A friend of mine, an Orthodox Jew, took an exam several years ago on dinosaurs and their era. After each answer, he put in parenthesis “I don’t believe this.” Such may be the person that Weissmann had in mind when he wrote Galileo’s Gout: Science in an Age of Endarkenment.
My friend aside, most readers will enjoy Weissmann’s latest book. It offers several vignettes regarding scientific and medical discovery over the past four centuries, masterfully intertwining science, politics, religion, and culture. Several relevant topics are covered, including stem cell research, faith-based alternative medicine, the decoding of the genome, and the cure of typhus. Each tale is told in an erudite, entertaining, occasionally polemical style, with multiple literary references to regale the reader. The book is constructed such that the reader can peruse chapters that are of interest, or digest the stories consecutively.
The book will be of special interest to the modern-day Jew, for the wisdom imparted to counter this age of “scientific endarkenment” will allow for expansion of the mind without demanding an untethering of the bedrock of one’s faith.