36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction

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Pantheon Books, 2010 - Fiction - 402 pages
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After Cass Seltzer's book becomes a surprise best seller, he's dubbed “the atheist with a soul” and becomes a celebrity. 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. And he is haunted by reminders of the two people who ignited his passion to understand religion: his mentor and professor—a renowned literary scholar with a suspicious obsession with messianism—and an angelic six-year-old mathematical genius who is heir to the leadership of a Hasidic sect. Each encounter reinforces Cass's theory that the religious impulse spills over into life at large.

36 Arguments for the Existence of God plunges into the great debate of our day: the clash between faith and reason. World events are being shaped by fervent believers at home and abroad, while a new atheism is asserting itself in the public sphere. On purely intellectual grounds the skeptics would seem to have everything on their side. Yet people refuse to accept their seemingly irrefutable arguments and continue to embrace faith in God as their source of meaning, purpose, and comfort.

Through the enchantment of fiction, award-winning novelist and MacArthur Fellow Rebecca Newberger Goldstein shows that the tension between religion and doubt cannot be understood through rational argument alone. It also must be explored from the point of view of individual people caught in the raptures and torments of religious experience in all their variety.

Using her gifts in fiction and philosophy, Goldstein has produced a true crossover novel, complete with a nail-biting debate (“Resolved: God Exists”) and a stand-alone appendix with the thirty-six arguments (and responses) that propelled Seltzer to stardom.
 

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Contents

The Argument from the Improbable Self
16
The Argument from Lucinda
20
The Argument from Dappled Things
22
The Argument from the Irrepressible Past
47
The Argument from Reversal of Fortune
61
The Argument from Intimations of Immortality
87
The Argument from SoulGazing
91
The Argument from the Existence of the Poem
103
The Argument from the Remains
228
The Argument from Fraught Distance
237
The Argument from the Disenchantment of the World
241
The Argiunent from the Ethics of the Fathers
243
The Argument from Cosmic Tremblings
247
The Argument from Chosen Individuals
252
The Argument from the Bones of the Dead
259
The Argument from the Mandelbaum Equilibrium
272

The Argument from the Eternity of Irony III
125
The Argument from Transcendental Signifiers
137
The Argument from Prime Numbers
141
The Argument from Taking Differences
175
The Argument from Inconsolable Solitude
178
The Argument from Sacred Circles
185
The Argument from the Longing on the Gate
191
The Argument from Strange Laughter
193
The Argument from the Arrow of Time
203
The Argument from the Overheard Whispers of Angels
215
The Argument from Tidings of Destruction
223
The Argument from Rigid Designators
275
The Argument from the bong Silence of the Night
287
The Argument from the New York Times
288
The Argument from the Precipice
291
The Argument from the Violable Self
299
The Argument from the View from Nowhere
305
The Argument from Solemn Emotions
324
The Argument from the Silent Rebbes Dance
343
Arguments for the Existence of God 347
345
Acknowledgments
401
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About the author (2010)

Rebecca Newberger Goldstein received her doctorate in philosophy from Princeton University. Her award-winning books include the novels The Mind-Body Problem, Properties of Light, and Mazel, and nonfiction studies of Kurt Gödel and Baruch Spinoza. She has received a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and Guggenheim and Radcliffe fellowships, and she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2005. She lives in Massachusetts.

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