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The Mind of God: The Scientific Basis for a Rational World Paperback – March 5, 1993

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This time Davies (coauthor of The Matter Myth , LJ 3/1/92) takes on the big philosophical questions raised by our increasing understanding of how the universe works: How did it all start? Why is there a universe at all? Is there a God and, if so, has He/She any limitations? That is, could the laws of physics have been different? Who made the laws? Why are we here? Could there be a universe devoid of life? Many people feel that these issues fall into the realm of religion, not science. The message of Davies's book is that most of these questions are unanswerable but only people with an appreciation of modern science can understand how deep they really are. Davies is an excellent writer about science per se and its philosophical implications. A worthwhile acquisition for all science collections.
- Harold D. Shane, Baruch Coll., CUNY
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

Are we but ideas in the mind of God? Platonic forms in one of many infinite universes? Davies (Theoretical Physics/Univ. of Adelaide, Australia; co-author, The Matter Myth, p. 1510, etc.) increasingly assumes the mantle of metaphysician as he probes once again theories of origin and destiny, space and time, and creation by design or chance. Some of this tracks familiar Davies ground: a reprise of Plato and Aristotle, Aquinas and Newton, Hoyle and Hawking. Quarks and GUT theories are revisited, as are chaos theory and quantum cosmology. But what makes this exercise different is the extent to which Davies probes computer science and mathematics to develop extraordinarily rich concepts of the nature of complexity. These chapters deal not only with the paradoxes inherent in self- reflecting systems and G”del's proofs of undecidability in mathematics but relate these famous theorems to Turing's universal machines and the nature of ``computable'' vs. ``noncomputable'' numbers. The upshot of all this lofty discourse is the idea that the laws of physics (or nature) are ``computable'' and that the universe lends itself to simulation, given a universal computer. The more enthusiastic mathematicians exploring these ideas are prepared to say that such computers reveal the organized complexity of the universe, are capable of self-replication, and are therefore alive. Davies concludes that maybe the ultimate answer cannot be obtained through reason but only through mysticism, and he again states his conviction that we are truly meant to be here.... That's not necessarily the conclusion all readers will reach, but the mathematical excursions make this latest Davies volume of more than passing interest. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (March 5, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671797182
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671797188
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #309,308 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Paul Davies is an internationally acclaimed physicist, cosmologist, and astrobiologist at Arizona State University, where he runs the pioneering Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science. He also chairs the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Post-Detection Taskgroup, so that if SETI succeeds in finding intelligent life, he will be among the first to know. The asteroid 1992OG was officially renamed Pauldavies in his honor. In addition to his many scientific awards, Davies is the recipient of the 1995 Templeton Prize--the world's largest annual prize--for his work on science and religion. He is the author of more than twenty books, including The Mind of God, About Time, How to Build a Time Machine, and The Goldilocks Enigma. He lives in Tempe, Arizona.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

