God Revised: How Religion Must Evolve in a Scientific Age

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Overview

Over the past few decades, the ever-expanding scientific knowledge of the universe and the human condition, combined with the evolution from religion-based to personal morality, has led to a mass crisis of faith.  Leaders of most Protestant and Catholic religious traditions, which include nearly 80 percent of Americans, have watched their memberships stagnate or dwindle. Over the years, philosophers and scientists have argued that science has in fact "killed" God, and that if we believe the facts ...

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Overview

Over the past few decades, the ever-expanding scientific knowledge of the universe and the human condition, combined with the evolution from religion-based to personal morality, has led to a mass crisis of faith.  Leaders of most Protestant and Catholic religious traditions, which include nearly 80 percent of Americans, have watched their memberships stagnate or dwindle. Over the years, philosophers and scientists have argued that science has in fact "killed" God, and that if we believe the facts science has presented, we must also accept that God is fiction. Others, holding fast to their long-standing doctrines, attempt to justify their beliefs by using God to explain gaps in scientific knowledge. Having left an upbringing in a family of Mennonite preachers to discover his own experience of God, Galen Guengerich understands the modern American struggle to combine modern world views with outdated religious dogma. Drawing upon his own experiences, he proposes that just as humanity has had to evolve its conception of the universe to coincide with new scientific discoveries, we are long overdue in evolving our concept of God. Gone are the days of the magical, supernatural deity in the sky who visits wrath upon those who have not followed his word. Especially in a scientific age, we need an experience of a God we can believe in—an experience that grounds our morality, unites us in community, and engages us with a world that still holds more mystery than answers.   

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Guengerich, the senior minister of the Unitarian Church of All Souls on Lexington Avenue in New York, offers a discursive meditation on how religion can fit into a scientific worldview. He rejects a supernatural, all-knowing God, yet still finds the need for a faith that gives life meaning. Firmly planted in the rationalist Unitarian Universalist camp, he takes readers on a tour of Western philosophical ideas, from Plato to Wittgenstein, with a sprinkling of modern-day explicators such as Karen Armstrong and Bart Ehrman, plus a handful of modern pop music lyrics. Guengerich is certainly learned, but his adamant rejection of traditional religion at times feels ironically prescriptive. “If you want to live a fulfilling life, you need to believe in a revised God,” he writes. That God, however, is difficult to define and must constantly be subjected to the latest scientific reasoning. Along the way, Guengerich shares sermons on political issues, from immigration to women’s rights to care for the environment. At a time when many younger people yearn for a more mystical religious experience, this volume may feel Eurocentric and dated. (May)
From the Publisher
“Guengerich articulates an approach to religion that embraces community in its widest, most inclusive sense and does not dig in its heels when religious texts come in conflict with science. A rare and civilized antidote...” —Matthew Chapman, Writer/director of “The Ledge,” author of “40 Days And 40 Nights,” co-founder of ScienceDebate, and great-great-grandson of Charles Darwin

“…intellectually rich… lucid, compelling, and accessible…” —Gary Dorrien, Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics at Union Theological Seminary in New York, Professor of Religion at Columbia University, and Author of the 3-volume series The Making of American Liberal Theology

 “…brilliant synopsis of a big idea from revelation to relativity…  In this provocative read, the deity survives the Enlightenment intact enough to remain persuasive in a secular age. God Revised offers God an excellent chance to remain viable.” —David Levering Lewis, Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of W.E.B. DuBois, and Author of God's Crucible: Islam and the making of Europe, 570-1215

“In God Revised, Galen Guengerich ambitiously, modestly, provocatively and lyrically calls for nothing less than the transformation of religion. Part irresistible memoir, part erudite theological exegesis, part dazzling cultural history, this unique work makes the idea of finding "a god we can believe in" feel necessary, relevant—and most of all, thrilling. God Revised is an adventure that will enrich you, and stay with you.” —Wednesday Martin, Columnist for Psychology Today and author of Stepmonster: A New Look at Why Real Stepmothers Think, Feel, and Act the Way We Do

