Pippa Abston's Reviews > Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson

Doubt by Jennifer Michael Hecht
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's review
Feb 05, 2012

really liked it
Read from February 05 to 09, 2012

Amazing overview of philosophy from the perspective of doubt! Definitely worth the time and thought on the part of a reader. I would have given 5 stars except that the latest generation of atheists seemed to be glossed over fairly quickly-- I see many of them as superficial and not well-grounded in their own tradition. Also, it would have been interesting for her to have given a little more explanation of how she jumped from the stance of saying throughout the book that the "God as Universe" concept is weak to her final chapter of proposing it as valid.

There is a new generation of doubters in Christianity (including me) who are at various places on the spectrum. We do not put much if any weight on doubt in the traditional Christian sense she discusses-- we are very comfortable with questioning the authority of any scriptural or church teaching. Some of us are Deist types and some like me would be called atheist by more traditional Christians. It doesn't sound like she is aware of our existence.

I see "God" as the total synergistic complex of all sentient relationships in the universe. I don't imagine this as an independent entity, force or awareness at all and don't see why it is necessary to include "Creator" as an attribute. To me there is something special about the experience of encountering the web of relationships that becomes more than just the sum of parts-- and not in a supernatural way at all. If the world were comprised of only inert matter, no beings with consciousness, it seems to me that it would be empty of God.

My own subjective reaction to that encounter is easier to describe in terms of poetry, art, and ritual than in regular language, which is why I finally settled on the word God. I see it as legitimate only because I'm guessing my experience of awe is similar to that of others in history who have experienced what they called God.

I embrace many elements of Skepticism in that I don't know that I can adequately characterize exactly what that web is or what it will do, only approximate it at any given moment. I used to say "God is Love" but now find that description too definite and limited.

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