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Natural Signs and Knowledge of God: A New Look at Theistic Arguments Hardcover – July 1, 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1St Edition edition (July 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199217165
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199217168
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,585,149 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"This book will benefit readers with some background or interest in natural theology and philosophy or religion."--CHOICE

"Stimulating... Evans has here made a valuable and original contribution to the field of religious epistemology. Natural Signs and Knowledge of God deserves attention from, and is sure to provoke lively debate between, philosophers of religion and theologians. However, it should also be of interest to, and accessible to, anyone concerned with theistic apologetics. Even someone with little grounding in these issues is likely to gain something from it." --Religious Studies

About the Author

C. Stephen Evans is University Professor of Philosophy and Humanities at Baylor University.

More About the Author

C Stephen Evans is a University Professor at Baylor University. He has published many books dealing with Kierkegaard, philosophy of religion, philosophy of psychology, and theology.

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By T. Eldridge on October 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Evans basic idea is that the major traditional arguments of natural theology- Cosmological, Design and Moral- make us aware of natural signs that point to the reality of God, rather than proving that God exists in their propositional formats.

Evans writes thoughtfully and reflectively. He is balanced and measured by fairly representing opposing views and by not overstating his conclusions.

He covers a wide range of topics in the course of making his argument, but his best contribution is in the area of epistemology. Evans asks questions like: What sort of evidence would we expect to see if God did exist? And how strong would we expect this evidence to be? These questions, and related ones are crucial to whole discussion but they are rarely discussed as effectively and thoughtfully as Evans discusses them here.

Highly recommended.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By not me VINE VOICE on December 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In "Natural Signs and Knowledge of God," Stephen Evans takes a new look at the cosmological, teleological and moral arguments for God's existence. These arguments are usually cast as logical proofs. In contrast, Evans sees them as articulations of basic experiences that grip most people from time to time, and point us towards God. The awareness of pervasive contingency directs our mind toward a deeper, more permanent mode of existence. The order found everywhere in nature spontaneously gives rise to thoughts of an orderer. Our feeling of moral accountability suggests the existence of a person to whom we are accountable.

Evans does not believe that the philosophical "proofs" arising from these experiences are beyond criticism, any more than "proofs" that our senses accurately reflect the external world are beyond criticism. Rather, he concludes that it is OK to trust our spontaneous awareness of God, just as we trust sense data. Along the way, he discusses theistic proofs, dissects evolutionary accounts of religious belief, offers an explanation of the "silence" of God, and criticizes non-theistic moral theories. Best of all, he shows how our natural awareness of God -- even though logically resistable -- allows us to look beyond naturalism and become open to the possibility of revelation.

I can't do justice to the richness of this thoughtful, lucid book. I want to read it again. Six stars.
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Format: Paperback
This is the most important book in the philosophy of religion I have read in ten years. Evans argues something I have never seen anyone argue before. He says that all theistic arguments are framed on the basis of “natural signs” that are simply experienced. The four “signs” he mentions are “cosmic wonder,” “purposive order,” “moral obligation,” and “human worth/dignity.” Evans argues that these are powerful human experiences that form the basis for cosmological arguments (cosmic wonder), teleological arguments (purposive order), and moral arguments (moral obligation/human dignity). Evans puts these “signs” under Pascalian constraints: They are both “widely accessible” and “easily resistible.” All are merely “pointers” to the existence of God; they do not convey enough information to lead individuals to errorless conclusions (or arguments) about God and his nature. In fact, they can be easily resisted, which is why an atheist may deny the existence of God while affirming moral obligations and human worth. Theistic arguments, then, are attempts to give rational form to the experience of the natural signs, but there is no philosophical argument that simply expresses the experience of the sign. As signs, they are subject to better and worse interpretations, which also explains the many different types of cosmological, teleological, and moral arguments being made on the basis of the signs.

Evans assumes with Pascal that natural signs must be widely accessible but are often embraced or resisted apart from any specific philosophical sophistication or background. This is a great book for anyone who thinks that belief in God is based primarily on intuitions of God’s existence grounded in experiences of cosmic wonder, purposive order, moral obligation, and human dignity.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
C. Stephan Evans does an excellent job of surveying the various theistic arguments, evaluating them and then doing something unique; trying to get behind these arguments to see the basic intuitions that lie there. He then argues that these basic intuitions can be seen as "natural signs" of God. Evans' view of natural theology is one that I have come to share. It is limited, available to those who want to see but also obscure enough that those who do not want to see aren't forcibly compelled to see. I particularly like his discussion of Hume's objections to the various classical arguments. I think the idea of a "natural sign" taken from the philosophy of Thomas Reid has some problem, I do not buy into it wholesale, but in any case Evans' present the idea very well.

Most of the book is devoted to the discussion of the various cosmological, teleological and moral arguments for God's existence, which Reid rightly classifies as three different families of arguments. He does a great job of taking into account the whole literate on these subjects. Sometimes, I wished that he would have spent more time delving into the nature of the basic intuitions behind the arguments but overall I think he did well enough. David Bentley Hart did better in my opinion in his "The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss" but that's a minor quibble. Overall, I recommend this book to anyone interested in the various theistic arguments and perhaps those who think about conceptualizing all of them in a different way than as merely "proofs" of God.
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