Book Review: Finding God in the Waves by Mike McHargue
It’s funny. As I was reading this book I felt very much like I was riding a proverbial wave; up-and-down, up-and down, which reflected my feelings of blissful hope followed by terrifying despair. I think the author captured exactly what many of us “hopeful agnostics” go through practically every single day. I do not know about other people, but I constantly fluctuate from fervently hoping to encounter “Him” at the end of this earthly journey to the absolute certainty that there is nothing to look forward to. I loved that the book ended in the “top” of the wave as it were.
I cannot comment intelligently on the principles of theology that he outlined, his “axioms”. I liked them and they seem reasonable, but I do not have the training or the inclination to engage into theological studies. Anyway, I suspect that he will be in trouble soon enough with certain fundamentalist factions, but he can certainly take it.
I am an amateur agnostic, but a professional scientist, so from my perspective, I would have liked a little more science or a little more substance in the science the he presented, he is, after all, “Science Mike” (:-)… Therefore the only thing that I may reasonably criticize about the book are a few scientific inaccuracies here and there in the book. Granted, this is “nitpicky”, but that is what scientists do, so please bear with me.
**For example, in page 55 when talking about the brain, he correctly gives us the updated figure of 86 billion neurons, yet in the same sentence he perpetuates the somewhat dated understanding of the number of glial cells (trillions). You see, the very same paper where the “86 billion” figure is taken from, states that there are about the same number of glial cells in a brain. A lot to be sure, but not trillions (does it show that I am a neuroscientist, one who unapologetically wrote a book about the brain in 2014? ****Plug-in alert!).
**Page 89: “When I look at Proxima Centauri…”. Let me stop you right there. If you are below latitude 29 degrees N, you can see Alpha Centauri, the brightest star in this triple system. Proxima Centauri is there, but it has a magnitude of 11 and change, too faint to “look” at it, unless it is through a telescope, and he does not say.
**Page 205: “…our own sun will explode…”. No, it will not. Our sun will become a red giant, it is not big enough to explode as a supernova. He actually states it correctly on page 77: “…our Sun will swell into a red giant…”
These glitches notwithstanding, I really liked the book. It is honest, and as I said, perfectly explores the perspective of a science-minded person who longs for matters of the spirit. If I’d have to summarize in a phrase it would be: “A soul-searching journey ending in a big and deeply ‘I don’t know… but I hope’ ”.
And this is all that people like us can expect to find in this life. I hope to be pleasantly surprised when the time comes.
Note: Rob Bell’s writing style irritates me to no end. He wrote the foreword to this book. Please do not hold it against Mike…
Another Note: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.
Credit: Convergent Books (September 13, 2016)
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