Friday, November 9, 2007

Book Review: A Secret of the Universe

A Secret of the Universe by Stephen Gibson
A Secret of the Universe is one of the most unique books I have ever read. While the basic plot is solid, the documentation of research sources is impeccable, the joy is from walking with the characters as they discover the secrets for themselves.

The story revolves around two friends, Ian and Bill. When the book begins they share similar beliefs about life, religion and their place in the world. As the next 20 years pass, their philosophical paths will diverge in very different directions. Bill to follow the traditional road of Evangelical Christianity, Ian will take a skeptical path, which eventually leads him to a place where he doubts and attempts to prove the physical existence of Christ. Although not always easy, the two are able to maintain their friendship through it all. What a lesson for us all to learn.

As time goes on, they each experience tragedy which molds them in to maturity. As these personal losses envelop them, they find that these philosophical questions are to just academic.

Much of this book is a rehashing of Gibson’s book on critical thinking, “Truth Driven Thinking.” Although much of the information is the same, it is saved by the difference in the presentation. “Truth Driven Thinking,” presents the subject in a clear 3rd person presentation. A Secret of the Universe, presents critical thinking through a 1st person perspective, as we follow the characters walking a labyrinth of philosophy. The fiction work emphasizes the points made in the non-fiction and I would recommend reading both to get to full impact.

The most unique part of this book is the respect Gibson pays to the differing beliefs. Normally when an author tries to illustrate his views through a work of fiction, he creates weak and foolish (straw man) characters who have beliefs different from the author. An example of this would be Frank Peretti’s series of Christian fiction. Gibson take great care to show how reasonable, smart and critical people can come to different beliefs.

This book is a model of how people can follow the example of Ian and Bill as they let love and compassion supersede their religious differences.

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