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Why Believe? Hardcover – November 6, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0826496362 ISBN-10: 0826496369 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

Review

mention in Bookseller Buyers Guide, 1 January 2008


Mention in The Tablet, 30 May 2009


Book Extract
The Tablet, September 2009


"A judicious and refreshing addition to a debate that is in danger of going a little stale."
Good Book Guide, October 2009


"This small volume should most emphatically make anyone's short list."
Church Times, November 2009


"For Professor Cottingham, the "characteristic framework" of behaviour that a theist brings to the task of living "finds room for some of our deepest and most valuable human impulses"." Christopher Howse, The Daily Telegraph, 28 November, 2009.


"He [Cottingham] always writes with grace and clarity...the best books on apologetics deepen our understanding with fresh insights into what it means to believe. This is one of those books." Paul Richardson, Church of England Newspaper, December 2009.


"A spirit of genuine enquiry." John Haldane, The Tablet, December 2009


"Fascinating and accessible reading for anyone with an appetite for philosophy of religion." The Way, April 2010.

"Himself a believing philosopher, Cottingham explains how he is able to meld his secular and religious inclinations. Sometimes, he warns, he gets a bit more rhetorical than is considered proper in an academic paper. He covers belief and its benefits; belief, reason, goodness; belief and the unknown; obstacles to belief; belief and meaning; learning to believe; and believing and living." -Eithne O'Leyne, BOOK NEWS, Inc.



Reviewed in the Catholic Herald, 27th August

'Wonderful crowd-dividing meditations'



'The virtues of Cottingham's own thinking — a gracious, open minded integrity, and an ability to combine spiritual insight with philosophical analysis — enrich his defence of Christian practise and belief.'
(Times Literary Supplement)

'An important addition to the contemporary study of religion... Cottingham's book is a work of gentle persuasion towards belief and in practice towards belief in Christianity... There is thus in Cottingham's re-enchanting work as much to interest those who study religion as a phenomenon as there is for those who practise it or indeed reject it.'
(Journal Of Contemporary Religion)

'Rigorously argued yet maximally accessible...a new and exciting perspective on the conflict between secularism and spirituality.'
(Bulletin)

'Why Believe? sees John Cottingham, a philosophy of searing intellectual honesty, examine our society's struggle with the concept of belief.'
(Bulletin)

'John Cottingham's brief defence of religious faith, and especially Christian faith, is honest, clear-headed and occasionally compelling.'
(Religious Studies)

"Fascinating and accessible reading for anyone with an appetite for philosophy of religion." The Way, April 2010. 

Reviewed in the Catholic Herald, 27th August

'Wonderful crowd-dividing meditations’



'The virtues of Cottingham’s own thinking – a gracious, open minded integrity, and an ability to combine spiritual insight with philosophical analysis – enrich his defence of Christian practise and belief.’
(Sanford Lakoff)

'An important addition to the contemporary study of religion… Cottingham’s book is a work of gentle persuasion towards belief and in practice towards belief in Christianity… There is thus in Cottingham’s re-enchanting work as much to interest those who study religion as a phenomenon as there is for those who practise it or indeed reject it.’
(Sanford Lakoff)

'Rigorously argued yet maximally accessible…a new and exciting perspective on the conflict between secularism and spirituality.’
(Sanford Lakoff)

'Why Believe? sees John Cottingham, a philosophy of searing intellectual honesty, examine our society’s struggle with the concept of belief.’
(Sanford Lakoff)

'John Cottingham’s brief defence of religious faith, and especially Christian faith, is honest, clear-headed and occasionally compelling.’
(Sanford Lakoff)

Book Description

Why Believe? sees John Cottingham, a philosopher of searing intellectual honesty, examine our society's struggle with the concept of belief. 
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Continuum; 1 edition (November 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826496369
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826496362
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,645,360 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Geoff Crocker on October 23, 2014
Format: Paperback
John Cottingham here presents his advocacy of theism. His main argument is that morality is objective, for which the explanation is God. But neither of these is necessarily true. Much morality is subjective. Judeo-Christian religion is totally ambiguous and contradictory on the moral question of capital punishment. Today’s church is itself riven by opposing moral views of homosexuality. Human morality evolves. Historic judicial burning alive of criminals and heretics would be unthinkable today. People change their minds on moral issues. The balance between justice and mercy is wholly subjective. Contrary to Cottingham’s insistence, virtue can be defined by human determination. His argument fails.

Cottingham further defends theism by the circular argument that, by definition, the existence of a true deity would not be open to challenge - a claim which takes us nowhere. He is then entirely arbitrary in determining which parts of the Bible are to be taken literally, and which as allegory or myth, leaving only a literal resurrection as non-negotiable, but only because this ‘seems to be’ so (p79). He is relaxed about the possibility of the ultimate judgment of hell (p138), and tries unconvincingly to offer some other speculative physical ‘substrate’ to host an eternal human soul (p141). He argues that Biblical miracle claims are OK because there may be functions of nature that remain unknown to us, despite the Bible’s interpretation of its reported miracles being very different to this explanation.

Religion should emphasise ‘praxis’. It’s not really about what you believe, but about how you behave. Cottingham’s link is ‘moral growth and spiritual conversion’ (p112), a human transformation which he does not successfully connect to belief.
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7 of 16 people found the following review helpful By polar bear on July 12, 2011
Format: Paperback
A clearly-reasoned, short book which clarifies 2 main points:
- religion and science need not be incompatible with each other
- religion cannot offer any explanation of things, but its value is in adding meaning and weight to our moral and spiritual intuitions
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