Beyond the Book: Background information when reading 36 Arguments for the Existence of God

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36 Arguments for the Existence of God

A Work of Fiction

by Rebecca Goldstein

36 Arguments for the Existence of God by Rebecca Goldstein
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2010, 416 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2011, 416 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Judy Krueger

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Baruch Spinoza
Rebecca Newberger Goldstein received a PhD in Philosophy from Princeton University, has taught philosophy at Bernard College and written five previous philosophically motivated novels. Her most recent book of nonfiction is Betraying Spinoza: The Renegade Jew Who Gave Us Modernity. Bertrand Russell considered Spinoza "the noblest and most lovable of the great philosophers."

Spinoza (1632-1677) also figures in 36 Arguments for the Existence of God. In fact, the 35th argument is based on Spinoza's philosophy. Though raised in the Jewish faith and receiving a rabbinical education, Spinoza was expelled from the synagogue at Amsterdam for defending heretical opinions in 1656. He went on to develop his own philosophy, contained in a series of books. Ethics, completed in 1676 and published shortly after Spinoza's death, presents his conviction that the universe is a unitary whole and forms the basis for Argument 35. For Spinoza, God is absolutely infinite and identical with reality. Of this philosophy, Einstein wrote, "I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings.

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Rebecca Goldstein discusses being a philosopher and a writer with Robert Wright, the author of The Evolution of God:

Article by Judy Krueger

This article was originally published in February 2010, and has been updated for the February 2011 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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