The Fire in the Equations: Science, Religion, and the Search for God

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Overview

“ In this beautifully and intelligently written book, Ferguson not only reports on some of the intellectual tremors jolting the world of thinking women and men, but also considers the basic questions with penetrating analysis, yet at a very readable level. . . . An excellent book.” Choice

Heralded for its readability and scholarship, The Fire in the Equations offers a fascinating discussion of scientific discoveries and their impact on our beliefs. The book’s title is derived from Dr. Stephen Hawking’s pondering, “What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe?”

Originally published in the U.S. in 1995, it provides an excursion through new theories of quantum physics and cosmology, ranging from the nature of time, the big bang, the “unreasonable effectiveness” of mathematics, laws of nature and their possible relation to God, chaos theory, black holes, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, particle physics, Darwin's theory of evolution, and the role of God in all these equations. It even raises such questions as “how God might answer prayers” from the point of view of physics.

While she gives no absolute answers, Kitty Ferguson takes the reader through a world of paradoxes and improbabilities, explaining how it is possible to believe both in a pre-determined universe and in free will as a theory of human behavior. She concludes that what we know about science doesn't necessarily make God inevitable, but does not rule God out either.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781932031676
  • Publisher: Templeton Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 987,462
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Kitty Ferguson, a former professional musician with a life long interest in science, is an independent scholar and lecturer who lives in Cambridge, England, and South Carolina. She has also written the best-selling books Black Holes in Space Time and Stephen Hawking: Quest for a Theory of Everything.

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Table of Contents

Preface xi
A Word about Inclusive Language xiv
Acknowledgements xv
1 'They Buried Him in Westminster Abbey' 1
2 Seeing Things 4
Is the rational universe an illusion? 12
'In Nature's infinite book of mysteries ...' can we read very much at all? 19
Is objective reality a mirage? 25
Are we really free agents? 30
Is the universe a uni-verse? 33
3 Almost Objective 35
Where is fancy bred? 37
The spectacles-behind-the-eyes 44
The muse of science: Is truth beautiful? 59
Does truth surpass proof? 63
The elite of science 66
The spirit of the times 69
The essential Godlessness of science 73
At the limits of scientific truth 78
First steps beyond the mind's-eye view 80
Is there anything else? 81
The insidiousness of God 86
The morality of science: Is truth good? 87
4 Romancing the Creation 89
The uncomfortable concept of a beginning 90
The Gordian knot of singularity 102
The magic of imaginary time 108
The pulsing universe and the arrow of entropy 117
The mysterious wobbling of nothingness 123
'Reality (whatever that may be)' 126
Reality in the absence of apples 129
What place for a creator? 134
The third candidate 137
The mother of all chicken-and-egg stories 139
5 The Elusive Mind of God 143
God as the embodiment of the laws of physics 145
A presence behind the process 146
The leap to purpose: The God who wishes to drink tea 147
The watchmaker 149
The universe as a 'put-up job' 163
Second Gordian knot: The anthropic principle 164
Hacking at the second Gordian knot 166
The inflationary universe 167
Baby universes to the rescue! 171
Not the ether again! 173
The longing of Johannes Kepler 178
The fiddler on the roof 184
6 The God of Abraham and Jesus 185
The law-breaker 189
The hard edge of legalism 191
The soft underbelly of legalism 195
The death of the God of the Gaps 204
Chaos meets Control 205
'Top-down' determinism? 221
'IAM' 225
When truths collide 228
The ultimate self-confirming hypothesis 231
The masterful use of parallel perfect fifths 234
Who is the 'I' in 'IAM'? 239
7 Inadmissible Evidence 241
Public vs. private knowledge 242
Admissible evidence? 245
The spectacles-behind-the-eyes, revisited 246
The cloud of witnesses 247
A game of 'I Doubt It' 251
The Lucy problem 253
'I should not believe such a story were it told me by Cato!' 254
'The Invincible Ignorance of Science' 259
'For the Bible tells me so'--the evidence of scripture 260
Is there proof in the pudding? The evidence of results 263
Armchair truth: The argument from reason 266
The argument from explanatory power 270
The argument from nature 274
The argument from availability 277
8 Theory of Everything ... Mind of God 279
Notes 284
Bibliography 293
Index 301
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