A Secret of the Universe: A Story of Love, Loss, and the Discovery of an Eternal Truthby Stephen L. Gibson
This is the story of two high-school pals from the Midwest for whom a personal tragedy sets in motion a journey of inquiry that spans a lifetime of cruel and glorious twists, and culminates in an astonishing discovery. Ian wants answers his faith can’t provide, so he abandons traditional religion and its magic, mysticism, and supernaturalism, turning instead… See more details below
This is the story of two high-school pals from the Midwest for whom a personal tragedy sets in motion a journey of inquiry that spans a lifetime of cruel and glorious twists, and culminates in an astonishing discovery. Ian wants answers his faith can’t provide, so he abandons traditional religion and its magic, mysticism, and supernaturalism, turning instead to science and reason. Bill’s path has become that of a devoted Christian who sees the bountiful harvest that can be achieved through spirituality and faith. When profound revelations lead each friend to uncover shocking historical “secrets” in support of his own worldview, their odyssey plays out on a global stage, with tragic consequences. Only by embracing the inherent mystery and pain of their quest do Ian and Bill make the discovery that really matters—a genuine secret of the universe.
As emotional and hopeful as it is hard-hitting and brutally honest, Gibson’s dramatic allegory is fundamentally about beliefs. It's about how we come to form "knowledge" about the big questions in life: God, sexual ethics, morals, political ideology—even which medical treatments we will choose to fight our cancers. More importantly, it's about how those beliefs affect our actions, our lives, and the world around us! Told through two friends’ struggle to make sense of life’s triumphs and tragedies—which they interpret through very different religious filters—A Secret of the Universe is both a mirror through which each of us can view our human fallibility, and an illuminating path out of the dogmatism and violence that ail us.
- Truth-Driven Strategies, L.L.C.
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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.
With very little of the world's headlines making sense to those millions who read or watch them, this novel or story form of addressing the glue that holds people's perceptions together is a healthy start toward healing. Author Stephen L. Gibson (' Truth-Driven Thinking: An Examination of Human Emotion and Its Impact on Everyday Life') is a young campaigner for epistemology - the science of studying the origins of human belief and knowledge as examined through basing all thought on truth. Instead of electing to create what could have been a dry discourse on science and religion and how the two intertwine, Gibson has demonstrated his own personal journey through a story involving the friendship of two boys/men, one (Bill) is a devoted literalistic, evangelical Christian while the other (Ian) seeks to explain the holes in the blind faith religion of his upbringing, choosing instead to question every aspect of every form of 'religions', looking for the proof or truth of each and how these religions have so profoundly influenced human behavior. The characters created to enact the drama of this philosophical exercise are interesting enough to propel the reader through the far too long (576 pages) book. Spanning a time frame from 1985 to 2010 the story is essentially one of coming of age of two boys from Michigan (the author's home) and how they respond to love, death, tragedy, marriage, children, personal losses and personal triumphs, terrorism, and individual soul searching. If the polarity between these two lads strays a bit at times, the reasons are to explain the author's plan for revealing the bifurcated facets between blind faith religion and re-examined religion: Conservative Bill (who believes that such things as premarital sex and homosexuality are sick and are abominations to God) while inquisitive Ian joins forces to form a group of intellects called The Desoterica, a conclave committed to re-examining the Bible and the Koran and other religious writings to see how 'truth' reveals how much of what the world has accepted as fact is actually a mixture of myth, copy discrepancies about events that have been altered by influences and human needs to make the universe understandable. For example, the Desoterica goes to the Old and New Testament to trace the expectations of the Jews for a Messiah and how those expectations resulted in a splinter group who created a man - Jesus of Nazareth - described by four different men (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) - in disparate ways, demonstrating that time has pasted pieces together and created a myth out of need, a myth that cannot be based on truth from the very source from which it is taken: there are significant variations in the concept of the Virgin Birth, the resurrection, the human form son of God who is the only path to heaven, etc. Gibson has done his research (and shares it in the appendices of this tome) and has successfully created a book that will challenge the reader no matter the end of the spectrum from which each reader begins this journey, a positive effect during this time Gibson calls 'this very difficult period of history...a tribal retreat'. A SECRET OF THE UNIVERSE is a wise title: the operative word is 'A' secret not 'the' secret. And while that 'secret' as revealed at book's end is a bit precious and less adventuresome that the bulk of the novel, it at least provides a leveling ground for the philosophy discussed. Many people will be polarized by this book, but isn't that a healthy beginning to opening wide discussions about the very sources of thinking that have lead us to where we are in 2007? Though few would describe this as a Great Novel (the writing, while often interesting, is too often caught up in sidebar excursions that somehow too frequently end up in conversations in the cockpit of an airplane!), for this reader it is worth the time required to read it through, despite the tedious passages. It is thoughtful, challenging, and provides some g
The book is a novel with a few chapters of Non-Fiction interwoven that explores the concept of God from a Christian perspective and through the eyes of two child-hood friends who look at the same teachings from different perspectives. The book has a fairly good plot and the style is good so that the reader's attention is held for the many hours that the book takes to read. Some of the concepts are not that secret for me since I grew up with different religious teachings and in the course of nearly 60 years on this earth's plane have been exposed to different ideas about truth. The book's printing and editing are Excellent and the cover is appealing. My Recommendation: Strongly recommended, especially to Christians to get a wider perspective of the world. Readers of other religions too will find the book interesting since fundamentalism is not confined to any one religion but is a basic trait of human nature.
This book covers a lot of ground. Love, hate, terrorists, action,relationships, family, friends, and more as it explores politics, sexual ethics, religion and the questions 'Why do we believe what we believe?' and 'What effects do those beliefs have on us and our world'. I highly recommend this book for anyone searching for more meaning in their lives.