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God in Proof: The Story of a Search from the Ancients to the Internet Hardcover – June 10, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (June 10, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520269071
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520269071
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #152,882 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Philosophy is hardly everybody’s cup, but by adding dollops of memoir and first-person reportage to a history of attempts to prove that God exists, Schneider makes an often dry subject quite companionable. Not that any of the proofs forged by thinkers from Plato to Alvin Plantinga rises any more convincingly from Schneider’s pages than from the sages’ own. Rather, by tethering the proofs to his own quest for them from age 17 on, Schneider enlivens them. He discloses that he’s Jewish, raised by nonobservant, secular, but not antireligious parents who allowed him his own choices in spirituality (he’s now a Catholic). They also divorced, which one would think gave great impetus to his quest, though he doesn’t make a big thing of it because he’s careful never to give too much personal information and distract from the proofs. Besides the classical Greeks, he draws the proofs he discusses from the great medieval Catholic philosophers, those of Muslim Spain, foundational Enlightenment thinkers, and later and contemporary figures, especially those who have brought about a rebirth of Christian philosophy since the 1980s. Of course, he also notes disprovers—ever more of them as the narrative approaches the present, concluding with the New Atheists and their disputers, for both of whom he turns from historian-memoirist into reporter. A book that starts attractively and gets more enjoyable by the page. --Ray Olson

Review

"As journalist Nathan Schneider aptly observes in 'God in Proof,' proofs about God can be a very preachy genre. . . . Schneider explores them as cultural artifacts, with value regardless of how one evaluates their truth value."
(Becky Garrison Washington Post 2013-05-14)

"A book that starts attractively and gets more enjoyable by the page." STARRED REVIEW
(Ray Olson Booklist 2013-06-01)

"As a popularization of recondite argument, God in Proof mingles accessible explanations with a reporter’s fresh outlook."
(John L. Murphy New York Journal of Books 2013-06-03)

"A philosophically engaging and challenging work, accessible enough for the nonacademic reader as well as specialists."
(Library Journal 2013-08-15)

"Compulsively readable."
(Phil Klay Full Stop 2013-09-12)

"Philosophy is the centerpiece of God in Proof, but at heart the book is a despairing/joyous/troubling/awe-inspiring/universally understood story of an individual struggling with the idea of God. In the world of philosophy, the question of God is entirely divorced from matters of the heart. But what inspires the inquiry and rises from its aftermath is entirely a matter of love—for reason, for people, and for God. God in Proof is a straightforward, unpretentious, and deeply affecting reminder of that."
(Chris Francis Yes! 2013-09-27)

"Though the book is informed by considerable scholarship . . . Schneider’s audience includes anyone with an interest in intellectual history and faith. Tracing the philosophical dialectic in a manner both responsible to the issues and accessible to the ordinary reader, Schneider weaves together intellectual history with his own quest for faith."
(William Rehg, S.J. America 2013-11-04)

"For a non-specialist, Schneider, in a compact, book provides background on, synopses of, and observations about a wide spectrum of efforts to prove and disprove God’s existence. . . . I recommend Proof to those whose taste in reading runs to philosophical theology and to all those for whom the intellectual side of the religious quest is an interest."
(Drew Christiansen America 2013-05-30)

"Entertaining, well written, and historically comprehensive . . . Schneider has given us a means of clearly seeing the intimate relationship between a religious way of being in the world and the expression of this life in the rational language of proofs."
(Robert Bolger Los Angeles Review of Books 2013-11-09)

"Relayed in non-technical language, God in Proof challanges the casual and the experienced philospher alike to engage with historical arguments as they make their own quest for truth."
(Timothy Jacobs First Things 2014-02-01)

"By adding dollops of memoir and first-person reportage to a history of attempts to prove that God exists, Schneider makes an often dry subject both companionable and insightful.  Top 10 Religion and Spirituality Books: 2013
(Ilene Cooper Booklist 2013-11-15)

More About the Author

Nathan Schneider writes about religion and resistance for publications including Harper's, The Nation, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The New York Times, Religion Dispatches, The Catholic Worker, and more, and is an editor at the online publications KillingTheBuddha.com and WagingNonviolence.org. His books include "Thank You, Anarchy: Notes from the Occupy Apocalypse" and "God in Proof: The Story of a Search from the Ancients to the Internet," both published by University of California Press in 2013. He lives in Brooklyn.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Bern on August 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book is a curious mixture of personal reflection, autobiography and history of philosophical arguments about the existence of God. What makes it curious is the disconnect between the story of the author's conversion to Catholicism and his interest in the philosophy of religion. His conversion occurs relatively early on in his university career, and his study of proofs for and against God's existence happens mostly after his conversion and commitment to religion. In other words, the "proofs" seem to have little to do with his beliefs.

