This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins

Few scientists manage to reach a huge popular audience. Even among them Richard Dawkins is distinctive for the clarity and elegance of his prose. The Magic of Reality, an introduction to science, is as good an example of his expository gifts as he has written. It will be appreciated by inquisitive children while illuminating much for the adult general reader.

The hardback edition, published last year, was filled with colourful illustrations by Dave McKean. The paperback retains only a few small black-and-white images for chapter frontispieces. It is a tribute to Dawkins that his explanations lose no force in this more utilitarian packaging.

Each of the dozen chapters focuses on a big question that inevitably occurs to the inquiring mind. Dawkins’s theme is that science is not prosaic but has “an inspiring beauty that is all the more magical because it is real and because we can understand how it works”. By reading the book, non-specialists will genuinely come to understand concepts such as the movement of molecules and how raindrops create rainbows. It’s near impossible not to relish the economy of Dawkins’s explanations. An especially fine chapter asks who the first person was. With an instinct for analogy, Dawkins explains natural selection across geological ages by imagining a stack of photographs of the reader’s 185,000,000 great-grandparents, back to our fishy forebears.

Critics fault Dawkins for not grasping that science and religion seek to answer different questions. Yet the obtuseness lies with them. Dawkins cites David Hume’s magisterial explanation of why accounts of the miraculous — of literal magic — can’t be given credence. They are explanations, of a sort, and don’t work. Dawkins shows that they are also dreary stuff compared with the explanations that do work.

*The Magic of Reality by Richard Dawkins, Black Swan, 267pp, £8.99; e-book, £6.49. To buy this book for £8.54 visit the times.co.uk/bookshop or call 08452712134

Original here: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/arts/books/non-fiction/article3479573.ece

TAGGED: BOOKS, REVIEWS, RICHARD DAWKINS


RELATED CONTENT

Planet of the apes

Stephen Cave - Financial Times Comments

What we really know about our evolutionary past – and what we don’t

Magic at Every Age A review of Richard...

Stacy L. Memering,Viviana A.... Comments

Magic at Every Age
A review of Richard Dawkins, The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True

CCI: DAVE MCKEAN ON DAWKINS, CHRIST AND...

Andy Liegl - CBR (Comic Book... Comments

In front of a packed crowd during his panel titled "My Two Years with Dawkins, Christ and a Small Crab Called Eric" at Comic-Con International in San Diego, artist, writer and indie filmmaker Dave McKean recounted two recent life events on radically opposite ends of the philosophical spectrum: an all-ages book he illustrated with scientist and Atheism proponent Richard Dawkins called "The Magic of Reality," and a film he shot starring Michael Sheen in Port Talbot, Wales called "The Gospel of Us," a modern day interpretation of "The Passion" story chronicling Jesus Christ's final days of life on Earth.

Redeeming God in Canaan

Doctor Science - Obsidian Wings Comments

Last weekend I noticed two religion blogs, one Jewish and one evangelical (though not fundamentalist) Christian, discussing the same passages in the Bible: the ones commanding the Israelites to fight, slaughter, enslave, and dispossess the Canaanite inhabitants of the Land of Israel. To commit genocide, in fact.

Dear believers: Blasphemy is good for...

John Gray - The Globe and Mail Comments

A review of The Future of Blasphemy Speaking of the Sacred in an Age of Human Rights
by Austin Dacey

How the Blind Watchmaker Made Eyes

Donald Prothero - eSkeptic Comments

How the Blind Watchmaker Made Eyes

MORE

MORE BY OLIVER KAMM

The Greatest Show on Earth, Review

Oliver Kamm - The Times (London) 22 Comments

Dawkins v God - stop the fight

Oliver Kamm 60 Comments

MORE

Comments

Please Login to RDFRS to Comment

Sign in to RDF

blog comments powered by Disqus