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Philosophy

The Philosophy of Religion Reader

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In the past, most philosophy of religion anthologies focused exclusively on Western theistic issues such as arguments for and against God’s existence, religious language, morality, the nature of God, and so forth. While much work in the field is still Western and theistic in nature (and these are indeed yet productive and fertile times for engaging in such issues), religious parochialism is unwarranted, and the discussion is now beginning to swing in broader directions. There are rich traditions of philosophical thought in non-Western and non-theistic religions, and as the world community has globalized in myriad ways in recent decades, such interaction, engagement, and expansion should be reflected in philosophical and religious publications as well. So besides traditional Western issues (including such recent ones as intelligent design and open theism), I have also included in my reader non-theistic perspectives of ultimate reality and their responses to evil, religious experience, and death and the afterlife. I have also included some of the recent trends which are often ignored in anthologies such as feminism in philosophy of religion and religion and the environment. In addition, I wanted this work to be a useful reader and guide for students, so I included a significant number of pedagogical tools (as I note below). I don’t think any reader/anthology on the market has as many student aids. ~ Chad Meister

Philosophy of Religion

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A comprehensive and authoritative overview of the most important ideas and arguments in this resurgent field. The text moves beyond the borders of Western theism to more accurately reflect the nature of the twenty-first-century world. Featuring eighteen original essays from leading scholars, this collection offers a wide variety of viewpoints for a well balanced perspective on both traditional and cutting-edge topics in philosophy of religion. Designed for course use, this accessible text includes study questions and annotated further reading lists to stimulate reflection and provide opportunities for deeper exploration of the fundamental questions of the nature of religion.

A World of Difference

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Recent Barna research indicates that less than one in ten evangelical Christians hold a biblical worldview. A World of Difference seeks to change this disturbing fact by educating readers on how the Christian perspective is uniquely reasonable, verifiable, and liveable. Author Kenneth Richard Samples faced a profound test of his own belief system during a personal life-and-death crisis. In A World of Difference, he uses nine distinct tests to compare the Christian worldview with current religious and philosophical competitors, including Islam, postmodernism, naturalism, and pantheistic monism. Samples tackles tough issues through this in-depth study of Christianity’s history, creed, and philosophical basis. An excellent resource for readers who want their view of life and the world to make sense. ~ Product Description

Breaking the Spell

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In his characteristically provocative fashion, Dennett, author of Darwin’s Dangerous Idea and director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University, calls for a scientific, rational examination of religion that will lead us to understand what purpose religion serves in our culture. Much like E.O. Wilson (In Search of Nature), Robert Wright (The Moral Animal), and Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene), Dennett explores religion as a cultural phenomenon governed by the processes of evolution and natural selection. Religion survives because it has some kind of beneficial role in human life, yet Dennett argues that it has also played a maleficent role. He elegantly pleads for religions to engage in empirical self-examination to protect future generations from the ignorance so often fostered by religion hiding behind doctrinal smoke screens. Because Dennett offers a tentative proposal for exploring religion as a natural phenomenon, his book is sometimes plagued by generalizations that leave us wanting more ("Only when we can frame a comprehensive view of the many aspects of religion can we formulate defensible policies for how to respond to religions in the future"). Although much of the ground he covers has already been well trod, he clearly throws down a gauntlet to religion. ~ Publishers Weekly

Philosophy Made Slightly Less Difficult

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From time to time we all face life’s big questions … What is real? How do we know what we know? What is right? Who or what am I? How should we view science and its claims? And as we wrestle with these issues, we may even find ourselves thinking, Perhaps what I need is a good dose of philosophy. It’s a shame philosophy is so difficult. Garrett DeWeese and J. P. Moreland understand this frustration and in this book offer help to make philosophy at least slightly less difficult. In straightforward language with everyday examples, they explain the basics needed to understand philosophical concepts and thus bring clarity to discussions of life’s big questions.Students, pastors, campus workers and ordinary Christians will all benefit from this user-friendly guide. ~ Product Description

