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The Accidental Universe by Alan Lightman 2014

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 The Accidental Universe by Alan Lightman

The Accidental Universe: The World You Thought You Knew
by Alan Lightman
Vintage Books

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“. . . refreshing to read a humanist essayist who sees people of faith as rational, thinking and curious . . .”

“Faith is the belief in things larger than ourselves,” states Alan Lightman in his book of essays The Accidental Universe. As a professor at both Harvard and M.I.T. in theoretical physics as well as fiction writing, it is a very intriguing statement. In each essay Lightman explores the seemingly contradictory worlds of science and belief in a higher power and comes to some surprising conclusions.

Science—especially in regards to the laws of nature such as gravity, the electromagnetic force, and the weak and strong nuclear forces—can be seen as immutable and unchangeable as explained in the essays The Symmetrical Universe and The Lawful Universe. Yet human beings still claim to believe in the supernatural, in events and occurrences that cannot be explained under these rational laws. How can both schools of thought exist? The Gargantuan Universe explores just how mindboggingly enormous our universe (or are we only a small part of a multiverse?) truly is. As a universe we ourselves can hardly fathom in its immensity, it still has room for things we must take on faith alone, faith in the laws of nature and/or faith in an Intelligent Designer who might have had a hand in things all along.

It is refreshing to read a humanist essayist who sees people of faith as rational, thinking and curious people without commentary that they are a bunch of mindless idiots as espoused in recent books by prominent atheists. As Lightman learned from a discussion he had with a Presbyterian minister: “Science and religion share a sense of wonder. I agree.”

Reviewer: Cindy A. Matthews