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In reply to the discussion: Atheist Q&A [View all]


(14,176 posts)
6. I can't get to the review that you're referencing.
Fri Feb 10, 2012, 01:53 PM
Feb 2012

I can only read the first paragraph of the review without getting a subscription to TNR which I'm not interested in. That paragraph just contains a bunch of ridiculous looking questions. So I found another review of the book, and it looks like those questions and answers are directly from the book:


It’s a seemingly simple notion, and one that many scientists and scientific-minded people would claim already to hew to, but it has surprisingly fraught implications. Rosenberg lays them out very early in Chapter 1, in a series of questions and answers. “Is there a God? No.’’ “What is the nature of reality? What physics says it is.’’ “What is the purpose of the universe? There is none.’’ Similarly, there’s no meaning to life; you and I are here because of dumb luck, and there’s no soul.


While Massimo Pigliucci hasn't yet reviewed this book, he has referred to it numerous times. For example:

Lately I hear the word “determinism” being thrown around like a trump card for all sorts of arguments, most obviously the recent discussions of free will that we have had on this blog. Moreover, as I already mentioned in passing, I am reading a new book by Alex Rosenberg that feels a lot like Dawkins on steroids (if you can imagine that), a huge portion of which is based on the assumption — which the author thinks he can derive from established and certainly unchangeable physics — of, you guessed it, determinism!

I got so sick of the smug attitudes that Rosenberg, Coyne, Harris and others derive from their acceptance of determinism — obviously without having looked much into the issue — that I delved into the topic a bit more in depth myself. As a result, I’ve become agnostic about determinism, and I highly recommend the same position to anyone seriously interested in these topics (as opposed to anyone using his bad understanding of physics and philosophy to score rhetorical points).

A good starting point from which to get a grip on the nuances and complexities of discussions concerning determinism is a very nicely written article by Carl Hoefer in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, as well as several of the primary sources cited there, particularly John Earman's Primer on Determinism.


I've seen some good reviews of Rosenberg's book; but most of the reviews I've read have panned it.
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