- Paperback: 576 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (August 2, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0199755434
- ISBN-13: 978-0199755431
- Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1.7 x 6.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #593,755 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Debating Christian Theism 1st Edition
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"[Debating Christian Theism] illustrates how deeply the mysteries of Christianity in particular, and of spiritual faith (or lack of it) in general, engages with a person's entire life-condition--cognitive and affective, commonplace and cosmic. J.P. Moreland, Chad Meister, and Khaldoun A. Sweis have done a masterful job at collecting a volume of contributions which treat these matters seriously and illuminate them impressively."--Essays in Philosophy
"A wide-ranging and ambitious book For range of topics, quality of argumentation, and up-to-date currency with recent scholarship, this volume is very hard to beat. I know of no comparable volume that shares that constellation of virtues . A very good resource for undergraduate and graduate seminars in philosophy of religion, theology, and apologetics."--Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
"Accessible to educated readers and advanced undergraduate students, this volume provides a handy summary of key positions in important debates."--CHOICE
"Debating Christian Theism contains new essays on central topics by a number of distinguished scholars. It should not only prove of general interest but would provide an excellent supplemental text for undergraduate and graduate courses in philosophy of religion or theology." --William Wainwright, author of Religion and Morality
"Pro/con pairs of essays, fairness, high-level discussion, rare breadth-all these combine to make this book an excellent representation of, and addition to, current debates regarding Christian theism." --Keith E. Yandell, author of Philosophy of Religion
"Debating Christian Theism is a groundbreaking book... truly paradigm-shifting... Every serious Christian apologist and Christian philosopher, and every serious critic of Christianity, should read this fascinating book." --Philosophia Christi
"[T]he engaged mind can find here much that deserves rumination. The various topics can be read at any pace, and there is no need to read the topics in any particular order. It is a treat to have a single volume present not just 'both sides of the argument,' but in the words of serious thinkers on both sides of the argument (and not one side attempting to relate or minimize the other side s points). The ability to get a solid sense of the current state of these debates is the volume s chief virtue. Recommended for graduate students or advanced readers, with some of the essays suitable for a broader audience."--Theological Studies
About the Author
J. P. Moreland is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University. He has authored, edited, or contributed papers to thirty-five books, including Does God Exist?, Universals, Consciousness and the Existence of God, and The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology.
Chad Meister is Professor of Philosophy at Bethel College. He is author or editor of fifteen books, including Evil: A Guide for the Perplexed, Introducing Philosophy of Religion, The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Religion, co-edited with Paul Copan, and God is Great, God is Good, co-edited with William Lane Craig. He is the general editor (with Paul Moser) of the forthcoming book series Cambridge Studies in Religion, Philosophy, and Society.
Khaldoun A. Sweis is Chair of the World Languages and Cultures Department and Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Olive-Harvey College. His publications include articles in Think: A Journal of the Royal Institute of Philosophy, The Journal of the International Society of Christian Apologetics, and he is co-editor (with Chad Meister) of Christian Apologetics: An Anthology of Primary Sources.
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This review utilizes 2 examples derived from 20 different essays in order to provide the potential purchaser a basis for making an informed decision on whether or not to purchase this book. The following is not a critique. Although this review gives a strong endorsement for this book, it is for those that already have an academic background in the particular subjects that are covered.
By way of format, the book is comprised of fairly small, but rich and sometimes dense, essays. The topics are numerous and there are some subjects that one would not expect to be covered such as the final exchange between Keith Parsons and Jerry Walls "Is It Reasonable to Believe in Heaven and Hell," which is a topic one typically gleans from more basic apologetic materials--not an academic book on the truth of Christianity. According to the editors, "We . . . offer you . . . a high-level, fair, and balanced treatment of twenty topics of central importance to the truth and rationality of historic Christianity."
The Christian's essay begins on a particular topic, followed by an atheist/humanist/scientific naturalist essay that does NOT necessarily address the contents (or even the author) in the previous essay. This is an academic exercise and the authors views are already known by one another, so rebutting and undercutting defeaters still abound and are on point. However, some readers may not like this format as it is akin to a follow-up publication to a symposium.
For example, the theistic essay on fine-tuning is written by Robbin Collins that happens to address Victor Stenger's views as he is best known for being one of the few physicists that wholly rejects the idea that fine-tuning exists and is a live option for the theist. In Dr. Stenger's oft repeated popular words, "The universe is not fine-tuned to us; we are fine-tuned to our particular universe." Victor Stenger's essay, much of which has already been published in other mediums, address arguments proffered by William Lane Craig and and Hugh Ross, not Robbin Collins. Stenger obviously never read Collins essay which contains a footnote to a technical but blistering peer reviewed article by Dr. Luke Barnes (footnote 8). Stenger instead focuses on outdated materials written by Bill Craig in the 1980's! Moreover, instead of grappling with fine-tuning issues, Stenger attacks outdated materials related to arguments for the existence of God.
Most essays are written by well-known and authoritative authors in their respective fields (e.g., I would not include Victor Stenger as an authority in philosophy despite his present adjunct post in Colorado's philosophy department--are they kidding!) Stenger was a particle physicist, he was/is not a philosopher. He is popular writer, like Dr. Krauss, which is the likely explanation for his contribution. Philosophy is a second-order discipline that investigates first-order disciplines such as physics and biology. To my knowledge in gleaning his CV, Stenger does not even have an associates degree in philosophy and his essay is a prime example of why "the man who claims to have no need of philosophy is the one most apt to be fooled by it," which obviously does not apply to the University of Colorado. This would be one minor criticism of the book. I suspect that OUP needs some well-known names to justify producing books such as the one presently under review. I will leave it to the reader to see the fallacies in his essay. (As a side note, I have read all of Stenger's books and am presently writing a lengthy and collective review meant to invite civil exchanges [if possible] with nonbelievers).
