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Is there a God, or a spiritual reality beyond nature? Physicist Taner Edis takes a fresh look at this age-old question, focusing on what we have learned about our world rather than on traditional metaphysical disputes. Emphasizing a search for explanation rather than listing flaws in theistic metaphysics, Edis uses the results of natural science to present a world where complexity, intelligence, and even the sublime heights of religious experience emerge from what is ultimately material and random.
Sympathetically criticizing Muslim and New Age perspectives, as well as Jewish and Christian arguments, Edis argues that a thoroughgoing naturalism leads to a much better explanation of our world. While making it clear that spiritual views have a genuine intellectual appeal, Edis systematically critiques such arguments, contrasting them with stronger naturalistic explanations. Science is central to this naturalistic picture; modern physics, evolutionary biology, and critical history, as well as contemporary psychology and brain sciences, all cast doubt on any spiritual reality.
Bringing together ideas from many disciplines in a style that remains accessible to nonspecialists, and also interesting to scientists and philosophers, Edis provides an informative, in-depth statement of the case for scientific naturalism as the most accurate and powerful description of our world today.
|Introduction: Does God Exist?||11|
|1||Making Sense of God||21|
|Something for Nothing||21|
|A Necessary Being?||24|
|The Impossible God||31|
|A Religious Theory||35|
|The Great Programmer||39|
|Is God a Philosophical Problem?||44|
|2||Let There Be Life||51|
|Bringing Back the Designer||59|
|Order from Chaos||64|
|Darwin in Mind||69|
|God After Darwin||74|
|3||The Gods of Modern Physics||83|
|Physics in the New Age||83|
|The Big Banger||92|
|A Quantum Spirit||97|
|Life, the Universe, and Everything||103|
|An Unnecessary Hypothesis||107|
|4||History and Holy Writ||115|
|The Messenger of God||124|
|The Meanings of History||133|
|The End of Revelation||139|
|In Search of Jesus||147|
|An Apocalyptic Prophet||150|
|A Miracle Worker||161|
|The Risen Lord||166|
|The Bad News||171|
|6||Signs and Wonders||179|
|A Spiritual Science||182|
|7||Of Mystics and Machines||211|
|Feeling the Spirit||211|
|Thirty-one Flavors of Ultimate Reality||215|
|Beyond the Brain?||220|
|The Limits of Language||226|
|8||Leaps of Faith||243|
|Progress? What Progress?||251|
|Round in Circles||257|
|The Sun Also Rises||262|
|9||The Knowledge of Good and Evil||275|
|High Weirdness by Theology||278|
|The Morality of a Social Animal||283|
|Believing the Absurd||293|
|Conclusion: The God of Song and Story||307|
Posted May 31, 2003
I have an interesting perspective on Taner Edis. As a fourth-year biology undergraduate at Truman State University (where Edis teaches), I have heard him speak twice. The first time was a short speech to a small group of Freethinkers about the subjects covered in his book. The second time was an afternoon Science Hall lecture on design in the universe. In that lecture, he identified the two elements of 'design': chance and necessity. Purpose was not one of them, which may have been one of the many things that upset a fellow science professor (a rather belligerent old Creationist) to the point that he referred to Edis as 'the Inquisition.' I assure you, the label is unwarranted. I have never run into a more intelligent, unbiased 'skeptic' in my life ... Edis's book synthesizes a lot of material from history, theology, philosophy, and science. He deftly addresses not only Christianity, but also Judaism and Islam. The material is very in-depth, though, requiring some sort of elementary understand of the aforementioned subjects prior to reading the book. In stark contrast to Christian apologists, Edis takes a rather passive approach to God and other theological matters, free from insults and judgements. He never identifies himself as an atheist - only as a skeptic. And it becomes clear to the reader at several points in the book that Edis has a profound and legitimate interest in the concept of God - far from the idea, perpetuated by many Christians, that non-Christians are just out to get Jesus. Edis has a quiet respect for some elements of religion, and a quiet disgust for some of the fundamentalist interpretations of reality. Because Edis's book is so full of all kinds of information, there is little I want to say about the arguments presented against God. It's not like that, really. I mean, the book has a lot of value, in a lot of different areas. Edis merely shows the reader that the arguments FOR God are lacking quite a bit - especially evidence and coherence! He does not attack God or believers, though. A very fulfilling read for anyone with a little background or a little interest in these subjects.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 8, 2003
This is the best book on science and religion that I've read in a long time. Most others I've read were either too obviously stuck in a certain philosophical point of view, were too hostile to religion, or defended religion by too much unconvincing "it might be"s. Edis leaves no doubt that he thinks modern science makes all supernatural beliefs untenable, but does so without hostility to religion. I especially liked how he explained the attractive aspects of religious ideas before going on to show that his naturalistic approach does a better job. I was also impressed by his discussing Islam and the New Age as much as Christian ideas, and the fact that he emphasized modern, liberal defenses of God and religion rather than bashing obviously absurd fundamentalist beliefs.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 15, 2010
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Posted October 29, 2008
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