The Atheist’s Guide to Reality
We can’t avoid the persistent questions about the meaning of life-and the nature of reality. Science is the only thing that can really answer them—all of them. This bracing and ultimately upbeat book takes physics seriously as the complete description of reality and accepts all its consequences. It shows how physics makes Darwinian natural selection the only way life can emerge, and how that deprives nature of purpose, and human action of meaning, while it exposes conscious illusions such as free will and the self. The science that makes us nonbelievers provides the insight into the real difference between right and wrong, the nature of the mind, even the direction of human history. The Atheist’s Guide to Reality draws powerful implications for the ethical and political issues that roil contemporary life. The result is nice nihilism, a surprisingly sanguine perspective atheists can happily embrace.
“The Atheist’s Guide to Reality will, like the best scholarship and science, remove you from your comfort zone. And that is the only way to gain new and better perspectives on our place in the cosmos.”
—Lawrence Krauss, author of A Universe From Nothing
“For those of us who have pondered what David Hume might have said, were he to have had the benefit of all the scientific knowledge that succeeded his death, Alex Rosenberg’s wonderful new book perfectly satisfies.”
—Rebecca Goldstein, author of 36 Arguments for the Existence of God
How History Gets Things Wrong:
The Neuroscience of our Addiction to Stories
Why we learn the wrong things from narrative history, and how our love for stories is hard-wired. To understand something, you need to know its history. Right? Wrong, says How History Gets Things Wrong. Feeling especially well-informed after reading a book of popular history on the best-seller list? Don’t. Narrative history is always, always wrong. It’s not just incomplete or inaccurate but deeply wrong, as wrong as Ptolemaic astronomy. We no longer believe that the earth is the center of the universe. Why do we still believe in historical narrative? Our attachment to history as a vehicle for understanding has a long Darwinian pedigree and a genetic basis. Our love of stories is hard-wired. Neuroscience reveals that human evolution shaped a tool useful for survival into a defective theory of human nature. Human evolution took the primate’s ability to anticipate the behavior of others, whether predators, prey, and made it into the theory of mind, a tool we used to get us to the top of the African food chain. Now, however, this hard-wired capacity makes us think we can understand history—what the Kaiser was thinking in 1914, why Hitler declared war on the United States—by uncovering the narratives of what happened and why. In fact, we will only understand history if we don’t make it into a story.
—London Times Higher Education