John Updike's latest novel, "Roger's Version" (Knopf) has attracted quite a bit of critical attention--in the Los Angeles Times (The Book Review, Sept. 14, 1986) and elsewhere. Literary critics have variously stressed the "darkness" or pessimism of the book or criticized Updike's facility as a "glosser." What these critics miss, however, is a striking parallelism between Roger's version of his own story and scientists' views on cosmology or the origin of life.
In minute detail and yet on the basis of very few "experimental" clues, Roger describes the origins of his wife Esther's (Hester?) affair with Dale (Dimsdale?). Many of the current cosmological models (or theories on the origin of life) describe the evolution of the universe through its first few seconds in similarly minute detail and on the basis of just as scant empirical evidence.
Dale, doubly an intruder, sees in the "fine tuning" required by "inflationary" cosmology to make the theory agree with scientific facts (or similar aspects of the theory of the origin of life) an opening for a deistic approach to science. He (like some scientists) forgets that probability concepts do not apply to single events (like the universe) and that no matter how improbable, an event that has already occurred requires no miracle to explain it.