36 Arguments for the Existence of God

36 Arguments for the Existence of God

A Work of Fiction

Book - 2010
Average Rating:
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Equally adept at fiction (a winner of the National Jewish Book Award) and philosophy (a recipient of the MacArthur Foundation genius prize), Rebecca Newberger Goldstein now gives us a novel that transforms the great debate between faith and reason into an exhilarating romance of both heart and mind.
At the center: Cass Seltzer, a professor of psychology whose book, The Varieties of Religious Illusion, has become a surprise best seller. He's been dubbed the atheist with a soul, and his sudden celebrity has upended his life. He wins over the stunning Lucinda Mandelbaum-the goddess of game theory-and loses himself in a spiritually expansive infatuation. A former girlfriend appears: an anthropologist who invites him to join in her quest for immortality through biochemistry. But he is haunted by reminders of the two people who ignited his passion to understand religion: his teacher Jonas Elijah Klapper, a renowned literary scholar with a suspicious obsession with messianism, and an angelic six-year-old mathematical genius, heir to the leadership of an exotic Hasidic sect. The rush of events in a single dramatic week plays out Cass's conviction that the religious impulse spills out into life at large.
In 36 Arguments for the Existence of God, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein explores the rapture and torments of religious experience in all its variety. Hilarious, heartbreaking, and intellectually captivating, it is a luminous and intoxicating novel.
Publisher: New York : Pantheon Books, 2010
ISBN: 9780307378187
Branch Call Number: GOLDS
Characteristics: 402 p

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pkugel
Apr 21, 2017

The fiction and the philosophical/theological concepts the book discusses are balanced on a razor-thin wire, and at times the book feels like it's about to become a dissertation. In my opinion, it never fully does, and the narrative is interesting enough to keep you turning the pages and carry you through the denser parts.
It does help to have some knowledge of Jewish culture and theology, otherwise, you might find yourself lost at some of the concepts discussed - and you might also miss a few in-jokes.

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stewstealth
Jul 20, 2014

The narrative gets bogged down too often by long sections of Yiddish. Modestly amusing at times but could have been so much more. Definitely an East Coast novel.

h
hajia
Sep 28, 2013

I could not get into the book. And what I did read was like a mish~mash of the lives of a few characters trying to outdo themselves. Hard pressed to see what people are crowing about. Maybe philosophy is just not my thing.

gailsiegel Jun 24, 2011

Very lecture-y. The characters are very thinly drawn, nearly cliched, and the plot functions as an excuse to discuss philosophy. Yet it works as an entertaining introduction to the debate over the existence of God.

debwalker Mar 05, 2011

In this is a witty, intelligent novel, a bestselling atheist psychologist falls for a Jewish game-theory expert but is haunted by memories of two people who sparked his interest in religion. An exploration of the varieties of religious experience, the book isn't afraid of the big issues, such as faith versus reason.

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