The author takes on the toughest questions about the nature of existence and, on the basis of fact and through the application of reason, he ruthlessly dissects each issue to provide the best available answers. He invites the reader to join him on a perilous journey. What do you need? An open mind. A willingness to accept conclusions if they are clearly based on facts and reason, even if the conclusions are counter-intuitive.

 

He promises there will be nothing complicated as you move forward. It's a journey anyone can take. Only those whose minds are closed will fall by the wayside. Anyone who is hoping they will find absolute truth, whatever that means, will be disappointed. As you progress, the author concedes, you will have to make compromises at every stage. But the journey is still worthwhile because, at the end, although you won't have absolute truth, you will have come as close to it as is possible. And you will have avoided the irrational excesses of the extremists on either side of the existential debate.

 

The author gives this warning. You will be asked to rethink many of the certainties which you take for granted and believe are true – because they are not true. The material world is not what you think it is. Space and time are not what you think they are. Simplistic answers to existential questions do not survive even cursory scrutiny of the facts. With our current state of knowledge, he sets out to give an accurate, scientific description of reality which he summarises in the following terms: "We live in a largely immaterial universe of powerful and invisible forces, governed by intellectually comprehensible rules." He then goes on to consider the nature of the rules and how man, 'half angel and half beast', fits into this world and deals with what he describes as our 'appalling and ridiculous predicament'.

 

Finally, breaking his rules about confining himself to fact and reason, he offers a simple but  paradoxical solution to all these questions.

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