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A God That Could Be Real: Spirituality, Science, and the Future of Our Planet

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  198 ratings  ·  49 reviews
A paradigm-shifting blend of science, religion, and philosophy for agnostic, spiritual-but-not-religious, and scientifically minded readers
Many people are fed up with the way traditional religion alienates them: too easily it can perpetuate conflict, vilify science, and undermine reason. Nancy Abrams, a philosopher of science, lawyer, and lifelong atheist, is among them.
Hardcover, 200 pages
Published March 10th 2015 by Beacon Press
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3.73  · 
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 ·  198 ratings  ·  49 reviews

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Jan 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
This Book Will Challenge Your Concept of God

Nancy Abrams, after being an atheist for her whole life, set out to discover a god she could believe in. The search started because Abrams has an eating disorder. After joining a Twelve Step Program, she realized that belief in a Higher Power helped her overcome her addiction.

Abrams' husband is a well-know scientist who was part of the team that developed the concept of the universe filled with dark matter and dark energy. With this background, Abrams
Leland Beaumont
Mar 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most intriguing books I have read in some time. It shows us a way forward toward a coherence that transcends the divisive religious doctrines that deny the well-established truths of the universe and the sterile scientific models that ignore or dismiss the power of spirituality.

Throughout history concepts of God have evolved to explain the workings of the universe as it is best understood. Historically theologians did their best to make their image of God consistent with the u
Casey Nicholson
Aug 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book was a pretty big let down for me.

First off, let's start with the premise: Abrams has set out to write a book that discusses how we can believe in modern and contemporary science, and yet at the same time believe in a God. This is a much-needed topic for people of faith and those who are interested in the metaphysics of a traditionally conceived (or even a non-traditionally conceived) deity, as so often contemporary science is used to argue against faith.

I read about the book via one of
Jun 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Abrams gives readers a science-based creation story that places God firmly in reality and expands human consciousness to a cosmic level. The result is a sense of deep personal meaning despite the way Abrams' ideas transcend personal concepts of time and space. Loved it!
Mike Smith
Aug 29, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Nancy Abrams is a journalist and historian of science and has been a lawyer. She is married to a world-class physicist who is doing ground-breaking work in dark matter and dark energy. She is also an atheist. Some years ago, when acknowledging a severe food addiction, she turned to a 12-step support group. One of the techniques the group taught her was to "talk" to a "higher power". She felt foolish at first when she found herself essentially talking to herself, but she also, surprisingly, found ...more
Geoff Glenister
Jun 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I loved this book. I loved the way Nancy Abrams challenged me to think in new ways about God. I'm not sure I fully agree with her conclusions, but that's what's so fun about this book.

Nancy's husband was instrumental in formulating and proving the "double dark theory". This theory has two postulates: 1) only "dark matter" (my oversimplified explanation: matter which cannot be directly observed as is does not interact with light) can explain what holds galaxies together (without it, there should
Joy H.
Added 8/6/16. (Published March 10th 2015 by Beacon Press )

I discovered this book when I asked a neighbor what he was reading. Then I read the sample by clicking on the word "Preview" at the book's GR page at:

It sounds fascinating!

9/16/16 - I borrowed the book from our public library. I'm still reading it. I'm on p.70 of 163 pages. So far, I cannot relate to her definition of the "God that could be real." The author says that "God" will emerge but will not
Frank Paris
Sep 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
My review is actually 4 times longer than their maximum length allowed on this Website.

Nancy identifies her god as emerging out of the highest aspirations and creative works of art made by human beings throughout its evolutionary history. In the Whiteheadian sense, Nancy's emergent god is an individual, just as real as you or me, but it is not a person. This emergent god is capitalized by Nancy, indicating it is her God.

Nancy realizes that some will think that her limited concept of God is inad
May 01, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: nonfiction
It's rare for me to finish a book that I don't like, so I don't make many one-star reviews, but I read this as a favor to a friend who was interested :-)

