An unconventional reconsideration of the materialism that dominates modern science.
Debut author Christopher points out that the scientific community, despite its professed commitment to intellectual openness, has a fundamental prejudice: the idea that all human life can be explained on singularly materialistic grounds. He believes that such an explanation fails to account for some basic questions regarding the heritability of innate characteristics; for example, how precisely does DNA transmit cultural predilections? Analogously, how is it that some prodigies seem to be born with extraordinary, unlearned knowledge of a highly technical nature? Christopher persuasively suggests that a materialistic view falls short; the scientific establishment has refused to revise its views, he says, due in part to an irrational disdain for religion. He proposes an alternate theory that posits the existence of transcendental souls that have experienced multiple, reincarnated lives. He then focuses on ways in which the existence of such souls would explain previously irresolvable mysteries, including, he says, innate homosexuality. He then reexamines the relationship between science and religion; although science has been willfully blind to the explanatory power of religion, he says, religion has largely stopped interpreting itself through science: “In addition to their general and all-too-human tendencies toward rigidity,” he says, “I think the big problem facing religions in the modern world is simply their unwillingness to try to make objective sense of their beliefs.” This sentence is a good example of what’s right and wrong with Christopher’s effort: despite the book’s admirable philosophical thoughtfulness, its prose is often needlessly turgid. The author is at his best when exposing the scientific community’s stubborn reluctance to change course and the weaknesses of its regnant ideology. He cleverly employs transcendentalism as a response to these riddles, but his leap to reincarnation will strike most readers as going too far; one can criticize science’s blinkered prejudice and still extol the epistemological value of Occam’s razor. That said, it’s impossible not to be impressed with Christopher’s creativity or his command of scientific debates.
An unusual combination of rigor and implausibility.