Synopses & Reviews
Whether people praise, worship, criticize, or reject God, they all presuppose at least a rough notion of what it means to talk about God. Turning the certainty of this assumption on its head, a respected educator and humanist shows that when we talk about God, we are in fact talking about nothing at all — there is literally no such idea — and so all of the arguments we hear from atheists, true believers, and agnostics are and will always be empty and self-defeating.
Peter J. Steinberger's commonsense account is by no means disheartening or upsetting, leaving readers without anything meaningful to hold on to. To the contrary, he demonstrates how impossible it is for the common world of ordinary experience to be all there is. With patience, clarity, and good humor, Steinberger helps readers think critically and constructively about various presuppositions and modes of being in the world. By coming to grips with our own deep-seated beliefs, we can understand how traditional ways asserting, denying, or even just wondering about God's existence prevent us from seeing the truth — which, it turns out, is far more interesting and encouraging than anyone would have thought.
"What do we really think deep down? This is the question Peter J. Steinberger pursues in this timely and important new book. Along the way, he announces a pox on all the houses in the God debate by shifting the question from whether God exists to an evaluation of our inability to engage in reasonable and commonsense thinking. In so doing, he models a form of systematic and rigorous philosophical argumentation that is accessible to a nonspecialist and provides a life-affirming philosophy that proves beyond any shadow of a doubt the world as we know it cannot be all there is." Jeffrey W. Robbins, author of Radical Democracy and Political Theology
"Again the world is abuzz with talk about God: What God commands and what God condemns, and which country or people or state God happens to love best. Theists and atheists are locked in endless debate, and agnostics say they 'just don't know.' Yet can we really talk about God at all? Peter J. Steinberger has an answer, and even if it leaves you banging your head against the wall, it is one of the most honest answers around. Steinberger is an accomplished political philosopher with a whole string of credits to his name. He also happens to be one of the finest educators at one of the finest liberal-arts colleges in the country. But in this little book he leaves his academic language at the office. The Problem with God is quite simply one of the most entertaining books you'll ever read about a deadly-serious question." Peter E. Gordon, Harvard University, author of Continental Divide: Heidegger, Cassirer, Davos
"A timely, spirited, and analytically rigorous meditation on a pressing contemporary concern: whether or not it is conceptually meaningful to predicate God's existence. Lucidly written and brimming with helpful illustrations, it offers an indispensable perspective on the intellectual history of the present." Richard Wolin, The Graduate Center, City University of New York
About the Author
Peter J. Steinberger is the Robert H. and Blanche Day Ellis Professor of Humanities and Political Science at Reed College, where he also served as dean of the faculty from 1997 to 2010. He is the author of The Idea of the State, The Concept of Political Judgment, Logic and Politics: Hegel's Philosophy of Right, and Ideology and the Urban Crisis, and his essays have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, and other general interest publications.