Book Review

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

On one hand, this is a challenging qualitative examination of historical and contemporary views on the nature of time and the universe, filled with autobiographical asides and commentaries by one of the scientists who has been a major contributor to those views during the last two decades. On the other, it is a philosophical tract exploring the place and nature of God in the universe. Some readers, conditioned to believe that scientists are only interested in asking what, may be disturbed to find the clear but demanding descriptions of black holes and the arrow of time interwoven with some fundamental philosophical, even theological questions. Stephen Hawking asks, without providing any final answers, Why does the universe exist? Is there a creator of the universe? If so, who created the creator? He wishes to reunite the realms of the scientist and the philosopher.

Although Hawking provides brief excursions into other areas of modern physics, his real concern is cosmology. He traces man’s changing concept of the size, structure, and nature of the universe from the ancient Greeks, through Galileo, Isaac Newton, and Albert Einstein, to the picture resulting from his own work. The account is idiosyncratic, reflective of Hawking’s personal sense of the significance of particular scientific theories and experiments. This book is the closest most readers will ever get to one of the greatest scientific minds of the twentieth century.

Sources for Further Study

The Christian Century. CV, May 18, 1988, p. 513.

The Christian Science Monitor. April 22, 1988, p. 19.

The Economist. CCCVII, June 25, 1988, p. 91.

Kirkus Reviews. LVI, February 15, 1988, p. 258.

Library Journal. CXIII, April 15, 1988, p. 87.

Los Angeles Times. April 8, 1988, V, p. 14.

Nature. CCCXXII, April 21, 1988, p. 742.

The New York Review of Books. XXXV, June 16, 1988, p. 17.

The New York Times Book Review. XCIII, April 3, 1988, p. 10.

The New Yorker. LXIV, June 6, 1988, p. 117.

Publishers Weekly. CCXXXIII, February 19, 1988, p. 66.