Saturday, February 20, 2010

Book Review: "36 Arguments for the Existence of God"

Rebecca Newberger Goldstein's latest work of combined philosophy and fiction is a triumph of both genres. It taught me much about (a) the psychology of religion, (b) Hasidic societies and customs, and (c) the strange ways of academics (this last, I admittedly knew something about already). But I never felt bludgeoned by her intellectual prowess - right up there with that of Richard Powers - which she dutifully subjected to the service of her story. Most importantly, the story and its characters were a delight. This was a very hard book to put down; indeed, after the halfway point of the story, putting it down became nearly impossible.

The book concludes with a very usefully appendix setting out each of the 36 distinct arguments for the existence of god, which also happen to comprise the chapter titles, along with her own concise dismantling of each argument. Her treatment is so succinct, clear and decisive that I can only conclude she never would have succeeded as an academic philosopher.

Bottom line: Rebecca Newberger Goldstein has become one of my favorite living American authors, and not just because I'm an atheist.

2 comments:

  1. Please continue to post "What I'm Currently Reading" columns. They are one of the many reasons you're worth following. Have you read Thomas Sowell's Intellectuals and Society?

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  2. Thanks. I will. I haven't read Sowell's Intellectuals and Society yet. The reviews of it I've read so far are decidedly mixed. I still have on my shelf his last book on the housing crisis, which I haven't gotten around to reading yet.

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