The Dancing Universe: From Creation Myths to the Big Bang

Marcelo Gleiser, Author Dutton Books $27.95 (338p) ISBN 978-0-525-94112-5
Gleiser, a young physicist on the faculty at Dartmouth and one of only 15 Presidential Faculty Fellows, explores the relationship of science and religion in the area where they intersect most dramatically, the origin of the universe. Describing the cosmological quest as ""The Question,"" he examines religious answers on one hand and scientific theories on the other, noting that both can be classified in equivalent taxonomies. At the first taxonomic level, scientific theories and religious models of cosmic origins can be divided into those with beginnings and those without. Those with beginnings can be classified as creation from something, creation from nothing and order out of chaos. Those without beginnings posit either eternal existence or a rhythmic universe. Gleiser reviews 25 centuries of cultural, religious and scientific history, fitting the prevailing religious ideas and scientific theories into the appropriate boxes on his charts. Some readers may find that organization fascinating. Others, trying to follow the book's second important thread--that scientists are human beings with all the good and ill that designation implies--are likely to be bogged down in excessive detail in the discussions of optics, thermodynamics, relativity and quantum mechanics. That is unfortunate, because in this challenging, sometimes brilliant book, Gleiser frequently displays his own humanity, interjecting descriptions of his personal struggle to merge reason and emotion, knowledge and belief. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/03/1997
Release date: 11/01/1997
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-1-58465-466-7
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-452-27606-2
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-61168-395-0
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