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Gazing back from “The Universe Next Door”

Maybe it’s dumb to try to review a 40-year old book that has already had thousands of other readers & commenters weighing in but here we go! And I’m not talking about the contemporary Robert Anton Wilson classic by the same name that was published at around the same time.

Nope, the book I just read was Jim Sire’s The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog.

He is a Christian theist who lays out his own worldview and then does brief forays into other worldviews for contrast.

I love Christianity but it happens again and again that I get shocked by seeing it expressed as literal theism. You’d think I’d get used to it by now…

From the other worldviews he lays out, I’m into a whole bunch of them. Here are my faves:

That’s fine. He gets some things right and some things wrong. I’ve got to admire someone who starkly looks at all the options as opposed to never leaving the bubble.

The problem is the argument he uses, in a couple of different forms, for why you should choose Christian theism, which boils down to various forms of “he likes it better”, to “wouldn’t it be nice if…”

A sort of reverse Pascal’s wager, if you will. Instead of working based on what you fear might be true, he works off what he wishes was true. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was an external, transcendent, personal force that occasionally leaves the Fortress of Solitude?

He also uses kinda flimsy means to declare the other worldviews inconsistent, one by one:

Naturalists, for example, declare the universe to be closed on the one hand, and yet most naturalists affirm that human beings can reorder it on the other hand. If my argument is correct, we have seen that for us to be able to shape or reorder our environment, we must be able to transcend our immediate environment. But since naturalism declares we cannot do this, naturalism is inconsistent and cannot be true, at least as it is normally formulated.

Ah, the good old equivocation fallacy!

The experiential layer on which we have what we colloquially refer to as “free will” is different from the cells-and-atoms layer where we don’t, but he conflates those layers.