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Can a Smart Person Believe in God? Paperback – September 3, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Guillen, science journalist and author of Five Equations that Changed the World, a PW best book of 1996, offers a brief and buoyant defense for believers encountering atheism in the culture of science. Drawing on his own story—as a Pentecostal preacher's son whose scientific aspirations and education shaped him into a "practical atheist" before life experiences helped him rediscover his faith—Guillen is able to speak to both sides with a minimum of "us vs. them" posturing. Although he now espouses a strong (and orthodox) Christian faith, he also concedes that "it's the rare person among us whose confidence in God is so utterly rock-solid it can't be secretly shaken by some overzealous humanist accusing him of being a bonehead." Guillen's key metaphor is "stereoscopic faith," a perspective that looks at life through both intellectual and spiritual eyes to produce a deep and meaningful vision of the world. While some science-and-religion authors stress the similarities between these perspectives, Guillen sees them as indispensably different, like the lenses of 3-D glasses: "God gave us... two powerful and well-matched abilities: to prove things we find hard to believe" and to "believe in things we find hard to prove." Guillen's effusive tone and knack for simplicity make this book a good fit for undergrads or bright high school students interested in science and technology.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Michael Guillen, Ph.D., is a theoretical physicist and former science correspondent for ABC News. He taught physics at Harvard for eight years, during which time he won awards for his distinguished teaching. He currently serves as president of Spectacular Science Productions and chief consultant for science and religion for Crystal Cathedral Ministries, appearing often on the Hour of Power. For his work on Good Morning America, World News Tonight, Nightline, and 20/20, he has won Emmys, Teddys, and an EMMA. Guillen has also published hundreds of articles and reviews in the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Esquire, and Science Digest.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (September 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0785287892
  • ISBN-13: 978-0785287896
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,071,820 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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60 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Sauropod on September 30, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This small book makes some excellent arguments in defense of a religious/spiritual point of view or, as the author puts it, a Spirituality Quotient (SQ). Dr. Guillen, a bona fide "smart person" with PhDs in math, physics, and astronomy, writes without rancor and does his best to see the debate from both sides. His basic point is that the world needs more people who combine IQ and SQ (i.e., logic and intuition, left brain and right brain, intellectualism and spirituality). He shows that while science and religion are different disciplines bound by different rules, they can complement each other, with science providing the data and religion providing the meaning.

The book is slightly undermined by some shoddy proof-reading, by a few errors of fact (e.g., Samuel Butler lived in the 19th century, not the 17th), and by the author's narrow focus on Christianity as almost synonymous with religion. Although he acknowledges other faiths, nearly every example of spirituality Dr. Guillen cites is taken from the Bible. His Christian focus is particularly evident in a twenty-question "SQ test" at the end of the book, in which answers consistent with Christian thinking are always scored highest, even when other answers might be equally "spiritual" when judged by alternate traditions.

Still, in the end the book answers its own question most convincingly. Yes, a smart person can believe in God, and need make no apologies for doing so.

For a lengthier and more technical treatment of similar ideas, consider Barr's "Modern Physics and Ancient Faith."
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Format: Paperback
All the page numbers refer to the hardcover edition of this book. Not sure if it is the same as the soft cover or not.

My mother gave me this book in an attempt to present me with a good argument for believing in god. First of all I am an atheist, and an agnostic atheist at that. Michael Guillen would most likely call me an "uncertain atheist". After reading this book I feel compelled to become what he calls an "arrogant atheist". This book fails on so many levels I don't even know where to begin. I read a lot of christian scholars as well as atheist scholars because I really do want to hear both sides of the story. This book is a major disappointment on the God side and I would be embarrassed if I considered this book a good argument for God. I bet William Lane Craig could make a better argument in a 5 page essay.

I think the first thing wrong with this book is the title. A much better title(considering the subject matter) would be "Can a smart person believe in more than logical reasoning?"

I also find it quite insulting how arrogant Guillen comes off in this book(especially towards atheists). I do agree with him that Dawkins for example can be arrogant. But why does Guillen use this as an excuse to droop to his level? He praises guys like Sagan and Einstein yet acts nothing like them. Guillen comes off as quite arrogant to me in this book. Not to mention his constant praise of his accolades and accomplishments. He certainly is not afraid to tell everyone about all the awards he has won and how much smarter he was than all the other kids in grade school.(p.61) This almost seems like a lame attempt to say, "See! I am smart but I still believe in more than logic and facts!
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48 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Maddi Hausmann Sojourner on February 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I picked up this slim book because it was directed to both believers and atheists. Unfortunately, it didn't live up to its marketing copy. "Can A Smart Person Believe In God?" never properly answers its title question and utterly fails to address the concerns of the nonbeliever. Unfortunately it doesn't even address all believers, as this work is willfully ignorant of the existance of any religion but evangelical Christianity.

Michael Guillen is an evangelical Christian who accomplished a lot in a field that usually doesn't attract religious believers. He feels this book will straddle these two disparate worlds, but all he's accomplished is demonstrating how out of his depth he is with a work like this. In order to reconcile science and religious belief, Guillen would have done well to learn plenty of philosophy, history of philosophy, history of religion, and history of science. But this book seems to have been put together with a few Google searches and a couple of lookups in an encyclopedia. He missteps left and right in invoking arguments that were abandoned more than a hundred years ago in trying to 'disprove' atheism, while at the same time admitting that most areas of religion cannot be measured scientifically.

His categorization of the different varieties of atheist were at best patronizing and in many cases far worse. While he quotes Robert Ingersoll, it isn't apparent that Guillen ever actually read his work for understanding. He seems unsure how to handle the "practical atheist" who is willing to accept a divinity should one actually manifest. And he saves his greatest contempt for the rock-solid atheist such as Richard Dawkins, labeling them Arrogant Atheists.
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