The Language God Talks: On Science and Religion

The Language God Talks: On Science and Religion

2.7 7
by Herman Wouk
     
 

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"More years ago than I care to reckon up, I met Richard Feynman." So begins THE LANGUAGE GOD TALKS, Herman Wouk's gem on navigating the divide between science and religion. In one rich, compact volume, Wouk draws on stories from his life as well as on key events from the 20th century to address the eternal questions of why we are here, what purpose faith serves, and… See more details below

Overview

"More years ago than I care to reckon up, I met Richard Feynman." So begins THE LANGUAGE GOD TALKS, Herman Wouk's gem on navigating the divide between science and religion. In one rich, compact volume, Wouk draws on stories from his life as well as on key events from the 20th century to address the eternal questions of why we are here, what purpose faith serves, and how scientific fact fits into the picture. He relates wonderful conversations he's had with scientists such as Feynman, Murray Gell-Mann, Freeman Dyson, and Steven Weinberg, and brings to life such pivotal moments as the 1969 moon landing and the Challenger disaster. Brilliantly written, THE LANGUAGE GOD TALKS is a scintillating and lively investigation and a worthy addition to the literature.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
At age 94, Wouk embarks on an autobiographical journey through his monumental writings (The Caine Mutiny; The Winds of War; War and Remembrance), people he has met in his life, world events, and books he has read (including the Talmud) to weave a testament of faith. Throughout the book, he returns to his friendship with Nobel laureateRichard Feynman, whose work as a scientist on the atomic bomb and life as a humanist challenge the author’s Orthodox Jewish beliefs. Along the way the reader meets other scientists and their accomplishments and also some of Wouk’s fictional characters. What most impresses Wouk is the big bang (“the first three minutes”) and the small bang (“the universe giving birth to the mind”) so that humans could comprehend God. Ever so faithful to his Jewish heritage, he discusses how research in the scientific and secular world strengthened his faith. This book will interest any person of faith who has followed Wouk’s storied career and read his fiction. (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Wouk (A Hole in Texas, 2004, etc.) tackles calculus, the Talmud and cranky, cantankerous physicists in a poignant examination of science and religion. In a crowded book market filled with self-serving and redundant theories about humankind's place in the grand scheme, it is rare to encounter an original, honest, charming voice. Such is the case with Wouk's latest work. The author's journey began with an innocent but daunting challenge from the great Cal Tech physicist Richard Feynman, who, during one of their discussions of quantum mechanics, asked Wouk if he knew calculus. Wouk admitted that he did not. "You had better learn it," Feynman replied. "It's the language God talks." What followed was an earnest search to master said language in an effort to grapple with the all-to-human desire to better understand existence. During his search, Wouk discovered that God is in fact bilingual. His second language is one the author, and other mere mortals who flunked calculus, have more than a passing knowledge of-the language of faith. Be it Judaism, Christianity or any other religion, Wouk demonstrates that the divide between science and religion can be crossed, and one doesn't need a Nobel Prize to do it. However, there are no guarantees that you will find answers once you cross the chasm. To say that it's the journey and not the destination that matters would be to understate the profound respect and awe the author shows for all those engaged in the search for life's big answers, whichever language they speak. Wouk's humility, humor and insight make the book a joy to read and a wonder to contemplate. What the book lacks in pages, it makes up for in soul.Authentic, accessible prose mixed with real insight.
Jimmy Buffett
"Herman Wouk is one of the wisest men I have ever known. In aviation the best information comes from pilots themselves, in airplanes, not from air-traffic controllers or meteorologists on the ground, in some big air-conditioned office. In The Language God Talks, Herman sends us all a most valuable pilot report."
Marisha Pessl
"With ease and intensity, Wouk leads us deep into the shadows between religion and science and shows us they are not separate mountains but one luminous, interconnected landscape. And yet, like the best of guides, he urges us to see and discover with our own eyes. A stunning rumination on life's important questions by a masterful storyteller."
Maarten Schmidt
"Masterful...After several readings, I keep finding new treasures in this fascinating book."
Jonathan Safran Foer
"Wouk's questions are pure, his exploration heartfelt, and his remarkable lifetime of experience couldn't be more relevant or necessary."
Elie Wiesel
"In this book, as in his previous ones, whenever Herman Wouk speaks of God it is always with both exquisite curiosity and warmth."
Stanley B. Prusiner
"Extraordinary. Wouk's recounting of conversations with Richard Feynman is not to be missed."
Lee Chottiner
"The Language God Talks is a seminal read. In this book there is a true to life drama: It is Wouk himself, torn between two worlds, and reconciling them both."
Doug Childers
"Wouk is a great storyteller, and his anecdotes about meeting with brilliant thinkers such as Feynman are entertaining. With Wouk's conversational writing style and humble approach to his subject, The Language God Talks is a fun, intellectually engaging book."
Dinesh Ramde
"A short, satisfying read. Wouk's writing is so captivating, still as elegant as ever. It demonstrates that Wouk hasn't lost a whit of his storytelling genius."
From the Publisher
"In this book, as in his previous ones, whenever Herman Wouk speaks of God it is always with both exquisite curiosity and warmth."—Elie Wiesel"

