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No One Sees God: The Dark Night of Atheists and Believers Hardcover – August 5, 2008

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for No One Sees God

“This book is one of the most lyrical and moving reflections on God I have encountered. It is also remarkably generous, both to believers and nonbelievers. Most helpfully it is about how to pray, and how to suffer through the dark night in which answers, and communication, seem absent. A remarkable book by a remarkable man.” 
--Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal columnist, author of John Paul the Great

"Over the years, Michael Novak has explored with great insight the relationship between religion, society, and the individual. Here he engages with the recent intellectual challenges to religion and provides the perspective of a profound believer who knows what it is like to wrestle with doubt."
--Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute, author of Einstein: His Life and Universe

“Intensely personal and yet intellectually wide-ranging, this book shows Michael Novak at his best. No One Sees God conveys a depth, erudition, generosity of spirit, and wisdom that simply transcend anything that the new atheists have to offer.”
--Dinesh D'Souza, author of What's So Great About Christianity

“This new book by Michael Novak is one of the most fascinating reflections on the God known through reason that I have ever encountered, the God whom we trust in shadow and in light, in defeat as well as in victory. Many, many readers will recognize in these pages elements of their own experience.”
--Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, author of Rediscovering God in America

“Michael Novak's new book counts as both significant and moving. He deploys logic and love, emotion and erudition, to address the most enduring questions of our existence.”
--Michael Medved, nationally syndicated talk-radio host, author of Right Turns

"The word 'dialogical' might have been invented to describe Michael Novak. With great patience and lucidity he engages believers, unbelievers, and those who don't know what they believe in a conversation about the things that matter most."
 — Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, Editor in Chief of First Things

About the Author

MICHAEL NOVAK received the 1994 Templeton Prize, an award that has also gone to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Mother Teresa, and Charles Taylor. He has taught at Harvard and Stanford and has held academic chairs at Syracuse University and Notre Dame, and now holds the Jewett Chair in Religion, Philosophy, and Public Policy at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday Religion; First Edition edition (August 5, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385526105
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385526104
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.3 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #888,182 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael Novak, retired George Frederick Jewett Scholar in Religion, Philosophy, and Public Policy from the American Enterprise Institute, is an author, philosopher, and theologian. Michael Novak resides in Ave Maria, Florida as a trustee and visiting professor at Ave Maria University.

Ever since The Open Church hit shelves in 1964, Michael Novak has been a voice of insight on American and Catholic culture. Author of more than 45 books on culture, philosophy, and theology, Novak continues to influence and guide right thinking. Winner of the 1994 Templeton Prize, Novak's Westminster Abbey address remains as instructive it was two decades ago. As a founding director of First Things and writer for many publications, Novak has sought to build up our institutions.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

133 of 139 people found the following review helpful By Michael Novak on September 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover
It does need to be noted that I was NOT in this book presenting the whole of the Christian gospel or making a case for Christianity and Judaism. My aim was much more modest. I was trying to re-create what used to be called "natural theology," the study of all those things we can learn about God based solely on reason alone and our experience of ourselves and the world around us. This is not the kind of knowledge that brings salvation, or opens the way to eternal life. But it is a form of knowing shared by huge numbers of people around the world, in the ancient and medieval worlds, at the time of the American founding, and today. Belief in God as the abiding presence of light (intelligence, even mathematics) in all things, and as the source of the (to us) inscrutable order, power, and majesty of nature has been the default postion of the human race. Almost all human beings in history have shared in it. In America today, the Pew poll found fewer than ten percent of all Americans identifying themselves as atheists or agnostics. About half of all agnostics and one-fifth of atheists confessed to believing in God as just described -- but not in the Jewish/Christian God. Our country desperately needs a respectful dialogue between believers and unbelievers. I have tried, perhaps unsuccessfully, to mark out one way by which that dialogue might get underway, for the sake of brotherly comity, civility and increasing respect for one another.
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42 of 48 people found the following review helpful By M. Fragoso on September 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Novak's latest work is divided into four parts. In part one, Novak gives a close reading to the works of the most prominent new atheists: Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Daniel Dennett.

Part two engages nonbelievers in a Socratic dialogue. Interestingly, Novak spends much of this time addressing an actual Alcibiades in the person of Manhattan Institute's Heather MacDonald. Their exchange sheds light on the problem of evil and the causes of human suffering. Its format as an actual conversation between believer and non-believer makes for a particularly fruitful exchange, usually lacking in hypothetical dialogue or the usual faceless polemic that has marked this genre.

Novak goes on to describe the phenomenology of human life in general--for believers and non-believers. It is an interesting attempt to find common ground between the two camps based on mutual experience.

He concludes by pointing out the flaws in secularism and foretelling the fall of the current Secularist Age.

All in all it's a fascinating addition to the interminable back-and-forth between believers and non-believers. Its even-handedness and charity are to be commended (especially in the face of bile artists like Dawkins and Hitchens). It's well written, if at times tending toward the baroque. Certainly a worthwhile read.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Markku Ojanen on December 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I could pick many original ideas, but I refer on pages 43-48 as an example. On those pages Michel Novak gives "four arresting reflections" of Christianity. They are:
1. A theology of the absurd
2. The burden of sin
3. The bright golden thread of human history
4. The point of the cosmos is friendship

These should arouse your curiosity for the book. I have never looked upon Christianity along those principles.

This is one of the best books I have read lately. Novak points out that it is very easy for a Christian to understand atheism, but opposite seems to be true of many atheists. At least the books of the major proponents of atheism (Dawkins & Hitchens etc.) give this view. The major aim of the book is to improve the mutual understanding of people having different worldviews.
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Format: Hardcover
I gave this book four stars because, in my ranking system, even though I find the book worth reading I realize it is rather specialized and not really for the general public. Why? Because Michael Novak is really debating atheism from a narrow strand of Catholicism that is informed by his own wrestling with existentialism. First, many of us are not Catholic (for example, I am a Mormon). Second, many people won't have a clue what existentialism is about or why it has anything to do with Christianity. Third, I imagine that many readers will find, as I did, his dismissive attitude to anyone who doesn't share his sense of emptiness and darkness along with his faith to be more blind than informed.

The book is an extended argument against the atheists who are attacking religion as contemptible and a request that they cease and desist. Fat chance, really. And he asks believers to see atheists as brothers and sisters who have something to offer. OK. I have talked with atheists all my life. Some are worth talking to and others not so much. Of course, Novak takes this same approach in the book. Because of the Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins express their agenda, Novak has little use for them but addresses their points and lays out what he sees as their deficiencies. Christopher Hitchens, for some reason, draws special affection and attention from Novak. The author has a longer discussions with atheists who are willing to engage in a dialogue to try and lay out a more informed map of where the agreements and disagreements are. I think Novak is right when he says that most of what people think is disagreement is really more mutual misunderstanding and a lack of patient engagement to try and understand each other.
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