Paul DAVIES, The Cosmic Blueprint. Philadelphia and London: Templeton Foundation Press Paperback Edition, 2004. pp. 222. $16.95. pb. ISBN 1-9332031-66-9. (Originally published by Simon and Schuster, 1988.)
Reviewed by Jill RAITT, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211

This book is a boon to those of us who avoided science in school, who don't know the difference between particle physics and quantum physics and lately have regretted our youthful educational choices. I can understand the arguments in this book and so can any science-deprived humanist. That is not to say that the author is only a popularizer. Australian Professor Paul Davies has received many prizes, among them, the Michael Faraday Prize from the Royal Society and the 2001 Kelvin Medal and Prize from the UK Institute of Physics. In 1995 Davies received the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion from the hand of Prince Philip in Buckingham Palace.

In this book, Davies explains "the arrow of time," complexity, and chaos with clarity (yes, he is clear about chaos) and his own hand-drawn graphs and drawings. He considers the arguments of reductionists, of quantum physicists, and others and builds his case that increasing complexity does not have to contradict the mechanics of particle physics any more than the soft ware in my computer contradicts the very different hardware that keeps it "wired." Both are necessary for the computer to work.

So why should a theologian read this book?

The very fact that the universe is creative, and that the laws have permitted complex structures to emerge and develop to the point of consciousness—in other words that the universe has organized its own self-awareness—is for me powerful evidence that there is 'something going on' behind it all. (p. 203). What is behind it? There is a cosmic blueprint, a "preconceived plan designed by an all-powerful deity." (p. 202) Theologians, including me, will argue with Davies about the term "preconceived" given the double direction of the arrow of time which I take to be a way of relating time and eternity. In the last two pages, Davies gives away his Calvinist leanings. The value of the book, however, is not the theology that concludes the argument, but the argument itself that "the universe can be understood by the application of the scientific method." (p. 203) and that such a scientific explanation supports creation through the very complexities, even the chaos of evolution itself. How? Read the book!

I have put on my "to read" list Paul Davies' latest book, The Origin of Life published in 2003.

The Cosmic Blueprint contains a Foreward by the author written for the 2004 edition, a comprehensive reading list and an index.

TO ORDER BOOKS: - Continuum - Crossroad - Eerdmans Publishing - Liturgical Press - Orbis Books