail of this thermodynamic feature in his studies of quantum field theory in curved space'time, because matter generation from the energy of Einstein's finite vacuum necessarily increases negative pressure via "rarefaction". This naturally causes expansion, rather than the other way round, but the universe does not suffer from runaway expansion because the effect is offset by the increase in ordinary matter density, so tension between the vacuum and ordinary matter increases instead.

Eventually, the integrity of the forces that bind the universe will be compromised and the system will "evolve", so the next universe will be a little bit more symmetrical than the last, and that defines the purpose of evolution, as well as causality, as this is evidenced by the extremely near-missed "goal" of the last big bang. It's "The Physics of Time Asymmetry", which is another fine book by Paul Davies, a man who is definitely on the right track. I would highly recommend anything written by him.

Davies also gives one of the best laymans terms representations of current cosmology that I have seen anywhere. He does a very good job explaining the different cosmological models and the evidence that exists for and against each of them.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The road to panentheism, November 20, 2011
This review is from: The Goldilocks Enigma: Why Is the Universe Just Right for Life? (Paperback)
"The Goldilocks Enigma" (a.k.a. "Cosmic Jackpot") is an interesting book by Paul Davies, the maverick quantum physicist who dialogues with theologians. Davies is sometimes regarded as a deist or panentheist, although he is at pains to sound as scientific as possible. Despite this, his collegues seem to regard him with intense suspicion, as evidenced by a 2007 controversy about an article Davies had written for the New York Times, entitled "Taking science on faith".

The first part of "The Goldilocks Enigma" is cosmology 101, but already here, Davies asks the mischievous question *why* the natural laws look like they do, and why the universe seems to be "just right" for life. This "fine-tuning" of the universe is known as the anthropic principle, and is often used by Christians as an argument for God's existence (see Patrick Glynn's book "God: The Evidence" for a typical example). Small wonder cosmologists attempted to avoid the issue for decades! The reasons are clearly ideological.

As the book progresses, it becomes progressively more interesting. In one section, Davies takes on the idea of a "multiverse". The multiverse theory in all its exotic permutations is an obvious attempt to break free from the theistic implications of the anthropic principle. Davies points out that the multiverse concept, in its worst versions, actually resembles pagan polytheism, with highly advanced "creators" generating fake universes, Matrix-like, with the aid of super-computers! One sure wonders what's wrong with science, if the "naturalist" explanations are more bizarre than the theistic ones they are supposed to overcome?

Davies, however, isn't satisfied with theistic Intelligent Design either. His objections are largely philosophical: how can a being be "necessary", how can a necessary being create "freely", etc. And who created God, anyway? He concludes that the traditional idea of God is really no different from the idea of self-existing physical laws: both are a kind of "levitating superturtle" whose existence has to be taken on faith. (The turtle analogy comes from the funny story about the lady who said that the Earth rests on an elephant, which in turn rests on an infinite number of turtles, all the way down!) Davies also amasses scientific arguments against a Designer, however. Our author claims to believe in the Neo-Darwinist scenario with living organisms changing due to random mutations and non-random selection, and he expresses confidence that the origins of both life and intelligence will soon be explained without the need for miracles.

Despite this, Paul Davies is nevertheless sceptical to out-right materialism. He believes that mind and intelligence are somehow basic properties of the universe, and occasionally sounds a bit like an idealist or even vitalist. Davies' preferred hypothesis seems to be a kind of self-explanatory, participatory universe in which consciousness somehow "creates" the universe by backwards causation in time. This is very difficult to take seriously, unless the consciousness doing the creating is of truly cosmic proportions - in which case we would indeed get a kind of pantheist or "panentheist" god! For reasons all his own, Davies stops short of saying this. Obviously, if Davies is right, then Darwinism cannot be correct, since "blind" mutations and selections would have to be combined with a teleological principle, in effect making evolution somewhat less than blind.

Davies ends by pointing out that his theory is a distinct minority position, and that most scientists prefer the multiverse, the so-called theory of everything, or simply don't give a damn, accepting the natural laws as brute facts and (presumably) our existence as a fluke.

"The Goldilocks Enigma" isn't an easy read, despite being a popular science book. However, if you manage to digest it, it will both introduce you to the strange land of cosmology and quantum physics, give you an overview of the major theories (and problems) in the field, and - the real point of the book - summarize Davies' own crypto-religious alternative.

And yes, the present reviewer does admit a certain partiality towards Paul Davies, that constant gadfly of modern science and recipient of the Templeton Prize. ;-)

(Please note that "The Goldilocks Enigma" and "Cosmic Jackpot" is really the same book in two different editions.)
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is it an enigma or part of the grand plan?, November 20, 2011
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Thank you Paul Davies for an interesting and compelling treatment of complex scientific theories and the search for the deeper meaning of it all. As a NASA scientist and an adherend of the Christian faith, I found this book to be reassuring that science and religion can co-exist and mutually reinforce each other. I frequently hear some of my non-scientist friends say that they see the majesty of God's handiwork in the beauties of nature. I, on the otherhand, find God's handiwork in the marvel of the incomprehensible origin of the big bang that set the cosmos in motion, the complexity of the DNA molecule, the amazement of quantum theory. The immutable, universality of the laws of physics demonstrates the handiwork of the grand creator and also suggest that there is also a grand plan underlying the grand creation, for otherwise why so much precision and orderliness? I am unconvinced by the scientific interpretation that "it is what it is because that is the only way it could be". This is like saying, "I exist. Therefore, I am". Quite provacative for sure, but not convincing of any useful reality. The thesis offered by Paul Davies in "The Goldilocks Enigma" is quite compelling and is offered in an objective, scientific format that leaves open ample room for extended scientific and religious thought.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seeking the Ultimate Answers, December 1, 2006
By 
Ventura Angelo (Brescia, Lombardia Italy) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This Universe seems neatly programmed for life...to the point that a small difference in the resonnce property of helium amnd beryllium atoms could held no carbon, and therefore no life as we know it! Many other particular shows this universe to be fine-tuned for life. How and why it is so? Paul Davies in this brillint and clearly written book resumes what dowe now know or think of know on this question, examining possible answers, from intelligent design to string theory, to the Multiverse theory, contemplating even the Matrix Argument,that is, are we living in an artificial or simulated Universe? The answer Paul Davies feels more inclined to give is different, and includes the importanceof life and mind to the Universe itself. A fascinating book that sums up the state of the art on the answers to the meaning of Life, The Universe amd Everything.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beating around the topic but not addressing it as often as he should, November 14, 2013
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aopmike (Chino, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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The book, of course, is supposed to address the anthropic cosmological principle. It does that, but Davies wanders off too much chasing rabbits. It's a 150 page book packed inside a 336 page tome. It would be much more useful if someone could take out all the irrelevant dead horses he beats and the endless rabbit trails he follows.
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The Goldilocks Enigma: Why Is the Universe Just Right for Life?
The Goldilocks Enigma: Why Is the Universe Just Right for Life? by Paul Davies (Paperback - April 29, 2008)
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