Item description for Can A Smart Person Believe In God? by Michael Guillen...
Overview Many clever people consider Christianity "intellectual suicide"---but finding God doesn't mean losing your mind! Discover that creation often reveals its Creator, and appreciate the compatibility between his Word and his world. A theoretical physicist and former ABC News science correspondent, Guillen argues convincingly that accepting Christ doesn't require rejecting the brain he gave you.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 7.1" Width: 5.3" Height: 0.9" Weight: 0.5 lbs.
Release Date Sep 30, 2004
Publisher Thomas Nelson
ISBN 0785260242 ISBN13 9780785260240 UPC 020049055755
Availability 0 units.
More About Michael Guillen
Guillen is a theoretical physicist and former science correspondent for ABC News. He taught physics at Harvard for eight years, during which time he won awards for his distinguished teaching. He currently serves as president of Spectacular Science Productions and chief consultant for science and religion for Crystal Cathedral Ministries.
Reviews - What do customers think about Can A Smart Person Believe In God??
Can a Smart Person Write a Coherent Book? Dec 22, 2008
Just a quick review to help those thinking about this book.
I read this book hoping it would directly and intelligently (after all, it says "smart person" in the title) address some of the questions we all think about and discuss regarding God.
Unfortunately, the author insults smart people with a dumbed-down attempt to help Christians feel better about their belief in God. The author erects tightly defined strawmen that should blow over in a spiritual wind, but even then the author has trouble constructing a coherent argument and widely misses the mark several times. Given his credentials, he must be relatively intelligent, but I have genuine doubt given the material in this book.
Whether you believe in God or not, do not waste your time with this weak offering. It probably sells well at the creation museum, but don't waste your money.
A good concept from the wrong author Jun 12, 2008
I think this book would have been better titled "Can a Smart Person Believe in the Christian God". This book is quick and easy read pointing out that it really is possible for us to believe in a God and in science. Physically, we have two eyes for depth perception. Guillen proposes that we have two eyes mentally as well, one being our IQ (Intelligence Quotient) and our SQ (Spiritual Quotient). With those two, we can balance our input of both the spiritual and scientific worlds, and see how the two work together.
The problem with Guillen, though, is that he seems to have blinders on both eyes. Spiritually... while early on he claims that this book is written for people of any faith, he ONLY sees things from the Evangelical Christian point-of-view. I realize this is the faith he grew up in, and understands the best, but if he's going to write something representing "people of faith" in general, he should have put some time into understanding how people of other faiths see things. His dislike of atheists comes through quite clearly too, to the point of refusing to think they could have an opinion that is in any way valid. The true dislike of some (most?) Christians to those outside of their faith comes across very well.
Then, intellectually.... it's wonderful that he sees things from a scientific point of view, but he forgets to look at any other aspects of his faith. Historically, for example, the religion of Christianity stole its stories from other faiths that already existed, and how many times have Christians used their religion as a basis for hating others (homosexuals, other religions, etc) even to the point of war? Then they try to justify it by saying it's what God would want them to do or forgetting about it because they are forgiven for everything.
Even though Guillen may be wearing his SQ and IQ blinders, I think he does make a valid point though. I never had a problem believing that a God created us and also believing that science can show us how. Both faith and science have their places, and each one is equally valid. I just think a truly balanced person has a wider perspective than Guillen.
Why should anyone believe in God? Jul 27, 2006
To determine what to believe in we first have to find out what is known about God. The Judeo-Christian God that Guillen wants us to believe in is a creator god who supposedly created everything in the universe. As part of this creation package he also gave us a "soul" that survives death and whose fate in the next world depends on how well you observed his rules in this world. There is a mysterious aspect to him too: he cannot be seen or heard but he himself sees and hears everything and knows just what you think. With this device he has you over the barrel: he knows everything about you, and if you didn't observe his rules your soul ends up in "Hell" after you die. But before you buy into this scenario you will want to know what evidence is there for any of this. You start with the Bible and you note that the oldest parts of it were not written down until the seventh century B.C. This is much later than the religions of neighboring Egypt and Mesopotamia so that the possibility exists of borrowing from these antecedent civilizations. And lo and behold, the Bible does contain a flood story that is obviously borrowed from the Mesopotamian epic of Gilgamesh. And Moses, the Egyptian who led the Exodus, is a monotheist, not a polytheist like the other Egyptians. But wait, the Egyptians also had a monotheistic religion under pharao Akhenaten which was suppressed after his death. Is it possible that Moses was one of Akhenaten's followers who was forced underground and then took the opportunity to flee Egypt with the Israelis? Quite possible, for the time frame fits, but unprovable. Yet there are hints. To Akhenaten the one and only god was the sun god Aten. Aten was also known by other names, one of which was Amun-Ra and another one was Amen. And not coincidentally the Hebrew prayers always end with the word "Amen," an invocation to the Egyptian sun god and not to their own god Yahweh. Next, you check out theology. To theologians God is, by definition, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent and eternal. Pretty strong stuff. Omnipotence means that he can make anything happen. And here we come to the real problem: there is much evil in the world and if he really is omnipotent he could put a stop to it. He obviously did not prevent Nazi and Communist mass murders or the Rwandan genocide. This leaves only two possibilities: either he is omnipotent and he wanted these massacres to happen, or he simply does not exist. There is something to be said for his love of massacres for if you know your Bible you know that he once drowned the entire human race for not following his rules and left only one family alive. That must count as the greatest mass murder in history, greater than any of those twentieth century massacres he seems to have approved of. Its intent is basically similar to killing cattle that have the foot and mouth disease - you just kill the diseased ones as England