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The Mind of God: The Scientific Basis for a Rational World Paperback – March 5, 1993
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- 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.
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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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very interesting, especially the sections on Plato and mysticism. This, coming from a physicist! Really quite enlightening, I think. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Jim Clark
Excellent service. The seller delivered promptly and the item was as described. Very happy customer.Published 15 months ago by Maria Jose Maranon