God in Proof: The Story of a Search, from the Ancients to the Internet

God in Proof: The Story of a Search, from the Ancients to the Internet

God in Proof: The Story of a Search, from the Ancients to the Internet

God in Proof: The Story of a Search, from the Ancients to the Internet

Synopsis

In this tour of the history of arguments for and against the existence of God, Nathan Schneider embarks on a remarkable intellectual, historical, and theological journey through the centuries of believers and unbelievers--from ancient Greeks, to medieval Arabs, to today's most eminent philosophers and the New Atheists. Framed by an account of Schneider's own unique journey, God in Proof illuminates the great minds who wrestled with one of history's biggest questions together with their arguments, bringing them to life in their time, and our own. Schneider's sure-handed portrayal of the characters and ideas involved in the search for proof challenges how we normally think about doubt and faith while showing that, in their quest for certainty and the proofs to declare it, thinkers on either side of the God divide are often closer to one another than they would like to think.

Excerpt

The first time I remember thinking about proofs for the existence of God was when I was seventeen, thanks to a book I came across at my friend Corinne’s house. It was muddy green and fairly large—an encyclopedic, spirited compendium of things about which one should know. The proofs took up no more than a couple of pages, and they weren’t cast in an especially favorable light. They were more like a centuries-old joke, actually, a joke that one should be prepared for just in case anyone ever tries passing them off as anything other than that. One should be ready for the punch line.

The book listed and summarized three proofs, each hiding behind impressive names: ontological, cosmological, teleological—having to do with being, world, and purpose. I instantly became attached to it and went about dropping hints to Corinne that it would the perfect present for my upcoming birthday. But the message didn’t seem to get through. Why would it? How could she guess what effect it was having on me? How could she know what those proofs felt like in my head?

I had spent my childhood watching my parents as they did their own experiments with, if not proof, truth. As they went about the business of seeking, I followed, tiptoeing through rooms full of meditators and testing my aptitude—low, it turns out—for extrasensory perception. My mother, especially, sought out teachers and books, and there was an ongoing procession of diet regimes. These experiments could involve some reference to God, but it was a God of the vaguest sort, whose name my parents were sure to pass over quickly so as not to confuse it with the Jewish and Christian deities that they had learned, and disavowed, before I was born.

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