The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions

The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions

3.6 12
by David Berlinski
     
 

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Militant atheism is on the rise. In recent years Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens have produced a steady stream of best-selling books denigrating religious belief. These authors are merely the leading edge of a larger movement that includes much of the scientific community.

In response, mathematician David Berlinski, himself

Overview


Militant atheism is on the rise. In recent years Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens have produced a steady stream of best-selling books denigrating religious belief. These authors are merely the leading edge of a larger movement that includes much of the scientific community.

In response, mathematician David Berlinski, himself a secular Jew, delivers a biting defense of religious thought. The Devil’s Delusion is a brilliant, incisive, and funny book that explores the limits of science and the pretensions of those who insist it is the ultimate touchstone for understanding our world.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
An overwrought retort to Hitchens, Harris, Dawkins and company. Discovery Institute senior fellow and science writer Berlinski (Infinite Ascent: A Short History of Mathematics, 2005, etc.) has a big job on his hands: convincing atheists that science doesn't back their lack of belief. He names names ("I count myself among Harris's warmest detractors"; "Richard Dawkins has nothing but contempt for theology, often glorifying in his impressive ignorance") and protests that while there has never been a worthy proof against the existence of God, there are numerous scientists saying that God is at the very least improbable, at the most a delusion. His counterargument is scattershot, however. There's nothing so elegant as Pascal's theorem to be found in these pages, but instead a lot of rhetoric by sly suggestion: If Noam Chomsky is a child of the Enlightenment, and since the Enlightenment produced the French Revolution, it follows logically that Noam Chomsky is responsible for guillotining the innocent. Since Hitler and Stalin were atheists, it follows that all atheists are mass murderers in fact or potentiality. And so forth. In calmer moments, Berlinski offers a nice tour through modern cosmology, pointing out some of the theoretical weaknesses and built-in conundrums of quantum mechanics, even if it seems to be stretching to claim that Max Born was guilty of "legerdemain." The author seems more comfortable with Einstein's more nondogmatic views, to say nothing of Einstein's willingness, at least publicly, to accept the possibility of God. As for the militant new atheists who deny divine agency in creation, he sometimes gets choked up in his furious rejections: "Scientific atheists should atleast be open to the possibility that scientific explanations by their very nature come to an end well before they have done all the work that an explanation can do."By which, one supposes, he means that a leap of faith is needed in the whole question of whether God exists, which should come as no news to anyone on either side of the question. Those concerned with that question will find better grist elsewhere.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780465019373
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
09/22/2009
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
167,870
Product dimensions:
5.56(w) x 8.26(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author


David Berlinski holds a PhD from Princeton University and has taught mathematics and philosophy at universities in the United States and in France. He is the best-selling author of such books as A Tour of the Calculus, The Advent of the Algorithm, and Newton’s Gift. Berlinski writes frequently for Commentary, among other journals. He lives in Paris, France.

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The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions 3.6 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 12 reviews.
gaelic More than 1 year ago
This book is written in such a manner that it should call into question those 'scientific' writers who attempt to discredit religion. The author is highly educated in mathmatics and physics and draws on these fields in his presentation.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Dr. Berlinski criticizes the scientific community for making conclussions that he does not agree with. Perhaps Dr. Berlinski can discuss the process that has led scientists to make their conclussions. It is called 'the scientific method'. discuss the hypothesis, the dta, the method for reaching a conclussion. If you quote the conclussion and then crticize it, you are basically using the conclussion as if it were a testimonial. Dr. Berlinksi, most of those you criticize have written well researched books on subjects of their expertise. Tell us what part of their hypothesis and reasoning you disagree with, not just their conclussions. Or tell us how you feel their conclussions do not follow from their logic. Every scientist will agree, testimonials are not science. These scientists you criticize put a lot of thought and reseach into their work. It does not seem fair to brush them off with a simple wave of your hand.