Hands has spent the last 10 years assembling a critical overview of scientific orthodoxy in an attempt to answer the fundamental questions “what are we?” and “why are we here?”
The author, who has had managerial responsibilities in the British government and has tutored in physics and management studies for the Open University, acknowledges the help of more than 50 accredited scientists with expertise in the fields he explores. The first target of his scrutiny is modern cosmologists, who face the dilemma of attempting to explain the putative origin of the universe in a big bang. Hands finds their efforts to be fundamentally inadequate due to their necessary reliance on both Einstein's general relativity theory and the Standard Model of particle physics. Even though “each has been extremely successful in making predictions that have been verified by observation and experiment within its own realm,” they are incompatible theoretically. Another of the author’s bones of contention concerns the rate of expansion of the universe and whether it is constant or cyclical. He examines various attempts to explain the process, including string theory, loop theory, and the existence of undetectable dark matter and energy. In the author's view, an even more fundamental issue is that scientists today mistakenly “conflate mathematical theory with scientific theory.” Moving on to the origins of life on Earth, Hands suggests that Darwin's reputation is overblown and finds fault with the current “gene-focused paradigm.” Although the author refutes the claims of intelligent design proponents, he accepts the views of the Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin that the evolution of self-reflective humans has created a new stage in the evolution of the biosphere by our use of tools, artistic creations, and philosophy. Hands speculates on new stages of development involving “psychic” energy, and he provides an extensive glossary, which is helpful given the amount and depth of the material, much of which is esoteric.
A compendious work that will intrigue serious readers; others may find it overlong and too comprehensive.