Monday, September 24, 2007

A Secret of the Universe by Stephen L. Gibson

Stephen L. Gibson's novel A Secret of the Universe is a story of love, loss, and the discovery of eternal truth. It focuses on two friends, Ian and Bill, and their quest for this truth and faith. Brought up in a dominantly Christian society, Ian looks elsewhere for answers that his faith can't provide after some tragic events. Bill, on the other hand, finds that his Christian faith gives him the answers and the comfort he needs. This book takes us with Ian and Bill on their journeys, exploring and discovering the truth about their faiths. Gibson tells us this story steeped in facts about Christianity and the Bible much like how Jostein Gaarder told us about philosophy with Sophie's World.

A Secret of the Universe isn't an easy read though. There were many philosophies which I didn't agree with, and a lot of times I just wondered what Gibson's point was. There were times that I just really wanted to give up on it, and it wasn't until the end that I finally understood what the secret of the universe was supposed to be, and then I thought about Gibson, "You made me read more than 500 pages just to tell me this?!"

Don't get me wrong, this book is really more about the journey than the destination, and the information we learn on the journey is very interesting, but because the conclusion is so unbelievably simple, you wonder why you had to walk 500 miles to your destination when all you had to do was take the five mile shortcut. The truth is that most of us already know what Gibson is trying to tell us with his conclusion, so this so-called "Secret of the Universe" is in fact, not much of a secret at all.

However, with that being said, if you don't care about the destination, the ride Gibson takes us on is a extremely enlightening, but only for Christians or for people living in Christian societies. Other than the interesting facts about contradictions in the Bible, and the theory that Jesus Christ may not be a real person, this book just went over my head. All the talk about being Christian and believing in the word of the Bible meant nothing to me, and calling a revelation about Jesus Christ "a secret of the universe" seemed very narrow-minded to me. It would be a huge secret, yes, and an earth-shattering one, maybe, but not a secret of the universe because the rest of the universe who aren't living in Christian societies just wouldn't care.

This isn't meant to be Christian-bashing or anything, it's just that when a book tells me that I'm going to find the secret of the universe in between its covers while supposedly fostering a truth-driven thinking, whatever your faith may be, and then focuses solely and completely on Christianity and the Bible, made it seem really narrow-minded to me. I understand that Gibson is telling this story from the point of view of Christianity, and like I said, it's a very enlightening journey for Christians. But to anyone else who isn't interested in Christianity beyond basic knowledge, Gibson's A Secret of the Universe is probably a waste of time.

If you are a Christian in search of truth, however, or if you're just interested in learning more about Christianity and some of the contradictions in the Bible, this is a must-read. The information provided within this book is staggering and extremely eye-opening, and you will have to stop once in a while to digest all the information, but it will make you see things that you might never have thought of. You will get upset with some of the views he explores, and you will sometimes feel like throwing the book across the room and stomping on it. Do stick to it until the end though, and you will understand it better when you do, and don't just believe everything you read, do your own research and find your own truth, that's what A Secret of the Universe eventually tells you. There's no any one truth, the truth is what works for you. You can visit the website to find out more about it.

Ultimately, while I didn't agree with many of the philosophies in this book, particularly the part where Ian's family discouraged their mother from going to a faith healer (because I think you stop having the will to live when you stop having hope), it did open my eyes to a lot about Christianity, and it piqued my interest so much that I am now reading a chapter of the Bible every day. Just for curiosity's sake, you know. I am all for truth-driven thinking, as the book promotes, but I think emotion-driven thinking has its place as well. That's why we have both our heads and our hearts, and not just one or the other after all. Kudos to Gibson for making me think so much until my head hurts. I'm going to need to play at least 72 hours of mindless video games after this.


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