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The God Debates: A 21st Century Guide for Atheists and Believers (and Everyone in Between) Paperback – October 1, 2010
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"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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The topics covered are what would be expected: Scriptural arguments, natural arguments, cosmological arguments, epistemological arguments, and mystical arguments. Each is given a fair hearing and Shook points out the major flaws in each. Having an interest in the Philosophy of Religion already, Shook does a good job covering the classical arguments. What I really enjoyed, though, are the more modern, apologetic-type arguments used today. His conversation of presuppositionalist arguments is worth the price by itself.
If you're new to the 'god debate', this is a good place to start, especially if you don't have a philosophy background. For those with more of a philosophical bent, you could do no wrong with J.L. Mackie's "The Miracle of Theism," Michael Martin's "Atheism: A Philosophical Justification," or Graham Oppy's "Arguing About Gods". For those looking for a more Christian-oriented critique, the books and anthologies by John W Loftus are wonderful.
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. He provides a fair and balanced inquiry into both traditional religious arguments and new ones, from the last one hundred years down to the present. While Shook's analyses ultimately cannot agree that the arguments for a supernatural being succeed, he only arrives at that conclusion after a comprehensive review and critical examination of purported evidence and argumentative strategies for god. There are no rude jabs at the believer, no tone of either denigration or condescension, which makes the read a refreshing divergence from top-selling "atheist books" such as Dawkins' "The God Delusion," Harris' "The End of Faith," and Hitchens' "God is not Great." (While these are great books that are well-worth reading, their authors can't be commended for their diplomacy or humility.) Shook's goal is not to convert people to atheism but only to educate the reader regardless of his/her religious persuasion on the legitimacy of the arguments on all sides. He has no interest in denouncing belief in god, only to critically examine the wide variety of religious positions and accompanying arguments. A refreshing departure, that he should want us to understand one another's belief systems before we criticize! He understands how religion can't be lumped together as "one thing" so he dissects it and evaluates each piece, a smart strategy indeed.
Whatever side of the debate you're on, you will absolutely benefit from learning the arguments of your intellectual "opponents," as well as arguments posited in your own camp. You might even change your own position! Or, you'll find new ways to strengthen it. Shook's book is a rich tool for anybody who wants to take part in the god debates, wherever one's convictions lie.
Believe me that Mr. Shook did not leave a stone unturned; every angle, every idea have been analyzed, discussed and no argument have been left out. The final conclusion is up to the reader to be accepted or rejected. Which side will you keep or abandon is up to you. Why?
God and religion are like shoe stores in a mega mall. All of them sell shoes and you decide which shoes, if any, you will buy!
Great book for the true search of the truth!
Excellent, superb read for the well educated person.
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