Despite the recent ferocious public debate about belief, the concept most central to the discussion "God" frequently remains vaguely and obscurely described. Are those engaged in these arguments even talking about the same thing? In a wide-ranging response to this confusion, esteemed scholar David Bentley Hart pursues a clarification of how the word "God” functions in the world’s great theistic faiths. Ranging broadly across Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Vedantic and Bhaktic Hinduism, Sikhism, and Buddhism, Hart explores how these great intellectual traditions treat humanity’s knowledge of the divine mysteries. Constructing his argument around three principal metaphysical moments, ”being, consciousness, and bliss", the author demonstrates an essential continuity between our fundamental experience of reality and the ultimate reality to which that experience inevitably points. Thoroughly dismissing such blatant misconceptions as the deists' concept of God, as well as the fundamentalist view of the Bible as an objective historical record, Hart provides a welcome antidote to simplistic manifestoes. In doing so, he plumbs the depths of humanity’s experience of the world as powerful evidence for the reality of God and captures the beauty and poetry of traditional reflection upon the divine.
A metaphysical masterpiece! "Atheism is too infantile and primitive to be considered a philosophy, it is much more like a therapy."
7 of 8 people found this review helpful
Enlightening book, thoroughly study presented in a magisterial style, and preformed in an eloquent manner....in short best audiobook I have had the pleasure of listening to!
4 of 5 people found this review helpful
While the new atheists play at philosophy and decorate their contentions with a dollop of pompous snark, David Bentley Hart dismembers them handily with serious philosophy and throws in a healthy amount of amusing snark well.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
This was a frustrating purchase, in that the audio seemed unfinished at times - repetitions, for instance, that were not edited out. The reader also had what was to me a terribly annoying habit of replacing "book" with "audiobook" in the text, even in key points of the author's argument. "The computer is no more conscious of the ideas in a program than the ink on the pages of this book are of the arguments therein" is changed to "the device playing this audiobook" - totally obscuring the analogy. A strange thing to do.
The book itself is a fascinating topic by a great mind, but I think in the end it was too dense for translation to an audiobook. Hard to follow the argument. And at times this really is the fault of Hart. Granted these are very esoteric and abstract concepts, but that's why we pay him the big bucks to write a book. He relies to much on stilted academic language, and I'm convinced he can do better.
5 of 8 people found this review helpful
Tom Pile captures the author’s voice: the wonder, urgency, disdain and complexity. His phrasing helped me understand what might be considered complex.
Dr. Hart delivers a brilliant articulation of the concept of the classical Theist God. Hart is true to his thesis, and does not particularly expound upon the confessional doctrines of any particular religion. For the Christian and non-Christian alike, this book is worth a listen.
Formidable, compelling, and masterfully written, this book aggressively confronts the dismal and sadly bankrupt worldview of mechanistic materialism in all its permutations. In the process it constructs a powerful and multifaceted case for God as the only truly convincing account of reality. This is a highly sophisticated and rigorous work -- a true joy to anyone who wishes to unpack the foundation of their faith and a devastating challenge to any atheist with the intellectual gifts to approach it. My one qualification is that it does not in fact do much to incorporate views of God from different faiths, despite its stated intention to do so. Other faiths are quoted at times, especially works from Sufi writers and from the Upanishads, but only in passing, used to add their affirmations to points already made. The issues are approached almost elusively from the perspective of Western assumptions and thought. That it does very, very well, though. I suppose it would be greedy to ask for more.
David Bentley Hart tones down his massive vocabulary to focus on expounding the very idea of God and contingent reality in relatively approachable language. It's often even inspiring, in addition to careful and systematic handling of complex ideas often unfamiliar to modern minds. Highly recommended.
I really wish there was a dumb down version of this book because I'm really not that smart, but iI can pick up on the principles of this book. A simple explanation would have been better.
Intellectually challenging but well worth the effort. The central argument of this book is that belief in God (across all the major Theistic traditions) is actually rational whereas Atheism/Materialism/Naturalism is necessarily irrational. Very well argued in my opinion.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
This is what happens when an obsession with the craft of philosophy causes evidence, fact and common sense to play second fiddle to word-play and arrogant posturing. The author has seemingly decided to invent, off the top of his head, a definition of God rarely seen in scripture and almost never in practical religious observance, and declare it to be 'self-evidently' true. This description is worded in such a way as to place it beyond challenge. We cannot, we are told, ask where God comes from because he is not a 'thing' therefore does not come from anywhere. We cannot ask when he was created, because he was not created, he just 'is'. We cannot ask where he is because... you guessed it, the author has decided that he is everywhere... and nowhere. To put it simply, any probing question we might ask about God can be rebutted on the grounds that, He's God, that doesn't apply to him.
We have literally pages and pages of wordage to this effect, telling us exactly the same thing. "God is the indivisible and always transcendent actuality out of which all things recive their imminent actuality in all possible respects... The infinite to which nothing can add and nothing can subtract... the source and fullness of all being... not a being but beyond being..."
In other words, nonsense; a word salad that despite its grammatical correctness is utterly without meaning, and its premise without foundation.
These fantastical mantras are interspersed with a selection of arrogant and bitter attacks on people far more learned than the author himself, both Atheist and Theist; people who actually posit reasoned and evidential argument to support their position.
Occasionally the author hauls in and grossly misrepresents an element of quantum mechanics in an attempt to support his case. He tells us, for instance, that when talking of existence it is clearly impossible for something to come from nothing and therefore God must have been involved. This is a shockingly naive position. If the author had even a basic knowledge of quantum physics he'd realise that trying to describe quantum mathematical processes in language then arguing against the inevitable and gross misrepresentation that results is simply building a straw man. Quantum mechanics can only be described in mathematics and its in mathematics that any proof, rebuttal or argument must be couched.
As an Atheist I clearly disagree with the positions of all Theists but on that does not mean their arguments are all without merit. However, this book does not pose any sort of argument. It has no premise, no line of logic and presents no evidence. What it does is insult its readers by assuming we will be so over-awed by the author's undoubtedly impressive command of language that we will discard our critical faculties and embrace this flowery claptrap as fact.
0 of 5 people found this review helpful
If you could sum up The Experience of God in three words, what would they be?
David Bentley Hart lays out the classical definition of God, over and against some of the more modern misconceptions, promulgated by new atheists and some theists alike. His approach is informed by thousands of years of contemplative and rational philosophy spanning numerous religions, converging on 'The One', undivided, simple, purely actualised ground of all reality - God. The book is amusing, inspiring and challenging, highly recommend for anyone wanting a robust classical perspective on God.