did and grow more from uninfected cattle. You might say that by drowning us he has treated us like cattle. But I prefer the second possibility because the theory of evolution tells us that we were not created but evolved, thus invalidating the creation story of evey religion there is. Which leaves us GODLESS. And that is why a smart person can not believe in God. But Guillen has his own unique way of determining what to believe. His parents and grandparents were all pentecostal ministers and he is the only one in the family who took up science and obtained a Ph.D. from Harvard. He has taught physics at the university level and was also a science popularizer on TV. In this book-length sermon he postulates the existence of an SQ or Spiritual Quotient, analogous to an IQ but measuring your degree of spirituality. To him both IQ and SQ are needed for a complete person - it is like stereo vision allowing you to appreciate both the physical and the spiritual worlds, both science and religion, to the fullest. But if one of them is low or missing you are a cyclops. High IQ - low SQ person is an intellectual cyclops or an atheist while a low IQ - high SQ person is a spiritual cyclops of blind faith like some seventeenth-century churchmen. If you have that stereo vision, however, you can see both science and faith clearly and to you they do not conflict. And having glimpsed such a paradise, how can you not believe in God? Along the way we are given statistics that ninety four percent of Americans believe in God and that only one percent of us are atheists. For such a rare breed of person he has met quite a few of them and this book is aimed at converting them to God. He himself says that while in the company of intellectuals he was reluctant to speak of his faith and did not even say his prayers daily as he had been taught as a child. But that changed when he outed himself on TV and the public responded wonderfully, convincing him that his belief was right. This book does not even attempt to discuss religion seriously and relies on the emotional appeal of his anectotes to try to make a point. He comes across as a likeable, well-meaning person permanently disabled by his childhood indoctrination that he lacks the courage to reject. His "stereo vision" is a pitiful attempt to solve this dilemma.
Important to God/Science Discussion Feb 22, 2006
This is a short (160pp) but interesting little book. Basically it focuses on how atheists promote the idea that "smart" people can't believe in God and how they have promoted the idea that science and religion are separate realms.
Guillen details why science and religion are not at odds but are in fact complimentary. He does tend to still keep them in separate compartments, whereas many Christian scientists wouldn't.. The new and important contribution Guillen makes to the issue is his idea of the "spiritual quotient", or SQ, the companion to IQ. His discussions on how people tend to ignore the intellectual part of their humanity (IQ) or ignore their spiritual part (SQ) is right on the mark. Usually it's the atheists ignoring the spiritual side (or reforming it naturalistic terms) and Christians ignoring the intellectual side of faith.
This book can be useful in discussions with atheists, but Guillen does stop a step or two short in not allowing science and religion to completely converge even though he believes they are from the same source. For example, he states science can't prove God. Think about that, it doesn't make sense. It's like saying an archaeologist who finds an object in the ground, concludes it's designed but then says he can't infer anything about the person who created it or if that person exist at all. That's absurd reasoning, especially after Guillen spends all that time showing how there is design in the universe.
Disappointing on almost all levels Feb 8, 2006
I picked up this slim book because it was directed to both believers and atheists. Unfortunately, it didn't live up to its marketing copy. "Can A Smart Person Believe In God?" never properly answers its title question and utterly fails to address the concerns of the nonbeliever. Unfortunately it doesn't even address all believers, as this work is willfully ignorant of the existance of any religion but evangelical Christianity.
Michael Guillen is an evangelical Christian who accomplished a lot in a field that usually doesn't attract religious believers. He feels this book will straddle these two disparate worlds, but all he's accomplished is demonstrating how out of his depth he is with a work like this. In order to reconcile science and religious belief, Guillen would have done well to learn plenty of philosophy, history of philosophy, history of religion, and history of science. But this book seems to have been put together with a few Google searches and a couple of lookups in an encyclopedia. He missteps left and right in invoking arguments that were abandoned more than a hundred years ago in trying to 'disprove' atheism, while at the same time admitting that most areas of religion cannot be measured scientifically.
His categorization of the different varieties of atheist were at best patronizing and in many cases far worse. While he quotes Robert Ingersoll, it isn't apparent that Guillen ever actually read his work for understanding. He seems unsure how to handle the "practical atheist" who is willing to accept a divinity should one actually manifest. And he saves his greatest contempt for the rock-solid atheist such as Richard Dawkins, labeling them Arrogant Atheists.
More than a third of the book suffers from the Argument from Authority when the authority is the Bible. Guillen never makes a case for why the nonbeliever or the non-Christian would accept the King James Bible as a solution. In fact, Guillen never addresses the existence of any form of religious tradition other than Christianity at all, which is probably the book's biggest failing on the believers' side. It's as provincial as a book on Life in the Twentieth Century only talking about New York City; yeah, it's big, but it isn't all there is.
The Spiritual Quotient is another one of Guillen's ideas gone wrong, because he doesn't seem to be able to define it very well. The scoring of his SQ test shows some hostility toward not only rational-types but again, non-Christians (not going to church counts against you). And he missed the boat by not looking into the work being done in neurology and evolutionary psychology which shows that religious ecstacy can be induced with proper stimulation of certain brain regions, or that humans may have been selected for belief in the divine as a social survival trait, whether or not any divine being exists or not.
Ultimately, the biggest failing of this book is that Guillen was the wrong person to write it. The intersection between science and religion is a fascinating field for discussion. But when a proponent dismisses atheism with one straw man argument after another, ignores the existence of most of the world's religious traditions other than his own, and treads on the field of philosophy without understanding it, the result is an embarassment that should not have been published.