Wouk's questions are pure, his exploration heartfelt, and his remarkable lifetime of experience couldn't be more relevant or necessary."—Jonathan Safran Foer"

With ease and intensity, Wouk leads us deep into the shadows between religion and science and shows us they are not separate mountains but one luminous, interconnected landscape. And yet, like the best of guides, he urges us to see and discover with our own eyes. A stunning rumination on life's important questions by a masterful storyteller."—Marisha Pessl, author of Special Topics in Calamity Physics"

Masterful...After several readings, I keep finding new treasures in this fascinating book."—Maarten Schmidt, Francis L. Moseley Professor of Astronomy, Emeritus, California Institute of Technology"

Extraordinary. Wouk's recounting of conversations with Richard Feynman is not to be missed."—Stanley B. Prusiner, Nobel Laureate, Director of the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases at University of California, San Francisco"

In a crowded book market filled with self-serving and redundant theories about humankind's place in the grand scheme, it is rare to encounter an original, honest, charming voice. Such is the case with Wouk's latest work....Wouk's humility, humor and insight make the book a joy to read and a wonder to contemplate...Authentic, accessible prose mixed with real insight."—Kirkus Reviews"

...as engaging as [Wouk's] megaselling historical novels....Hard not to like."—Booklist"

This book will interest any person of faith who has followed Wouk's storied career and read his fiction."—Publishers Weekly

Booklist
"...as engaging as [Wouk's] megaselling historical novels....Hard not to like."
Seed Magazine
"The Language God Talks is simply and wonderfully an old and gifted writer's fascinating look back on a world that, for 94 years, he has called home."
The Jewish Journal
"A kind of compact philosophical autobiography and a unique opportunity for readers to glimpse the innermost musings and intimate experiences that prepared Wouk for the many books that he has bestowed upon us."
Library Journal
Renowned physicist Richard Feynman set aside his Jewish faith in childhood. For him, the drama of humanity was just too small to fill such a vast cosmic stage. In this memoir of sorts, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Wouk (The Caine Mutiny) takes his friend Feynman's critique of faith seriously, recounting Feynman's encounters with some of the last century's scientific luminaries and offering a running account of his own works and faith wanderings. Wouk freely admits he is a storyteller; the language of science is not his own. He believes in the power of lived religious observance both to give and to embody meaning, even after the Holocaust. In the end, Wouk appeals to a "counterculture" among scientists who find a place for cosmic meaning within science's grand narrative and offers background on his own writings in the process but no new insight on his topic. VERDICT This is an optional choice for those interested in the intersection of faith and science. Alan Lightman's A Sense of the Mysterious: Science and the Human Spirit covers much of the same ground with a similar personal touch. [See "Prepub Exploded," BookSmack!, November 19, 2010.]—Steve Young, McHenry Cty. Coll., Crystal Lake, IL

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316096751
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
04/05/2010
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
669,735
File size:
1 MB

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What People are saying about this

Elie Wiesel
In this book, as in his previous ones, whenever Herman Wouk speaks of God it is always with both exquisite curiosity and warmth.
Jonathan Safran Foer
Wouk's questions are pure, his exploration heartfelt, and his remarkable lifetime of experience couldn't be more relevant or necessary.

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