When I first picked up this book, it was simply to learn more about my newly gained interest in cosmology. I wanted to understand what there was out there. I had heard of Hawking’s before and his book, A Brief History of Time, and figured he was an accredited and knowledgeable source of information on the topic. So I picked up his slightly newer book, The Theory of Everything.
I was immediately disappointed. The obvious lack of writing ability first caught me off guard. I had to take in account that fact that he had a crippling disease when he wrote the book, so I figured I would wait to see the information he presented.
Hawkings divided the book into lectures. The title for these chapters led me to believe he would cover his own findings and theories. My immediate disappointment was, unfortunately, not short-lived. The further I got into the book, the more and more I realized he was simply giving a history, and a very blotchy one at that, mixed in with the occasional humor and very rarely his own work, especially anything within the last 10 years.
The history he gave in the book was very nonspecific, biased, and it seemed that he could never make up his mind. At one point in the first lecture, I believe, Hawking made a statement that correctly showed exactly what the book was going to be like. He made a comment about how no one, including Einstein, thought that general relativity implied that the universe was nonstatic (unbounded) except for one man. Either he didn’t receive a good history lesson himself or he chose not to include some facts. Einstein wrote several papers on how the universe was nonstatic. Unfortunately, the scientific observations we have today were not available to him, and all the evidence of the time pointed to a static universe. So Einstein went back and changed his equation to represent the evidence. Hawkings must have forgotten that, or he didn’t want to give credit where credit was due.
And by the way, maybe I should take this time to show what a true scientist does. Einstein created a theory to explain the evidence. Very often, especially with professionals who support evolution, evidence is sought after to explain their theory.
Through the rest of the book Hawking jumps around, usually going back to his specialty (black holes) every couple of pages. And every once in a while he makes a reference to God, as if he expects the reader to take for granted he believes in God. I find this peculiar when most of his book gives reason after reason to discard the idea of a Creator.
Finally, Hawking, I don’t think, ever really picked an audience this book was intended for. The extremely simple language and humor makes me think it was created for the general public, a larger scale of people including the everyday Joe. Unfortunately, the average person doesn’t really care about cosmology, and especially the specific theories he is allegedly presenting. So if the general public wouldn’t be interested in the topic, what about the smaller group who actually enjoy the particular topic? Well, anyone really wanting to learn something has a good chance of getting annoyed with the simple text, ideas, history, and humor to fill up pages.
The most disappointing part of this book was that it wasn’t a theory of everything. It wasn’t even a theory, it was just like a badly written text book. Overall, there is the occasional good information that you might pick up if you skim through, but I wouldn’t ever suggest reading it cover to cover.