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The Elusive God: Reorienting Religious Epistemology 1 Reissue Edition

3.6 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521120081
ISBN-10: 052112008X
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Editorial Reviews


'I found The Elusive God to be the most profound and interesting work I have read in the past twenty years at the intersection of philosophy and theology. Instead of beginning with a demand for evidence of the existence of a divine being, the author argues that we should expect any intrusion into our lives of the sort that would convince us that God exists to be authoritative evidence that calls us not only to a cognitive viewpoint but also to a surrendering of our wills. The result of such an investigation is a re-conceptualization of the epistemological landscape relevant to the possibility of the knowledge of God.' --Jonathan Kvanvig, Baylor University

"*The Elusive God* ... is clearly a profound and illuminating treatment on as big an issue as issues get." --Nicholas Rescher, University of Pittsburgh

"This is an exciting thesis that merits further study and analysis." --Choice

"...important and challenging book." --John Bishop, of The University oF Auckland

"...remarkable, noteworthy volume. ...Truly, Moser has done philosophy--and natural theology in particular--an immense service by pointing us in a new, exciting direction. Indeed, his book is a must-read for every philosopher and theologian!" --Review Metaphysics

"... a substantial and challenging book on religious epistemology ... [It is] courageous, and may take some philosophers of religion by surprise ... The book pushes the boundaries, with implications for both philosophy and theology."
Milltown Studies

Book Description

This book argues that we should expect evidence of divine reality to be purposively available to humans. This lesson generates a seismic shift in our understanding of evidence and knowledge of divine reality. The result is a reorienting of religious epistemology to accommodate the character and purposes of a loving God.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 308 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 Reissue edition (July 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 052112008X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521120081
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,644,853 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Paul K. Moser is Professor of Philosophy at Loyola University Chicago and the past Editor of the American Philosophical Quarterly. His latest book is The Severity of God: Religion & Philosophy Reconceived (Cambridge University Press, 2013). He is also the author of The Evidence for God (Cambridge University Press, 2010). This book is a sequel to his book, The Elusive God (Cambridge University Press, 2008), which won the 2011 Alpha Sigma Nu Book Award for Philosophy. His co-edited collection The Wisdom of the Christian Faith was published by Cambridge University Press in 2012, and his edited collection Jesus and Philosophy was published by Cambridge University Press in 2009. He is also Co-Editor of the new Cambridge University Press book series, Cambridge Studies in Religion, Philosophy, and Society. His current book in progress is The Presence of God: Power and Experience in Religion.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
As the subtitle says, Paul Moser's The Elusive God is a project in "re-orienting religious epistemology." One might think that this pricey tome from Cambridge University Press is apparently written for "religious epistemologists," though that is misleading. It is really addressed to anyone who takes the time to think hard about how we have (or might have) knowledge of God. While I am sure he had a general reader in mind who could be of any religious persuasion (or not of any at all), I found Moser's book to be one of the more challenging, philosophically oriented devotional (Christian) books I've ever read.

What is needed, argues Moser, is a shift from thinking "What does God have to do to prove that he exists?" to "What do I have to do to show that I am open to God existing and making claims on my life?" Or as Moser puts it the questions we are responsible for is not "Do we know that a perfectly loving God exists?" but "Are we willing to be known and thereby transformed by a perfectly loving God?"

These questions are meant to address the problem of divine hiddenness, which might take the following form: (1) If a perfectly loving God exists, then evidence of God's existence would be obvious to all; (2) Evidence of God's existence is not obvious to all; therefore, a perfectly loving God does not exist. But why think that God would make himself cognitively available to us on our terms, asks Moser? Many of us (if not all) have what Thomas Nagel describes as a "cosmic authority problem:"

"I am talking about something much deeper--namely, the fear of religion itself.
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Format: Paperback
Moser provides a convincing counterargument to Russell's claim that if God exists, he has given us insufficient evidence. He argues that we are not in a position to demand what kind of evidence God gives us. Furthermore, we should expect the kind of evidence revealed to be in keeping with the character of God.

A loving God would make his evidence available--but rejectable, in keeping with human freedom. His evidence is like a face hiding in the bushes, visible to those who are truly seeking, but "can be readily overlooked, ignored, suppressed, or dismissed by us, because it's intended by God not to coerce a will toward or against God but to be willingly received by humans. In particular, it's designed to woo or to invite us rather than to force or dominate us."

He asserts that God is not obligated to create a spectacle for simply curious or even hostile hearts, describing good reasons for him to hide himself in such cases. For instance, simple belief that God exists will not itself engender a relationship. (Everyone believed in the existence of Pres. Bush during his term but not all were happy about his authority.)

Moser claims that this certainty of God's existence rests on the conviction of the Spirit of the trinitarian God, speaking through the conscience. (At first thought, one might prefer Hanson's Zeus-like figure in the sky, but how convincing is that anyway? Could the blind see it? Could children understand the significance? Would we not wonder if it weren't simply communication from highly intelligent extra-terrestrial beings? What speaks beyond the senses, then, other than the conscience?) Unfortunately, many skeptics will likely misconstrue this as fideism.

I do have one bone to pick with Moser. He utterly eschews natural theology.
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Format: Paperback
I read this book for a class on Philosophic Theology. I was warned by the Professor that this would be a difficult book to read to terms of depth of thought. After reading this book I was impressed with the level of thought and breadth of argument developed by Moser. Moser provided a perspective on Epistemology that I had not encountered in my studies of epistemology.

I would suggest this book for anyone interested in in-depth books on epistemology. I think this books serves as a good way to push back on notions of how we as humans "know" things. If you read this book expect to have your opinions challenged.
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This is one pricey book. You can save some money by reading the quick summary below. But let me first say that this is a disappointing read. Moser starts with a very fancy promise, namely, that he'll show us how we can acquire "conclusive" knowledge of God. Don't take the bait. What he actually delivers is little more than the usual stuff about how we need to be open to God's call and once we are we'll somehow see it all Moser's way. As for those who continue to doubt God's existence, they are all acting in bad faith. If they would only open their eyes and hearts they'd sign right up. Sigh . . .

We need a Copernican Revolution in religious epistemology. Stop asking God to provide the kind of evidence that we want. Such a demand for "Spectator Knowledge" and "divine fireworks" trivializes God by requiring him to jump through cognitive hoops of our making. Instead, we should ask what kind of evidence we can expect a perfect God to make available to us. (p.40). (There's the Copernican move.) Because God is a personal, loving being, we should expect a call to fellowship, obedience and transformation, not a bunch of miracles that blow our minds but leave our hearts untouched. (God's elusiveness is justified after all!) If we open our hearts we will become aware of "conclusive" evidence of divine reality.(p.82). What will/does this "evidence" look like? Hmmmm . . . not clear. Something about "conscience" (p.55, 93) and the "Spirit" (p.151) and Jesus' "love toward others" (p.215), and something we supposedly get by our acquaintance with folks who are in "volitional fellowship" with God. (p.151.) But whatever the evidence is, it's "conclusive." And if you don't find it conclusive, it's because you're acting in bad faith, selfish, rebellious. . .
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