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A God That Could be Real: Spirituality,…

A God That Could be Real: Spirituality, Science, and the Future of Our…

by Nancy Ellen Abrams

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I confess that I put down this book at the half way point feeling frustrated with myself. I read widely on religion, spirituality and god. There is a whole section of my library that is referred to in my family as the comparative religion section.

My path to my own beliefs came from a deep seated concern that I did not believe in the Heaven I was told would be my afterlife.

I was intrigued by a scentific approach to this question. My frustration stems from finding this book difficult to read. I kept having to re read paragraphs, passages and chapters to retain what the author was trying to relate to me. Even after reading I was still not certain I understood.

This book may have come at the wrong time for me as a reader. I hope to finish it one day and put it on the shelf in the religion section. ( )
  AzureMountain | Dec 6, 2016 |
I received this book for free, in exchange for a review, but it took me half a year to finish it. Every now and then, feeling guilty, I tried to pick it up, but it just would not go. I hope that it would make a more pleasant read to a non-scientist (as it talks a lot about science), or a non-believer (as it talks a lot about God), but if you happen to be interested in both religion and science, then this book may be too slow for you. In one sentence, the author revisits post-Hegelian dialectics and applies it to religion, defining God as a truly (dialectically) existing teleological representation of meta-humanity.

At the same time, the book is definitely thought-provoking. I kept thinking, for example, how the Jewish background of the author had a profound influence on her theology, even though this theology is completely reinvented, and decidedly postmodern. She writes for example that it is impossible for a human to relate to a deistic God, that God has to be personal, but as a personal God cannot be above physics, he has to be very limited, and bound to the humanity that worships and so creates him. What's curious here is that the author does not notice, and does not even mention several important alternatives that could potentially solve the conflict between faith and modern physics in different ways. For example, Abrams is not interested in Pythagorean mysticism, in the God of math (because it would not be personal, it would not be a "He"), and she does not even consider spirituality in which relatable person-figures emanate from God, or represent (project) God in our lives (be it Hindu avatars, classic Nicene understanding of Christ, or folk Christian perception of saints). She always works under assumption that God is one, and he is a person, a lonely person, which obviously limits the realm of possible theologies to consider.

The book also contains several interesting, poetic metaphors that were a pleasure to read, and a nice discussion of physical scales that could be welcome in any classroom. It has some really nice material, but it did not quite work for me as a book, and I definitely cannot subscribe to its main argument. ( )
  Arseny | Oct 19, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A God That Could Be Real: Spirituality, Science, and the Future of Our Planet, by Nancy Abrams, brought up a number of interesting ideas. I liked the concept that the idea of a god figure emerged from human aspirations and systems. I thought the chapter on the question of the afterlife was especially thought provoking. I found the author’s writing easy to read, and recommend this book for anyone exploring spirituality, or questioning their religious traditions. ( )
  LTietz | Sep 1, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Nancy Abrams, in this book, tries to define a good brief for religion, attempting to navigate between the Scylla and Charybdis of atheism and fundmentalism. She does a remarkable job, not always totally satisfying for thosee of us closer to the theist camp. She avoids the term, first cause, which many theists have bandied about to discover what or even who created the world. For some of, us, this is a mystery and does not need a physical explanation. That is, one can see this as mystery. Abrams does sees systems that opeate beyond individual humans, the markeplace, for instance, and in actuality, religion. She creates the image of uroboros which is a circular serpent encompassing everything from the infinitely small to the whole cosmos. She sees God as pretty much inhbiting the Midgard, where things are discernibly real. She does toy with the idea of emergence and she is on to something there: the idea of newness expandind our perspective. She does have a prblem with the idea, and maybe the practice of worship, which sees as counter to the sense of emergence. She does not see the collective meaning of life provided by participating in a liturgy. At the end of the book she has a good plea for the need for humans to protect the earth and its ecology and manages to fold this well into her concept of God. This is a good book to read as we grope to understand the connection between religion and science in a realistic and satisfying way. ( )
  vpfluke | Aug 12, 2016 |
This book blew my mind in all kinds of interesting ways. Abrams's thesis is that God is an emergent phenomenon - like life, consciousness, or gravity - growing from the collected aspirations of the human race. I'm not 100% convinced by all of her elaborations and conclusions stemming from this idea, but the idea itself is a compelling one, and I'm definitely interested in pursuing it further. ( )
  jen.e.moore | Jul 28, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0807073393, Hardcover)

A paradigm-shifting blend of science, religion, and philosophy for agnostic, spiritual-but-not-religious, and scientifically minded readers
Many Americans are disaffected by traditional religion for the way it can perpetuate conflict and ignore science and reason. Nancy Ellen Abrams, life-long atheist, lawyer, and philosopher of science, is one of them. And yet after turning to the recovery community in her struggle with an eating disorder, she found that imagining a higher power gave her a new and surprising freedom from her illness. Intellectually, this made no sense to her. At the same, she had been collaborating with her husband—famed astrophysicist Joel Primack, one of the creators of astronomy’s modern picture of the universe—about how to present a radically new understanding of the universe to the public and put it into a humanly meaningful context. While writing two books with Primack, Abrams began to wonder whether anything real in this new and still unexplored understanding of our very old universe might be worthy of the name “God.”
In A God That Could Be Real, Abrams explores the radical new possibility of a God that is real but does not break any of the rules of physics as we know them: a God that doesn’t require a suspension of disbelief or of reason, an emergent phenomenon that exists in the same way that culture and the economy exist. The God Abrams explores unites all of humanity and provides the wisdom and larger sense of meaning that we need to face our future, as well as the future of our damaged planet, together—while being powerful enough to change a life.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:42 -0400)

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