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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)
Goldstein can be very funny.
An interesting theme common to both "36 ARGUMENTS FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD, A WORK OF FICTION" and Rebecca's novel, THE MIND-BODY PROBLEM, is that of "mattering".
Though the argument isn't really founded in the story the author just spent 300 pages telling, so it falls a bit flat.
I am grateful to the author for providing a reading experience that is intellectually challenging, personally moving and altogether entertaining.Published 10 days ago by Tidefan
OK...it was a bookclub selection, otherwise I'd have skipped it...the appendix lists some logical fallacies which I found more interesting that the bookPublished 23 days ago by Larry A. Bollinger
As a life-long atheist, I was hoping for a really good read, even for fiction. But this book is like the chick flick of books. Read morePublished 25 days ago by Cherry SS
It's like having a coffee date with your chatty friend who gives waaay too many details, but in a sort of breezy way. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Jeffrey Segal
One of the most fascinating and profound books I have ever read. The novel is unique, and the appendix is an intellectual achievement!Published 5 months ago by Zell Savitz