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Is there a God? What is the evidence for belief in such a being? What is God like? Or, is God a figment of human inspiration? How do we know that such a being might not exist? Should belief or disbelief in God's existence make a difference in our opinions and moral choices, in the way we see ourselves and relate to those around us?
These are fundamental questions, and their answers have shaped individual lives, races, and nations throughout history. On March 24, 1988, at the University of Mississippi, J.P. Moreland, a leading Christian philosopher and ethicist, and Kai Nielsen, one of today's best-known atheist philosophers, went head-to-head over these questions.
Does God Exist? records their entire lively debate and includes questions from the audience, the debaters' answers, and the responses of four recognized scholars - William Lane Craig, Antony Flew, Dallas Willard, and Keith Parsons. Noted author and philosopher Peter Kreeft has written an introduction, concluding chapter, and appendix - all designed to help readers decide for themselves whether God is fact or fantasy.
In a lively debate, which includes questions from the audience, Christian philosopher and ethicist J.P. Moreland and Kai Neilsen, one of today's best-known atheist philosophers, go head to head on the fundamental issues and questions that have shaped individual lives, races, and nations throughout history.
|Introduction: Why Debate the Existence of God?||11|
|Pt. I||Does God Exist? The Formal Debate|
|1||Yes! A Defense of Christianity||33|
|2||No! A Defense of Atheism||48|
|3||A Christian's Rebuttal||55|
|4||An Atheist's Rebuttal||64|
|5||Closing Arguments for Atheism||69|
|6||Closing Arguments for Christianity||73|
|7||Questions and Answers||76|
|Pt. II||Does It Matter That God Exists? The Debate Continued|
|8||Ethics Without God||97|
|9||Ethics Depend on God||111|
|10||More Questions and Answers||127|
|Pt. III||What Do Others Think? Responses to the Debate|
|11||In Defense of Rational Theism||139|
|12||The Case for God Challenged||162|
|13||Is There a Case for Christian Theism?||177|
|14||Language, Being, God, and the Three Stages of Theistic Evidence||197|
|Pt. IV||What Would the Debaters Say? Some Closing Arguments|
|15||Atheism and Leaky Buckets: The Christian Rope Pulls Tighter||221|
|16||Defending Atheism Again: Remarks on God and Coherence||247|
|Pt. V||How Can I Decide for Myself? The Debate Made Personal|
|17||The Choice of a Lifetime||287|
|Appendix: Facing the Specific Questions||293|
Posted May 22, 2000
This book is divided into three sections: (i) the transcriptof the oral debate on the existence of God between Christian philosopher J.P. Moreland and atheist philosopher Kai Nielsen; (ii) commentaries on the debate by two Christian philosophers (William Lane Craig and Dallas Willard) and two atheist philosophers (Antony Flew and Keith Parsons); and (iii) concluding thoughts by Moreland and Nielsen. I agree completely with the conclusion of Craig's flow of the debate, that Moreland won the debate. In fact, Moreland's victory in the debate was so decisive I am left wishing that Keith Parsons had been Moreland's opponent; I wonder if Nielsen even took the debate seriously. In light of this, I am baffled why a secular humanist publisher like Prometheus Books would choose to pubish this particular debate, given that the atheist side was so poorly represented. For that matter, I am surprised that even Thomas Nelson originally published the book, for even theists should want the atheist position to be given its best representation. However, Nielsen's critique of theism is not representative of most atheist philosophers. Nielsen relies upon a critique of religious language in which he argues that 'God' is literally meaningless. Not only do most atheist philosophers not use such an argument, they disagree with it! Unfortunately, as a result of Nielsen's 'strategy' of putting all his eggs in an ineffective basket, readers are deprived of the opportunity to see an exchange between Moreland and atheist philosophers who make substantive objections to Moreland's arguments. To be sure, Antony Flew and Keith Parsons both make excellent, *representative* objections to Moreland's case, and Moreland responds to those objections in his final remarks, but we are reprived the opportunity to see how Parsons and Flew would respond to that, and so on. I therefore discourage *buying* the book.<P> However, I encourage interested parties from both sides to borrow the book from someone who already owns it (e.g., a professor or a local library). I just wouldn't recommend spending money on the book when the atheist debater did such a poor job representing atheism. Even theistic philosophers would agree that Nielsen could have defended atheism in the debate better than he did -- much better in fact -- and that's why I discourage buying the book. And because theistic philosophers care about the truth, even they would admit that atheism wasn't represented as well as it could have been. (For example, most theistic philosophers I have read endorse J.L. Mackie's _Miracle of Theism_ as one of the best philosophical cases for atheism. They don't agree with the book, but they agree that Mackie's book is one of the best cases for atheism in the philosophical literature. And if you asked any of those theistic philosophers, they would tell you that Nielsen did not use any of Mackie's arguments. Therefore, Nielsen's arguments are not representative of the best arguments for atheism.) <P> Moreland gave two arguments for theism: the cosmological argument and the argument that God resurrected Jesus from the dead. We have responded to both of these arguments (thought not necessarily to Moreland specifically) on the Secular Web, and would welcome an exchange with Moreland should he want to answer our rebuttals.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.