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God in Proof, by Nathan Schneider

Reviewed by Fionnchú

Not yet thirty, this “millennial” journalist ponders reason and faith. He combines his personal quest with a philosophical investigation from the Greeks to the Internet. He reminds us of the Latin root for proofs; probare derives from probing, the testing of the evidence, rather than a compulsion to settle the dispute. The distinction, lost in English, clouds what Nathan Schneider’s own perspective seeks to clarify as his rationale: the quest matters more than any empirical truth-claim.

With a father who drifted away from Judaism for a skeptical outlook and diligent medieval research, and a mother who left Christianity but looked to a guru for comfort, Mr. Schneider, coping as a teen with his parents’ breakup, characterizes his generation’s pull away from religious convention; individual ambitions contend against cultural solidarity. An editor at Killing the Buddha (an online “religion magazine for people made anxious by churches”), the author speaks for many Westerners eager to sample from exotic or indigenous as well as European or Middle Eastern traditions, and he neatly mingles reflection with analysis. He even doodles diagrams or cartoons along a few pages, as if a professor wanting to relate arcana to his class in quirky, engaging terms, as if fearful of coming across as too earnest. For those coming for the first time to advanced concepts, he offers tables and indexed appendices charting ideas or thinkers as more accessible data.

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