reader response on book “The Magic of reality” Richard dawkins
Reader Response: “The Magic of Reality” by Richard Dawkins
Since I was a child, rainbows held a great deal of attraction to me. Since I was able to read I wondered how rainbows worked, and I heard all kinds of stories about the leprechauns at the end of the rainbow and although it was not one of my finest moments, I did try to get to the end of the rainbow. Consequently, that is why this chapter called me so firmly. However, I consider Dawkins gets too much into the myth instead of showing the science behind it, and when he finally does it, his explanation falls short. For instance, using words such as “chunk of glass” (Dawkins 148), when explaining what the prism is, fall extremely short of his discursive capabilities.
Likewise, in chapter eight, it is interesting how the author links the symbol of the egg with the beginning of the world, along with the notion of the world as something that came from something else. Hence, contrasting those mythological stories with the two scientific models proposed by science seeks to complement the visions of the world instead of shrinking them. This, along with the invention of the spectroscope and use of the colors of the specter to show us the galaxies serves to illustrate the big bang using galaxies that are impossible to reach, showing us how science, despite its limitations can give us answers that might not be far from the myths of the fist humans.
Moreover, it is not far-fetched to think there is a myriad of lifeforms living in our universe and defying the anthropocentric vision of our world is not new, but a matter that began in the past century. Thus, when Dawkins tries to debunk the pseudo-scientific beliefs behind aliens and spacecraft he has my full support. While it must be true that there are other lifeforms in the galaxy, to believe they abduct humans and conduct experiments on them seem to be something taken from a sci-fi special instead of a real concern. Besides, as Dawkins says “… we have a good understanding of why people believe they have been abducted by aliens, and we can tie the modern myths of alien abductions in with the earlier myths of rapacious incubi and succubi” (Dawkins 187)
However, reading “The Magic of Reality” has made me realize that Dawkins has carefully constructed his style to cater to his fan base, mostly composed of non-scholars and students like me. Therefore, I have learned how to not to be so judgmental and simply read and enjoy the book. For this reason, with that idea in mind, I tackled Chapter 10, and what Dawkins has to say about the nature of earthquakes and its implications in many myths such as Sodom and Gomorrah and the fall of the walls of Jericho. Hence, we can see an implication between these myths and an extremely seismic zone such as the Levant. Consequently, when Dawkins said, “You can easily imagine how a distant folk memory of a disastrous earthquake could be exaggerated and distorted.” (Dawkins 209). Thus, it is pretty interesting how Dawkins links early memories with modern science, but not to debunk the Bible, but to show parallel theories that could add up to the Bible’s.
This Chapter is linked to the next, as Chapter 11 touches the rather sensitive subject of “Why bad things happen to good people?” Consequently, given the fact that most people’s religions consider that something evil happened during the creation of the world that unleashed these terrible events, they tend to explain such occurrences with the ever-working explanations of the existence of an evil power that wrecks the planet. Of course, science now shows us that this balance of the natural forces is not related to a deity and some prayers we can send, but to what happens on the earth and the myriad of factors that encase it.
Last, the notion of “miracle.” While it is true that many people have a hard time establishing differences between a coincidence and a miracle, the idea of the divine intervention is clearly ingrained in the human mind. Hence, rumors can be passed as miracles or divine-like things that are part of a greater plan. Although I do not discuss that, I find it hard to consider that coincidences drive our lives and that a situation like a rumor or the death of a personality is parts of a divine plan. In the end, as Hume said, it is all a matter of belief. Believing we see what we see and that our mind states are the like those of the rest of the world as a way to provide the world of uniformity. That is why things like the miracles happen.
Ultimately, Dawkins aims to show that human evolution has worked that way, allowing us to know what we need to survive, asking to see more than we can, although tempting could strip us of our humanity. What is true is that although Dawkins can be too school-like, it makes us think, whether we like or not.
Dawkins, Richard. The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True. New York: Free, 2011. Print.