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How to Think About God: A Guide for the 20th-Century Pagan [Paperback]

By Mortimer J. Adler (Author)
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Item description for How to Think About God: A Guide for the 20th-Century Pagan by Mortimer J. Adler...

Dr. Adler extends and modernizes the argument for the existence of God developed by Aristotle and Aquinas without relying on faith, mysticism, or science. Instead, he uses a rationalist argument to lead the reader to a point where he or she can see that the existence of God is not necessarily dependent upon a suspension of disbelief. Lightning Print On Demand Title

Publishers Description
Dr. Adler, in his discussion, extends and modernizes the argument for the existence of God developed by Aristotle and Aquinas. Without relying on faith, mysticism, or science (none of which, according to Dr. Adler, can prove or disprove the existence of God), he uses a rationalist argument to lead the reader to a point where he or she can see that the existence of God is not necessarily dependent upon a suspension of disbelief. Dr. Adler provides a nondogmatic exposition of the principles behind the belief that God, or some other supernatural cause, has to exist in some form. Through concise and lucid arguments, Dr. Adler shapes a highly emotional and often erratic conception of God into a credible and understandable concept for the lay person.

Citations And Professional Reviews
How to Think About God: A Guide for the 20th-Century Pagan by Mortimer J. Adler has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 01/01/2004 page 68
  • Wilson Public Library Catalog - 01/01/1993 page 76

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Touchstone
Pages   180
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.44" Width: 5.58" Height: 0.45"
Weight:   0.45 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jul 19, 1991
Publisher   Touchstone
ISBN  0020160224  
ISBN13  9780020160229  

Availability  0 units.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Education > Reference > Reference
2Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Education > Reference
3Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > General
4Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > Religious
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Philosophy

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Reviews - What do customers think about How to Think About God: A Guide for the 20th-Century Pagan?

What HE thinks about God  Apr 19, 2006
Being the Christian that i am , I was very skeptical in reading Mortimer J. Adler's "How to Think About God". The author is a pagan indeed and I had the mind set before I even opened the cover that I would not agree with his opinion's. After the third chapter i found myself very intrigued about Adler's views and opinions. The main focus and purpose of this book is to convince people that the existence of God is really much more simple than most people perceive it to be. He discusses the 3 main status's of people in today's society regarding their faith in the Lord. There are those who believe in his presence, those who do not have apersonal relationship with him but seek to find one, and those whose simply have no desire to develop a realtionship with God.
He looks at the existence of God from a philosophical standpoint rather than a scientific and religious perspective. He spoke alot about the existence of cosmos and how they were created by a supernatural being. THis book was very difficult for me to follow at times. He often went off on a tangent on something he felt very passionate about, then skipping to a random fact. ANother concern i had with this book was the information he provided. I would like to know where he got all of his information from because he presented some heavy arguments that seemed very obscure in my opinion.
Overall, this was a very interesting and enlightening book. I wasn't reading this book with the intentions of condoning paganism but Adler did present some very interesting arguments and opinion. Although i don't agree with his outlook on the existence of God, he left me with several things to think about.
A Critical Thinking Review.  Apr 11, 2006
After taking a few days to read this novel, I am still somewhat confused on "How To Think About God", as the author states, every human falls into atleast one of these 3 categories. You either know God and love him, You do not know God but seek him, or you do not know God and you also do not seek him. Throughout this book, Adler seems to always take the philosophical appraoch to the issue's about God and really dosent say much about science and religion, just like this quote came from the text regarding religious people in the middle ages "I believe even though it is absurd, that is, unreasonable" Also, these same individuals have also proposed the question to say "Whether God Has A Body".
When you get closer to the middle of the book, some of the issues that begin to arise are topics like does the world have an end and if this is true, did it really have a beginning. The German Philisopher Immanuel Kant argues that "the question that time is either infinite or finite and the question about the world having a beginning or an end cannot be decided by reason, these are matters beyond the powers of reason to determine". There is a lot of debate about whether God has a body or not, some have also said that God is an object of thought and is unclassifiable, you cannot think of God as a physical object, also our notion of God cannot be stated in the form of a definition.
Also contained in this book were a bunch of interesting little quotes and tidbits rearding God and so on. Some of these are as follows, God is not a supreme being, he is the supreme being, God has a necessary existance, in relation to God "Wholes are greater than any of their parts" and "we would cease to exist if cosmos ceased to exist from the action of God. Overall I would have to say that this book was pretty confusing, for the author went into way too much detail for the basic student or reader, it was greatly enhanced with phillosophy and sometimes I think that the information was described with extremley too much detail although it sounds like the author does in fact know what he is talking about. The clarity was a little vague for the information was a little off the wall at some instances.
In conclusion I learned a little more than I already knew which is nice but the book still left me with a variety of questions including some about where the author obatained some of his information.
How to Think About God  Nov 29, 2005
Mortimer Adler takes the time to explain every angle of his point in this text. He tries to make his point using only philisophical reasoning, not religion or science, which is the norm for thinking about God. He uses other philosophers' works in trying to prove his point, but he also refutes their reasoning.
I was impressed with the way he tried to reach his readers, both believers and non-believers. He reaches out to the 21st centry pagan and reaches to the believer who has doubts or concerns and who may have friends of pagan background. What I disliked about his writing was the simple fact that he over explained some his points and made it difficult and mildly tedious to follow where he was going.
A Pantheist's Perspective of Dr. Adler's God  Jul 28, 2005