Charles Taliaferro on the Philosophy of Religion

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Philosophy of religion is also a robust, important undertaking due to its breadth. Religious traditions are so comprehensive and all-encompassing that almost every domain of philosophy may be drawn upon in the philosophical exploration of their coherence, justification, and value. I can think of few areas of philosophy that lack religious implications. Any philosophical account of knowledge, values, reason, human nature, language, science, and the like will have a bearing on how one views God or the sacred; religious values and practices; the religious treatment of birth, history, and death; the varieties of religious experience; the relationship between science and religion; and other substantial terrain… ¶ Because it explores embedded social and personal practices, philosophy of religion is relevant to practical concerns; its subject matter is not all abstract theory. Given the vast percentage of the world population that is either aligned with religion or affected by it, philosophy of religion has a secure role in addressing people’s values and commitments. A chief point of reference in much philosophy of religion revolves not around hypothetical, highly abstract thought experiments but around the shape ad content of living traditions. Because of this practical embeddedness, philosophy of religion involves issues of great political and cultural significance. Questions are raised about the relationship between religious and secular values; religious toleration and liberty; and the religious implications and duties concerning medicine, the economy, public art, education, sexual ethics, and environmental responsibility.

Thinking About God

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Greg Ganssle has produced the most fun and readable introduction to philosophy of religion I have ever encountered. His target audience runs from high school seniors to introductory college students, and I can say that I have enjoyed teaching an introductory philosophy course using this book. He presents the issues in a clear-headed way while drawing readers in with fun examples and humor. After arguing for the value of thinking through philosophical questions in a reasonable way, Ganssle argues for open-mindedness in the sense of not being so sure of your views that you are not open to reason, but he also dismisses the idea that we must be neutral or that we must not make exclusive truth claims. Open-mindedness does not require having no views in those ways. I especially like seeing this in a book designed for younger students unfamiliar enough with philosophy to need some kind of way of heading off the simplistic kind of relativism that many students of philosophy find themselves stumbling over. The main body of the work considers philosophical arguments for and against the existence of God. ~ Parableman @ Amazon.com

Richard Swinburne on Simplicity

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Its degree of simplicity and its scope determine the intrinsic probability of a theory, its probability independent of its relation to any evidence. The simpler a theory, the more probable it is. The simplicity of a theory, in my view, is a matter of it postulating few (logically independent) entities, few properties of entities, few kinds of entities, few kinds of properties, properties more readily observable, few separate laws with few terms relating few variables, the simplest formulation of each law being mathematically simple. … A theory is simpler and so has greater prior probability to the extent to which these criteria are satisfied.

The Impossibility of God

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Since 1948, a growing number of scholars have been formulating and developing a series of arguments that the concept of God — as understood by the world’s leading theologians and major religions — is logically contradictory, and therefore God not only does not exist but, more significantly, cannot exist. In short, God is impossible. This unique anthology collects for the first time most of the important published arguments for the impossibility of God. Included are selections by J.L. Mackie, Quentin Smith, Theodore Drange, Michael Martin, and many other distinguished scholars. The editors provide a valuable general introduction and helpful summaries of the cricual issues involved. ~ Product Description

Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview

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What is real? What is truth? What can we know? What should we believe? What should we do and why? Is there a God? Can we know him? Do Christian doctrines make sense? Can we believe in God in the face of evil? These are fundamental questions that any thinking person wants answers to. These are questions that philosophy addresses. And the answers we give to these kinds of questions serve as the foundation stones for constructing any kind of worldview. In Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview, J. P. Moreland and William Lane Craig offer a comprehensive introduction to philosophy from a Christian perspective. In their broad sweep they seek to introduce readers to the principal subdisciplines of philosophy, including epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of science, ethics and philosophy of religion. They do so with characteristic clarity and incisiveness. Arguments are clearly presented, and rival theories are presented with fairness and accuracy. Philosophy, they contend, aids Christians in the tasks of apologetics, polemics and systematic theology. It reflects our having been made in the image of God, helps us to extend biblical teaching into areas not expressly addressed in Scripture, facilitates the spiritual discipline of study, enhances the boldness and self-image of the Christian community, and is requisite to the essential task of integrating faith and learning. Here is a lively and thorough introduction to philosophy for all who want to know reality. ~ Synopsis

