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Monday, April 4th, 2005

Time Event
11:23a
Finally ...
OK ... so I finally have knocked down one of the two books in which I've been enmired for months. I guess I should have read the Amazon customer reviews, as a lot of my complaints about this book were well described there (especially the one titled "Get the bias out of your math!"). As another reviewer noted, the "logic" of the book was very hard to follow, and it was oddly structured with numbered reference points seemingly randomly sprinkled through the text, though this might be due to the author following some academic "philosophy template" which calls for things to be broken up like that, but if you're used to reading scientific books on the subject, it borders on gobbledygook (plus he kept using the most inane stories/analogies to frame things and then constantly referred back to these like he'd established some great touchstone of truth!).

Anyway, John Leslie's Universes purports to take a look at cosmological theories from a philosophical standpoint, primarily bashing together the "designist" and "anthropic" stands on the question of "why is there life here" until the reader's head bleeds. As I pointed out above, there is some question to the veracity of the math used to tear apart the Anthropic side ... the author plainly prefers the scenario of a Deity "making" one universe specifically "designed" to contain life to the possibility of multiple universes (whether isolated or sequential) where life might or might not arise out of the particular mix of states expressed in any particular universe.

I found it interesting that by the end of the book, the author was sort of "backpedaling" from a "hard Deistic" design stance, taking refuge in a "neo-Platonist" God which was a force of "ethical necessity" ... which if you watered it down much more could just as easily be a pan-theistic "Life Force" with, of course, no means of defining of explaining it. Now, being that I'm on the "weak anthropic" side of things, I don't have any problem with the concept that there might be some sort of "Life Force" that we have yet to find a way to scientifically dissect, so by the end of the book I felt less like I was reading something by a raving Fundy loon, but it was a long hard read without much payoff beyond being DONE with it. Needless to say, I wouldn't recommend rushing out to pick up this one!


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