AJL Review of Reasonable Doubts

by Kathe Pinchuck

Berman, Cheryl
Reasonable Doubts: A Religious Skeptic Learns a Thing or Two About God
Jerusalem: Urim Publications, 2010.
158 pp. $19.95 (9789655240399)

As a college student, Cheryl Berman took a philosophy course and was hooked on the analytical process. As she pursued her studies, she began to question what was once a steadfast faith in God. One day, while walking back to her dormitory, she was hit by a taxi. Not only was her knee shattered, but also her concept of good and evil. By delving into a philosophical study of the paradox of theodicy (a loving God despite the existence of evil), she was able to appreciate that “faith is a process” and “a deeper faith is one that has been challenged.” While she chronicles her research and thought process, the book alternates chapters with a story of Elihu, a sixth century BCE Jewish exile in Babylonia who is writing The Book of Job. (This is a creative tactic. There are various opinions as to who wrote it.)

Similar to When Bad Things Happen to Good People in terms of an exploration driven by personal grief, the author’s sense of humor and intelligence are evident. What was an internal dialog that moved from frustration to consternation to acceptance makes for an interesting excursion. Through a gamut of arguments from luminaries including Maimonides, Kant, Descartes, Spinoza, Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, and Viktor Frankl, as well as a reading of The Book of Job, Berman is able to come to terms with the questions that had perplexed her. Short biographies of the philosophers and rabbinic sources, as well as a bibliography of works cited would have been helpful. Highly recommended for libraries whose patrons are interested in philosophy, otherwise a solid optional purchase.

The original article from the AJL Review can be found here on page 17.


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