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The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific PretensionsDavid Berlinski
Softback, 256 pages, 2009
Evidently militant atheists don't like this book and have friends in high places. The book was released in hardback in April 2008 by Random House and 13,000 copies immediately sold out. The publisher's response? They refused to print any more copies. We are convinced Random House must have seen an advanced copy of Michael Moore's documentary Capitalism and just felt so darn guilty about all the profits they were making on the book that they refused to print any more. Fortunately, the executives at Basic Books must not have seen the movie and have just released thousands of copies of the book in paperback edition.
Militant atheism is on the rise. Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens have dominated bestseller lists with books denigrating religious belief as dangerous foolishness. And these authors are merely the leading edge of a far larger movement--one that now includes much of the scientific community.
"The attack on traditional religious thought," writes David Berlinski in The Devil's Delusion, "marks the consolidation in our time of science as the single system of belief in which rational men and women might place their faith, and if not their faith, then certainly their devotion."
A secular Jew, Berlinski nonetheless delivers a biting defense of religious thought. An acclaimed author who has spent his career writing about mathematics and the sciences, he turns the scientific community's cherished skepticism back on itself, daring to ask and answer some rather embarrassing questions:
Berlinski does not dismiss the achievements of western science. The great physical theories, he observes, are among the treasures of the human race. But they do nothing to answer the questions that religion asks, and they fail to offer a coherent description of the cosmos or the methods by which it might be investigated.
This brilliant, incisive, and funny book explores the limits of science and the pretensions of those who insist it can be--indeed must be--the ultimate touchstone for understanding our world and ourselves.
Table of Contents
Recent articles by Berlinski have been prominently featured in Commentary, Forbes ASAP, and the Boston Review. Two of his articles, "On the Origins of the Mind" (November 2004) and "What Brings a World into Being" (March 2001), have been anthologized in The Best American Science Writing 2005, edited by Alan Lightman (Harper Perennial), and The Best American Science Writing 2002, edited by Jesse Cohen, respectively.
Berlinski received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton University and was later a postdoctoral fellow in mathematics and molecular biology at Columbia University. He has authored works on systems analysis, differential topology, theoretical biology, analytic philosophy, and the philosophy of mathematics, as well as three novels. He has also taught philosophy, mathematics and English at Stanford, Rutgers, the City University of New York and the Universit de Paris. In addition, he has held research fellowships at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria and the Institut des Hautes tudes Scientifiques. He lives in Paris.
"Berlinski's book is everything desirable: it is idiomatic, profound, brilliantly polemical, amusing, and of course vastly learned. I congratulate him."
"The Devil's Delusion is an incendiary and uproarious work of learned polemical writing, unique in its scientific sophistication and authority. Rather than criticizing science from the outside, Berlinski excoriates its atheist pretensions from within. Refusing to defer to scientistic credentialism, he makes the compelling argument that the anti-God fetish of modern science has driven many scientists into a mad nihilism that has crippled their scientific work as well. The Devil's Delusion is a promethean work that clears away this debris of modern science and culture. It liberates conservatism from its thralldom to a spurious scientism and establishes the foundations for a realignment with real scientists, among whom there are many potential friends. It is the definitive book of the new millennium."
"A powerful riposte to atheist mockery and cocksure science, and to the sort of philosophy that surrenders to them. David Berlinski proceeds reasonably and calmly to challenge recent scientific theorizing and to expose the unreason from which it presumes to criticize religion."
"With high style and light-hearted disdain, David Berlinski deflates the intellectual pretensions of the scientific atheist crowd. Maybe they can recite the Periodic Table by heart, but the secular Berlinski shows that this doesn't get them very far in reasoning about much weightier matters."
"Berlinski knows his science and wields his rapier deftly. He makes great sport with his opponents, and his readers will surely enjoy it."
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