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Book Review – Peter Atkins: On Being

November 7, 2019

On Being: A Scientist's Exploration of the Great Questions of ExistenceOn Being: A Scientist’s Exploration of the Great Questions of Existence by Peter Atkins

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

A typical failed attempt of a scientist to practice philosophy. At the point when philosophy should start Atkins gets emotional and starts attacking the religious shadows surrounding him with mindless rants. Atkins felt required to include multiple pages on his in depth critique of Creationism and defence of Natural selection and Evolution. Here was his critique of Creationism: nonsense, anti-science, ineffective, dishonest, dangerous to society. Less philosophy, more just bitter polemics. It’s like when you don’t particularly like someone, but when someone else beats up on them just a bit too much, you start to realise you like that person even less. And it has got so tiresome and predictable. If you are even going to mention something like creationism in a book purporting to be philosophy, then give some philosophical arguments against it, don’t engage in childish mud slinging, you make yourself look bad and you make creationism look good.

We get it, scientist atheist types really hate other religious ideas. Keep your personal problems out of your attempt to be philosophical though please. You undermine any reasonable debate about anything when you lower things to ridicule of any divergence from your scientific consensus. He loves science so much, but like with many, science has become a placeholder for the changing things that happen to be good, useful and practical to him in life. He does not have a stable and clear definition. And this is an ongoing philosophical dispute. Atkins never got started on this real debate because he is too busy chasing the religious shadows haunting him in the night.

At the end Atkins tells us he has faith that there is nothing the scientific method cannot elucidate. Well, given he devoted much time to arguing that there is indeed nothing: that the positive of existence is balanced out by the negatively charged things, the matter by the anti-matter, so that no explanation for something being here is needed as there is technically nothing anyway. Given he engages in this kind of argument, yes maybe he is right, scientific method tells us a whole lot about nothing. Much ado about nothing. He says science is like common sense but honest! He seriously gives as his main concluding argument a moral claim of honesty for his “team”. This is how he ends the book, with of course a couple of extra poetic phrases after it to convince people he is not some robot, and that science is not out to kill us all with a smile, because it can string together a little poetic flourish at the end.

The manipulative transparency and shallowness of these types of people in their philosophical splutterings that we all know are just a thin veil for promoting their own particular kind of anti-religious, religious belief as better than all other types of belief has long ago become stale.

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