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The Deepest Truths

by Sarah Ruden

The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss, by David Bentley Hart (Yale, 365 pp., $25)

David Bentley Hart is probably the greatest living scholarly defender of religious thought. The title of his 2009 book Atheist Delusions is nicely descriptive: The book pits the actual Christian tradition against caricatures of it by such “New Atheists” as Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens. Hart’s new book, The Experience of God, seeks to vindicate all theistic religions, that is, all those that describe God as the transcendence that created and guides the universe.

In three magisterial sections — on being, consciousness, and bliss — Hart insists on the weaknesses of claims that these phenomena can be fully accounted for through materialistic or deistic theories, a fundamental conclusion of the latter being that God, though the creator and also the source of human reason, does not either inhere or intervene in what he created. The book makes, in general, a very solid case against both prominent atheists’ logical stumbling and others’ sloppy attempts to split the difference between religion and no-religion.

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