Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Book Review: 36 Arguments for the Existence of God, by Rebecca Goldstein

I finished this a few weeks ago, and have been trying to think of how to review it since. A good book can make you learn something about yourself. This one did that for me. I had the strange realization that while most of my childhood friends wanted to grow up to be famous celebrities or rock stars, I wanted to be Brilliant, with a capital B. The characters in this book are Brilliant, and so for me it read a little bit like a summer beach paperback about a rich debutante. Turns out I'm far from Brilliant, just bright (lowercase) with an aptitude for standardized tests. The story is about a university professor, who is being courted by the public and Harvard University due to his status as a newly christened intellectual celebrity, and a series of explorations about his personal relationships. It's a bit of a fictional peek inside the world of the intellectual elite. Along the way it explores a lot about the meaning of religion, which is of course very different from the meaning or existence of god.

This, as a sidebar, is my beef with the "atheist movement". The Dawkins crowd misses the importance of that difference.

Anyway, the author is clearly intelligent. It's the first book that I've ever read where I needed to consult a dictionary repeatedly. There are lots of big, intellectual words. Theodicy. Tautology. Disquisitions. There is a lot of philosophic arguments, that for the philosophy-naive is a fun re-exploration, almost made me feel like I was taking a college class on the philosophy of religion. There's higher math, game theory, religious history.

If you want a little of a mental workout, and a secular humanist viewpoint doesn't offend you, consider checking it out.

ShrinkRap just referenced a book that I'm going to order next.

3 comments:

Snickollet said...

I can't wait to read this. Sounds amazing. I just reserved it on inter-library loan.

socks said...

I'll have to bask in your knowledge - doubt if I could get through it.

...tom... said...

...

"There are lots of big, intellectual words. Theodicy. Tautology. Disquisitions."

...drolllol...

'Big words' do not necessarily a 'big thinker' make. Especially in these days of Intertubes dictionaries and other resources.

I will trust your mini-review despite that minor niggle ... as it does not sound like a book I am likely to pick up soon.


...tom...