Deeply religious readers may not even pick it up, but this is an important book that deserves an open-minded readership.

FAITH VERSUS FACT

WHY SCIENCE AND RELIGION ARE INCOMPATIBLE

A scientist assails superstition and irrationality.

After evolutionary biologist Coyne (Ecology and Evolution/Univ. of Chicago; Why Evolution Is True, 2009, etc.) published a widely read book presenting evidence for evolution, he was astonished to find that “the proportion of creationists in America didn’t budge,” hovering between 40 and 46 percent. Faith, he concluded, “led them to discount and reject the facts right before their noses.” In his latest book, the author takes on the problem of faith directly, arguing that “understanding reality…is best achieved using the tools of science, and is never achieved using the methods of faith.” Although he makes a clear and cogent argument, he may find that, once again, he is preaching to his own choir. Coyne defines science “as a collection of methods” yielding knowledge that can be rejected or confirmed through testing. Religion derives its authority from belief in “a god, gods, or similar superhuman power.” Coyne focuses on religions “that make empirical claims about the existence of a deity, the nature of that deity, and how it interacts with the world,” in particular Judaism, Islam, and especially Christianity. Discounting the efforts of accommodationists, who strive to find common ground between science and religion, Coyne asserts that the two are incompatible “because they have different methods of getting knowledge about reality, different ways of assessing the reliability of that knowledge, and, in the end, arrive at conflicting conclusions about the universe.” He notes that evolutionary biology is a special focus of incredulity or outright attack by the faithful, but he sees that other areas as well—e.g., stem cell research, vaccination, euthanasia, homosexuality, and global warming—have been undermined by religious claims. Coyne celebrates a world without faith, claiming that there would be no loss of compassion and morality, only of pseudoscientific thought that can “do real damage to our species and our planet.”

Deeply religious readers may not even pick it up, but this is an important book that deserves an open-minded readership.

Pub Date: May 19, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-02653-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

Did you like this book?

THE MYTH OF SISYPHUS

AND OTHER ESSAYS

This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more