There’s been quite a bit of advance publicity for this new book from Dr. Steve Meyer, which won’t be available here in the UK before the end of April. I was fortunate to obtain a copy from a friend in the US, and it took me a week to read it and annotate the content carefully. This is a book which repays careful study.
I have also benefitted from reading the author’s other two significant works, Signature in the Cell (2009), and Darwin’s Doubt (2013), both of which were widely acclaimed. This is another substantial text (450 pages excluding references), and it demonstrates Dr. Meyer’s remarkable ability to take extremely complex ideas (there’s quite a bit on quantum cosmology, for instance) and make them accessible to the public. It was, at times, a challenging read, but then for anyone other than the High Priests of Theoretical Physics, I suspect that attempting to get one’s head around the Universal Wave Function, or the quantum cosmological models of Vilenkin and Hawkins-Hartle is going to result in some overheating of the neurological circuits.
In fact, Meyer makes the journey as easy as he can. The book takes us at a steady pace through a series of logical stages of his argument, an argument which builds on the extensive review of the scientific data in his previous two books. Wherever possible, he reminds us of the main themes and conclusions in previous chapters. Often there’s a bit or reiteration, to help the significance of the ideas sink in: initially, I found that the repetition grated a little, until I realised the importance of holding multiple complex ideas in one’s head simultaneously in order to understand their synergies. The book is well-written: it doesn’t talk down to its readers, neither does it make unrealistic assumptions about our capacity to interact with the highly abstract concepts that the academics work with.
In the runup to the publication of ROTGH, I have witnessed first hand the nature of the kind of atheistic fightback against the very idea of such a book. Repeatedly, we’re told that Meyer is ‘not a proper scientist’, that he’s just pushing ‘creationist polemic’. The widespread success of his previous publications is used to argue that he’s just in it for the money – and the sceptics who come up with that one, use it to justify their determination not to read the book. And, of course, there’s the repetition of that hoary old chestnut, that Meyer is ‘just pushing religion’ – and as we’re all supposed to know, religion has nothing to do with science, indeed its adherents must huddle away in dark corners and self-censor.
Of course, none of those kinds of accusations are even remotely true. They are the product of a mindset which delights in its own intellectual prison, and is determined never to venture outside its own self-imposed constraints. Meyer is handing them the key to get out of gaol, but the signs are that there are plenty who wouldn’t take it. Indeed, based upon the fact that history seems to repeat itself ad nauseam, I’m bracing myself for the usual slew of highly negative reviews which, if they tell us anything dependable, absolutely demonstrate that the reviewers have not read the book.
For those familiar with Meyer’s other work, there are few surprises here. The level of rigour, and the very extensive and balanced treatment of the full scope of the academic research is consistent throughout. There are exquisite moments when he goes behind the kind of popularist science (Hawking and Dawkins) to show that these atheistic catechisms often do not accurately reflect the uncertainties and ambiguities of the actual scientific research, from which they form their metaphysical conclusions. There’s some helpful analysis where Meyer checks out the actual historical background to the kind of polemic routinely used by popularisers of atheism masquerading as science (Neil deGrasse Tyson being a good example) and discovers clear evidence of systemic misrepresentation. And there’s a persuasive enough sampling of the views of prominent scientists who, whilst adhering to a materialistic view of the universe, are not so prone to self-hypnosis that they would claim that they have espoused this position because of the data.
Meyer conclusively demonstrates that the constructs and speculations of quantum cosmology, conceived to avoid the design implications of the Big Bang, ultimately have the effect of completely undermining the objectivity of scientific endeavour. As he develops his ‘God Hypothesis’, there is an elegance and a simplicity to his demonstration of theism as the best explanation of the universe as we know it, underpinned by his clear and explicit reliance on exactly the kinds of methodology resorted to by Darwin and other scientists who do not share his beliefs.
I’m not sure that the ‘God Hypothesis’ ever really went away, largely because the overarching project of science was only ever possible because of the presuppositions of Christian theology. The kind of binary reductionism (Science v Religion) which became the new dogma when the atheists took over the academic establishment may only be maintained by severely restricting our comprehension of history and philosophy. Meyer’s book draws all these threads together and concludes with a brief resumé of the disastrous existential impact on us of a universe as redrawn by atheism, leading to a loss of identity, of telos, of moral grounding and ultimately of hope.
This is a substantive and worthwhile book – one that I intend to re-read and cross-reference. It will be welcomed and read by open-minded people who wish to scrutinise the subject beyond the kind of hand-waving generalisations that we tend to get from the advocates for materialism.