The able polymath Stephen L. Talbott continues his provocative series in The New Atlantis on living organisms — their integrity, their complexity, their subtle immunities to reductionism of the sort that masquerades today as cutting-edge science. Much of the argumentation amounts to carefully-placed shape-charges at the vulnerable points of materialist dogma. The resulting detonations are as marvelous as the placements are cunning. Naturally, these clownish New Atheists will not deign to engage him; since Talbott is manifestly a man of scientific vigor and sophistication, rather than a straw-man in the manner of a knuckle-dragging Creationist, they have little interest in him. Or rather, they have an emphatic interest in not being interested in him. The materialists (unusual for men of science) are a remarkably incurious lot. Talbott, by contrast, resembles the capacious autodidacts of older Western science: in these essays the reader immediately feels that warmth of curiosity, that human wonder, which was so often their hallmark. But the common accompanying modifier “childlike” would be misleading in this instance; for there is nothing immature in Talbott’s thinking. And while he rarely comes off as a hard-nosed polemicist, the damage inflicted by his arguments will be considerable. Must read.