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Dinner party hostesses used to be warned to steer the conversation away from politics and religion. I used to wonder why, but I don’t anymore. There are some differences that reveal rifts so deep that dialogue breaks down. Among these are the current debates that have been raging between God-believers and the so-called new atheists. It often seems that people on one side can’t begin to grasp what the world is like, what it feels like, for those on the other side. When the person with whom one is conversing appears utterly opaque, then mistrust and contempt are easily aroused: How can he be saying that when the opposite seems so obvious to me? Is he stupid, dishonest, maybe just a touch evil? These are not the sort of suspicions that the gracious hostess wants intruding at her candle-lit dinner table.
But for me, as a novelist, it’s differences like these, indicating entirely different orientations toward the world, which are the most tantalizing to explore. Arguments alone can’t capture all that is at stake for people when they argue about issues of reason and faith. In the end, I place my faith in fiction, in its power to make vividly present how different the world feels to each of us and how these differences are sometimes what is really being expressed in the great debates of our day on the existence of God.
The title of the book is 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction. I meant the subtitle to be understood as a sort of joke, but as a serious one, too. --Rebecca Goldstein
(Photo © Stephen Pinker)
This lengthy novel moves in tone from satirical to serious.
The other is the appendix to the book, in which Goldstein offers "36 arguments for the existence of God" along with their logical refutation.
Though the argument isn't really founded in the story the author just spent 300 pages telling, so it falls a bit flat.
I had high expectations after reading the summary and all the glowing one-word reviews on the cover of the book. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Shannon Whitney
The title and subtitle wearables deceiving. After reading two of the "chapters", I found that it did not seem to deal with the subjects suggested by those titles. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Grant E. Propper
I read this book with the expectation that it would provide the definitive, though fictional, wrapping up of the era of "New Atheism" literature (circa 2004-2008). Read morePublished 4 months ago by Clif
Rebecca Goldstein is a true humanist. This novel is very well written, having some chapters in the best writing I've seen in a long time. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
I got about 9 pages into the book, then realized it was written in a style I found repellant. If this is satire, it's completely over my head. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Loves RPGs
Rebecca Goldstein continues to cement her reputation as someone who writes fiction about philosophy in a way that is both understandable and highly entertaining with this book. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Douglas Smith
This is an amazingly fast paced novel with a most likeable main character. Plus it contains nearly all the arguments for the existence of God, criticisms, responses, and... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Dr. L
Rebecca Goldstein's 2009 novel "36 Arguments fo the Existence of God" has the rare accomplishment of succeeding both as a story and as a work of ideas. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Robin Friedman
A wonderful book for anyone who likes their fiction mixed with philosophy. A. S. Byatt and Iris Murdoch do something similar, and I love them.Published 10 months ago by EnidLove