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How to Think About God Hardcover – March 1, 1980

4 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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From the Back Cover

Dr. Adler, in his discussion, extends and modernizes the argument for the existence of God developed by Aristotle and Aquinas. Without relying on faith, mysticism, or science (none of which, according to Dr. Adler, can prove or disprove the existence of God), he uses a rationalist argument to lead the reader to a point where he or she can see that the existence of God is not necessarily dependent upon a suspension of disbelief. Dr. Adler provides a nondogmatic exposition of the principles behind the belief that God, or some other supernatural cause, has to exist in some form. Through concise and lucid arguments, Dr. Adler shapes a highly emotional and often erratic conception of God into a credible and understandable concept for the lay person. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Dr. Mortimer J. Adler was Chairman of the Board of the Encyclopedia Britannica, Director of the Institute for Philosophical Research, Honorary Trustee of the Aspen Institute, and authored more than fifty books. He died in 2001. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 175 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan Publication; First Edition edition (March 1, 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0025005405
  • ISBN-13: 978-0025005402
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,122,131 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Mortimer Jerome Adler (December 28, 1902 - June 28, 2001) was an American philosopher, educator, and popular author. As a philosopher he worked within the Aristotelian and Thomistic traditions. He lived for the longest stretches in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, and San Mateo. He worked for Columbia University, the University of Chicago, Encyclopædia Britannica, and Adler's own Institute for Philosophical Research. Adler was married twice and had four children.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
For an erudite review, others will serve you better. I write as one who was raised in a deeply fundamentalist (very "non-pagan") religion, and who found the God espoused by it far too small to inspire awe.
If you are looking for proof that Abraham's God exists, you will not find it here. However, as one who has only recently begun a serious quest to come to terms with the idea of God, I highly recommend this book. It has provided me a foundation for subsequent reading and instruction in the process of discriminative thought---both of which have proven very helpful as I continue seeking.
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By RD on December 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book is quite good. Adler's way of explaining is quite clear. He makes sure that every point is understood well enough for a common arm-chair philosopher (myself and all of you). He continually repeats his purpose and the main points and definitions so as to keep everything closeknit and tied together so that a definition or concept on page 2 isn't forgotten or lost by page 92 when it is really needed most. Any negative reviews will be by closeminded atheists and theists... the atheist because he actually does give us reasonable grounds for affirming the existence of God (the God of the Philosophers); and the theist because he doesn't go far enough in saying their God has real existence. I cannot understand how anyone can rip this book. It gives the atheist what he wants- an uncreated universe (at first) and gives the theist a God and even a brigde across the chasm between the God of the Philosophers and the God of Religion (finally).
"Two Thumbs Up!"
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Format: Paperback
Being a Christian with much faith in God, I wasn't sure if this book was for me. But as I began to read the opening chapters, I was intrigued by the fact that Adler was attempting to prove God's existence solely with philosophical reasoning. This follows from many years ago, when Plato and Aristotle attempted the same challenge. Their thoughts are unaffected by religious views and beliefs.

Adler begins his explanations writing about the beginning of the world itself, and how it could be explained. He then writes about what the word "God" means. Adler states that the notion of God is a theoretical construct, or supreme being. He reviews some traditional arguments to God's existence, and shows their flaws. Adler also writes about the cosmological argument that if the existence of the cosmos is to be explained, and cannot be by natural causes, then we must look at the existence of a supernatural cause.

It was interesting to read about how Adler could propose this unseen, unknown being with simple facts and critical thinking. He was very clear and the entire book was extremely readable. Sometimes throughout the book, it seemed that Adler dragged on about the same point for too long. He has some great ideas and concepts, but maybe could have presented them in fewer words.

Obviously, I believe in God already, and love Him dearly, but I enjoyed reading about God in a different light.
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Format: Paperback
Mortimer Adler published this book as "a guide for the 20th-century pagan." At that time he considered himself a pagan (i.e. "one who does not worship the God of Christians, Jews, or Muslims"). As a prerequisite to his argument for the existence of God Adler assumes that the cosmos may be infinite in time. For, "to affirm ... that the world or cosmos had an absolute beginning --- that it was exnihilated at an initial instant --- would be tantamount to affirming the existence of God, the world's exnihilator." Adler wants to present an argument that "avoids the error of begging the question." Likewise he rejects the need for a first cause of the cosmos. A cosmos that has "an infinite extension of time from the present backward" can also have an "infinite temporal series of causes and effects."
He rejects the "best traditional argument" for the existence of God, the argument from contingency, because the contingency we actually observe in the universe is only superficial, involving mere transmutation. Yet radical contingency, involving exnihilation and annihilation of entities, is what the argument presupposes. Adler supposes instead a principle of inertia of being. With inertia "bodies set in motion continue in motion without the action of any efficient cause...and...come to rest only through the action of counteracting causes." Individual things of nature may also be brought into existence by natural causes and continue so until the action of counteracting natural causes results in their perishing.
Having rejected the third premise as traditionally understood Adler now recasts it. While radical contingency may be implausible of individual things in the cosmos, it might be true of the cosmos as a whole. What is true of the whole is not always true of the parts.
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Format: Paperback
Prior to reading this book I knew nothing of its context except that it would be pertaining to God. Surprisingly I found that it is written by a pagan (one who does not worship the God of Christians, Jews, or Muslim) for pagan. This provoked me to read on, for I am a Christian and find it very interesting to learn about other peoples views of God or religious beliefs. It interested me even further when I read that this pagan author, Mortimer J. Adler, grew up Jewish.

Adler's objective in this book is to prove the existence of God beyond a reasonable doubt. He argues that scientifically nothing can be annihilated or exnihilated without the existence of a supernatural being or God. With this said, whether or not the cosmos were caused or uncaused could prove the existence of God. Adler stats that "that which cannot be otherwise also cannot not exist", and since the cosmos today has the possibility to not exist the cosmos is radically contingent. With the cosmos being radically contingent the existence of the cosmos would not be if it were not caused and a cosmos that needs a cause for its existence needs a supernatural being or God. Adler concludes with this being his proof for the existence of God.

I feel that Adler makes a complete argument that was logically consistent and fair in relations to the evidence presented and his treatment towards the opposing side. In fact he used such fair treatment towards the opposing side that I found myself questioning what side he was on. The argument was deductively valid and I think Adler used good reasoning and presented true premises.

In conclusion Adler's argument on whether or not God exist was extremely interesting and I enjoyed reading it. My favorite part was when he puts it all together about how the cosmos cannot exist without a cause which lends to the existence of a supernatural being or God.
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