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The Mind of God : The Scientific Basis for a Rational World

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  • Posted October 26, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Mind-Blowing Book!

    The Mind of God: The Scientific Basis for a Rational World <BR/><BR/>After reading God and the New Physics, I added Paul Davies to my list of fantasy dinner guests. After reading the Mind of God, I decided to invite only him so we could have a one-on-one conversation. <BR/><BR/>Throughout my life, I have, as others surely do, wonder what it is all about. In addition, while science seems so cold and calculating, it appears that other forces were at work in mysterious and unknown ways. While the answers are not contained in Mind of God, they certainly point the way to a better understanding. I particularly enjoyed the way this book weaved in the writings of the great philosophers. <BR/><BR/>If you want nourishment for the mind, I would highly recommend this book. I hope you find this review helpful. Michael L. Gooch, SPHR

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2003

    A Disappointment

    Davies's book takes two but interrelated directions. The first is an objective understanding of the universe to support his position of a 'process thought' for adopting an open universe (this is what I accept also). The second is a subjective understanding of the universe that appeals to Davies¿s proposed religious-philosophical mysticism that our existence has a fundamental goal and existential purpose. Davies says, 'The future is not implicit in the present: there is a choice of alternatives. Thus nature is attributed a sort of freedom... This freedom comes about through the abandonment of reductionism' (181-182). Davies recognizes that 'the world is more than the sum of its parts' and that physical systems are 'the existence of many different levels of structure' (Ibid). Despite tensions of order and novelty of an open universe, Davies perhaps warrants his rationality of an open view, which powerfully personifies a being and a personal universe. Thus, an openness of something else possibly co-existing with or outside the universe is analogous to warranting a 'process thought' to 'open systems,' which stresses the 'openness and indeterminism of nature.' Process thought, indeed necessitates the universe expanding or changing since it has been observable in being in flux and in the direction of becoming, in contrast to a 'rigid mechanistic view of the universe,' that the universe was once thought. I now turn to Davies's second direction. And this is his appeal to a religious-philosophical mysticism that our existence has a fundamental goal and existential purpose. This second direction, once again, is interrelated to the first direction just mentioned above by the fact that one can truly have a meaningful existence (subjective authentic experience) in the world shared and lived in by others (objective universal reality) that one contributes to create and define. By appealing to mysticism Davies takes his own leap of faith into the infinite 'beyond' rational explanation by saying, 'If we wish to progress beyond, we have to embrace a different concept of 'understanding' from that of rational explanation. Possibly the mystical path is a way to such an understanding' (232). It was rather disappointing to me that Davies abandoned his own scientific discipline of rational explanation of the universe in favor of embracing a religious mysticism. If Davies seeks to examine the great questions of existence by providing 'an entertaining and provocative tour of recent developments in theoretical physics,' he succeeds. However, he fails his own book because he deconstructs his own thought and 'process thought' by resorting to a 'mystical path' in the end. If it is Davies¿s intention to end his work open-ended on mysticism then he leaves knowledge open for the reader to discover his or her own meaning in the universe. In this respect, Paul Davies succeeds in writing a brilliant exposé and nothing more.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2002

    A marvelous book, but...

    I bought my first copy of this book eight years ago, just after completing some thermodynamics research that required me to dig more deeply into the mathematics of the subject than I¿d ever done before. After reading Davies¿ book, I was embarrassed to admit that I¿d never considered how remarkable it is that mathematics can be used to study the universe so profoundly, and with such success. Davies¿ book is simply marvelous. For example, the discussion of Conway¿s game of Life was fascinating. Even more so was Davies¿ explanation of Goedel¿s proof and the implications thereof. So by all means buy this book, ponder it, fool around with Life (see any of several websites devoted to it), and enjoy. However, I must disagree with Davies on one important issue: he seems to believe that the primary purpose of religion is to explain the nature of the universe, or of God himself. His discussion between the imaginary atheist and the imaginary theist (the atheist wins, of course) is particularly wide of the mark. I can¿t speak knowledgeably about every religion, but the purpose of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism is emphatically NOT to explain the universe or to understand the mind of God. Instead, they claim to be God¿s revelation, made at His initiative, of how we go astray and how to get back into a right relation with Him and our fellow humans. The miserable job that most of us do of living out our religions is regrettable, and the Old Testament is indeed disconcerting to many modern readers (including Davies), but those phenomena should not confuse the reader regarding what these religions claim as their origin and purpose. A good book to read after this one is C. S. Lewis¿ God in the Dock (i.e., God on Trial). Lewis, who was once an atheist, noted more than 50 years ago that science had advanced far beyond concepts that we can relate to through our senses and everyday experience, concluding that ¿all we can really know about Reality is its mathematics¿. Davies clearly agrees, here and in The Matter Myth. Lewis also mentions that too many Christians make the mistake of believing that the Bible exists to satisfy their curiosity about the universe, an admonition that Davies might have read with profit.

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    Posted May 27, 2009

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    Posted December 27, 2009

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