Paul Gross pans David Berlinski's "The Devil's Delusion"
For starters, Paul Gross has no credibility with me. He is a co-author -- along with Barbara Forrest -- of the book "Creationism's Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design," which is about a ridiculous conspiracy theory that promoting ID is part of a plot by fundies to turn the USA into a theocracy. Also, as chief editor of the Fordham Institute's (no connection to Fordham University) report on state science standards, he threatened to drop Ohio's overall science grade from a B to an F just because of Ohio's evolution lesson plan that included weaknesses of evolution theory.
In contrast to Gross's negative review of the book, Amazon.com's customer reviews of the book are mostly favorable. There are now 67 customer reviews posted and the average rating by the customer reviewers is four stars, broken down as follows: 5 stars, 36; 4 stars, 15; 3 stars, 2; 2 stars, 4; and one star, 10. Also, the "product description" in the book's Amazon.com website makes some good points:
Militant atheism is on the rise. Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens have dominated bestseller lists with books denigrating religious belief as dangerous foolishness. And these authors are merely the leading edge of a far larger movement–one that now includes much of the scientific community.
“The attack on traditional religious thought,” writes David Berlinski in The Devil’s Delusion, “marks the consolidation in our time of science as the single system of belief in which rational men and women might place their faith, and if not their faith, then certainly their devotion.”
A secular Jew, Berlinski nonetheless delivers a biting defense of religious thought. An acclaimed author who has spent his career writing about mathematics and the sciences, he turns the scientific community’s cherished skepticism back on itself, daring to ask and answer some rather embarrassing questions:
Has anyone provided a proof of God’s inexistence?
Not even close.
Has quantum cosmology explained the emergence of the universe or why it is here?
Not even close.
Have the sciences explained why our universe seems to be fine-tuned to allow for the existence of life?
Not even close.
Are physicists and biologists willing to believe in anything so long as it is not religious thought?
Has rationalism in moral thought provided us with an understanding of what is good, what is right, and what is moral?
Not close enough.
Has secularism in the terrible twentieth century been a force for good?
Not even close to being close.
Is there a narrow and oppressive orthodoxy of thought and opinion within the sciences?
Does anything in the sciences or in their philosophy justify the claim that religious belief is irrational?
Not even ballpark.
Is scientific atheism a frivolous exercise in intellectual contempt?
Berlinski does not dismiss the achievements of western science. The great physical theories, he observes, are among the treasures of the human race. But they do nothing to answer the questions that religion asks, and they fail to offer a coherent description of the cosmos or the methods by which it might be investigated.