Customer Review

Reviewed in the United States on September 16, 2015
THE MAGIC OF REALITY is a wonderful book, suitable for readers of all ages, explaining what science has learned about the world in the last 400 years. This has been a pretty late development as modern humans have been on earth for about 100,000 years. Science has enabled humans in this recent period to vastly improve the quality of life over what humans enjoyed/endured for the previous 99,600 years. During that long older period, humans invented stories to explain the world, and Dawkins reports many of these stories, myths, before he explains the scientific story. Astronomers, for example, with instruments to extend the power of our senses, have discovered many suns at various stages of their life cycle, so that they can form a story about the birth and death of stars. Our sun, a star, is about 4.5 billion years old, will be too hot in about 2 billion years for life to exist on earth, and "humans will almost certainly be extinct long before then" -- could this knowledge cause us to value life more and stop killing each other?

The ancient stories had a long time to become embedded in our culture and language. The scientific stories are harder to understand sometimes, though Dawkins does a good job giving clearly understandable summaries of some science, but he says he does not fully understand some scientific stories outside his specialty, biology. He teaches us a scientific way of seeing and understanding the world. For example, he discusses "why do bad things happen" and "luck, chance and cause" (p.223). When we say "it happened for a reason" do we mean "a past cause" or "purpose"? Bad things have causes, not necessarily purposes. A great scientist and a great writer, Dawkins earns our gratitude for the dozen books he has written for us non-scientists. This one ought to be given to every young student who has been introduced to some science in school.
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