Genesis: The Story of How Everything Began

Farrar. Apr. 2021. 240p. ISBN 9780374600488. $26.;. SCI
Throughout the centuries, humans have pondered the mysteries of the cosmos and its origin. Tonelli (physics, Univ. of Pisa) narrates the story of the universe’s creation through the progression of science. He discusses the evolving scientific theories and discoveries that have shaped this narrative. From theories of the big bang and inflation, to exoplanets and black holes, to the Higgs boson particle (which Tonelli played a role in discovering), cosmology and particle physics have been fundamental to understanding how the universe was formed. These theories have also changed how humans view the world. Evoking the seven days of the Earth’s genesis that are described in the Bible, Tonelli titles his chapters “Day One” through “Day Seven”; with this allusion, he suggests that origin myths, like the biblical creation story, have helped some cultures to impose order on the world through “symbolic universes.” At the end of the book, Tonelli includes a thought-provoking chapter on why the anthropological and philosophical insights gleaned from these creation stories are important to understanding the way science has yielded explanations for how believers come to imagine the world.
VERDICT For those interested in a different approach to understanding the universe’s beginnings.
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