I like Peter Atkins - his small previous book about laws that drive the Universe. This one is short as well, 100 pages of musings. Title is a bit misleading in this case. Here we have the ode to science vs. myths (religious believes). Science is progressive, religion static and contributing to nothing. Plenty of cynicism towards myths, admiration for science, science that is able to explain why we stink after death, but cannot explain why penis is used for urination as well as procrastination (LOL).
So we learn how in theory "true" Nothing could be converted into physical nothing that we experience (interesting thoughts). Then we read about reason, purpose, random chances, evolution's facts and theory of natural selection.
Science is smart, discovered what is chromosome, DNA, ATP and concluded that life is information by the flux of energy, we are children of the chaos. Then we know with the large certainty how our Sun will die and when. To be honest, Professor Atkins does not hide facts that science has come across limitations, or at least now, is unable to explain all.
Now back to myths. Several pages are devoted to the myths called Creationism. Here I tend to agree with the author. He asks himself where such ideas are coming from and why people adopt such grotesquely primitive views that are close to being dangerous to society at large.. He throws into the same basket those who believe that there is "life after death" and even proposes to study the psychological and cultural viscera behind this "attack on reason".
My problem with "On Being"? - too harsh criticism of the myths. Children are encouraged to read fairytales and myths. Then why we adults are ridiculed by doing this? Does religion truly cut legs of a chair at which science sits? I do not see such scenario and this book just proves it. Therefore why bother? Myths/faith are like oil and do not mix with water, this should be obvious to any intelligent individual.
Now, for the sake of the balance, one can pick "God's Universe" by astronomer Owen Gingerich. Short and compact text as well showing that (quote):"the scientist with theistic metaphysics will approach laboratory problems in much the same way as his atheistic colleague across the hall."