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

3.6 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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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

Dr. Michael Guillen, former ABC News Science Editor and Harvard physics instructor, is host of the History Channel's Where Did It Come From? and producer of the award-winning family movie Little Red Wagon. He's also a bestselling author, columnist, and popular speaker. He is president of Spectacular Science Productions Inc., and Filmanthropy Media Incorporated. For more on Dr. Guillen go to www.michaelguillen.com.
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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: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #93,187 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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 Verified Purchase
I bought a few of these in paperback after i read it. People see it on my desk, ask me about it, I give them a brief synopsis, invite them to borrow it. I have done this several times. I'm amazed at the people that bring it back in a week or so and tell me it really opened their eyes to a bunch of stuff. If you are on the fence, or no somebody that is, when it comes to accepting spirituality, then this is a good read.
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Format: Paperback
Just a quick review to help those thinking about this book.

I read this book hoping it would directly and intelligently (after all, it says "smart person" in the title) address some of the questions we all think about and discuss regarding God.

Unfortunately, the author insults smart people with a dumbed-down attempt to help Christians feel better about their belief in God. The author erects tightly defined strawmen that should blow over in a spiritual wind, but even then the author has trouble constructing a coherent argument and widely misses the mark several times. Given his credentials, he must be relatively intelligent, but I have genuine doubt given the material in this book.

Whether you believe in God or not, do not waste your time with this weak offering. It probably sells well at the creation museum, but don't waste your money.
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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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Format: Paperback
There is a widespread assumption that modern science has finally and conclusively debunked religion, and that no `modern-educated', `scientifically-minded' person can possibly take religion seriously.

It isn't at all difficult to understand why this argument finds many enthusiastic takers. One reason is the patently unscientific beliefs and practices that are associated with much of popular religion and the way religion is routinely interpreted to legitimise hatred of people of other faiths and to justify all sorts of horrors, from caste and racial discrimination and gender injustice to terrorism and genocide. This has only made the arguments of the advocates of Scientism--the ideology based on the belief that Science is The Absolute Truth--seem even more compelling for many.

While there is definitely great merit in some scientific critiques of popular religion, many of the claims that advocates of the godless religion of Scientism make go just too far. It is one thing to expose some forms of conventional religiousness as `unscientific' and false, but quite another to claim, as advocates of Scientism do, that Science has proved God to be unscientific, or, in other words, that it has shown God to be a myth. The fact that many forms of religion are definitely unscientific, superstitious and immoral and are most certainly the product of human minds does not necessarily mean that God, too, is a human construct, and that belief in God is unscientific, superstitious and immoral, too.

This point, however, is lost on many people, who fail to make the crucial distinction between religion, as popularly understood and practised, on the one hand, and God, on the other.
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