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The Recalcitrant Imago Dei: Human Persons and the Failure of Naturalism (Veritas) Paperback – May 30, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0334042150 ISBN-10: 0334042151

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Product Details

  • Series: Veritas
  • Paperback: 226 pages
  • Publisher: SCM Press (May 30, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0334042151
  • ISBN-13: 978-0334042150
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #279,944 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

'The Recalcitrant Imago Dei is a wonderful read. Chapter by chapter, Moreland systematically sets forth how naturalism denies what is so obvious about ourselves, which is that we are conscious, rational souls
that have the power to make undetermined choices for purposes. The power of the book lies in the way that it makes clear how human beings becomeunrecognizable once naturalism has worked them over. Through page after page of careful argument, Moreland shows all of us how deeply unnatural the naturalist account of ourselves is.'
-- Stewart Goetz, St Ursinus College.

'Materialistic naturalism has, for some years, been the received wisdom in philosophy, as well as amongst much of the educated public. Many serious philosophical arguments have been brought against this ideology, but usually in a series of separate controversies. Professor Moreland's great service is to bring all these objections together, whilst adding his own original contributions, in a very effective anti-naturalist polemic. He shows us that the materialist world picture cannot accommodate the most basic phenomena of human life: It has no place for consciousness, free will, rationality, the human subject or any kind of intrinsic value. Materialism does not disprove these human realities, it is simply incapable of accounting for them in any remotely plausible way. I would add to the list of its failures that naturalism lacks even a coherent account of the physical world itself. Professor Moreland makes a very good case for saying that, as a serious world view, naturalism is a non-starter: more traditional, theistic philosophies fare much better in the face both of the phenomena and of argument.'
-- Howard Robinson, University Professor in Philosophy, Central European University, Budapest.

J.P. Moreland's new book is a tour de force. In six clear, concise and tightly argued chapters, he raises profound objections to the attempts of modern naturalistic philosophers to accommodate human consciousness, free will, rationality, selfhood and morality within a purely physical world-view. He thereby significantly enhances the intellectual appeal of a theistic alternative. All open-minded-metaphysicians, philosophers of mind and philosophical theologians should read this book

-- E. J. Lowe, Professor of Philosophy, Durham University

Moreland;s book is a masterpiece of clear, compelling, accessible arguments against naturalism, and a powerful defense of a Christian understanding of persons. This should be required reading for anyone interested in the philosophy of human nature and the debate between theism and naturalism today.'

-- Charles Taliaferro, St Olaf Collage

About the Author

Professor J P Moreland is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Biola University in Southern California.

Series Editors: Connor Cunningham (Centre for Philosophy and Theology, Nottingham) and Peter C. Candler (Baylor University, Waco, Texas).

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Fantastic book by a world-class philosopher.
David Baggett
The sense of guilt one feels for falling short of the moral law is best explained if a good God is the source or ultimate exemplification of that law.
M. Austin
Moreland's version of the argument is actually an argument for theism, and as far as I'm concerned, that makes it even better.
J.W. Wartick

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By J.W. Wartick on October 3, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
J.P. Moreland's The Recalcitrant Imago Dei is a work that outlines a case against naturalism based on what a Christian would define as the "image of God." These recalcitrant (as far as naturalism is concerned) facts include consciousness, free will, rationality, a substantial soul, objective morality, and intrinsic value.

J.P. Moreland has, I believe, outlined a rather magnficent critique of naturalism in this work. Chapter by chapter, he lays out philosophical defeaters for naturalism that are based on some of the most basic facts of human life. Each chapter contains clear, though often intellectually challenging, arguments against naturalism based on such things as consciousness or free will.

The chapter on Consciousness was, I believe, great, but I've read almost all the material in other works (specifically, J.P. Moreland's Consciousness and the Existence of God and William Lane Craig/Moreland's Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology). I believe that current apologists are certainly on to something when they consider the argument from consciousness, which I would consider a rather impressive defeater of naturalism. Moreland's version of the argument is actually an argument for theism, and as far as I'm concerned, that makes it even better.

