Book review: The Magic of Reality

Book cover for The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True by Richard Dawkins

The world we live in is a special and awe-inspiring place. It can also feel rather mystical. Just think about the sheer number of animals and insects that roam the earth, the sun, the seasons. The list goes on and on.

In the past, humans created stories to explain how and why these natural phenomena occurred. It’s only natural. We’re a curious lot, and stories are a great way to describe the unexplained. Stories are also a great way to pass information down from generation to generation.

Fortunately, science has come a long way over the years. We no longer have to rely solely on generational stories to explain natural phenomena. Many of these have plausible explanations, some quite simple and obvious. In The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True, author Richard Dawkins looks at a number of the seemingly magical things that occur around us and how they can be explained.

Dawkins answers these questions about why things are the way they are through the lens of science. He discusses animals, origin of humans, rainbows, earthquakes, atoms, and the sun. Along the way, he references the stories and superstitions that were used to describe these mystical occurrences in the past and how the application and findings of science has demystified them.

One of things that I found most interesting about the book is Dawkins negative view towards spirituality. Dawkins takes the approach that everything can be explained through science. He posits that even those things we don’t understand and still can’t explain today will eventually be revealed through scientific research.

While I don’t necessarily disagree that science will eventually reveal more mysteries of the universe, I don’t subscribe to Dawkins view of spirituality. If anything, I found that the book served to reinforce my belief in God – that there is a higher power at work. Why? I see it as fundamentally amazing how well ordered things are in the universe, all the way down to the smallest particles. It is a true marvel and wonder, and one that I believe our minds are currently not capable of understanding the origin and meaning of, if we will ever be able to.

Overall, I found the book to be a good read. It’s well researched and well written. It’s nice to have all of these explanations and articles collected in one work, similar to an encyclopedia. If you’re curious about the wonders of nature, how and why they occur, then The Magic of Reality is the book for you.

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