The God Debates: A 21st Century Guide for Atheists and Believers (and Everyone in Between) / Edition 1

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The existence of God is a subject that has occupied individual thinkers and entire schools of philosophy for thousands of years, and it remains one of the greatest debates of our day. To equip readers with the information to enter the fray, The God Debates presents a comprehensive, non-technical survey of the quest for knowledge of God. By mastering the clear and concise strategies put forth in each chapter, anyone can participate in a thoughtful debate over whether God exists, or simply gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of religion's conceptual foundations. The best arguments and counter-arguments regarding God's existence are clearly elucidated, and both believers and non-believers will become acquainted with reasoned arguments for and against the existence of God. Moving well beyond medieval and modern arguments about God's existence. The God Debates brings theology's story right into the twenty-first century by considering various mysticisms, existentialisms, postmodernisms, and fideisms, as well as the ongoing controversy of evidentialism/presuppositionalism. A final chapter considers the possibility of harmonizing reason and faith in light of several current worldviews, including fundamentalism and secularism. The God Debates provides believers and non-believers alike with invaluable information to participate in a thoughtful religious dialogue - and gain insights into the timeless quest for knowledge that can give meaning to our lives.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"I do, however, think that the book will enable readers to enter into debates about God in a fully rational way, and with an awareness of the complexities of theistic arguments. It is one for students of the philosophy of religion to study, and they will do so with profit." (Church Times, 20 May 2011)

"The book reminds us, also, of how many of the current debates about God at best beg the question and at worst take the form of ranting dogmatism." (Network, 2011)

"As a philosophy instructor (who frequently teaches philosophy of religion), I find Shook's book to be comprehensive in its coverage. The theological arguments, as well as the atheological responses to them, are presented in accessible terms, and analyzed perspicuously." (Metapsychology, February 2011)

"The God Debates is a clear, accessible, up-to-date account of philosophical wrangles about the existence of God. Shook re-organises the arguments in an interesting way ... [and] takes on more esoteric arguments such as the claim that we must presuppose the existence of God if we are to engage in reasoning and scientific inquiry. In all, this is a lucid, concise, up-to-date, yet comprehensive account of intellectual debates about the existence of God. It is easy enough to be used by senior high school students, and could certainly be useful in undergraduate courses in philosophy of religion." (Metamagician and the Hellfire Club, October 2010)

John Shook, author of The God Debates, will discuss effective ways for nonbelievers to engage believers over that very question: "Does a god exist?" Maybe it's not the old, familiar arguments themselves, but new strategies and tactics that make the atheist message get heard and produce results." (Science in the City, February 2011)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781444336412
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/19/2010
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

John R. Shook is Vice President for Education and Research and Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Inquiry in Amherst, New York. He also is Research Associate in Philosophy at the University at Buffalo. His recent books include The Future of Naturalism (2009) and Dewey's Philosophy of Spirit (2010).
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Table of Contents