So: Abrams rejects religion (presumably because it's not scientific), yet finds herself needing to believe in a higher power, so she invents one out of the concept of emergence - thus, what I will call Lambda because God has an established meaning, emerges from the "aspirations" of people, in the same way that new phenomena emerge from complex s
May 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy, theology
Abrams has an ambitious task of engaging traditional monotheists and Richard-Dawkins-like-Atheist types (atheists, henceforth). On the one hand, she challenges traditional monotheism arguing that historical doctrines about God cannot be true given contemporary physics. I don't think she really means that it cannot be true. Rather, I think it should probably be interpreted as claiming that God shouldn't be an entity that is merely compatible with contemporary physics, but that nature and God shou ...more
Bill Mattingly
Dec 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Thought Provoking. Evangelical Christians commune with God via the Holy Spirit part of the Trinity. Ms. Abrams has found how to do that in a secular manner, rationalizing "science ". She advocates a new religion, or belief of a God hidden or created in humanity. This religion is not Scientology, or secular Judaism, but most closely seems to resemble Gaia worship? It's noble goal is in part to protect humanity, that part living now and in the future, by protecting the earth. She believes humanity ...more
James R
Jun 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was an extremely important book for me. It's not just her idea of what might be real enough and worthy enough to be called God in an intellectually, emotionally and spiritually coherent way, that makes it so in my mind. I'm still sorting out her idea of God. No, not just an answer to what God is, but why having a coherent concept of God is important for us as individuals and to us as a human species. Her explanations of the current understanding of the universe was fascinating enough, so th ...more
Sebastian Ku
May 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology
By far one of the more mind-blowing books I've come across in recent memory. Some of the ideas presented in the initial chapters are a little hard for me to follow, but Abrams does a fabulous job leading her readers through an intellectual journey of re-constructing theism using emerging paradigms in modern cosmology. I finished reading the book in two sittings and absolutely plan to revisit it a slower pace to take in and understand her thesis. Highly recommended for anyone who has the slightes ...more
Bryce Peterson
Mar 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Deeply Inspired Work

The concept of emergence was mind-blowing. So much of what the author delineated were things I had danced with in my mind but hadn't yet articulated. She posits a fresh and useful outlook that encompasses the best facets of human experience and potential.
Cassie Sands
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
The author is trying to create an imaginary God to satisfy her denial of a real God which all religions are preaching. She believes in a phenomenal emerging God which is a collective aspirations of all human kinds through out the years.
For me it's a good book, because it made me look at God and the universe from a different perspective other than the perspective given by religions. It made me respect good and evil in this world.
We humans need to unite in one real God regardless of the teachings
Jul 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Robert Lee Hadden
Mar 29, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
An odd book to read, and it is difficult to follow in places. Evidently, as the universe got more and more complex, God emerged from the complexity, and is based on the combined aspirations of everyone alive on the planet, or who has ever before lived and died.

This book is based on the revealed experience the author had in going through a weight reduction program, when as an atheist she prayed and asked for help. From this mysterious help she received, the author rationalized an "emerging god" o
Jan 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommended to Tucker by: Deborah Neisel-Sanders
“…there is nothing we humans resist more passionately than changing our ideas of God. But for that very reason, there is nothing more liberating than the experience of actually doing so.” (p. 55)

What Stephen Jay Gould happily endorsed as “non-overlapping magisteria,” meaning that religion and science are not supposed to get involved with each other, Abrams unhappily rejects as “the profound incoherence between our spiritual lives and our physical reality.” (p. 17) When God “is immune to the way
Sep 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
It was the subtitle “Spirituality, Science and the Future of Our Planet” that piqued my interest in this book. Spirituality and science have always been interests of mine. I've never been one to see them as opposites and have always tried to make them work together for me. But I don't have a great deal of knowledge in either area. Nancy Ellen Abrams has the knowledge of science and the experience of religion (both positive and negative). This book is her result of trying to make science and reli ...more
Arseny Khakhalin
Oct 01, 2016 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Sarah Daigen
Nov 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
I read this for a book study at church, and I will sum up here the way I summed it up with them. I don't necessarily agree OR disagree with Nancy Abrams' ideas or thought process here - it's too complex, and there's too much to parse down to specifically 'I like that', or 'I don't like that' in any kind of short-form review. BUT ...

