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BEYOND COSMIC DICE

4.6 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0981931104
ISBN-10: 0981931103
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jeff Schweitzer spent much of his youth underwater pursuing his lifelong fascination with marine life. He obtained his doctorate from Scripps Institution of Oceanography through his neurobehavioral studies of sharks and rays. He has published in an eclectic range of fields, including neurobiology, marine science, international development, environmental protection and aviation. Jeff and his wife live in central Texas, moving there after retiring from the White House as Assistant Director for International Science and Technology.

Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara is an evolutionary biologist with a doctorate from the University of California. He serves as a marine policy advisor to various national and international bodies, and has recently represented Italy in multilateral environmental negotiations. Through appearances on television and radio, and the publication of articles and books, he has been striving to increase public awareness of marine conservation. Giuseppe lives with his family in Northern Italy.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 258 pages
  • Publisher: Jacquie Jordan (June 22, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0981931103
  • ISBN-13: 978-0981931104
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,141,146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By C. Stephens on December 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Beyond Cosmic Dice is perhaps not the book you would expect from the title. To me, the title suggests that the book is primarily about morality and ethics in a world in which there is no ultimate purpose or absolute morality. In a very real way, this is what this book is about, but not in the way you'd think.

Chapter 1 is an extremely compelling description of the difficulties in defining life. Schweitzer explains quite convincingly that life is not an either-or proposition. Rather, the difference between life and non-life is a gradation. Instead of life being white and nonlife being black, life is closer to blue and nonlife is closer to green, with gradual shades in between. One can look at a dog and say, "this dog is definitely alive" and one can look at a rock and say, "this is definitely not alive", but not all things are so easily classified. As he puts it, "Nobody would deny the existence of green or blue, yet nobody can define when one color becomes the other. That inability to draw a clear line between them does not diminish the reality of the two colors" (pp 46). This is important to understand because when people ask, "how did life arise out of nonlife" they imagine life and nonlife as binary constructs, when in fact they are constructs on a spectrum. "Life" is nothing more than "an arbitrary label we apply to distinguish extremes of complexity along a continuum" (pp 47).

After explaining that life is an arbitrary label, Schweitzer goes on to briefly explain evolution. What I find most spectacular about this chapter is that while I am a seasoned reader of explanations and treatises on evolution, he offered a very unique perspective. He explains that evolution has no direction, purpose or drive toward complexity.
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Now is the time for everyone to read this book. You may not agree with all of it, but discussion about these issues of religion, science, and morality goes beyond being simply relevant and is truly necessary given our current world politics. Beyond Cosmic Dice is an easy read, but densely packed with important ideas. Somehow the authors have managed to pull off making the usually dry subjects of ethics, morality and religion humorous without in any diminishing the serious nature of the discussion. This is actually a page turner! I love the chapter titles, and that irreverence is reflected in the text of the book as well, but without ever being disrespectful toward the long-held beliefs that are being so effectively challenged. If you have ever questioned religion's answers to life's mysteries, then this book is a must read. I do not agree with everything the authors say, but find myself in agreement with their biggest ideas about morality and religion. I loved this book and found it a deeply satisfying read.
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Beyond Cosmic Dice is a very concise manual describing how intelligent human beings can interpret the world around themselves and develop a peace with that understanding, without necessarily depending on the crutch of an "imaginary friend" to explain and support their need to be the supreme species of the universe.

The author, in an unemotional, fact based manner, helps the reader understand how religions became a crutch, and then a corrupt crutch, praying on the weakness and fear of the unknown of the masses.

Ultimately, the author presents a set of guidelines by which our species can live a morally sound life answering only to the basic instincts of good and bad without necessarily creating a totalitarian tautology to describe and encourage such behavior.

The irony is that in some future society, they may uncover a copy of this book and its straight-forward ideas, and decide to create an organized following of those ideas that ultimately becomes a religion (the world according to Schweitzer???) in spite of itself!

Excellent read! Some chapters are rather demanding of attention (i.e. wading thru all of the contemporary moral philosophies in order to break them down) but for the most part, a very informative and intellectually inspiring book to read.
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Jeff Schweitzer has only touched on a brand new sense of morality that makes sense.

A brief summary: He lays out why our modern religions and theories of ethics have failed to provide a meaningful moral code, in addition to closing the perceived gap between living and non-living. Life is special, but not sacred. He also argues that man evolved to have a special adaptation of a large brain; however, this does not make us automatically superior to other organisms. Our ability to create technologies to survive is just as unique as a Sperm whale's ability to dive kilometers under the ocean's surface or a bird's natural ability to fly. Evolution didn't culminate or end at homo sapiens. We are only a single branch of the evolutionary tree. His new morality is based on this premise; we must live in harmony with earth rather than as rulers of it. Near the end he lays out basic principles to live by.

Review: Beyond Cosmic Dice reminded me of Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit by Daniel Quinn. Schweitzer, however, seems to take the idea behind Ishmael, put it in front of the reader, and make a straightforward argument for it rather than build up to it as Quinn did through a fictional story and broad examination of human history. I thought he dissected religion a little too much, but it may have been necessary to establish why religious moral codes are ultimately improper to live by. The chapters he aimed at recognizing and debunking the perceived difference between life and non-life as a quantum leap were interesting and very enlightening. Anyone who cares about the future of mankind should read this book in order to BEGIN understanding how humans should live on planet earth.
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