Philosophy of Religion: Second Edition

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Is there any basis in reality for a religious experience? Is there any basis in reason for belief in God? Is it even possible to speak meaningfully of a transcendent being? And how does one account for evil? The authors answer these questions, representing the four most important issues in the philosophy of religion, in a comprehensive way and “form the perspective of classical theism.” They support this position with in-depth argumentation, taking into account both classical and contemporary writers. ~ Wipf and Stock

God Matters

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God Matters is a state-of-the-art, accessible anthology of the major issues in philosophy of religion. Its accessibility is due to its mix of classic readings and brand new readings about contemporary issues, commissioned specifically with an undergraduate student in mind. These commissioned readings make the difficult concepts of contemporary philosophy of religion easy to understand, and are complemented by key excerpts from more technical philosophers’ writing on the same subjects. The result is an engaging, comprehensive reader that introduces students to the most important ideas in classical and contemporary philosophy of religion, to the most important thinkers, and even to excerpts from the key texts in which these thinkers presented their groundbreaking theories. ~ Product Description

Philosophy of Religion: An Anthology

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This textbook/anthology maps out the major controversies and key positions in the philosophy of religion. The traditional arguments for the existence of God are presented and critiqued (one is tempted to say, refuted), as is the argument from religious experience. The book then moves on to those other, equally thorny, problems — evil, the attributes of God, miracles, revelation, death, and immortality. Chapters also consider the relationship between faith and reason (currently a trial separation, with visitation rights), scientific and religious perspectives on evolution, the possibility of religious pluralism, and the connection between religion and ethics. The historical heavyweights are well represented, with excerpts from Aquinas, Hume, Anselm, Kant, James, Freud, Leibniz, Augustine, Plato, Russell, Pascal, Wittgenstein, and Kierkegaard. ~ Booknews

Philosophy of Religion

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This important new book is a combined anthology and guide intended for use as a textbook in courses on philosophy of religion. It aims to bring to the student the very best of cutting-edge work on important topics in the field. The anthology is comprised of six sections, each of which opens with a substantive introductory essay followed by a selection of influential writings by philosophers of religion.

Plantinga’s Philosophical Rennaisance

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In a recent issue of Philosophy Now, Daniel Hill describes how the work of Alvin Plantinga has revolutionized the discipline of Philosophy of Religion. His cursory sketch of the subject and his observations on Plantinga’s unique and peerless contributions are an interesting introduction to the field and its leading spokesperson. Several of Plantinga’s articles [link expired] are available online. For a fuller synopsis of his life and work, consider reading The Analytic Theist.

From Metaphysics to Ethics

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Frank Jackson champions the cause of conceptual analysis as central to philosophical inquiry. In recent years conceptual analysis has been undervalued and widely misunderstood, suggests Jackson. He argues that such analysis is mistakenly clouded in mystery, preventing a whole range of important questions from being productively addressed. He anchors his argument in discussions of specific philosophical issues, starting with the metaphysical doctrine of physicalism and moving on, via free will, meaning, personal identity, motion, and change, to ethics and the philosophy of color. In this way the book not only offers a methodological program for philosophy, but also casts new light on some much-debated problems and their interrelations. ~ Book Description

Faith and Reason

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The philosophy of religion is an intrinsic part of the richness of Western philosophy. Faith and Reason displays in historical perspective some of the rich dialogue between religion and philosophy over two millennia, beginning with Greek reflections about God and the gods and ending with twentieth-century debate about faith in a world that tends to reserve its reverence for science. Paul Helm uses as a case study the question of whether the world is eternal or whether it was created out of nothing, following this theme from Plato through medieval thought to modern scientific speculation about the beginnings of the universe. This Oxford Reader also includes discussion of many other fundamental issues raised by the juxtaposition of faith and reason, including arguments for and against the existence of God, the relationship between religion and ethics, the contrast between reason and revelation as sources of knowledge, and the implications of religious belief for freedom of the will. ~ Product Description

