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Einstein's God: Conversations About Science and the Human Spirit Paperback – February 23, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Tippett describes religion and science as “pursuits of cohesive knowledge and underlying truths” and seeks to dispel the erroneous assumption that these two realms of inquiry are in opposition. Tippett looks to Einstein’s “self-described ‘cosmic religious sense’” as a key example of how spiritual insights deepen the resonance of scientific discoveries and vice versa. As listeners to her Peabody Award–winning radio program, Speaking of Faith, know, Tippett is driven by a genuine hunger for understanding of how the revelations of religious traditions, spiritual practices, and cutting-edge findings in science and medicine can help us live more giving and fulfilling lives and create a less polarized society. Tippett sparks a mind-expanding synergy by gathering 13 far-reaching and often-moving discussions with luminaries working in an array of disciplines, including physicist Freeman Dyson, Darwin scholar James Moore, and surgeons and writers Sherwin Nuland and Mehmet Oz. Impressively well informed, thoughtful, intrepid, and articulate, Tippett steadfastly pilots her ardent conversations toward an elegant clarity, ensuring that complex concepts are comprehensible and relevant to everyone. --Donna Seaman


"Krista Tippett has a knack for finding thinkers who tackle deep and important questions in a sober but uninhibited fashion. The result is an exhilarating exploration of the meaning of it all."
-Robert Wright, author of The Evolution of God

"No one has a better ear for the most interesting facets of faith than Krista Tippett. And few topics lend themselves better to her nuanced interviews than the clash/collaboration/interplay of science and religion. If you want something beyond black-and-white culture war battles, you'll find these interviews powerfully stimulating."
-Steven Waldman, founder and editor in chief, Beliefnet

"In this sparkling book of interviews, Krista Tippett demonstrates that science and religion both benefit from a genuine dialogue. It doesn't matter if Tippett is talking about free will or the anatomy of the soul-she is always probing, measured, and illuminating. This book is a hopefully reminder that the intellectual conflicts we take for granted don't need to exist."
-Jonah Lehrer, author of How We Decide

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 286 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (February 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143116770
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143116776
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #112,955 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Krista Tippett, a journalist, theologian, and former diplomat, has created, hosted, and produced American Public Media's popular radio program Speaking of Faith since 2003.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

107 of 114 people found the following review helpful By Irfan A. Alvi TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 1, 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In principle, this book should be really good: a fundamentally important topic, a conversational format which has the potential to be highly engaging, an inquisitive interviewer who sincerely wants to understand, and a diverse cast of interviewees which includes some well-known thinkers. Unfortunately, the book doesn't really work because it comes up somewhat short in all of these areas:

- Studying the interaction between science and religion is a great way to deepen understanding of both, as well as explore the big questions, but this book offers a relatively superficial treatment compared to the many other good books which are available on this topic.

- Instead of being engaging, the conversational format turns out to be rather rambling and unfocused.

- Tippett doesn't contribute much insight of her own to the conversations, and she's unable to adequately probe and challenge her interviewees. I think she has the potential to eventually be an effective interviewer on this topic, but she's not there yet.

- Some of the interviews cover interesting ideas, but they're only tangential to the topic of science/religion interaction.

To give more sense of the scope of the book, here are some notes on the ten interviews:

- Freeman Dyson emphasizes how mysterious reality is, and the related need to approach things with a sense of humor. Paul Davies expresses a sense of wonder at the intricate harmony of the universe and the existence of life and mind in it, thus suggesting a purpose to it all.

- Sherwin Nuland expresses wonder at the complexity of the human body and its ability to (usually) restore equilibrium. He also talks about how things can go wrong, especially the case of clinical depression.
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful By K. M. VINE VOICE on April 11, 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Krista Tippett's Einstein's God: Conversations About Science and the Human Spirit contains interviews with thirteen distinguished guests from her radio program, "Speaking of Faith." These physicists, physicians, psychologists, authors, poets, educators, and clergy offer their unique perspectives on the indefatigable human search for understanding about our world and our place in it. As Tippitt puts it, she wants to ask "seemingly unanswerable questions" of scientists. Some of these interviewees are atheists, some are agnostics, and some are believers. But whether they profess a confidence in empiricism alone or embrace a wider means for inquiry, each of them beholds our universe and our own very existence with awe, gratefulness, and inspiration. As Mehmet Oz says, "I wanted to be an explorer, and I wanted to know about why we are here and what we are doing here."

I won't mention everyone with whom Tippitt spoke, just a few:
- Freeman Dyson and Paul Davies talk about Einstein, and clarify, among other things, that science was really his religion, and that he did not believe in a personal God.
- The surgeon Sherwin Nuland expresses the conviction that the spirit within each of us arises from biology.
- Oz relates the story of a Jehovah's Witness whose bleeding ulcer should have killed her because she and her family would not consent to transfusions, yet something (faith, the will, a miracle) beyond current medicine allowed her to recover.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Jessica Weissman on April 15, 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Krista Tippett is well known as an interviewer who assembles weekly programs discussing issues of faith with a variety of thinkers and religious figures who do not shy away from thoughtful analysis of these issues. In this book she's collected ten conversations with a total of thirteen people, editing what was originally broadcast and adding supplementary explanatory material.

As is the nature of conversation, some of the interviews are interesting, some rambling, and a few incisive. There are several relevant questions, assuming that you're interested in what the interviewees have to say about the relationship between science and faith, and places where faith may illuminate scientific issues.

First, do the interviews stand up in print? Does the interview format add anything or would readers be better off with short essays by the interviewees? While there is some additional material, and while a book is handy, there's not much here that goes beyond the original interviews (that can still be heard on the website). I don't think Tippett as intervewer adds enough to be a worthwhile read - she is smart and well-read and all, and asks good questions. But her insights just don't amplify the interviewees. I'd rather read, say Freeman Dyson and Paul Davies in their own books, which are terrific.

Second, is this the best possible set of people to interview? This is an unfair question. Sure it would have been interesting to hear one or two of the Big Atheist Voices who maintain that science and faith have nothing to do with one another. But Tippett has to work with the people she could get.

To be fair, I've enjoyed listening to the original interviews, which help make preparing Sunday breakfast more enjoyable.
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