“Why is there a world rather than nothing at all?” remains the darkest and most enduring of all metaphysical mysteries. Following in the footsteps of Christopher Hitchens, Roger Penrose, and even Stephen Hawking, Jim Holt now enters this fractious debate with his lively and deeply informed narrative that traces the latest efforts to grasp the origins of the universe. The slyly humorous Holt takes on the role of cosmological detective, suggesting that we might have been too narrow in limiting our suspects to Yahweh vs. the Big Bang. Tracking down an eccentric Oxford philosopher, a Physics Nobel Laureate, a French Buddhist monk who lived with the Dalai Lama, and John Updike just before he died, Holt pursues unexplored angles to this cosmic puzzle. As he pieces together a solution—one that sheds new light on the question of God and the meaning of existence—he offers brisk philosophical asides on time and eternity, consciousness, and the arithmetic of nothingness.
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