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The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions Hardcover – April 1, 2008
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“Berlinski knows his science and wields his rapier deftly. He makes great sport with his opponents, and his readers will surely enjoy it.”
—Tom Bethell, bestselling author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science
“A powerful riposte to atheist mockery and cocksure science, and to the sort of philosophy that surrenders to them. David Berlinski proceeds reasonably and calmly to challenge recent scientific theorizing and to expose the unreason from which it presumes to criticize religion.”
—Harvey Mansfield, Professor of Government, Harvard University
“Berlinski’s book is everything desirable: it is idiomatic, profound, brilliantly polemical, amusing, and of course vastly learned. I congratulate him.”
—William F. Buckley Jr.
“With high style and light-hearted disdain, David Berlinski deflates the intellectual pretensions of the scientific atheist crowd. Maybe they can recite the Periodic Table by heart, but the secular Berlinski shows that this doesn’t get them very far in reasoning about much weightier matters.”
—Michael J. Behe, Professor of Biological Sciences, Lehigh University, bestselling author of Darwin’s Black Box and The Edge of Evolution
“David Berlinski plus any topic equals an extraordinary book.”
About the Author
DAVID BERLINSKI has a Ph.D. from Princeton University and has taught mathematics and philosophy at universities in the United States and in France. He is the bestselling author of such books as A Tour of the Calculus, The Advent of the Algorithm, and Newton’s Gift. A senior fellow at the Discovery Institute in Seattle and a former fellow at the Institute for Applied Systems Analysis and the Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques, Berlinski writes frequently for Commentary, among other journals. He lives in Paris.
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Top Customer Reviews
I wasn't really expecting something as brilliant, challenging, and engaging as this. If you think that the only people who don't believe in evolution are Fundamentalist knuckle-dragging Georgia swamp-dwellers, you're in for a big surprise. Berlinski himself is an agnostic of Jewish descent, an astonishingly erudite man and a brilliant thinker. He also writes frightfully well. And it is often hard to disagree with him. As he notes in the opening pages of this book --- concerning religion, God, and the rest: "I do not know whether any of this is true. I am certain that the scientific community does not know that it is false."
You might want to read those two sentences again, because they form the logical heart and soul of this book. Berlinski is not on a mission to preach religion; his task is to make plain just how little we actually know about the universe, and to try and re-awaken our sense of wonder. In this, he succeeds brilliantly.
The book cannot really be summarized in a brief review, but let me try to show you at least his thoughts about cosmology and the Big Bang. First, he makes it clear that the atheist camp has always had a hankering for an eternal universe (funny, that describes me, too) and a huge dislike for a universe which had an actual beginning, and then he demonstrates that all of current cosmological theory and knowledge points to the Big Bang as a singularity --- and not a universe which is constantly expanding and then contracting. So it comes Scarily Close to "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." He then amuses himself (and us) by skewering all of the "objective scientists" who are trying to wiggle out of this "difficulty." It really does sound like "objective scientists" accept the "scientific facts" which suit their own biases.
"We have no idea how the ordered physical, moral, mental, aesthetic and social world in which we live could ever have arisen from the seething anarchy of the elementary particles." One thing I can add is that, the last time I checked, we don't even know how genes and RNA manage to control the color of the eyes. We may be able to draw the hereditary chart and point to the right place in the DNA, but we have no idea at all how the genotype turns into the phenotype.
Berlinski is a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute, which is a place devoted to the idea of Intelligent Design, but, as an agnostic, he's something of a maverick even there. You can find him in Wikipedia and on YouTube as well.
Berlinski's writing style is just as he speaks. He's very articulate, thoughtful, and even witty.
A great read, and nice to see a non-Christian sticking up for people of other beliefs and theories.
Dr. Berlinski handles Dawkins' (and many others') philosophies on atheism very well. He most effortlessly dismantles the so-called reasons the New Atheists use to support their atheistic thinking to such a point you have to wonder why or how they ever think such things in the first place, (if you already haven't, that is). The New Atheist's thoughts are more thouroughly considered, thus their senslessness exposed.
It was quite disturbing to me when Berlinski writes of how some atheistic religion-bashing scientists, on discussing the holocaust, advocate that the "Jews might have brought their troubles on themselves." Jews are a religion, but they also are born a nationality without option. To promote such an additude on a nation of people is far from the "rational" and "intelectuality", scientists insist they soley base their thinking on.
Dr Berlinski writes a conclusion I've always had that; the "landscape" thesis (mega-universes) falls into the "ptolemaic epicycles" catagory.
4 stars instead of 5 only because this book didn't have quite the "punch" that Dr Berlinski's "The Deniable Darwin" does. I guess, the "nuetural" nature of Dr. Berlinski's agnostism couldn't offer a lot of "positive" information. But still very worth taking the time to read.