Philosophy of Religion: Thinking About Faith / Edition 2by C. Stephen Evans, R. Zachary Manis
Pub. Date: 09/15/2009
Publisher: InterVarsity Press
With over 40,000 copies in print since its original publication in 1982, Steve Evans's Philosophy of Religion has served many generations of students as a classic introduction to the philosophy of religion from a Christian perspective. Over the years the philosophical landscape has changed, and in this new edition Zach Manis joins Evans in a thorough revamping of arguments and information, while maintaining the qualities of clarity and brevity that made the first edition so appreciated.
New material on divine foreknowledge and human freedom has been added as well as on Reformed epistemology. The discussions on science now cover new developments from cognitive psychology and naturalism as well as on the fine-tuning of the cosmos. The chapter on faith and reason has been expanded to include consideration of evidentialism. The problem of evil now forms its own new chapter and adds a discussion of the problem of hell.
The standard features remain: a survey of the field, an examination of classical arguments for God's existence, and an exploration of contemporary challenges to theism from the social sciences and philosophy as well as the natural sciences. The meaning and significance of personal religious experience, revelation and miracles--all within the realm of contemporary religious pluralism--are likewise investigated.
A classic introduction thoroughly updated and refreshed for today's student.
Table of ContentsGeneral Preface
Preface to the Second Edition
1. What Is Philosophy of Religion?
Philosophy of Religion and Other Disciplines
Philosophy of Religion and Philosophy
Can Thinking About Religion Be Neutral?
2. The Theistic God: The Project of Natural Theology
Concepts of God
The Theistic Concept of God
A Case Study: Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom
The Problem of Religious Language
Proofs of God's Existence
3. Classical Arguments for God's Existence
Conclusions: The Value of Theistic Argument
4. Religious Experience
Types of Religious Experience
Two Models for Understanding Experience
Experience of God as Direct and Mediated
Are Religious Experiences Veridical?
Checking Experiential Claims
5. Special Acts of God: Revelation and Miracles
Theories of Revelation
Is the Traditional View Defensible?
What Is a Miracle?
Is It Reasonable to Believe in Miracles?
Can a Revelation Have Special Authority?
6. Religion, Modernity and Science
Modernity and Religious Belief
Do the Natural Sciences Undermine Religious Belief?
Objections from the Social Sciences
Religious Uses of Modern Atheism?
7. The Problem of Evil
Types of Evil, Versions of the Problem, and Types of Response
The Logical Form of the Problem
The Evidential Form of the Problem
Horrendous Evils and the Problem of Hell
8. Faith(s) and Reason
Faith: Subjectivity in Religious Arguments
The Evidentialist Challenge to Religious Belief
The Place of Subjectivity in Forming Beliefs
Interpretive Judgments and the Nature of a Cumulative Case
Can Faith Be Certain?
Faith and Doubt: Can Religious Faith Be Tested?
What Is Faith?
Could One Religion Be True?
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. I have to preface this review by saying I am generally annoyed by philosophy books. It seems like some sort of Cracker Jack pseudo-religious material compiled by a too-smart-for-his-own good man who thinks he has the answers to life. Secular phiolosophers, especially, seem to have no filter for ridiculous concepts, and I have read the most glorious nonsense that I would have thought the author would have been too embarrased to claim. Okay, I realize this is not a fair statement, some philosophers are legit, and some good can be garnered from reading philosophy (at least in theory). This book is from a Christian perspective, so that is somewhat better--at least it is coming from the proper mindset and potentially incorporating the correct presuppositions. Also, this is a survey, so that is better than an in-depth book that will go deep into the nonsense. Now that we know my presuppositions, we can proceed with the review. Philosophy of Religion is a book about philosophy by philosophers. The main thrust of the book is to serve as a survey in the field of the philosophy of religion and to maintain a Christian defense and worldview as it pertains to that field. One of the main arguments in the book is that it is not unreasonable for people to believe in a theistic God without evidential proof. The existence of God cannot be, strictly speaking, proven or disproven. This does not mean belief in God is irrational. Indeed, some arguments, such as the ontological, teleological, moral, and cosmological—collectively known as the classical arguments--arguing for the existence of God, are able to utilize reason to reach their conclusions. A defense of the rationality of miracles is present as is a comparison and contrast of religion to its sometime-opponents in the hard and soft sciences, philosophical/social movements such as modernity, Darwinism, and Marxism. When compared to these maxims, the authors argue that belief in God is as viable as the alternatives. Sometimes, theism is even a more logical position. Another major purpose of the book is to challenge the assumption that the presence of evil in the world is indicative that God does not exist. This general concept is known as the problem of evil. The authors demonstrate that the various forms of the no-God argument are not convincing and can be rebutted logically and accurately. In one of the better portions of the book, show how the existence of evil can be used to prove the existence of God, thereby turning the objection on its ear. The conclusions reached are that belief in God is logical, normal, and defendable. Christianity is a viable faith. The truth claims made in the Bible and/or by the religion can be defended and should be considered accurate. There were two issues that respectively annoyed and surprised me. First, the decision to use “he” and “she” randomly made reading the book distracting. When I read “she,” I assume the passage applies exclusively to women. The surprising part of the book was that the section dealing with the problem of evil does not include the current satanic reign over the earth, which I had surmised would be the main element of this argument. This book might help someone grappling with some sort of philosophical religious dilemma, but, otherwise, I would skip it. This book is too superficial (it is a survey, as I mentioned) for most scholars, so that leaves students. Unless you are assigned this book, I recommend taking a pass.