God Versus Particle Physics: A No-Score Draw by John Davies
|God Versus Particle Physics: A No-Score Draw by John Davies|
|Category: Popular Science|
|Reviewer: Louise Jones|
|Summary: A psychologist questions whether modern theories in the field of particle physics are any more logical than belief in God.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 192||Date: September 2013|
|Publisher: Imprint Academic|
God Versus Particle Physics: A No Score Draw is a bold, witty and undoubtedly controversial book that questions our blind faith in science. Davies, a psychologist, analyses the subject in detail, creating some interesting and convincing arguments concluding that some of the latest theories in the realm of physics seem to border on the metaphysical, lacking any kind of demonstrable proof. He reasons that many of the arguments used by prominent atheists, demanding evidence that God exists, can also be applied to ideas such as the Big Bang, parallel universes, dark matter and the Higgs Boson, ironically known as the God particle.
Davies makes it quite clear from the beginning of the book that he does not believe in God and is not religious. This book is not about proof of God. Neither is it anti-science per se. Rather, it is a critical look at the way we perceive anything labelled as scientific. If we see a smart fellow on TV, using lots of big words that we don’t understand, standing in front of a whiteboard covered in long equations, we are likely to believe everything that he says because of the way in which it is being presented. If we were to analyse what was actually being said in more depth, it may not actually make a lot of sense. People are afraid to question scientists, who, Davies argues, have attained the status of latter-day priests.
A great deal of the book is dedicated to the way we view the world. Chapter 6, for example, starts with a memorable analogy of a group of aliens from planet Zog, who are like humans, but do not have ears. They access their world via four senses instead of five. Davies goes on to show that our understanding of the world is limited, as we are only able to access it via our five senses. What if there are many more senses that we do not know about? Likewise, our view of the world is also skewed by limits in our perspective and language. By encouraging his readers to think outside of the box, Davies opens up a wealth of alternative possibilities in the way we view the universe.
My only criticism of the book was Davies’ writing style, which I felt was inconsistent. Parts of the book were pure Pop Science, with plenty of contemporary references to please the masses. Other sections of the book were more academic in tone. Davies mentions concepts such as Schrodingers cat and string theory with very little explanation, presumably assuming that his readers have a good basic understanding of these subjects prior to reading the book. This lack of consistency meant that some chapters were accessible and amusing, whereas others seemed to be bogged down in scientific jargon.
God Versus Particle Physics is an enjoyable read, presenting a lot of food for thought and fuel for debate. However, as the author seems to dismiss both God and the Big Bang, we are left with a rather unsatisfactory answer. Davies does not offer any alternative theory to how the universe began, leaving us with a no-score draw, as the title suggests.
Quantum: Einstein, Bohr and the Great Debate About the Nature of Reality by Manjit Kumar is an ideal read for those who want to learn more about the subjects discussed in this book.
You can read more book reviews or buy God Versus Particle Physics: A No-Score Draw by John Davies at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy God Versus Particle Physics: A No-Score Draw by John Davies at Amazon.com.
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