What comes through loud and clear in both books is how freaking far out modern physics and cosmology have become. Believe me, this isn't the sort of science I remember from high school, where the teacher had a model of an atom that looked like a miniature solar system.
That way of looking at the atomic realm was recognized to be wrong even back then, of course. Quantum mechanics demolished the old way of looking at reality early on in the 20th century.
The standard (Copenhagen) interpretation of looking at the quantum realm considers that measurement somehow brings potentiality into actuality. Nonlocality, quantum entities being connected across any distance, also is a recognized feature of reality.
This barely scratches the surface of the weirdness being posited by physicists these days. Many of their notions are by no means proven, yet each makes sense in its own strange way.
A story in The Telegraph, "The 10 weirdest physics facts, from relativity to quantum physics," is a pretty good Wow! list. Here's some of them, minus the explanations.
All the matter that makes up the human race could fit in a sugar cube
Events in the future can affect what happened in the past
Almost all of the Universe is missing
There are an infinite number of mes writing this, and an infinite number of yous reading it
A particle here can affect one on the other side of the universe, instantaneously
"5 Reasons We May Live in a Multiverse" is also mind-blowing. (And related to the infinite number of mes and yous item above.) As vast and mysterious as our universe appears, with its 100 billion or so galaxies, each with 100 billion or more stars, all this may be just a minute bubble in an ever-bubbling infinite ocean of universes.
Thus religions don't have a monopoly on weird ideas. Not at all.
In fact, religious theologies typically are quite blandly traditional, being an outgrowth of decidedly human ways of being. God, for example, usually is depicted as being a lot like us -- creating, loving, judging, acting, knowing.
God's powers are just vastly expanded versions of human ones. However, modern physics is exploring ideas that, so far at least, are beyond our capacity to comprehend. Fitting together quantum mechanics and relativity theory has baffled the best minds on Earth for almost a hundred years.
I like weirdness of all varieties. But between physics' weirdness and religion's weirdness, I prefer the former.
Physicists take off from what is known to be true (understanding that all scientific truths are subject to change) and make leaps into what may lie beyond. Religious believers just leap. In all directions. Willy-nilly.
Further, by and large scientists are appropriately uncertain. When they don't have solid evidence to support a hypothesis, they'll admit this is just a blue sky idea meriting exploration. Religions, by contrast, will defend to the death -- sometimes literally -- unproven fantastical ideas.
Here's a passage that I liked from a concluding chapter of Marcelo Gleiser's book about physics and cosmology, "The Island of Knowledge."
If, up to the early twentieth century, the doctrines of religious faith dictated to a large extent how people lived their lives, and thus had an enormous emotional and existential impact on society as a whole, in our times it is science that increasingly plays this role.
At the most fundamental level, our scientific discoveries define what we call reality. And here comes the twist. We have explored how science, in its effort to explain the workings of Nature, has intrinsic limitations in its precision and in the formulation of natural laws.
As these necessarily change in time due to the methodic advancement of human inquiry, the arena we call reality is always shifting. New concepts of space and time, of what a field is and how it shapes how matter interacts; the very concept of what matter is; even the uniqueness of our Universe: all of these foundational stones of what philosophers call our ontology, the conceptual entities by which we describe reality, are always transitional.
The very nature of scientific inquiry, always ongoing and always under revision, necessarily implies the notion of a changing understanding of reality.
As a consequence, we can't ever state what reality is. The best that we can do is to state what we know of the nature of reality today. Those who cling to the notion that one day we will arrive at the very fundamental essence of reality are victims of what I call The Fallacy of Final Answers, which have plagued human knowledge since Thales first asked what the world was made of.