The very first essay by Bill Craig makes this entire book worth the money. In tandem with this statement, those that have read extensively on issues such as the Kalam Cosmological Argument ("KCA") will find a treasure of unpublished materials as Dr. Craig unpacks many of the assumptions behind the premises of the main arguments, including the supporting premises such as the syllogism based on the impossibility of the formation of an actual infinite. Dr. Craig has addressed some of these issue in classes and on a few of his podcasts.
For example, in speaking of of the KCA,, Dr, Craig utilizes the standard Big Bang model, also called the concordance model or the "lambda cold dark matter model," while addressing the issue of past boundary quantum models (like those dealt with in the Blackwell Companion essay stated above). Craig deals with an alleged issue related to the uncertainty concerning the physical description of the universe prior to the Planck time that supposedly affects the fundamental prediction of an absolute beginning of the universe (argued by the KCA), and this objection also comes on the heels of another objection about the discovery of a quantum theory of gravity possibly undermining the KCA, so Craig clarifies the issue by stating that the "relevant question is not whether some quantum theory of gravity will enable physicists to resolve the initial singularity into a well-defined physical state, but whether that state or its predecessors can be successfully extrapolated to past infinity, so as to achieve a beginning-less universe."
This has import due to the ad hoc and speculative cosmogonic scenarios, such as Hawking's scenario in The Grand Design that is painfully metaphysical (even meta-metaphysical or meta-ontological) as every physical theory has two components: (1) a mathematical formalism; and, (2) a physical interpretation. Hawking is explicit about his mathematical formalism and positivism as reality for Hawking is akin to something close to the movie the Matrix (yes, he endorses one's belief that the moon can be made of cheese). Craig addresses Hawking here and elsewhere, and there is no need to rehearse these issues as this is not meant as a critique.
Another example is Dr. Craig's intoxicating clarification of existence, mathematical existence versus mathematical legitimacy, all of which relate to underlying issues when arguing for the impossibility of the existence of an actually infinite number of things. Dr. Craig states that an actual infinite cannot exist as the "modality at issue is not "strict logical possibility . . . [rather] what is at issue here is so-called metaphysical possibility which has to do with something's being actualizable." It is nice to read Dr. Craig applying the difference between broad and strict logical possibility to other issues. Moreover, the bonus is that these clarifications can be utilized when re-reviewing or reading Dr. Craig's arguments for Christianity and the counter arguments from other authors.
To wind down this review, the salient point is those untrained and/or unfamiliar with a respective authors writings are likely not ready for an in-depth book of this caliber as it presupposes a strong familiarity with previous writings, and it is not the author v. author or a point-counterpoint theme.
The other essays range from medium to difficult but all follow the same format. I would typically unpack other essays, but I fear I will lose the reviewer as this is primarily a caveat meant for the budding Christian apologist that may bite off more than they can chew. For the initiated, this is an incredible book (the end notes are a great resource). This book is meant for a specific audience as stated by the editors in the forward. In summary, for new believers and those with a beginners love for Christian apologetics and who rightly love the wisdom of Dr. Moreland, you may want to wait this one out.
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"Summing up, I think that on the whole, for range of topics, quality of argumentation, and up-to-date currency with recent scholarship, this volume is very hard to beat. I know of no comparable volume that shares that constellation of virtues. While there are a few places where, in my judgement, the contributions don't live up to expectations, they are by far the exceptions. The vast majority of the essays are really excellent despite their generally short length (twelve pages on average). I believe this volume would make a very good resource for undergraduate and graduate seminars in philosophy of religion, theology, and apologetics."
Here you will see an engagement in many topics with respect to Theism and Christian Theism such as the Kalam Cosmological Argument, the Ontological Argument, the Moral Argument, the Resurrection of Jesus, Argument from Consciousness, Atonement, Trinity and a whole lot more.
The debates don't always happen between opponents, and the debates are primarily against older works of the person one is arguing with.
For instance Graham Oppy is engaging in a Modal Ontological Argument written by the late E.J Lowe in 2007. Though Lowe's argument at that time is forceful, his newest argument here is even better, in fact I actually defend it now.
I think the participants are good as you'll see some heavy hitters such as Richard Swinburne, Graham Oppy, Gary Habermas, Louise Antony, Charles Taliaferro, Julian Baggini, Craig Evans, Marcus Borg, and Keith Ward just to name a few.
20 chapters are dedicated to Theism whilst 20 chapters are dedicated to Christianity.
My favorite debate was actually the debate on Omniscience, in fact I haven't really heard many good objections to omniscience until I read Patrick Grim's essay, though I believe Jerome Gellman (an underrated philosopher) handles it very well.
Another great debate was the debate on the doctrine of Atonement. The well-known and much respect Christian philosopher Richard Swinburne goes up against a formidable opponent in the late John Hick.
One of the weakest essay's IMO came from a philosopher (Paul Moser) who I like a lot, though he really didn't deliver to well in his essay on Miracles, as I think he didn't go deep enough into the issue.
Oh and then there is that philosopher (Keith Parsons) who stated that the philosophy of religion was pseudo-philosophy a few years back, but yet he made a contribution to this fine book. Hypocrisy much Parsons? Well I had a feeling that you would come back for more, in fact I think it's kinda funny how he finishes up the book with an essay on Heaven and Hell.
I was shocked to see the fact that he didn't have much of a problem with Jerry Walls' inclusivism either, however Parsons was still bringing his sophisticated arguments and those arguments still need to be addressed....well...if one is an exclusivist who believes in a literal hell that is.
All and all this book has a lot of meat in it that will keep you interested until the very end!