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Paul Davies


Book review by Anthony Campbell. The review is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

This is one of several books that Davies has written about the impact of science on religious belief and specifically on the existence of God. As he tells us in his Preface, he addresses four questions. Why are the laws of nature what they are? Why does the universe consist of the things it does? How did those things arise? How did the universe achieve its organization?

Davies makes the pretty bold claim that science offers a surer path to God than does religion. However, the God that might be supposed to emerge from physics does not bear much resemblance to the God that most Christians worship; at the end of the book Davies seems to hint at a Spinozistic identification of the universe with the divine.

The book offers a review of traditional arguments for God's existence in the light of modern science. Probably the best of these today is the "fine tuning" evidence. There are numerous values in physics which, if they were only a tiny bit different, would render the universe completely inhospitable to life. There is no known reason why these values should be as they are, which is a pretty strong argument for the view that the universe has been designed, although not necessarily created out of nothing (God as architect rather than creator). At the same time, it is vulnerable to the "God of the gaps" rebuttal.

The book provides a useful summary of the situation as it appeared in the 1980s, when Davies was writing, but it has been largely superseded by his later book The Goldilocks Enigma, which offers his mature reflections on the questions he addresses here.

31 July 2007

%T God and the New Physics
%A Davies, Paul
%I Penguin Books
%C London
%D 1983, 1990
%G ISBN-13: 978-0-140-13462-9
%P x + 255pp
%K religion, science
%O paperback edition

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