David Berlinski’s The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions

This review will be regrettably brief since, for some reason, I have waited a very long time to write this since finishing David Berlinski’s The Devil’s Delusion.  Even so, I wanted to post at least a strong recommendation of the work because of the significant contribution I believe it makes to the literature responding to the so-called “New Atheism.”  In fact, I would count Berlinski’s work up there with (though still beneath) David Bentley Hart’s insofar as responses to atheism go, though the works are very different in so many ways.

It is a perplexing and intriguing book from a modern polymath.  Berlinski is not a Christian and claims no particular religious beliefs at all, other than, I presume, theism.  He is Jewish by birth and a mathematician by profession.  He possesses a frequently humorous, sometimes eccentric and oftentimes dazzling intellect that probably warrants him the admittedly overused monikor of “rennaissance man.” He speaks of mathematics, philosophy, science, physics and theology in ways that reveal significant study in these field, and, refreshigly, he does so with an often-moving literary flourish.

Essentially, Berlinski is skewering the pretentiousness and patronizing absurdities of the assumptions of modernity, and, particularly, of scientific modernity, in this work.  He paints a picture of theories-run-amuck in many quarters of the scientific community.  These theories are then dogmatized, Berlinski suggests, by a thin-skinned and tight-knit community which utilizes a slick media machine to demonize any who dare to question the assumptions and conclusions of this machine.  The victims, he argues, are an unsuspecting public who cower before the double barrell approach of scientific obfuscation and media aggressiveness.

In saying these things, Berlinski is not pandering to ignorant, anti-science bigots who want to be shielded from uncomfortable conclusions.  Rather, he demonstrates his thesis in profound and provocative ways that I can only encourage you to read.  You may or may not agree with all of Berlinski’s conclusions, but I daresay you cannot read this work without appreciating his case that a great many of the mantras of modernity, scientific and philosophical, are buttressed by establishment-driven and media-propagated agendas.

Read this book.


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