The Clarity of God's Existence: The Ethics of Belief After the Enlightenment

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The Clarity of God's Existence examines the need for theistic proofs within historic Christianity, and the challenges to these since the Enlightenment. Historically (and scripturally), Christianity has maintained that unbelief is inexcusable. If failing to know God is a sin, the implication is that humans can and should know God. Humans should know God because his eternal power and divine nature are clearly revealed in the things that are made. And yet, Anderson argues, more time is spent on avoiding the need for clarity to establish inexcusability than on actually providing an argument or proof. Proofs that rely on Aristotle or Plato and that establish a Prime Mover or designer are thought to be sufficient. But the adequacy of these, not only to prove the God of theism, but also to prove anything at all, has been called into question by Enlightenment thinkers like David Hume. After considering the traditional proofs, and tracing the history of challenges to theistic proofs (from Hume to Kant and down to the twentieth century), Anderson argues that the standard methods of apologetics have failed to sufficiently respond. Classical Apologetics, Evidentialism, Presuppositionalism, Reformed Epistemology, and others fail to adequately answer the challenges of the Enlightenment. If this is the case, what is the outcome for Christianity?Anderson offers an explanation as to why traditional proofs have failed, and for what is necessary to offer a proof that not only responds to Hume and Kant but also establishes the clarity of God's existence. The traditional proofs failed precisely in not aiming at the clarity of God's existence, and they failed in this because of a faulty view of the goal of Christian life. If the blessed life is to be attained in a direct vision of God in heaven, then there is little to no reason to ask for more than the bare minimum required to get into heaven (justification). Furthermore, if the highest blessing is this direct vision, then the glory of God revealed in his work is considered as less important and even set aside. By way of contrast, if God's eternal power and divine nature are clearly revealed in his works, and the blessing comes in knowing God, then it is of the utmost importance for Christianity to demonstrate the clarity of God's existence.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556356957
  • Publisher: Wipf & Stock Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/28/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Owen Anderson is Assistant Professor of Philosophy of Religion at Arizona State University West. He is the author of Reason and Worldviews (2008).

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Table of Contents

Foreword xi Preface xiii Acknowledgments xvii Chapter 1 Inexcusability, Redemption, and the Need for Clarity 1
1 Christian Scriptures and Clarity
2 Historic Christian Thinkers and Clarity
3 Overview of Enlightenment Challenges to God's Existence
4 Book Overview Chapter 2 Attempts to Avoid the Need for Clarity 21
1 Skepticism
2 Fideism
3 Probability and Plausibility
4 Mysticism and Religious Experience
5 Scripture Alone
6 No Free Will, or Free Will and Predestination are Incompatible
7 The Fall Provides an Excuse
8 Conclusion: Clarity as a Precondition to Redemptive Claims Chapter 3 Attempts to Avoid the Need for Arguments 45
1 John Hick
2 Tertullian
3 John Calvin and the Sensus Divinitatis
4 Reformed Epistemology
5 Graham Oppy
6 Conclusion: Clarity Requires Strong Justification Chapter 4 Theistic Arguments before Hume 59
1 Types of Theistic Arguments
2 Augustine
3 Anselm
4 Thomas Aquinas
5 John Locke
6 Conclusion: The Inexcusability Principle and Historic Christian Claims Chapter 5 Enlightenment Challenges to Theistic Belief 81
1 David Hume
2 Immanuel Kant
3 Conclusion: The Necessity to Establish the Ontological Argument Chapter 6 Victory Over Theism? 99
1 Friedrich Schleiermacher
2 G.W.F. Hegel
3 Ludwig Feuerbach
4 Albrecht Ritschl
5 Friedrich Nietzsche
6 Sigmund Freud
7 Conclusion: After Kant Chapter 7 Theistic Responses to the Challenge of Hume and Kant 109
1 Fine-Tuning Theistic Arguments
2 Fideism
3 Non-Cognitivism
4 Classical Apologetics
5 Evidentialism
6 Cumulative Case Theory
7 Presuppositionalism
8 Reformed Epistemology
9Conclusion: The Establishment of Clarity as a Precondition to Exclusivist Claims Chapter 8 The First Step toward the Clarity of God's Existence 139
1 Showing the Clarity of God's Existence
2 Steps for Showing the Clarity of God's Existence
3 Clarity and the Inexcusability of Hume and Kant
4 Hume's Challenge to Reason
5 Critiquing Hume from Within: The Idea of the Eternal
6 Something Must Be Eternal: No Uncaused Events, No Being from Non-Being
7 The Impossibility of Uncaused Events
8 Kant's Response to Hume
9 The Transcendental Method
10 The Transcendental Illusion
11 Responding to Kant
12 The Ontological Role of Reason
13 Presuppositional Thinking
14 The Error of Kant's Solution and the Response
15 Conclusion: Thinking about Being or Silence Chapter 9 Historical Overview of Being from Non-Being 167
1 Sextus Empiricus
2 Leibniz and Occasionalism
3 David Hume
4 Immanuel Kant
5 William James
6 John Stuart Mill
7 Bertrand Russell and Analytic Philosophy
8 Alan Guth, Quentin Smith, and Quantum Physics
9 Existentialism and Postmodernism
10 Philosophical Buddhism, Lao-Tzu, Wang Pi, and Chuang-Tzu
11 Conclusion: Empiricism and Uncaused Events Chapter 10 Conclusion: Where Do We Go from Here? 195
1 Responsibility at the Basic Level
2 Implications for Something Existing from Eternity
3 From the Eternal to God
4 Conclusion: The Principle of Clarity and the Possibility of Knowledge through the Critical Use of Reason Bibliography 203
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