The Universe Next Door (Sire)

This review is on the Second Edition of the book, copyright
1988. The fourth edition
does include a major update (a carry over from the third edition)—an entire section on post-modernism and if
you’re looking to read a copy of the book that would be the one.

What’s the Point of
The Book?

To give us a basic overview and introduction to several
worldviews beginning from the author’s own worldview (Christian Theism) all the
way through the New Age Movement. The author is not trying to indoctrinate us
in every point found in the worldview or even the major divisions throughout
but he wishes to underscore some major features and question some major
problems.

The Good
This is tough because it could also be a “bad” and only that
because of the date of the original publication (1976). The meat of the book
comes in 219 pages with bibliographical notes that bring the count up to 241
(The remaining 5 pages are devoted to the index). Those biographical notes are
a godsend for anyone wanting to dig further into the material and are stated as
such by the author. This edition actually features a much appreciated rewrite
of the New Age movement section in light of how much has happened from 76 to
88. The worldviews are given pretty fair treatment considering what the author
is doing (overview and not in-depth apologetics). The language is fitting with
the subject and as worldviews grow increasingly complex the author stands with
that view and exposes us to the language being used.

The Bad
The cover illustration is dated but that is to be expected
with a 1988 title. The book could have been longer and still accomplished it’s
overview goal while simultaneously shedding some light on alternate worldviews.

The Ugly
The theistic section should have covered different theistic
worldviews. I know his purpose was to give an overview and finally summarize
how each of these fall short but by ignoring alternate theisms he doesn’t
really underscore how Christian Theism stands out. In this book it seems that
it’s either Christian Theism or Naturalism and all that grows out of that.
Failing to mention, say Islamic Theism, is a huge oversight and one that can
leave the reader saying “fine, naturalism is wacky but why not believe in {X
Creator God} instead of the Christian God?” I also think that the nihilism
section may have consisted of some ungrounded generalizations for instance he
opens that chapter with “Nihilism is more a feeling than a philosophy. Strictly
speaking, nihilism is not a philosophy at all.” After this he proceeds to show
how nihilism leads to despair and despair is the teaching of nihilism that
grows out of a naturalistic framework. If he established it up front I wouldn’t
be as critical.

Star Rating.
All my remarks aside, I still think this book is well
worth reading as an introduction into worldviews and understanding that
the
author doesn’t intend for the book to do any more. I would warn the
reader that
the section on Eastern Pantheistic Monism is utterly confusing and
demands a
second and third reading but that is no fault of the author. Some of
the things
being dealt with in that philosophy are so outside Westerners’ thinking
that he
or she may have to saturate themselves with the words so as to
understand what
is wrong with them. Personally I wish I had the fourth edition because
of the section on postmodernism. With that warning I give this book
three stars with a must
read rating
.

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5 thoughts on “The Universe Next Door (Sire)

Hey,

I’m on a kind of worldview odyssey. I’m a Catholic, but I have heard my Protestant friends that about worldview, so I decided to check it out.

Here’s my reading list (do you suggest any additions or deletions?):

The Universe Next Door
How Now Should We Live?
The God Who is There
Blah Blah Blah by Bayard Taylor
Something by Abraham Kuyper
Naming the Elephant
Total Truth

I have about a zillion questions and have been asking various bloggers for answers, but I think I’m overwhelming them. If you think maybe you would like to join the conversation, I can start putting some questions to you.

I suppose I can’t help but form certain opinions on what I read, but at this point I’m really just trying to take it in and understand.

Sure bro,

Ravi Zacharias has some good stuff like Jesus Among the Gods, Philosophy: Christian Perspectives for the New Millennium and Science: Christian Perspectives for the New Millennium

James White has been recommend but I find he’s a bit too charged with vitriol to bother listening to him very long.

I’m open for questions but I can’t promise very good answers. :D

Okay, don’t feel bad if you don’t know–I’ve asked a number of bloggers this one and no one has given an answer.

Do you know what Scaheeffer and Sire are talking about with the “particulars” and “universals” jargon they both use? I can’t make any sense of it. If you need me to, I can give you page numbers where they talk about it so you can re-read it.

Thanks

Woops! sorry: my commenting system is set on ridiculous blocking since I’ve been getting spam-attacked!

Hit me up with the page numbers and I’ll see if I can refresh my mind.

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