Preface ix

1 Debating Religion 1

1.1 Religion under Scrutiny 2

1.2 Debating Dogma 7

1.3 Theology and Atheology 12

1.4 Could Atheism Prove God Doesn't Exist? 23

1.5 Could Religion Disprove Atheism? 26

2 Five Types of Theologies 30

2.1 Categorizing Theologies 31

2.2 Theology From The Scripture 35

2.3 Theology From The World 37

2.4 Theology Beyond The World 40

2.5 Theology In The Know 42

2.6 Theology Into The Myst 44

3 Theology From The Scripture 47

3.1 Scientific History 48

3.2 Scientific History and Scripture 51

3.3 The Argument from Divine Signs 65

3.4 The Argument from Apostolic Faith 70

3.5 The Argument from Divine Character 78

3.6 The Argument from Pseudo-history 80

4 Theology From The World 84

4.1 Theology and Science 85

4.2 Arguments from Nature 91

4.3 Arguments from Design 96

4.4 Arguments from Religious Experience 99

4.5 Arguments from Morality 110

4.6 Explanations for Reason 121

4.7 The Ontological Argument for God 126

4.8 The Argument from Pseudo-science 131

5 Theology Beyond The World 133

5.1 The Existence of Nature Argument for God 134

5.2 The Fine-tuning Argument for God 137

5.3 Why Would God Create? 144

5.4 The Problem of Evil 148

5.5 The Argument from Pseudo-cosmology 152

6 Theology In The Know 155

6.1 Arguments from Ignorance 156

6.2 Religious Epistemologies 160

6.3 Knowledge, Justification, and Truth 166

6.4 The Religious Community 171

6.5 The Arguments from Pseudo-theology 178

7 Theology Into The Myst 184

7.1 Believing in God without Knowledge of God 185

7.2 Believing in God without Concepts of God 192

7.3 Belief, Faith, and Pseudo-faith 198

7.4 The Argument from Pseudo-faith 202

8 Reason and Faith 204

8.1 Liberal Modernism and Its Rivals 205

8.2 Twelve Worldviews 211

8.3 Faith and Reason Realigned 218

References 223

Further Reading 230

Index 235

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  • Posted October 23, 2010

    Finally, an atheist takes a respectful look at religion

    The God Debates is a great up-to-date, comprehensive resource in philosophy of religion for both believers and non-believers, and as advertised, "everyone in between." A professional philosopher, Shook meticulously presents and analyzes the validity of the most popular contemporary arguments for the existence of god. These include the "fine-tuning" argument (the contemporary variation of the teleological argument), cosmological and ontological arguments, as well as arguments from religious experience. He evaluates the ability of reason and science to counteract these pro-god arguments. Though the book isn't focused on any one religion, rather on a variety of contemporary, common notions of "god," he does offer a very interesting Biblical analysis in his chapter "Theology from the Scripture." Here, he evaluates the reliability of the gospels against accepted criteria for historical credibility and evidence acceptance. In the chapter "Theology in the Know," Shook covers the epistemology (theory of knowledge) employed by religions e.g., presuppositionalism and evidentialism, and explains how these different epistemologies shape religious beliefs. He takes a look at various mysticisms ("Theology into the Myst") and explains the manner in which mystics prioritize faith over knowledge and even reason itself. He concludes with a discussion on the possible harmonization of reason and faith and the most current trends in religious belief, including liberal Christianity, fundamentalism, panentheism, mysticism, religious humanism, and secular humanism.

    This is not another "atheism book." Shook approaches religious arguments with an unbiased yet critical eye. Shook presents the nuances and complexity of various systems of beliefs in god. He provides a fair and balanced inquiry into both traditional religious arguments and new ones, from the last one hundred years down to the present. While Shook's analyses ultimately cannot agree that the arguments for a supernatural being succeed, he only arrives at that conclusion after a comprehensive review and critical examination of purported evidence and argumentative strategies for god. There are no rude jabs at the believer, no tone of either denigration or condescension, which makes the read a refreshing divergence from top-selling "atheist books" such as Dawkins' "The God Delusion," Harris' "The End of Faith," and Hitchens' "God is not Great." (While these are great books that are well-worth reading, their authors can't be commended for their diplomacy or humility.) Shook's goal is not to convert people to atheism but only to educate the reader regardless of his/her religious persuasion on the legitimacy of the arguments on all sides. He has no interest in denouncing belief in god, only to critically examine the wide variety of religious positions and accompanying arguments. A refreshing departure, that he should want us to understand one another's belief systems before we criticize! He understands how religion can't be lumped together as "one thing" so he dissects it and evaluates each piece, a smart strategy indeed.

    Whatever side of the debate you're on, you will absolutely benefit from learning the arguments of your intellectual "opponents," as well as arguments posited in your own camp. You might even change your own position! Or, you'll find new ways to strengthen it. Shook's book is a rich tool for anybody who wants to take part in the god debates, wherever one's convictions lie.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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