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The God Debates: A 21st Century Guide for Atheists and Believers (and Everyone in Between) Paperback – October 19, 2010

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (October 19, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1444336428
  • ISBN-13: 978-1444336429
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #367,839 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"I do, however, think that the book will enable readers to enter into debates about God in a fully rational way, and with an awareness of the complexities of theistic arguments. It is one for students of the philosophy of religion to study, and they will do so with profit." (Church Times, 20 May 2011)

"The book reminds us, also, of how many of the current debates about God at best beg the question and at worst take the form of ranting dogmatism." (Network, 2011) 

"As a philosophy instructor (who frequently teaches philosophy of religion), I find Shook's book to be comprehensive in its coverage.  The theological arguments, as well as the atheological responses to them, are presented in accessible terms, and analyzed perspicuously."  (Metapsychology, February 2011)

"The God Debates is a clear, accessible, up-to-date account of philosophical wrangles about the existence of God. Shook re-organises the arguments in an interesting way ... [and] takes on more esoteric arguments such as the claim that we must presuppose the existence of God if we are to engage in reasoning and scientific inquiry. In all, this is a lucid, concise, up-to-date, yet comprehensive account of intellectual debates about the existence of God. It is easy enough to be used by senior high school students, and could certainly be useful in undergraduate courses in philosophy of religion." (Metamagician and the Hellfire Club, October 2010)

John Shook, author of The God Debates, will discuss effective ways for nonbelievers to engage believers over that very question: "Does a god exist?" Maybe it's not the old, familiar arguments themselves, but new strategies and tactics that make the atheist message get heard and produce results." (Science in the City, February 2011)


"If you've been puzzled by the complexity of the recent debates for and against God, this is the place to start. Shook lays out the questions, controversies, and schools of thought with amazing clarity, gradually building his case for a "staunchly naturalistic yet faithfully ethical humanism" ... Clear and blunt, with a light touch of irony."
Philip Clayton, author of In Quest of Freedom and the Oxford Handbook of Religion and Science

"Knowing for sure is not necessarily a virtue. By mapping scriptural, intellectual, and mystical theologies as well as naturalistic ethical worldviews, John Shook helps us to understand the rich range of human ideas and arguments, and hence ourselves and our neighbours. Shook invites us all to become winners when he writes in the preface "real winners are those who think about the questions, reflect on proposed answers, and come up with new questions." A most interesting and valuable book."
Willem B. Drees, professor of philosophy of religion, Leiden University; editor of Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science; author of Religion and Science in Context: A Guide to the Debates

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Customer Reviews

You might even change your own position!
Sarah H
Philosopher John R. Shook does a wonderful job of presenting the best reasoned justifications for the existence of god as well as the best counter arguments.
Book Shark
Great book for the true search of the truth!

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Sarah H on October 23, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The God Debates is a great up-to-date, comprehensive resource in philosophy of religion for both believers and non-believers, and as advertised, "everyone in between." A professional philosopher, Shook meticulously presents and analyzes the validity of the most popular contemporary arguments for the existence of god. These include the "fine-tuning" argument (the contemporary variation of the teleological argument), cosmological and ontological arguments, as well as arguments from religious experience. He evaluates the ability of reason and science to counteract these pro-god arguments. Though the book isn't focused on any one religion, rather on a variety of contemporary, common notions of "god," he does offer a very interesting Biblical analysis in his chapter "Theology from the Scripture." Here, he evaluates the reliability of the gospels against accepted criteria for historical credibility and evidence acceptance. In the chapter "Theology in the Know," Shook covers the epistemology (theory of knowledge) employed by religions e.g., presuppositionalism and evidentialism, and explains how these different epistemologies shape religious beliefs. He takes a look at various mysticisms ("Theology into the Myst") and explains the manner in which mystics prioritize faith over knowledge and even reason itself. He concludes with a discussion on the possible harmonization of reason and faith and the most current trends in religious belief, including liberal Christianity, fundamentalism, panentheism, mysticism, religious humanism, and secular humanism.

This is not another "atheism book." Shook approaches religious arguments with an unbiased yet critical eye. Shook presents the nuances and complexity of various systems of beliefs in god.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Book Shark TOP 500 REVIEWER on December 13, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The God Debates: A 21st Century Guide for Atheists and Believers (and Everyone in Between) by John R. Shook

"The God Debates" is the even-handed, accessible philosophical book about the quest of knowledge of God. Philosopher John R. Shook examines the key arguments for God's existence and the atheological responses. This 256-page book is composed of the following eight chapters: 1. Debating Religion, 2. Five Types of Theologies, 3. Theologies From The Scripture, 4. Theology From The World, 5. Theology Beyond The World, 6. Theology In The Know, 7. Theology Into The Myst, and 8. Reason and Faith.

1. Well-researched, well-written book that takes a philosophical look at the arguments for the existence of God and the corresponding refutes.
2. Treats the topic with utmost care and respect. A professional book.
3. Great logical format. Breaks the topics out in a sensible manner.
4. Profound without being unintelligible. Thought-provoking.
5. The author does a good job of defining terms. Really lays the foundation early on for each worldview.
6. Great wisdom throughout, "There is no way to establish whether god exists by criticizing the conduct of believers or nonbelievers."
7. The author references well-known positions held by other authors and/or philosophers throughout the book.
8. All the well-known arguments for the existence of god are here and then some. Ontological, cosmological, teleological, etc...Excellent!
9. A great discussion on naturalism.
10. The best tools that leads to skepticism.
11. The book breaks out Christian theology into five types: Theology From The Scripture, Theology From The World, Theology Beyond The World, Theology In The Know, and Theology Into The Myst.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Jeremy C. Alam on January 2, 2011
Format: Paperback
John Shook is a professional philosopher and atheist but his real aim in The God Debates is to expose sloppy thinking advanced as knowledge of God. His intended audience is college level and above readers who are interested in whether God can be proved by argument, but he keeps philosophical jargon to a minimum and takes care to make his ideas easy to follow. I was impressed by the sheer clarity of Shook's thought which reminded me of philosopher Malcolm Murray's The Moral Wager: Evolution and Contract (Philosophical Studies Series) and The Atheist's Primer.

Shook casts his net over all theologies generally but focuses most on Christianity. That he has sympathy for spirituality and what lies behind religious sentiment is shown in his final chapter 'Reason and Faith' where he summarizes 12 prevailing religious worldviews, fairly characterizing their theses. Of these, Shook ultimately advocates either liberal modernism - which he defines as "faith in god's transformations through symbolism adaptable with reason", or religious humanism - humanism which gains "inspirational wisdom from religious traditions, spiritual leaders, communal rituals, nature's wonders and extraordinary personal experiences". Shook makes the point that genuine Christian theology cannot stray beyond the boundaries of the proposition: "ITM1: A religious belief about God should not attempt to accurately describe the way God objectively is, so it can't be true or false" (p.187).
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