The Magic of Reality is a science book authored by Richard Dawkins that has recently been released in both print and PDF editions. Dr.(?) Dawkins, if you don’t already know, is a controversial atheist. He is controversial in that in some circles he is regarded as a brilliant scientist and in others a “nut case” to the extent of his being denied access to auditoriums in which he was scheduled to speak! The book, either in print or PDF format is reported to be targeted at young adults. Having obtained a copy in PDF format I decided that I would “start” to read his book on my iPad. I say “start” because if the book turned out to be below my level of intelligence as an adult then I would not complete it. As it turned out I found that the book covers a variety of science topics as might be discussed in a High School class. Science has come a long way in the fifty years since I attended and I actually read the entire book. As a possible attraction to younger readers it is lavishly enriched with cartoon-like like illustrations. As an adult I found them quite enjoyable.
There is a series of articles in Wikipedia in which science is broken into five categories as follows:
- Pseudoscience (looks like science but isn’t)
- Fringe Science (treated with scientific method)
- (Mainstream) Science (Systematized as as scientific definition)
An early chapter of Dr. Dawkins book goes into considerable detail on the science of evolution. This is not at ll surprising as Dawkins describes himself as an “evolutionary biologist”. He talks about evolution as if it were mainstream science. As such, it is incomplete in that it fails to include the spiritual evolution that accompanies biological evolution. It should be pointed out, especially to youthful readers, that the Darwinian model of evolution is still regarded by many as fringe science. Texts on science do well in explaining how thins work in in the world but fail to include guidance on how we should react to them as spiritual beings. Authors such as Deepak Chopra and Casroline Myss attempt to do this, although at best their work can only qualify as fringe science. I suspect that Dr. Dawkins would classify spiritual matters as myrh and superstition, but in fact they are real and cannot be simply ignored.
In following chapters the book discusses less controversial topics such as the nature of space and time, cosmology and the methods of their measurement. In this respect the book is very similar to the book by Stephen Hawkings entitled The Grand Design. Unlike Dr. Dawkins, Dr, Hawkings only talks about mainstream science topics and wisely avoids controversial ones. This volume is also available in PDF format. It may well be a preferable reading choice to science minded individuals not wishing to get into the arguments between scientists and spiritualists.
The final chapter of the book discusses (and dismisses) “Miracles”. Once again the reader is presented with an unbalanced viewpoint. Dawkins specifically cites the Bible story of “the Jewish preacher called Jesus” turning water into wine as a myth not to be accepted as truth. There is no recognition that Bible stories can be accepted metaphorically if not literally, again ignoring the spiritual aspect of human beings.
In summary the book does accomplish its goal of showing how scientific truths have replaced superstition and myths over time as our level of technology has advanced. It fails to point out that science itself is evolving. Our “scientific” concept of what reality it is today is quite different from what it was a century ago and a century from now it will most certainly be different from what it is today. Perhaps some of the “fringe” spiritual science will enter the mainstream. Stephen Hawkings tells us that there is no complete scientific “theory of everything” and even some modern theories are in conflict with one another.That said, The Magic of Reality can only be regarded as an incomplete and unbalanced effort.