“Guengerich speaks for those of us who reject both the unbelief of atheism and the hyper-belief of traditional religion.  He eloquently argues that “the reason religion is necessary, after all, isn’t so we can find salvation for the next life, but rather so we can find meaning and purpose in this one.” With wit, wisdom and compassion, Guengerich will convince you that this is how to live a godly life in the 21st century." —Elisabeth Robinson, Author, The True & Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters

“If you’ve ever thought of yourself as spiritual but not religious, as so many have, this is the book for you. Galen Guengerich masterfully illuminates what it means to be both, taking on rabid skeptics as readily as entrenched believers. The result is a book that both re-casts the concept of God and restores our faith in the human.”  —William F. Schulz, Former Executive Director, Amnesty International USA

 

“Galen Guengerich has written a book so comprehensive, personal, inquisitive, rational, and emotional that no reader can walk away from it without having to rethink faith, deepen spirituality, affirm science, and live as a better citizen of the world.” —C. Welton Gaddy, President, Interfaith Alliance

“Guengerich…offers a discursive meditation on how religion can fit into a scientific worldview. He rejects a supernatural, all-knowing God, yet still finds the need for a faith that gives life meaning.” —Publishers Weekly

Kirkus Reviews
A pastoral look at what "God" means in the face of modernity. Guengerich, senior minister of New York City's All Souls Church, has lived at two opposite ends of the religious spectrum. He was raised as a conservative Mennonite but is now a pastor in the liberal Unitarian Universalist denomination. As a young man, he came to the conclusion that the biblical God of his youth was a myth and a farce. However, he soon realized that religion still had a role to play in his life and the lives of others. In the Unitarian Universalist Church, he found an outlet for his views. In this work, Guengerich proposes a nontraditional outlook on religion and faith in the modern scientific age. The author unequivocally rejects the idea of God as a supernatural being. In his view, modern science shows that there was no creator or mover of the universe, and reason and logic disprove the divinity of God as put forth in monotheistic Scriptures. However, he still proposes a "God," defined as "the experience of being connected to all that is--all that is present, as well as all that is past and all that is possible." As such, he writes, each of us is "the face of God in this world," a tremendous responsibility to be lived out in community. Despite his commitment to reason, Guengerich relies on the mystical and mysterious to sell his concept of God. "Faith is something no one fully understands," he writes. "It peers into the realm of mystery and transcendence….Faith is a commitment to live with the belief that life is a wondrous mystery." Guengerich enriches his book with specific human elements drawn from his pastoral career, making it accessible and even evocative. However, he is simply following in the footsteps of thinkers across time who yearned for spirituality but rejected the world of the spirit.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230342255
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2013
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 296,725
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Rev. Dr. Galen Guengerich serves as the senior minister of All Souls in New York City, one of the largest and most prominent Unitarian Universalist congregations in the nation. He attended Princeton Theological Seminary, and earned a PhD in theology at the University of Chicago. His sermon "The Shaking of the Foundations" appeared in Representative American Speeches 2001-2002 as one of seven responses to September 11, alongside former President George Bush and former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 4, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Highly recommended for critical thinkers and spiritual progressives.

    Rev. Galen Guengerich, minister at All Soul's Unitarian Church in NYC, presented a theology of gratitude in a series of talks; it is now available in book form, as God Revised: How Religions Must Evolve in a Scientific Age (New York, 2014). He maintains that the theology of Judaism— clearly thinking of Orthodox Judaism—focuses on Obedience; the theology of Christianity—thinking of Jesus and Paul—focuses on Love; and that of Islam focuses on Submission, but Unitarian Universalism focuses on Gratitude. Two of Guengerich's chapters are "What We Receive: The Discipline of Gratitude" and "What We Owe: An Ethic of Gratitude."

    Whether or not his distinction between Unitarian Universalism and other spiritual traditions is right, a theology of gratitude is attractive because it fits well with process theology, a perspective popular among Unitarian Universalist ministers that Guengerich weaves into his book. Process theology is compatible with a vision of reality that takes time seriously, and therefore the contributions of past events to the present. It is also compatible with an up-to-date scientific understanding of physical, biological, and social-historical processes. This perspective is open to the discoveries of evolutionary biology and ecology. Moreover, process theologians see the operation of divinity in the nonhuman creation. Finally, process theology emphasizes humanity's debt to, and possible partnership with, other life forms on the Earth.

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