Home » Kiosk » Kiosk Article » A Review of “The God Problem: How a Godless Cosmos Creates”

A Review of “The God Problem: How a Godless Cosmos Creates”

The God Problem: How a Godless Cosmos Creates is a recent offering by sociologist and rock ‘n’ roll publicist Howard Bloom. The book, in both its title and opening pages, claims to have answered a question that cosmologists and philosophers have been asking since the origins of their fields: How could something as spectacular as the universe have come to be without a divine intelligence devising and setting it into motion?

After baiting us thusly, the book takes a strange left turn, giving its readers a massive (approximately six-hundred page) history of science and mathematics. As a layman, I cannot assess the accuracy or thoroughness of Bloom’s historical research. However, it is irrelevant to the main premises of both this article and the book itself, so I’ll move along.

Throughout the tedious endeavor of reading the work, Bloom’s audience is repeatedly subjected to his overwhelmingly bad prose. The man never met a sentence fragment he didn’t like or a paragraph he couldn’t mutilate by going off on an irrelevant tangent. He never concerns himself with continuity or structure and his writing quickly becomes repetitive, which seems like an attempt to compensate for his inability to make his points effectively the first time they’re raised.

Cheesy literary devices run amok throughout the book. Bloom’s lack of talent for metaphor never discourages him from using them constantly. (If you plan on reading the book, try turning the page every time you come across a painfully bad metaphor and see how fast you can get through the whole thing.) He often descends into personal digressions and seems weirdly obsessed with getting his readers to imagine themselves as his own adolescent self, whom he doesn’t hesitate to mention (on several occasions) read two books a day and was already working in a laboratory. (He also seems rather intent on associating himself with the greats of science, pushing his arrogance to repulsive, perhaps narcissistic levels.) Furthermore, Bloom, with the enthusiasm of a late-night infomercial host, peppers his pages with absurd amounts of hyperbole, dressing up every trivial observation and supposed insight to make them seem groundbreaking.

Now that Bloom’s shortcomings as a writer have been addressed, our attention turns to his equally severe shortcomings as a thinker. The book is entirely devoid of original intellectual content, save for a few absurdities[1]which are repeated ad nauseam, such as Bloom’s “two rules of science” which are, “The truth at any price, including the price of your life,” and “look at the things right under your nose as if you’ve never seen them before.” These rules are, of course, undefended by any sort of argumentation, unless of course his need to constantly repeat them constitutes an “argument from assertion” fallacy. He leaves the reader wondering why he seems so obsessed with the rules, as they ultimately amount to nothing more than trite slogans having nothing to do with the god problem except at a very abstract level.

He asserts and goes on to defend at length his “Five Heresies,” which are mostly valid (though hopelessly banal[2] comments on the law of identity, the application of abstract mathematics to concrete objects, entropy, randomness and information theory. He seems to regard his objections as criticism, but they amount to nothing more than trivial exceptions to well-established and generally valid rules. He never, at any point, succeeds in tying these “mildly flabbergasting” heresies in with the main thesis of his book.

As for the main thesis itself, the book completely fails. Worse than that, Bloom, in the final chapter, admits that it fails, saying in his defense only that new questions can be more important that new answers. (Shouldn’t the book have been titled, The God Problem: How does a Godless Cosmos Create?) This is a painfully sour note upon which to end an over seven hundred page book. It amounts to nothing short of consumer fraud.

The only attempt the book actually makes at solving the God problem is by outlining what is referred to as, “the Bloom Toroidal Model of the Universe,” (also called “the big bagel theory[3]”) which proposes that all of the matter and antimatter in our universe are, due to its proposed dough-nut-like shape, destined to eventually meet and annihilate one another, releasing a massive amount of energy and creating an “infinitesimally small, anal retentive hole,” that will give birth to another universe via a big bang. This universe will meet the same fate, creating another universe, and so on ad infinitum. This hypothesis has existed since the eighties (A fact the book acknowledges) and Bloom has added nothing to it sans his own name, and therefore nothing to the literary landscape sans a fourth-rate attempt at popular science writing.

As a naturalist with a strong interest in cosmology, I picked up The God Problem with high hopes. After all, Bloom raised over $20,000[4] to promote the book and lathered its jacket and flyleaves with an emphatic, almost aggressive chorus of praise that amounted to a siren song. I now realize that this siren song is meant to distract readers from the fact that their hopes are about to be dashed. As far as epic disappointments go, Bloom is to naturalism what Harold Camping is to Christianity. Don’t bother reading The God Problem. Even if you borrow it from a library like I did, you’ll find yourself feeling entitled to a refund. Read a more informative and well-written book on the subject of secular origins, like Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow’s The Grand Design.


[1] Bloom draws an analogy between Peano’s axioms and his “big bagel” because he believes that they can both be extrapolated from a small number of simple principles. In a promotional statement for The God Problem, it is implied that Peano’s axioms are the the “key to the cosmos.” To say that of a purely arbitrary connection is to take exaggeration to the level of a fine art.

[2] For example: Bloom asserts that information theory is way off base because it’s not really about information at all, but meaning. I kid you not. This is an example of his love of exaggeration, his tendency to assert the hollowest of objections after putting them in the guise of genuine insight.

[3] This is, of course, incorrect usage of the word “theory,” which is an established and well-defended scientific proposition.

[4] Via Kickstarter. It can be found at kickstarter.com/projects/1870526265/the-god-problem-how-a-godless-cosmos-creates-book