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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)
Rebecca Goldstein's draws her characters and they academic viper's nest with ironic brilliance, yet compassion. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
A long read. Confusing at times as story switches time periods. I don't think a believer would finish the book.Published 4 months ago by FSM Larry
How many novels have you read where the climax of the book is wondering who will be the winner of a public debate on whether God exists or not?Published 6 months ago by James W. Sepulveda
Great fun to read, and enjoyed the meta nature of the book. I got the joke right away. I've even used the appendix as a reference.Published 6 months ago by James Davenport
I am grateful to the author for providing a reading experience that is intellectually challenging, personally moving and altogether entertaining.Published 10 months ago by Tidefan