We can’t avoid the persistent questions about the meaning of life—and the nature of reality. But science is the only means of answering them. So declares philosopher Alex Rosenberg in this bracing, surprisingly sanguine take on a world without god. The science that makes us nonbelievers, he demonstrates, tells us the nature of reality, the purpose of everything, the difference between right and wrong, how the mind works, even the direction of human history.
©2011 Alex Rosenberg (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
“A tough test of the intellectual mettle of the armchair atheists and those teetering between faith and committing to life without it.” (Boston Globe)
Letting the rest of the world go by
In a lot of ways this book is the summation of the 100 plus science, evolution, and philosophy books I've read over the last three years. To understand our place in the universe the author asserts you must let the "physical facts fit the facts". No need to assume any items not in evidence. We don't any where else in life except in the spiritual realm and so why should we accept those premises while thinking about the universe.
To understand the universe and our place in it one most first understand the second law of thermodynamics and the author does a wonderful job in explaining it and why it is so special. He then gives a detail explanation for why evolution through natural selection can explain the world and why we exist in contrast to Kant's assertion "that there will never be an Newton for a blade of grass".
The author attacks the theory of mind by explaining how are thoughts are not real and our introspection are at most just a model we play with but gives us great evolutionary advantage. He's really getting at attacking Descarte's "cogito ergo sum", "I think therefore I am" and Descartes' homunculus or Lebnitz's monads are not facts necessary for understanding the world. He embraces 'scientism' and he convinced me not to run away from the word. He's right on consciousness but sometimes I don't says it as well as Daniel Dennett does.
He also embraces 'nice nihilism', but I would not because there is really too much preexisting baggage with the word 'nihilism'. The author also gives many statements for which I disagreed with. For example, I don't think "history is Bunk with a capital B" (that is a direct quote). The author would probably agree with Protagoras that "man is the measure of all things" and since who we are can explain why we are I'm not too quick to dismiss history. I think he's really getting at the teleology historical approach that Hegel or Toynbee would bring (he mentioned Toynbee but doesn't elaborate). He also seems to dismiss economics. I would recommend Picketty's book "Capital in the 21st Century" for why I would not reject economics so quickly as the author does. He fumbles somewhat in explaining consciousness and Dennett does a better job by describing our consciousness as the final draft of an ever changing edit that is only captured when we speak the thought or think it actively. The author is right consciousness is an illusion, but it's an illusion we accept. And does everyone who has depression really need to take Prosaic? as the author suggest.
Dennett's books "Consciousness Explained", "Darwin's Dangerous Ideas", and "Freewill" cover the same topics as this short book, but I'm always reluctant to recommend Dennett because he can be dense reading for others but I do love him so. Dennett explains almost every concept within this book, but he does it much better and more nuanced.
Overall a very good book, but I really would recommend Dennett instead.
No to author. OK with narrator but seemed there were a number of mispronounced words.
Found some of it confusing and of course all of gods children (according to most thought leaders of this movement) are Democrats. They just can't help giving grief to Thatcher and Republicans. Author should have checked out how much the average Brit's life improved under this doltish and unenlightened regime.
He also misstates and misrepresents University of Chicago economics. Friedman really is saying the market should decide because these cumulative decisions represent the optimal way for more and more humans to gain a better life. Angels in the government who launder our money and take a cut may not be as angelic as they purport as their pure motives.
Yes but less than I'd hoped.
It's possible religion is bred into us. Most of the guys who write this stuff talk about how goofy religion can be. True enough. Seemingly, none of them ever seem to question man made global warming or cooling or whatever they now call it as the biggest hoax since Saul had heat stroke on the road to Damascus and became Paul.
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