- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Crown Forum; Reprint edition (Oct. 26 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1400054788
- ISBN-13: 978-1400054787
- Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.4 x 20.3 cm
- Shipping Weight: 376 g
- Average Customer Review: 20 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #730,088 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Probability of God: A Simple Calculation That Proves the Ultimate Truth Paperback – Oct 26 2004
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"Unwin's book, which is peppered with wry, self-deprecating humor that makes the scientific discussions more accessible, may prove spiritually inspiring."—Chicago Sun Times
"A pleasantly breezy account of some complicated matters well worth learning about."–Philadelphia Inquirer
"Stephen Unwin has pulled off the seemingly impossible—a profound and instructive discussion of God delivered in an entertaining, witty and no-nonsense style. His quirky prose conceals a wealth of information about science, religion and the grounds for rational belief. He bypasses the indulgent obscurantism so characteristic of contemporary theological writing and goes straight to the heart of the matter: Is belief in God a reasonable deduction given the evidence? That Unwin can achieve this with minimal mathematics is a testimony to his incisive mind and impressive writing skills."
—Paul Davies, Templeton Prize winner and author of The Mind of God and The Cosmic Blueprint
"This book is very bad news for anyone planning a career in Evil. Engaging, witty, concise and clear, Dr. Unwin's book achieves two impossible things: it makes Theology and Probability Theory accessible to humans."
—Rob Grant, co-creator of the "Red Dwarf" television series and author of Backwards
"The Probability of God is witty, it's fun to read--you keep wanting to goon, chapter after chapter, and keep going to figure out this probability. Ifyou're looking for a book that's intellectually stimulating, kind of fun,and compelling-- this is it."
"Yes, the book has humor, a trait that math sorely needs... I especially liked the way he mixed humor and scientific rigor."
"Stephen Unwin has boldly gone where no theoretical physicist has gone before."
-Dayton Daily News
"Unwin did not set out to prove one way or another the existence of God. He just wanted to figure the odds."
-Australian Herald Sun
From the Inside Flap
Does God exist?
This is probably the most debated question in the history of mankind. Scholars, scientists, and philosophers have spent their lifetimes trying to prove or disprove the existence of God, only to have their theories crucified by other scholars, scientists, and philosophers. Where the debate breaks down is in the ambiguities and colloquialisms of language. But, by using a universal, unambiguous languagenamely, mathematicscan this question finally be answered definitively? Thats what Dr. Stephen Unwin attempts to do in this riveting, accessible, and witty book, The Probability of God.
At its core, this groundbreaking book reveals how a math equation developed more than 200 years ago by noted European philosopher Thomas Bayes can be used to calculate the probability that God exists. The equation itself is much more complicated than a simple coin toss (heads, Hes up there running the show; tails, Hes not). Yet Dr. Unwin writes with a clarity that makes his mathematical proof easy for even the nonmathematician to understand and a verve that makes his book a delight to read. Leading you carefully through each step in his argument, he demonstrates in the end that God does indeed exist.
Whether youre a devout believer and agree with Dr. Unwins proof or are unsure about all things divine, you will find this provocative book enlightening and engaging.
From the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
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The author did an admirable job of not overstating his case. For example, he considered and rejected the argument from design -- what he calls the "rose petal" argument, the notion that the elegance and intricacy of the known universe evinces a creator with a big-picture plan. He even goes so far as to supply a nice, light vignette to dispatch with this proof, despite his affinity for what it allegedly proves. No one can accuse this author of not being fair-minded.
The problem comes down to GIGO: garbage-in, garbage out. Baylesian probability (as the author ably explains) gives a method to take a known probability, consider additional evidence, and arrive at a subsequent probability. The garbage-in here is the seven points of additional evidence by which the author adjusts the original 50-50 proposition that God either exists or doesn't.
Needless to say, the quality of this superceding evidence, and the numerical values assigned to it, are critical to the outcome. Unwin does not go far enough in establishing that numbers can be assigned to the points of evidence he gives, much less that *his* numbers are the right ones. Without a method for converting vague, grand propositions to crisp probabilities, e.g., "it is x% more likely that the existence of evil would be apparent in a godless universe than in a godful universe", this is no more than question-begging. This can only be a nice mathematical way to bundle and organize the question of God's existence if there are nice mathematical inputs. Unwin assigns values and gives his reasons, but ultimately he's only provided a framework in which others will inevitably assign differing values -- with differing results. And thus we're back at square one.
More work remains to be done before Baylesian probabilities can be truly said to illuminate the question of God's existence. I like the author's style, I admire the spirit of his attempt, I appreciate the clear lesson in probabilities, but I am not convinced.
Do I regard the authors core argument for belief in a God as flawed for the reasons you have read? Yes. I do. But in the interest of restoring balance allow me to highlight the strengths of this book.
First, Dr. Unwin has presented a new and innovative way to look at belief in God. In an area where the standard arguments for theistic belief have become calcified and tedious, the author delivers a breath of fresh air through Bayesian probabilities. The mathematical framework of Bayesian probabilities also provides a badly needed field of commonality on which both sides can meet to debate the merits of the issues. The math is easy and accessible due to the effortless way the authors has with words.
Second, the provocative 67% probability figure has energized the debate and provoked a lot of interest in the issues, as evidenced not just by the flurry of reviews here on Amazon, but by the guest appearance of the author on NPR, as well as by all of the human-interest news items generated in the press. Most theistic books never manage a blip on the public radar, while the authors work is seismographic in comparison.
Third, the supporting material is worth the price of the book. The author challenges currently popular evidences for God, and his discussions on what it means to 'exist', on quantum behaviors, and the bigotry of 'Scaleism' are delightful!
In conclusion, The Probability of God is vibrant. It sparkles with wit and thought provoking arguments. Weather you are a believer in God or not, you will find something in this book the challenge you and engage your mind. If you don't agree with the author, run your own numbers. Cast your own criteria and see where the calculations lead. Dr. Unwin will show you how.
In spite of the fact that I am agnostic and have no particular belief in gods, I find myself in the unusual position of recommending that people buy this book which argues for the existence of God. That is how special this book is. I call this book is a recommended read.
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What can I say? The book is boring to me.
Because in the early chapters, the author blithely dismisses two existing powerful arguments for God, to...Read more