109 of 124 people found the following review helpful
almost persuaded by a marvelous read,
This review is from: 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction (Hardcover)
Having taught a boy genius the fundamentals of musical composition, I found the descriptions of Azarya both accurate and inspiring. Goldstein's latest is one of the most enjoyable books I've read on the recent faith and reason discussions. It is also a splendid satire on academe, a fun novel with engaging characters (who are defined as much by the complexity of their ideas as by their personality traits), and a passionate defense of secular humanism, with excursions into such areas as Hasidic culture and the seductions of number theory (why 36? read the book!) The appendix alone is worth the price of the book: the clear deductive presentation of the 36 arguments allows theists, agnostics, and atheists many opportunities to clarify and organize their thought. (It should stimulate believers, especially, to seek "flaws in the flaws," assuming there are ones). These arguments are in splendid counterpoint to the more tumultuous "arguments" that constitute the main body of the novel.
Cass Seltzer's moving discussion of moral progress and the View from Nowhere almost persuades me. But in this pleasure-dome of the Golden Rule, I still hear "ancestral voices prophesying war." Beethoven wrote to someone: "I don't want to know anything about your system of ethics. Strength is the morality of the man who stands out from the rest, and it is mine." Could those terrifying words overwhelm Cass? Should he have debated Beethoven rather than the trendy neoconservative Findley?
Also, I am "almost persuaded" about the potential depth and vitality of a "third culture." As the humanities become increasingly absorbed into the necessary world of science, can they retain their traditional richness and vitality? This novel and other work of Goldstein encourage this hope.
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Initial post: Apr 16, 2013 4:08:50 PM PDT
Mike Mellor says:
I re-read that chapter to try find out why you described Findley as a neocon. Obviously he is based on Krugman.
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