Sunday, March 18, 2018

Book Review: The God Problem by Howard Bloom

The God Problem by Howard Bloom

Hardcover, 708 pages

Published 2012 by Prometheus Books

This book is a 600 page trap. Keep in mind there is 100 pages of notes, but that is still a lot of pages for a book that suggests that it will answer the greatest mystery of all time. It says it on the cover "How a godless cosmos creates." On the surface the idea is one of our great minds talks about physics and traces the history of the greatest thinkers getting us closer and closer to explaining how the universe happened. A rational explanation beyond a "sky wizard" created us.

Howard Bloom's books and various accomplishments are great and far ranging but it seems no matter how smart you are a unwise topic to tackle. Our entire species has spent recorded history failing to answer the question at the heart of this book. So I was curious what this noted genius had to say. How does rationally explain the universe.

The structure of the book is interesting. He sets the table by introducing the big bang and the vast power of what science understands about our universe. He suggests the idea we imagine we are sitting at a table watching the universe begin. Then he explores the life and times of the scientists and great thinkers from the ancient world to Einstein who tackled these issues. Each great thinker gets a detailed history and infact that history ended up being my favorite part. I liked learning about Einstein, Kepler and Galileo.

The heart of the God Problem is expressed through the infinite Monkey theorem. That theory suggests that if you left six monkeys at six typewriters long enough they would eventually in a unending universe at some point type the text of Hamlet. To the hardcore atheist the universe is just that a huge cosmic accident. The paradox comes when science shows incredible precision from black holes to the DNA in the most tiny of cells.

My favorite quote from the book expresses this point:

"The Cosmos hides her creativity by preying on the way we oh-so-quickly become blase. She covers up her bombshells and her breakthroughs by tricking us into seeing the extraordinary as mundane." The Einstein chapter was the most interesting part of the book for me. Bloom writes at length about Einstein's ugly ducklings, the aspects of our universe that confused and eluded him. Most of these have been explained and I could see why many readers found this to usless fluff.

The point Bloom was trying to make was that all history of knowledge, through-out time has been working on these questions and still we don't know. I understand that he could have answered these questions faster if he tried. It wasn't until 537 pages in that he finally addressed why the infinte monkey theorem doesn't work for him. "If this were a cosmos of six monkeys at six typewriters, those "things," those particles, would have come in a zallion different shapes and sizes. Not to mention a million colors and textures. And a zillion smells and tastes. But they did not. No way. Particles popped forth in only fifty-seven species."

So after all this the point of Bloom's book is that the answer is not to be found. The journey is and the quest has provides a myrid of answers along the way. Certainly answer enough. For me as a believer in science and the spiritual I enjoyed the journey. I think the order of the universe is not an argument for a sky wizard in a traditional religious sense. It is an argument for a truth beyond our ability to disern, a higher power that could just as easily be natural but one science has yet to explain.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

hey david. was curious how I could get into contact with you. whats your email?