Saturday, December 03, 2005

It Must Still Be Friday Somewhere... I don't feel too bad about not having got around to doing my weekly Friday book recommendation post even though it is quite definitely Saturday in Munich!

This week the book which was waving from the bookshelf is one of a few titles from an author who will probably figure again one Friday.

It is "Unweaving the Rainbow" by Richard Dawkins.

Dawkins seems to spend half of his time defending Darwinism against the misrepresentations of creationists and lately so-called "Intelligent" Design-ists and the misunderstanding of various established scientists who really should know better and the other half defending himself against those who seem to believe that the fact that he roundly rejects religious beliefs automatically implies that he must be some kind of child-eating monster who blatantly ignores human moral instincts. Many people seem to believe that the merest whiff of atheism implies that the person in question is likely to live their life under no restraints at all and perhaps think he or she can freely commit murder and get away with it; strangely many other people who are believers in some religion or other assert their murderous inclinations by revealing that "god" whispered in their ear or that they had a "conversation" with this self same "god" - and, chillingly, you can go to some very high and important places to find people who profess this kind of thing.

It's a wonder that Dawkins has any time left to write anything let alone books which are stunningly excellent.

In "Unweaving the Rainbow"Dawkins aims to emphasise the wonder which science can spark and refutes those who think it has reduced the beauty of the world to a few formulas on a crumpled piece of paper. He shows us that poetry is very much alive and well in the way that science is slowly unravelling the mysteries of the universe. He looks at light and sound, how DNA is used in the lawcourts, proffers an explanation for our tendencies to create and believe in superstition and generally passes on his great enthusiasm and passion for his subject. And all this written in an English which is breathtakingly good.

The Sunday Times said, "The way Dawkins writes about science is not just a brain-tonic. It is more like an extended stay on a brain health-farm ... You come out feeling lean, tuned and enormously more intelligent".

Unweaving the Rainbow by Richards Dawkins. Penguin Books 1999

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