Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Book Review: Mr g by Alan Lightman

I should say first off that I’m a big fan of Alan Lightman. I read his clever little book, Einstein’s Dreams, years ago when I was teaching physics at Maine East High. I used to buy a copy for each of my AP seniors as a graduation present. That said I recently saw Mr g sitting on the featured table at the neighborhood bookstore (Borders is gone but the mom and pop shops live on!) and just bought it without another thought.

As you may have already guessed, Mr g is a all seeing, all knowing, immortal, omnipotent being that lives in the ‘void’. He is accompanied there by his aunt and uncle - a literary or philosophical gizmo that has escaped me so far. Mr. g, after waking up from a nap decides to create a universe. He goes through may prototypes experimenting with what the initial conditions need to be to have it not blow up in 2 seconds and so forth. With zillions of his prototypes zinging around the void he settles on a favorite and gives it a name that involves the 10,000th prime number.

Lightman being an MIT physicist and professor of humanities gently works in good physics about time, the big bang, and evolution. Mr g is tempted to cause the creation of sentient beings and is surprised to find that with matter, energy and his initial boundary conditions it happens spontaneously all over the billions of galaxies in his favorite universe.

By Mr. g’s inherent ‘goodness’ the creation of a universe caused to be created his opposite - Baalial. He goes by various names but he is the cynic to Mr. g’s optimism. They have many interesting discussions about goodness, free will and more.

A thought provoking book, a quick read, and Mr. g never reveals himself to the sentient beings of the universe he created. . . .or does he?

Link to the book below. . . I notice that the reader reviews on Amazon are all over the place. I'd be interested to know what my fellow atheists think of the book.

Mr g by Alan Lightman


Sailor Sue said...

I get dibs to read it next.
It's not on the coffee table but in my book bag.

Anonymous said...

Haven't read it. Am reading "A Universe From Nothing", by Krauss. Sent you an email re it.

Rich P