7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 29, 2001
It is beyond me why this book is not in print. Does anyone know? I am relatively familiar with most of Geisler's works and this has to be his best. This book is not bed time reading, but it is worth the effort to work through. Geisler will systematically educate you with the major arguments of God's existence, thomistic analogy, religious experience, and the problem of evil.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I have found Norman Geisler's work over the years to be of uneven quality. "Philosophy of Religion" is definitely one of his best efforts. In addition to a fairly comprehensive discussion (for a general text on the philosophy of religion) of the major arguments for the existence of God (the ontological, cosmological, teleological [design], and moral arguments), he has an extended discussion of the nature and characteristics of religious experience, the problem of evil, and religious language. Although I do not agree with all of Geisler's conclusions (I have a very different view of the resolution of the problem of evil, for example), I find almost all of what he has written well-argued. Where he has criticized others he has been fair to their positions and has avoided the temptation to set up straw men.
Probably the best section is Part 3, "God and Language," in which he talks about negative and positive religious language and gives a clear explanation of the difference between the via negativa, univocal predication, and analogical prediction, showing the pitfalls and advantages of each of these approaches. This is a topic that is not widely discussed in philosophy of religion texts and anthologies. Geisler's discussion of this issue is worth the price of the book.
There are some topics that could have been discussed but aren't. For example, Geisler does not talk about the miraculous or the relation of religion to science, nor does he broach the issue of religious pluralism. But when it comes to the topics he covers, his analyses are excellent.
Norman L. Geisler (b. 1932) is a Christian apologist (his Ph.D. in philosophy was from Jesuit Loyola University, so he is well-trained in scholastic philosophy, as well as evangelical).
This book was originally written in 1974, and has four sections: God and Experience (e.g., "Testing the Reality of Religious Experience"); God and Reason (e.g., "The Cosmological Argument Reevaluated"); God and Language (e.g., "The Problem of Religious Language"); and God and Evil (e.g., "The Metaphysical Problem of Evil").
In his Preface, Geisler notes, "Many theists have written on these topics. But apart from anthologies, there are few texts available that attempt to answer these questions from a theologically positive perspective. It is my conviction that piecemeal critiques of nontheisms will not suffice. The theist must enter the arena with a positive and comprehensive case of his own. It is in this spirit that we have surveyed the field of issues and presented arguments for classical theism."
Here are some representative quotations from the book (NOTE: These are arguments he is presenting, not necessarily Geisler's own ideas):
"Ths cosmological argument says: Every finite thing in caused; the world is finite; therefore, the world has a cause. But in this form of the argument the word 'cause' in the conclusion seems to have a different (broader) meaning than it has in the premise. For in the premise it means finite cause and in the conclusion it means an infinite Cause (viz., God). From a logical standpoint, this seems to be a 'four-term' fallacy."
"God could have created nothing at all. A God who freely creates was free not to create. And a God who knew that creation would become so corrupt should not have created at all. A non-evil nothing would be better than an evil something. According to theism, this was an actual possibility for God."
"Freedom without sin is a contradiction, it is argued. But this seems to be an ill-advised tack for theism for a number of reasons. (1) First, there is no obvious logical contradiction involved in affirming that men are able to do otherwise but never actually DO otherwise than good.... Men in fact sometimes choose not to do evil and, hence, it is not in theory impossible that men would always choose to avoid evil."
This is an exceptionally helpful, very well-explained work. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2006
even though I didn't finish entire book (from cover to cover), it is a good resource in philosophy of religion from Christian Evangelical perspective.
It covers arguments for God's existence, religious experience, religious language...
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 13, 2004
This book *definitely* needs to come back in print in a 3rd Edition. If you are interested in PR, this is an invaluable reference tool. There is a long section on the existence of God which has outlines, sometimes quite detailed, of all the major arguments for the existence of God. This is extremely helpful for grasping their logical structure and helping you remember them. I honestly thing, though, that my favorite part is the first part on religious experience. This is based in part on Norm's Doctoral Dissertation at Loyola University of Chicago. It is even more filled with references than most of Norm's well-documented work. One interesting thing, is that it is a sort of detailed and extended Argument from Desire (a la Lewis and Kreeft). It would be worth the price just for this section. The section on religious language is also based in part of some of Norm's graduate work. He wrote his Master' s Thesis on religious language at Wheaton. This is one of the best primers on the Thomistic doctrine of analogy I've ever seen. It finishes with a section on the problem of evil. Each section is very strong and the combination in a single volume make it a must-have. Find a used copy today.