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“A Universe from Nothing”

Universe from Nothing

A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing by Lawrence M. Krauss Free Press, 204 pages, 2012     A critic might reasonably question the arguments for a divine first cause of the cosmos. But to ask “What caused God?” misses the whole reason classical philosophers thought his existence necessary in the first place. So when physicist Lawrence Krauss begins his new book by suggesting that to ask “Who created the creator?” suffices to dispatch traditional... Read More

“The Good Book”

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The Good Book

The Good Book: A Humanist Bible by A.J. Grayling Houghton Mifflin , 352 pages, 1998   In its marketing campaign, The Good Book: A Humanist Bible was presented as something akin to the emancipation of Daedalus and Icarus in their winged escape from Crete. Just as Daedalus refused to obey the tyrannical King Minos and secured freedom for himself and his son, so our hero, the prominent atheist A. C. Grayling, has refused to obey false authority and freed himself and his readers from... Read More

“The Greatest Show on Earth”

The Greatest Show on Earth

The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins Free Press, 480 pages, $30   The first lesson to be learned from Richard Dawkins’ new book is a purely practical maxim: One should always do what one does best, while scrupulously avoiding those tasks for which neither nature nor tuition has equipped one. This is not, obviously, what one could call a moral counsel; it is merely a counsel of prudence. Another way of saying it would be, try not to make a fool... Read More

“Breaking the Spell”

Breaking the Spell

Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon by Daniel Dennett Viking, 464 pages, 2006   In the second section—or “fit”—of Lewis Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark, the Bellman lectures the crew of his ship on the peculiar traits of the creature they have just crossed an ocean to find. There are, he tells his men, “five unmistakable marks” by which genuine Snarks may be known. First is the taste, “meagre and hollow, but crisp: / Like a coat that is rather too... Read More

“The Atheist’s Guide to Reality”

The Atheist’s Guide to Reality

The Atheist’s Guide to Reality: Enjoying Life without Illusions by Alex Rosenberg W. W. Norton, 368 pages, $25.95   The Atheist’s Guide to Reality is refreshingly and ruthlessly consistent. It is also utterly incoherent—and precisely because it is so consistent. In drawing out its absurd consequences, Alex Rosenberg, an atheist professor of philosophy at Duke University, has written a compelling refutation of modern atheism. That is not what he planned to do. In fact, he didn’t... Read More

“Aquinas: A Beginner’s Guide”

Aquinas

Aquinas: A Beginner’s Guide by Edward Feser Oneworld Publications, 224 pages, $14.95   Do not let the subtitle deter you. While Aquinas is “a beginner’s guide,” it is rigorous and accessible philosophy at its best. Even seasoned Thomists will benefit from Edward Feser’s analytic precision in interpreting and presenting Thomas’ philosophy. Placing Thomas in conversation with modern thinkers, Feser explains how so many worthies have gotten Thomas wrong and thus done battle... Read More

“Miracles”

Miracles

Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts by Craig S. Keener Baker Academic, 1,172 pages, 2011   On October 13, 1917, seventy thousand Portuguese witnessed the sun dancing in the sky at Fátima, the conclusion of a series of visitations of the Virgin Mary to three shepherd children. In 1964, a teenage woman evangelizing in the Dominican Republic fainted from shock when she healed an elderly man’s shriveled hand through prayer. In 1994, a friend recounted to me the healing... Read More

“The Language of God”

Language of God

The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief by Francis S. Collins Free Press, 304 pages, $26   "Today we are learning the language in which God created life." With these words, President Clinton announced one of the great feats of modern science, the mapping of the human genome. Standing next to him in the East Room of the White House was the leader of the Human Genome Project, Francis S. Collins. Collins has now written a book, The Language of God, but it is not... Read More

“Unweaving the Rainbow”

Unweaving the Rainbow

Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder by Richard Dawkins Houghton Mifflin , 352 pages, 1998   In reading Richard Dawkins I am reminded of an anecdote told by Werner Heisenberg. Heisenberg and several other great physicists were sitting around one evening talking about God and religion. The discussion ended up being dominated by Paul Dirac, who went into a long diatribe declaring religion to be the opiate of the masses. At the end of the evening someone... Read More

“Life After Death: The Evidence”

Life After Death

Life After Death: The Evidence by Dinesh D’Souza Regnery, 256 pages, $27.95   While much apologetic effort has been spent arguing for the existence of God, relatively little has been spent defending the reasonableness of belief in an afterlife and the resurrection of the body, despite the fact that these are among the hardest doctrines of biblical religion for many modern people to accept. D’Souza brings to the task his renowned forensic skills. (By all accounts, he has bested... Read More