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Who Knows?

A Study of Religious Consciousness

Raymond M. Smullyan

Publication Year: 2003

Is there really a God, and if so, what is God actually like? Is there an afterlife, and if so, is there such a thing as eternal punishment for unrepentant sinners, as many orthodox Christians and Muslims believe? And is it really true that our unconscious minds are connected to a higher spiritual reality, and if so, could this higher spiritual reality be the very same thing that religionists call "God"? In his latest book, Raymond M. Smullyan invites the reader to explore some beautiful and some horrible ideas related to religious and mystical thought. In Part One, Smullyan uses the writings on religion by fellow polymath Martin Gardner as the starting point for some inspired ideas about religion and belief. Part Two focuses on the doctrine of Hell and its justification, with Smullyan presenting powerful arguments on both sides of the controversy. "If God asked you to vote on the retention or abolition of Hell," he asks, "how would you vote?" Smullyan has posed this question to many believers and received some surprising answers. In the last part of his treasurable triptych, Smullyan takes up the "beautiful and inspiring" ideas of Richard Bucke and Edward Carpenter on Cosmic Consciousness. Readers will delight in Smullyan's observations on religion and in his clear-eyed
presentation of many new and startling ideas about this most wonderful product of human consciousness.

Published by: Indiana University Press


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Table of Contents

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p. vii

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pp. ix-x

Is there really a God, and if so, what is He (She? It?) actually like? Is there really an afterlife, or is the belief in one mere superstitious, primitive, childish, wishful thinking? Is there actually one scrap of scientific evidence either for or against the possibility or probability of an afterlife? And...

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Wherefore the Whys

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pp. 1-45

Martin Gardner has left us a host of thought-provoking thoughts on religion (as well as other topics) in his book The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener, and I would like to share some of my own thoughts that his have provoked. This will be far...

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Through Dark Clouds

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pp. 47-95

I recently had a talk with a Methodist minister, a Wesleyan. He seemed quite surprised when I told him that I have known many Christians who definitely believe in God, but do not believe in any afterlife. A disciple of his who was present said, “I’ll tell you why people don’t believe in an afterlife: They don’t...

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Cosmic Consciousness

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pp. 97-134

In 1931, H. A. Overstreet, professor and head of the Department of Philosophy and Psychology at the College of the City of New York, wrote the following in his book The Enduring Quest:
In the year 1901, a remarkable book was published by a Canadian physician and psychiatrist of wide reading and penetrative originality. . . .


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pp. 135-136


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pp. 137-142

E-ISBN-13: 9780253109682
E-ISBN-10: 025310968X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253341983

Page Count: 160
Illustrations: 1 bibliog., 1 index
Publication Year: 2003

OCLC Number: 62866801
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Who Knows?

Research Areas


Subject Headings

  • Bucke, Richard Maurice, 1837-1902. Cosmic consciousness.
  • God.
  • Future life.
  • Hell.
  • Religion.
  • Church history ǂy Primitive and early church, ca. 30-600.
  • Gardner, Martin, 1914-2010. Whys of a philosophical scrivener.
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