From a philosophical standpoint, there are also some notable gaps in his survey of the field. I find it hard to believe that a history of rationalist arguments for the existence of God would not include Berkeley's idealist arguments. More recently, Plantinga's modal ontological arguments (along with many other "proofs") have been skilfully dismantled by Jordan Sobel in Logic and Theism: Arguments for and against Beliefs in God, but this is also absent from his review. In my opinion, Graham Oppy's Arguing about Gods will provide the interested reader with a much more complete recent review of the current state of the field, and Mackie's classic The Miracle of Theism: Arguments For and Against the Existence of Godpresents an accessible evaluation of earlier arguments.

To me, anyway, the point of "proofs" is one of persuasion. Arguments are presented to convince the reader to accept or reject a proposition. Mr.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Sylvia Beach on June 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is not only a survey of searches for a proof for (or against) the existence of God through the ages--from a monk named Anselm, to Socrates, Thomas Aquinas, Descartes, Spinoza, Ibn Tufayl, all the way through to contemporaries like Stephen Hawking, William Lane Craig, and Sam Harris--it is also the personal story of how the author converted to Catholicism by way of a monastery. Interspersed throughout are Schneider's delightful line drawings. An engaging and interesting read, this book made me question my own beliefs and what I consider to be "proof." Highly recommended for students of philosophy and religion, or for anyone who likes to discuss and grapple with notions of spirituality and personal truth.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By D. E WARD on July 22, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
This book gives a beautiful survey of the quest to prove (or disprove) the existence of God. Schneider emphasizes that although the proofs are pieces of logical reasoning, they are developed by human beings and arise out of the human experience. He presents the quest as a story, interwoven with the story of his own spiritual journey. Each character in the story receives a sympathetic hearing.

Although the quest has been going on for 2500 years, it has been pursued with renewed intensity over the past 150 years. Schneider spends over half the book on this recent part of the story, with chapters on creation/evolution and intelligent design; the problem of evil; the current renaissance in Christian philosophy; the proofs in light of the big bang, fine-tuning, and the multiverse; and the lively dialogue and debate carried on via mass media and the internet. He sees the participants on all sides of the debate as having much in common, and he concludes that the concept of God is bigger than all of our proof attempts.

There are helpful tables in the back of the book, including a timeline of the provers and brief summaries of the proofs.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Kay on June 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Let there be no doubt about it, this book is a very serious enterprise. Having been raised by parents with an interest in spiritual matters although consciously not imposing any religious tradition on him, the author, at a young age, follows in their footsteps and undertakes a sincere search for God. He begins with a bold step, becoming a Catholic out of faith, not by reason, then attempts to satisfy his reason by plunging into the ocean of intellectual proofs for the existence of God that have been attempted primarily, but not exclusively, in Western thought through the ages. Not an easy task but a rich and fascinating journey. It's worth your time and might take you to unexamined places of your own, unsuspected.
The author manages to catch our attention by artfully weaving his ambitious and comprehensive survey of philosophy and religion with details of his own personal search. It's not an academic book but it involves academics, among others, whom he has encountered as a religious studies major in college or whom he has sought out and interviewed in places such as Turkey or southern California, in the style of an intense journalist, which he is by temperament and has become by profession.There is a sense of humor and wit you won't want to miss. The author has planted in the throes of the ensuing meanderings his own whimsical drawings that serve both as illustrations and relief to the admittedly masculine intellectual muscle that drives the enterprise in general. The text is full of insights and youthful energy. It's beautifully written, and I found myself reading and then rereading passages for the sheer joy of it. The book is dense, but the subject deserves at least that, and you will certainly come away with something gained. I highly recommend it to anyone with questions about who you really are and what in the world you are doing here on this most complicated and most holy planet.
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