Rethinking Intuition

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Ancients and moderns alike have constructed arguments and assessed theories on the basis of common sense and intuitive judgments. Yet, despite the important role intuitions play in philosophy, there has been little reflection on fundamental questions concerning the sort of data intuitions provide, how they are supposed to lead us to the truth, and why we should treat them as important. In addition, recent psychological research seems to pose serious challenges to traditional intuition-driven philosophical inquiry. Rethinking Intuition brings together a distinguished group of philosophers and psychologists to discuss these important issues. Students and scholars in both fields will find this book to be of great value. ~ Book Description

Academic Integration and the Christian Scholar

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Thoughtful Christians are agreed that an important component of Christian scholarship is the integration of faith and learning, as it is sometimes called. Because Christians are interested in the truth for its own sake and because they are called to proclaim and defend their views to an unbelieving world and to seek to live consistently with those views, it is important for members of the believing community to think carefully about how to integrate their carefully formed theological beliefs with prominent claims in other fields of study. As St. Augustine wisely asserted, "We must show our Scriptures not to be in conflict with whatever [our critics] can demonstrate about the nature of things from reliable sources."1 However, the task of integration is hard work and there is no widespread agreement about how it is to be done generally or about what its results should look like in specific cases. In what follows, I shall do three things to contribute to the integrative enterprise: 1) describe the relation between integration and spiritual formation; 2) discuss current integrative priorities for the Christian scholar; 3) analyze the epistemic tasks for and models employed in integration.

Truth and Religious Belief

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This book contains a thorough and balanced series of dialogues introducing key topics in philosophy of religion, such as: the existence and nature of God, the problem of evil, religious pluralism, the nature of religious experience, immortality, and the meaning of life. A realistic cast of characters in a natural setting engages in a series of thought-provoking conversations; the dialogue format of these conversations captures typical student attitudes and questions concerning religious belief; allows comparison of important themes throughout the dialogues; encourages the interjection of insights, observations, questions, and objections; and introduces related points when they would naturally arise, instead of relegating them to a later chapter. As well as presenting a detailed and probing discussion, each dialogue includes a list of key terms, a set of study questions, and a bibliography – all of which make this an excellent text for courses in philosophy of religion and introductory philosophy classes. ~ Product Description

Philosophical Apologetics, the Church, and Contemporary Culture

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Moreland defines what he calls philosophical apologetics as "a philosophical activity which has as its goal (or perhaps as its result) the increasing or maintaining of the epistemic justification of a Christian world view in whole or in part." Moreland surveys several varieties of philosophical apologetics and makes the case for philosophy as an essential and specially placed discipline for the effective integration of theology with other sources of knowledge claims. Finally, Moreland suggests several practical ways in which Christians can interact persuasively with the world of ideas that undercut the plausibility and relevance of Christian ideas in contemporary culture. ~ Afterall

The Resurrection of Theism

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This article is Dr. Craig’s Introduction to volume three of the Truth Journal on “New Arguments for the Existence of God.” It charts the resurgence in our day of Philosophy of Religions and interacts briefly with the thought of such important theistic philosophers as Plantinga, Swinburne, and Leslie.

John Hick on Language and Perception

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It is within the phenomenal or experienceable realm that language has developed and it is to this that it literally applies. Indeed the system of concepts embodied in human language contributed reciprocally to the formation of the humanly perceived world. It is as much constructed as given. But our language can have no purchase on a postulated noumenal reality which is not even partly formed by human concepts. This lies outside the scope of our cognitive capacities.

Brian Hebblethwaite on the Centrality of Incarnation

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There can be no doubt that the doctrine of the Incarnation has been taken during the bulk of Christian history to constitute the very heart of Christianity. Hammered out over five centuries of passionate debate, enshrined in the classical Christian creeds, explored and articulated in the great systematic theologies, the doctrine expresses, so far as human words permit, the central belief of Christians that God himself, without ceasing to be God, has come amongst us, not just in but as a particular man, at a particular time and place. The human life lived and the death died have been held quite literally to be the human life and death of God himself in one of the modes of his own eternal being. Jesus Christ, it has been firmly held, was truly God as well as being truly man. As we have seen, this belief is not only expressed in the doctrine of the Incarnation, but also in countless hymns and devotional rites that belong to the very stuff of living Christianity, not to mention the art and sculpture which it has inspired down the centuries.