84 of 85 people found the following review helpful By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on May 21, 2003
Format: Paperback
Paul Davies book, `The Mind of God', is a follow-up to is book, `God and the New Physics.'
Davies explores in more depth and detail the philosophical implications of modern physics and how the theories and ideas of modern physics can help in the understanding (and occasionally, deepen the confusion) of ideas that have been in the traditional purview of philosophy and theology. In this respect, science has a basic question that comes to the root of all systems of thought -- why?
`Scientists themselves normally take it for granted that we live in a rational, ordered cosmos subject to precise laws that can be uncovered by human reasoning. Yet why this should be so remains a tantalising mystery. Why should human beings have the ability to discover and understand the principles on which the universe runs?'
Davies discusses certain conceptual principles that are essential to the discussion. The division between rational and irrational, particularly in light of 'common sense' -- not too long ago science held itself to be rational because it more conformed to 'common sense' than did 'irrational' religion; as science edges toward the irrational (defined in common sense terms) it loses the ability to use that argument against religion.
`It is a fact of life that people hold beliefs, especially in the field of religion, which might be regarded as irrational. That they are held irrationally doesn't mean they are wrong.'
Davies admits his bias toward rationalism, but leaves room open for discussion. He discusses metaphysics in terms of Kant, Hume, and Descartes, drawing into question the very idea of rationality and the terms of existence in which the scientific universe operates.
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88 of 94 people found the following review helpful By Karl Matsumoto on July 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
When Paul Davies' book was published 1993, scientists had yet to discover the top quark, but Davies predicted that it would be found one day, and therefore add further evidence to his view of an ordered, symmetrical universe which seems to be designed on purpose. The "drama" for the search for the top quark, as the author called it, had not yet been completed. Well, he was absolutely right. The top quark was discovered in March1995 at Fermi Lab. It is this kind of accuracy that sets it apart from the less rigorous Creation Science-styled books. This book cannot be dismissed since the author's knowledge of mathematics, philosophy and physics seems so wide-ranging. Moreover, he is well aware of the skepticism to the designer Universe arguments, and they are presented in this volume at every turn. Davies' powers of prophetic vision and synthesis of information are amazing. The heart of the book are the chapters on his "deep feeling" that the inherently mathematical nature of the Universe, which he admits is hard to convey to the lay reader, must lead to the inescapable conclusion that the world as we know it could not have happened by sheer chance. Ironically, Davies says, by doing their work, scientists end up thinking about God more than theologians.
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101 of 111 people found the following review helpful By Wyote VINE VOICE on July 10, 2005
Format: Paperback
I read about 20 science books each year, not only in physics or astronomy but biology and so on. I enjoy most of them, but I didn't enjoy this one very much. If you're considering buying this book or reading it, let me suggest that you check out The Whole Shebang: A State-of-the-Universe(s) Report before you make your decision.

Actually, I enjoyed Davies' discussions of Godel and incompleteness, and Turing and computability, and models of the universe as a computer. I haven't read much about these issues, and since I really love math I enjoyed his explanation of these things.

Also, I agree with his ultimate conclusion: that mysticism provides a way of knowing the universe, a kind of knowledge that can't be turned into thoughts or words. I agree that there will always be a mystery, a boundary to our knowledge, no matter how much our knowledge grows; and that the ultimate knowledge will be past that boundary. So I'm in broad agreement with his worldview, although for cultural reasons I'm a little more hesitant to give the name of "God" to whatever is beyond the boundary. And I agree with that it is astounding that the universe is so mathematical. Shocking even. I'm not sure how else it could be, but it seems to me to be the second biggest mystery of existence, only after why there is something rather than nothing.

And I too wonder what mathematics is, and how it manages to be written into the universe.

I hoped for a really good discussion of that last issue in particular, and the main reason I didn't enjoy the book is because his discussion of that issue was a disorganized, rambling mess. There is some great food for thought.
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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth Matheny ( on October 23, 1999
Format: Paperback
With lucidity and wit, prolific writer Paul Davies, aprofessor of mathematical physics, surveys the history of science, philosophy and mathematics to try to answer the human race's deepest questions. While acknowlegingthe possibility that the universe might be a meaningless fluke, Davies convincingly argues that the existence of consciousness in the universe cannot be "a byproduct of mindless, purposeless forces." Though he is not religious in a conventional sense, Davies believes that the rationality of the universe, the fact thathumans can understand how the universe works, is evidence ofpurpose and meaning. Particularly fascinating is Davies' meditations on mathematics. Davies points out that the fact that the universe's deepest laws can beexpressed mathematically strongly suggests that thereis more to our world than meets the eye.Anyone who has ever looked at the night sky and wondered if our lives have a purpose should read this book. Thoughtrained as a scientist, Daviesis as familiar with Leibnitz, Kant, and Aquinas as he is with the latest developments in quantum physics. He also provides a fun and thought-provoking chapter on Virtual Worlds and Real Worlds. Truly a delight to read.
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