Catholic Library World reviews Cheryl Berman’s Reasonable Doubts

Reasonable Doubts: A Religious Skeptic Learns a Thing or Two About God
By Cheryl Berman, Urim Publications, 2010, 158 pp., ISBN 978-965-524-039-9, $19.95

by Sanford R. Silverburg

It is well recognized in Judaism that God is the Creator of all – to include evil and tragedy. But for many, the mystery of how good and evil can coexist and simultaneously be the creation of the same deity is cause of skepticism that this kind of spiritual being can exist at all. Cheryl Berman is an American Jew, trained as a philosopher who presently lives, writes, and teaches in Israel; her specialty is medieval Jewish philosophy. She presents here a personal, cognitive journey between two worlds: Elihu in the Babylonian diaspora, who questions God’s reasoning for denying a Jewish presence in Jerusalem; and another, found in the Book of Job, in which philosophy is based on thought, while science rests on what is known. She then weaves her examination beginning with a discussion of Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, then offering contributions from prominent medieval Jewish thinkers such as Saadya, who sought innate perfection of perfect justice; Maimonides, who examined the human causes of suffering and advanced an intellectual immunity to it; and Gersonides’ theory of Divine providence. The author brings to bear the Jewish ethical tradition of faith based not on knowledge, but on oneself and recognition of one’s relationship to God, for faith must be concretized by deeds.

A lightly treated philosophical tract that deals with the complexity of human existence in an attempt to strengthen one’s ultimate understanding of their relationship to God.

Best suited for an introductory study in comparative religious thought.

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