Though I eschew belief in that which is, in principle, unknowable, since I have experienced - much to my profound surprise -- the presence of God within myself, I believe in God. However, I also think that Pantheism presents a more likely conception of God than that of a God completely detached from the cosmos. That makes me a Pagan. Dr. Adler says "Pantheism identifies God with the infinite cosmos, thereby annulling the distinction between the natural and the supernatural." Christians commonly dismiss Pantheism as a dishonest form of atheism, of wishing we had a God, but one who doesn't interfere in any way. My perspective is that a God completely detached from mankind would be so remote that his existence would hardly matter. Moreover, as an analysis of Dr. Adler's ideas demonstrates, such a God incorporates contradictory assumptions.

Dr. Adler accepts Anselm's "proof" of God's existence as only a first step in developing a definite definition of God - the greatest entity of which one can possibly conceive. God's existence must be both like and unlike everything else that exists, that is real, but incorporeal, existence. Corporeal things have dependent, conditional, and caused existence. God has aseity -- independent, unconditional, and uncaused existence. "To say that God has aseity is not only to say that God is immutable, but also to say that God is in no way affected or altered by the existence or non-existence of the cosmos as a whole." Since one can easily imagine the universe as different than it is, it is not the greatest thing of which the mind can conceive, so it does not have necessary existence. Dr. Adler's "reasonable grounds for affirming God's existence" rest upon his assertion: "That which cannot be otherwise also cannot not exist; conversely, what necessarily exists cannot be otherwise than it is."

Objections: (1) Dr. Adler claims "there can only be one cosmos at a given time," but "if the cosmos had necessary existence, then all possible cosmos must exist." While I find the idea of parallel universes farfetched, there are reputable physicists who take this hypothesis seriously. Dr. Adler's argument supports the existence of parallel universes just as well as the existence of God. (2) An immutable God is stagnant. Isn't a God capable of learning and growth greater than one that is not? If we define God as the greatest thing that actually exists, God becomes dynamic. (3) If an immutable God cannot be affected by his creation, what possible reason could there be for creating it? Even being interested in his creation - let alone loving it - is an effect. Prayer would be useless since prayer could not affect God. (Thomas Aquinas conjectured that God is pure act and love is pure act. God cannot hate because hate is a reaction. Pure action is pure immutability? Why isn't love as much a reaction as hate)? (4) Is a God whose being comprises the cosmos not greater than one that does not? (5) If God cannot be otherwise than he is, then his actions and thoughts cannot be otherwise than they are; so how could God create a cosmos that is any less necessary than himself? (6) Though Dr. Adler reminds us of Ockham's rule of thought - delete from reality those hypothetical entities we are not just justified in positing -- he posits at least three different forms of real existence, namely God, matter, and human souls, only for one of which do we have empirical evidence.

Dr. Adler tells us "theology, like nuclear physics . . . uses theoretical constructs, not empirical concepts, to deal with object that lie beyond of range of ordinary common experience." This is a confusion of theoretical constructs with hypothetical constructs. Baryons and electrons are theoretical constructs precisely because their probable existence has been supported by empirical evidence.

Deductive conclusions can never be any more certain than the propositions they are derived from. Even in mathematics, self-evident assumptions have long gone the way of the unicorn. The Roman Catholic dogma, "God's existence can be proven by reason and reason alone," is long outdated. Support for God's existence must come from empirical evidence and inductive logic. (For those interested in this approach, please read my book, CAPTAIN CALIFORNIA BATTLES THE BEELZEBUBIAN BEASTS OF THE BIBLE).

A Thinking Man's Guide to Faith  Jul 5, 2005
I read a copy of this book that I checked out of my university library. Adler wrote this book long before becoming a Christian himself. He describes his walk to faith in the book titled "Philosophers Who Believe." In How to Think About God, Adler leads the reader to the precipice of belief. He won't take the final leap for you nor does he do that himself. But he does lead a
thinking person to the notion that faith and rational thinking are not mutually exclusive. This book was a great help to me and I would recommend it to anyone struggling with coming to terms with faith in God.

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