I am by nature very right-brained. Painfully right-brained. I am much more an arts/humanities-type person than a logical, science-based thinker like Abrams - especial
John Everard Griffith
Jul 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I have been growing, changing in my Christian belief system for 40 years. The evolutionary perspective has aligned most closely with my beliefs about creation of the universe. I would call myself a progressive Christian. This book has taken me to another deeper level of understanding. Nancy emphasizes that a religion that is believable and available has to align with reality. This book is a journey through the way our beliefs about what is real is changing with the insights discovered by scienti ...more
Jun 15, 2015 rated it liked it
There were parts of this book that were intriguing and I felt really challenged how I think of religion. I agreed and liked the parts of this book that analyzed our traditional monotheistic culture, and basically used science to 'prove' that a god that is omniscient and omnipotent could not exist given what we currently know about our world. The author also presents a very interesting premise about the possibility of a god that could exist using what we know about emergence. But I lost faith in ...more
Nikki Banks
Oct 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a non-fiction book about the scientific discoveries in the areas of astronomy and the cosmos. The book primarily focuses on the relation of human beings to the cosmos. The themes seen is this book are extremely challenging because the deal with the idea of creation and how that fits into religion. It was definitely a good read, but I don't understand everything that was written and I don't entirely agree with her interpretation that our God is a planetary God of Earth, made up of all the ...more
May 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
To be clear, the book does not receive 5 stars based on its writing, organization, the author's cleverness or stories...

No, the book receives 5 stars because it met me where I was and put my inner musings into words.

I've long equated Love and God and made the mental substitution in my head in religious settings. The author doesn't exactly do that, but broadens it to allow God to be the best of humanity's potential.

The author's ideas aren't new, but they are so rarely expressed that the book is f
Susan Abbott
Mar 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I heard Ms Abrams on CBC one day, and it was one of those interviews where you park the car and sit there for a while. Compelling stuff. Big ideas.
Abrams presents the case that God is real, and is an emergent phenomenon, not unlike economics or psychology or art -- real things that we can study but not kick like a rock.
The book sets forth a lot of cosmology that is also very interesting, but went on a bit too long for my taste. This is done to make the case that the God of Sunday school cannot
Jan 17, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: spirituality
How you feel about this book is going to depend a lot upon your spiritual beliefs, or lack thereof, so it is hard for me to really review it. It is well thought out and well written. I am not a religious person (I've never been to church), but I am somewhat spiritual - enough so that I found myself reacting to a lot of her ideas with a vague sense of distaste, and a decided uncomfortableness.

I did think a lot of what she had to say was interesting, and worth considering, but overall I am not the
Dec 28, 2015 rated it it was ok
It's hard to discuss/write about God concepts - how do you write about something which is bigger than language?

I think of God as the part of us that is more than the the atoms/molecules in our make-up (our soul or spirit); the part of life that makes us (humanity) more than a collection of individuals. Abrams tries to explain this in more scientific language and with support from scientific theories. She flounders quite a bit trying to hold her thesis together - but there are interesting ideas
Sep 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a thought-provoking book by a "philosopher of science, lawyer and lifelong atheist." Abrams, married to an astrophysicist, had to search for a higher power when she entered a 12-step program. She presents some fascinating ideas on ways to look at God through scientific lenses. Much of this book is so complex that I had trouble understanding it. While I don't agree with some of Abrams' conclusions, I came away with dozens of quotes to ponder and much that spoke to me about spirituality an ...more
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Nancy Ellen Abrams is a writer and lawyer with a background in the history, philosophy, and politics of science, who has worked on science and technology policy. She has also for over two decades closely followed Joel’s research, attended countless astrophysics conferences, and talked to almost everyone in the field. Together they have developed and taught a prize-winning course at the University ...more
“People often ask me, “Do you seriously expect this idea of God to change the world? What about all the fanatics and terrorists?” All I can say is that the only thing that changes the world is an idea that lights our fire at a moment when we are surrounded by dry, dead kindling. Today is that kind of time. Spiritual transformation doesn’t require a majority vote. It doesn’t matter if most people don’t get it. All it takes is a committed minority, because the committed lead culture. The new scientific picture of the universe is a modern revelation. For many the realization that God can be real and is emerging from human aspirations will also be a revelation. That these revelations are both happening now, at so pivotal a moment for our species, is truly grace. They have helped me move into the new universe and feel blessed and awestruck every day, as though I’d moved from a dark basement apartment into a mountain aerie with a hundred-mile view in all directions. I don’t expect millions of people to change their ideas of God overnight, but to those who care about the human future and can see beyond ideology, to those who believe that truth matters, and to those who recognize the potential of humanity but don’t see how to make us rise to that potential, it could make all the difference to discover a God that is real.” 1 likes
“Having no spiritual life at all is like never really falling in love. Developing a spiritual bond with a fantasy is like falling in love with someone who will never love you back. But developing a spiritual bond with the real universe is like falling in love with someone who is already in love with you. That’s where God is.” 0 likes
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