God in Proof
The Story of a Search from the Ancients to the Internet
University of California Press 2013
New Books in Biblical StudiesNew Books in Big IdeasNew Books in Christian StudiesNew Books in Islamic StudiesNew Books in Jewish StudiesNew Books in ReligionNew Books in Religion & FaithNew Books Network April 7, 2014 Elliott Bazzano
Nathan Schneider‘s monograph, God in Proof: The Story of a Search from the Ancients to the Internet (University of California Press, 2013), explores the timeless challenge of how to explain God. Are such explanations rational? Why are some attempts more popular than others? Indeed, can one really “prove” God? Isn’t it called “faith” for a reason? And what does Star Trek have to do with all of this?
In addressing these questions, and many more, Schneider guides the reader through a rich land of storytelling, autobiographical reflections, and clever drawings. As the author submits in the book from its onset, don’t expect to discover which proof is right or why atheists are wrong. It turns out, in any case, that “proof” doesn’t necessarily mean what we think it means. Although proof can mean unimpeachable evidence, a proof can also be a work in progress (e.g., the proof of a text); or it can mean to tackle a challenge (e.g., to prove oneself). As Schneider convincingly argues, moreover, proofs for God have scarcely focused on mitigating doubt. They have been works of devotion and profoundly personal revelations. These proofs have also remained tied intimately to particular socio-historical contexts, but Schneider points out that despite this, the world of proofs is also a world of relationships and shared ideas in which Muslims, Jews, Christians, philosophers, and many others draw upon the ideas of one another. Schneider’s combined background in journalism and academia helps in rendering his complex and sometimes mind-boggling subject digestible to both general and scholarly audiences with polyvalent interests and beliefs about God.