Why science does not disprove God
Right or wrong, this is one of the best books that I have read in a while. Not that the book is perfect, but it is quite entertaining and thought-provoking. Its main message is that science cannot be used to disprove the existence of God, simply because it cannot. Not surprisingly, the main antagonist is Richard Dawkins, arguably the face of the New Atheism movement. Incidentally and for the record, I admire Dawkins’ writings (only the science ones), but I digress.
In “Why science does not disprove God” Aczel takes the reader in a more or less chronological brief history of science, with an odd detour about “Why archeology does not disprove the bible”. This chapter, in my opinion, is the weakest part of the book because ir does not contribute anything to the main topic. Also, the chapter on art and the “invisible boundary” did not quite “click”. Its message is not quite as strong as the rest of the book.
These minor sins are more than atoned for in the other chapters. My favorites were the one on quantum mechanics, the one about mathematics and probabilities and (surprisingly refreshing for me) the one about how we cannot possibly really understand the “infinite” concept. I had no idea how much I did not know about infinity. I particularly liked the chapter on how absurd is the claim that our universe came out from literally **nothing**. When I heard the “universe from nothing” argument for the first time it sounded really illogical to me, but I thought that maybe I did not know enough physics or mathematics, so I gave it the benefit of the doubt. Well, Aczel certainly knows his physics and mathematics and finds the universe from nothing equally flawed. Full disclosure: I have said elsewhere that I am a pharmacologist/neurobiologist with a tad of physics envy… So there.
The chapter on evolution seemed a little bit dismissive to me and it was unfair of Aczel to compare the relative mathematical sophistication of physics vs biology, particularly evolution. We (speaking as a biological scientist) will get there! It is just that we need to come up with better (rather, different) mathematics to understand biology in a true quantitative way. Let’s not forget that life is without question, the most complex aspect of nature. We truly know more of what fundamentally goes on at the center of stars than what goes on fundamentally at the center of cells.
The final chapter cogently and convincingly summarizes the point of the book. I think that even if one does not agree completely with what Aczel says in it, this chapter is a delight to read. I think that regardless of your personal leanings in these topics, you will enjoy the book.
Two of my favorite quotes:
“But the New Atheists, who claim to speak for science, are more like religious evangelists bent on converting us to their narrow point of view that God does not exist.”
“But God—a power well outside our ability to comprehend, transcending the creation of the universe we see around us—may well exist, and science has not, and will not, disprove it.”
Hopeful, isn’t it?
Note: For my honest feeling on theism or lack thereof, go here.
Also, why don’t you check out my other posts? You may find something you like…
Picture credit: William Morrow Publishers