Eminent Harvard astrophysicist David Layzer offers readers a unified theory of natural order and its origins, from the permanence, stability, and orderliness of sub-atomic particles to the evolution of the human mind. Cosmogenesis provides the first extended account of a controversial theory that connects quantum mechanics with the second law of thermodynamics, and presents novel resolutions of longstanding paradoxes in these theories, such as those of Schroedinger's cat and the arrow of time. Layzer's main concerns in the second half of the book are with the philosophical issues surrounding science. He develops a highly original reconciliation of the conflict between traditional scientific determinism and the intuitive notion of individual freedom. He argues that although the elementary processes underlying biological evolution and human development are governed by physical laws, they are nevertheless genuinely creative and unpredictable.
Moore, a professor of history at Cornell University and the author of Religious Outsiders and the Making of Americans , sees paradoxical connections between religion and various forms of commercial entertainment. In a novel approach to explaining the American church-state separation that yet leaves ``religion a central component of the traditions of laicity,'' the author traces the ``commodification'' of religion from the Mormon social halls, musicals and theatrical performances of the 19th century to the televangelical empires of Jim Bakker, Pat Robertson and Jimmy Swaggart in the 20th. Moore looks at the application of skilled advertising techniques not only in contemporary electronic ministries but also in the mainline churches, which have made subtler adaptations to the pluralistic marketplace in such areas as fund-raising, for example. Thoughtful, nonpolemic and provocative, Moore's study is a significant contribution to the scholarship of American religious history.