Book name ”The Magic of Reality” chapter one to six chapters.
Writer Response: Chapters 1-6 of “The Magic of Reality” by Richard Dawkins
Biologist Richard Dawkins has always sought to elicit passion for science and reason since the beginning of his career as a divulgated scientist. His book “The Magic of the Reality” is an attempt to show readers regardless their origins and academic level about the how beautiful reality is. Hence, each of the chapters of the book is presented as questions to start a discussion
Consequently, that is what this response will do, start a discussion on the capital subjects of each chapter and offer our response, contrast or acceptance to the author’s thesis.
The issue of magic and the supernatural calls my attention. For instance, millions of individuals consider that magic exists and is a force that drives their lives. For me, that is hard to believe. Even if humans need to believe in the supernatural, supernatural is not something that needs to escape necessarily our interpretations. Conversely, science, as Dawkins says “Thrives on its inability to explain things.” (Dawkins 24). Nevertheless, that inability is not static as it invites to change, to explore and reopen the paradigms that humanity considered closer for generations. For this reason, Dawkins’ opinion of science as constant curiosity is an opinion I highly respect as a way to fight the ignorance and the belief in patterns that randomly become useful things. Change is not magic; evolution is a series of results that keep happening. Thus, believing that the universe is constantly evolving excites me.
However, the question of “who was the first?” is not something that interests me. I consider that Dawkins wanted to play the role of a provocateur, offering a scientific position to a religious question. Strictly speaking, science does not need to worry about who was the first, as it is nothing but an issue that attempts to fight the main three religions of the world with the theory of evolution. That is not wrong per se, but he could have avoided the controversial subject and dive straight to the theory of evolution of men.
Conversely, his idea of every organism descending from a common DNA that changed through the eras is something I can accept as it comes without the guise of religion. Animals and plants are separated in families, and we belong to one. The interesting thing here is how Dawkins introduces religious figures we all know such as Adam, and they debunk those religious conceptions with his chief weapon, the theory of evolution. Every living organism on earth is bound to change, and believing that things have always “been” is utter nonsense, as Dawkins intelligently shows. Then, is Dawkins that provocateur I spoke of, or is he an educator who cleverly shows strong points of view through apparently innocuous arguments? The jury is still out on that one.
On the same hand, his explanations of evolution would not be completed without explaining things in their smallest levels, the atoms. To explain how atoms work, he uses an original set of examples such as an atom being “something too small to be cut any smaller.” (Dawkins 77). This might sound simple and obvious, but considering that a sizeable amount of the population believes in religion whose beliefs seem harder to explain, it is adequate to the average reader and my understanding of science. Also, the way he transitions from the atom to the differences between solids, liquids and gases using the crystals as groups of molecules is flawless and shows a pedagogical intention that is different than many scientific’ will of being obscure and “academic.” This book might not be as academic as a scientific journal but bringing science to the common folk is a praisable effort. In contrast, it resulted difficult for me to understand how atoms are mostly space and even the smallest creature is made of a myriad of them.
The book itself is incredibly enjoyable, but while many transitions are extremely polished, some others are not. For instance, passing from the atom to the stations and the earth’s rhythms left me somewhat dumbfounded. Incidentally, the broad usage of myths can be tiresome although I understand that myths appeal to that primitive man we have inside of us and help Dawkins’ pedagogical intent. Also, considering that myths often show how things work through symbolic veils, what he does is understandable. Perhaps a chiefly scientific book would not have had the reach this one has. Hence, to my dismay myths serve to understand abstract concepts such as time, day and night, which entices me despite my mindset.
Hence, to understand time and space, an amount of knowledge about earth is necessary, which is why Dawkins prepared the reader so thoroughly before getting on the subject of time and space. Consequently, he always uses simple topics such as animals and their habits to help people understand how the earth’s rhythms work and how space is a place where an extraordinary amount of forces interact together to keep a sort of balance that keeps the earth in its orbit around the sun.
That takes us to the last chapter of our response. The Sun is portrayed as one of the most significant forces in every mythology, and it is, as since without it, we would not exist. This interconnects every aspect of the book as the stars are a bunch of hydrogen atoms that form molecules that then form hot masses that allowed life by mere chance.
To sum up, Dawkins has a clear pedagogical intention and goes great lengths to explain his theories without sounding too scientific nor watering knowledge down. Reading this book was a pleasure and an enjoyable experience that was also educational. The man is indeed a provocateur, but the book seems so cleverly put that even his hottest arguments seem rather coy.
Dawkins, R., & McKean, D. (2011). 1-6. In The magic of reality: How we know what’s really true. New York: Free Press.