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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Book reviews:Novak on Christopher Hitchens

In his thoughtful reflection on Hitchens' current book, God Is Not Great, Michael Novak explains:
If all we had to depend upon were science, empiricism, and our own inquiring minds, we might still have discovered the existence of God (but not the God of Judaism and Christianity) — as did the ancient Greeks and Romans. Reason might well have shown us — did, in fact, show us — that there is a living intelligence deep down in everything on earth and in the skies above. All earthly things are alive with reasons, connections, and also with oddities yet to become better understood, puzzles yet to be solved. We learn by experiment that if we apply our minds to trying to understand how things truly are, how they work, how they are best used, there seems always to be some intelligible light within things that yields up precious satisfactions to the hungry mind. Everything that is seems understandable — in principle, if not just yet.

Novak provides a most interesting reflection on the relationship between Christianity in Europe and the growth of the mindset required for the development of science - in particular the concept that not only is the universe the product of a divine mind but that one's own mind is a reflection of that divine mind. Therefore, at least in principle, it ought to be possible to discover the workings of nature.

One thing I found interesting while writing The Spiritual Brain was the sharp contrast with the materialist view. A number of materialists have recently announced that our brains have not evolved to understand materialism and that is why most people don't accept it.

With such lame-o excuses functioning as arguments, no wonder materialism is in trouble. If it is really true that "our brains haven't evolved" to understand materialism, the most likely explanation is that materialism is not a correct account of the universe in which we live. The Spiritual Brain surveys, among other things, the physical evidence against materialism.

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