The next chapter considers the case of the freedom of the will. I believe that Moreland is correct in suggesting that naturalism generally, and physicalism specifically are almost certainly defeaters of the freedom of the will. Morelands argument in this chapter is again similar to some of his other works (here it would be Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview), but there is some material here that is both not recycled and very useful.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By M. Austin on April 21, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book is a concise, deep, challenging, and wide-ranging critique of philosophical naturalism. It argues that there are several aspects of reality which naturalism is unable to account for but that theism can: consciousness, free will, rationality, morality, value, and a substantial human soul. The arguments are controversial and many will disagree, but I would urge anyone who has the time and inclination to read and think about this book, if you are wondering whether naturalism is the most rational worldview, or more rational than theism. If Moreland is right, and I think he is, theism has more explanatory power regarding many central aspects of human persons. I don't agree with everything in the book, of course, but the case is very well made.

Rather than summarizing the entire book, as a previous reviewer has already done, I will focus on the last chapter which is entitled "Naturalism, Objective Morality, Intrinsic Value and Human Persons." Moreland begins the chapter by noting 3 features of the moral order:

1. objective, intrinsic value and an objective moral law;

2. the reality of human moral action; and

3. intrinsic value and human rights.

His claim is that these features of moral reality fit very well within a biblical theistic worldview. By contrast, some naturalist philosophers believe that naturalism yields defeaters for these aspects of moral reality. Moreland alludes to naturalists John Bishop and Michael Ruse as examples of such philosophers. (As a side note, other naturalists, such as Erik Wielenberg, would disagree.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Brian Roberts on March 24, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is sad that the book is outside of the $20 comfort-zone of most wallets. Many people will find this book tempting based on reviews and descriptions, then pass it up because of the expense. Do not be one of those people if the topics involved interest you. This book is gold. The previous reviewer said all that really needs saying. I will add that Moreland's book does not so much prove that God exists so much as it proves that atheistic naturalism ("physicalism") is intrinsically untenable (or at least unreasonable) for obvious reasons not often considered. That is enough to seriously altar the nature of the philosophical dialogue between the theist and the atheist.

Buy this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ronald C. Payne on December 29, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a fascinating but also frustrating book. It is frustrating because Moreland discusses huge topics like free will, consciousness and morality very briefly. In the way he does discuss them though brings out how they provides problems for naturalism as a philosophic view. Moreland states that these defeaters provide evidence for "biblical theism" as an alternative but really its mostly a negative case. Naturalism can be false, Christianity can be false and something else no one has imagined can be true. Naturalism may be the main alternative to theism in the West but proving its falsity doesn't logically mean that "biblical theism" (by which I take Moreland to mean Christianity) is true.

That aside, I think Moreland did an excellent job describing the parameters and constraints of naturalism when it comes to consciousness. This was his shining moment in the book for me. I thought his case with free will was weaker primarily because I didn't think he spent enough time defending libertarian free will but rather assuming that it is true and then arguing that it is not compatible with naturalism. I can't avoid believing in libertarian agency as a practical matter (and find no one who can either and be a successful person) yet that doesn't mean that it is true. I don't know how one can determine whether it is true or not. I don't know if there is any real way to know this. Naturalists can take the antecedent 'causes' into account for any human action and say that they are pre-determined while a libertarian can point to first-person introspection to claim that they are not but originate in the agent.
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More About the Author

With degrees in philosophy, theology, and chemistry, I have taught theology and philosophy at several schools throughout the U.S. I have authored or co-authored several dozen books including Kingdom Triangle, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview; Christianity and the Nature of Science; Scaling the Secular City; Does God Exist?; Immortality: The Other Side of Death; and The Life and Death Debate: Moral Issues of Our Times. I am a co-editor of Christian Perspectives on Being Human and Jesus Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents the Historical Jesus. My academic work appears in journals and periodicals such as Christianity Today, Philosophia Christi, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, and The American Philosophical Quarterly. I served with Campus Crusade for 10 years, planted two churches, and I have spoken on over 200 college campuses. Presently, my wife and I attend the Anaheim Vineyard Christian Fellowship.

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