Why Science Does Not Disprove God

Overview

The renowned science writer, mathematician, and bestselling author of Fermat's Last Theorem masterfully refutes the overreaching claims of the "New Atheists," providing millions of educated believers with a clear, engaging explanation of what science really says, how there's still much space for the Divine in the universe, and why faith in both God and empirical science are not mutually exclusive

In recent years a highly publicized coterie of scientists and thinkers, including ...

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Why Science Does Not Disprove God

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Overview

The renowned science writer, mathematician, and bestselling author of Fermat's Last Theorem masterfully refutes the overreaching claims of the "New Atheists," providing millions of educated believers with a clear, engaging explanation of what science really says, how there's still much space for the Divine in the universe, and why faith in both God and empirical science are not mutually exclusive

In recent years a highly publicized coterie of scientists and thinkers, including Richard Dawkins, the late Christopher Hitchens, and Lawrence Krauss, have vehemently contended that breakthroughs in modern science have disproven the existence of God, asserting we must accept that the creation of the universe came out of nothing, that religion is evil, that evolution fully explains the dazzling complexity of life, and more. However, in this much-needed book, veteran science journalist Amir Aczel profoundly disagrees and convincingly demonstrates that science has not, as yet, provided any definitive proof refuting the existence of God.

Based on interviews with eleven Nobel Prize winners and many other prominent physicists, biologists, anthropologists, and psychologists, as well as leading theologians and spiritual leaders, Why Science Does Not Disprove God is a fascinating tour through the history of science and a brilliant and incisive analysis of the religious implications of our ever-increasing understanding of life and the universe. Throughout, Aczel reminds us that science, at its best, is about the dispassionate pursuit of truth—not a weapon in cultural debates. Respectful of both science and faith—and argued from the perspective of no single religious tradition—Aczel's book is an essential corrective that should be read by all.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
2014-03-01
Mathematician Aczel (A Strange Wilderness: The Lives of the Great Mathematicians, 2011, etc.) debated atheist Richard Dawkins in 2010. Here, he presents his arguments, and prominent atheists, Dawkins above all, do not come out well. Aczel wins the rematch by the infallible technique of misstating his opponent. Science cannot "disprove" anything; only mathematicians do that. Scientists gather evidence and weigh it. While evidence (i.e., arguments) favoring God's absence exists, in the end, disbelief is a matter of opinion. However, there's no denying that the "new atheists," like other pugnacious militants from the tea party to Islamic activists, favor vivid arguments that stretch the truth. Aczel sets them right in a series of earnest essays stressing that both science and religion are laudable institutions that deserve respect. One chapter summarizes archaeological evidence for many biblical events. In another, the author emphasizes that scientists understand the universe's evolution but not its origin, so they cannot rule out a Creator. Throughout the book, Aczel quotes many experts in a variety of fields, including Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg, French mathematician Pierre Simon de Laplace and American physicist Hugh Everett. Few show much concern over the question of God's existence, but most have no objection to it. Having been burned too often, theologians rarely invoke the 19th-century argument that whatever science can't explain provides evidence for God, but Aczel relies on it. His prime example is the mind. "[T]he emergence of consciousness and symbolic thinking remain one of the most formidable hurdles in the path of atheism," he writes. "We have no good explanation of how [they] came about. These may well be divine gifts." Aczel dislikes atheists and often descends to their derisive debating points (e.g., religions sponsor charities; atheists don't), but he skillfully combines his specialty and good science to support, without actually proving, the existence of a Creator.
Willamette Week
“Amir Aczel is a pop idol of the science-writing world.”
IAN TATTERSALL
“If everyone understood as well as Amir Aczel does that scientific and religious ways of knowing belong to entirely separate and uncompeting forms of human experience, the world would be a much more pleasant place to live in.”
RABBI DAVID WOLPE
“Amir Aczel combines scientific credibility, stylistic elegance, and argumentative vigor in Why Science Does Not Disprove God. What’s more, he’s right.”
MARIO LIVIO
“[A] thoughtful, erudite journey through modern science and philosophy, and a clear exposition of a problem with which humans have struggled for millennia.”
ALAN LIGHTMAN
“[An] intelligent and stimulating book. ... Part of the continuing and restorative conversation of humanity with itself. In the end, all of our art, our science and our theological beliefs are an attempt to make sense of this fabulous and fleeting existence we find ourselves in.”
Booklist (starred review)
“In Aczel, Richard Dawkins and his fellow New Atheists face a formidable opponent. Aczel wields impressive intellectual weapons in demolishing the New Atheists’ claims. ... With compelling reasoning, Aczel demonstrates that Dawkins and his allies ... distort or misrepresent the methods and findings of science.”
Library Journal
04/15/2014
Aczel's (Fermat's Last Theorem) latest book challenges the notion recently articulated by New Atheists such as Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion) that science has proved the nonexistence of God. The author's focus is on the science and what it might have to say about a creator, with a few detours such as a chapter on archaeology, which is more about the Bible's authenticity than theistic ontology, and a futile discussion on who owns "Einstein's God"—atheists or theists. Overall, the better chapters reflect Aczel's strengths in mathematics and physics; in those, he discusses subjects such as quantum theory, the multiverse, and mathematical probability. Aczel asks an important question about science, but with a primarily scientific explanation he doesn't tread new ground. His material will instead inflame more misunderstandings, essentially providing a "God of the gaps" dismissal for his critics. VERDICT The author's discussion of theoretical physics and mathematics demonstrates the philosophical nature of his question, which is hinged upon clear definitions of God and a deep, complicated philosophical history; strangely, however, all this is missing from the book. Dawkins, at least, whether you agree or not, defines the God he is disproving, whereas Aczel's remains a mystery.—Scott Vieira, Sam Houston State Univ. Lib., Huntsville, TX
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062230591
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/15/2014
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 78,332
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Amir D. Aczel, Ph.D., received graduate degrees in mathematics from the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Oregon. He is the author of the acclaimed Fermat's Last Theorem, which has been published in twenty-eight languages and was nominated for a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and many other works of nonfiction. In 2012, he was awarded a Sloan Foundation grant for his groundbreaking research on the origin of numbers; in 2004, he was awarded the prestigious John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship. From 2005 to 2007, Aczel was a visiting scholar at Harvard University. He is currently a research fellow in the history of science at Boston University. He also writes for Discover magazine, regularly publishes in Scientific American, and has written science pieces for the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. He is often interviewed about science on radio and television—including recent appearances on NPR's Talk of the Nation "Science Friday."

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