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Good God: The Theistic Foundations of Morality 1st Edition

4.9 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199751815
ISBN-10: 0199751811
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"Good God provides a spirited defense of the claim that morality requires God as its foundation. The authors provide powerful reasons for rejecting the usual philosophical objections to this view, and a strong case for the advantages of their view over secular rivals. Although the book shows a deep knowledge of contemporary moral philosophy, it is accessible to non-specialists and written in a clear and engaging style."
-- C. Stephen Evans, University Professor of Philosophy and Humanities, Baylor University


"This is, on awhole, a very good book. It gathers together arguments for an ambitious thesis, that 'morality ultimately needs God to make full ratonal sense."
--John Hare, Yale University


About the Author

David Baggett is professor of philosophy at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. His books include C. S. Lewis as Philosopher: Truth, Goodness and Beauty; Did the Resurrection Happen? : A Conversation with Gary Habermas and Antony Flew; Tennis and Philosophy: What the Racket is All About; and Sherlock Holmes and Philosophy. Jerry L. Walls recently served as a Research Fellow in The Center for Philosophy of Religion at Notre Dame, and is currently a visiting scholar there. Among his books are Hell: The Logic of Damnation, Heaven: The Logic of Eternal Joy, and Purgatory: The Logic of Total Transformation. He is also the editor of The Oxford Handbook of Eschatology.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (April 20, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199751811
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199751815
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 0.8 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #318,951 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kyle Blanchette on July 13, 2011
Format: Paperback
In "Good God," David Baggett and Jerry L. Walls bring some much needed clarity and boldness to contemporary discussions about theistic ethics. Right from the start, the authors begin with seven key distinctions and clarifications (such as conceivability vs. possibility, knowing vs. being, and good vs. right) that are employed with great deftness throughout the course of this rich, eminently intelligible work, helping the reader to understand exactly what is at stake in the at-once classic and contemporary debate over God and morality.

The authors intend for their work to function as a cumulative-case-style moral argument, and they find themselves on both the offensive and defensive sides of this task. Indeed, the sheer scope of Baggett and Walls' analysis is stunning in itself. Nearly every conceivable angle on the relationship between God and morality is touched upon, including Euthyphro-style objections, the problem of evil, the relationship between God and goodness, the logic of divine command theory, the problem of abhorrent commands (especially in Old Testament narratives), the relationship between theistic ethics and the Christian view of the afterlife, and even the problematic nature of Calvinism for theistic ethics. None of these forays has the sense of being haphazard or unduly truncated. The book's sprawling coverage adds greatly to its persuasiveness, giving the reader the sense that theistically-grounded ethics have unparalleled explanatory power.

In terms of difficulty, the content of the book would be largely accessible to undergraduate students of philosophy, though it would still likely prove a challenge.
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Format: Paperback
-I would recommend this book highly. It's lucidly written with playful wit while covering an array of topics that concern both atheist and theist alike. Baggett and Walls' (Henceforth Baggett) essential point is that morality does not make sense unless it is given by God. This book is such a good read, in part, because this thesis is so applicable, especially in response to the New Atheism crowd who believe they can have a sensible morality apart from God.

Baggett constructs a moral apologetic by offering multiple versions of the moral argument. He details a theistic ethic. And by answering normativity, epistemic, autonomy, and arbitrariness objections, Baggett strengthens the moral argument not only for God's existence but also for God's love and moral goodness as perfect, necessary, and recognizable.

These discussions also inform our understanding of natural law, the problem of evil, conquest narratives, and the moral relevance of the Trinity, incarnation, resurrection, and afterlife. The moral argument for God's existence is powerful and persuasive but too often neglected in natural theology.

Some of the specific subject matter is given below as preview.

The author addresses the Euthyphro Dilemma and seeks the best reconciliation. Both horns of this dilemma are uncomfortable and undesired by theists: to affirm that something is good because God commands it is to invite arbitrariness, but to affirm instead that God commands what is already moral makes it seem as if morality is independent of God and God is accountable to it. Murray Macbeath's response is that God chooses actions because they maximize our happiness, which might be the reason they are moral. This question will be a motif developed throughout the text as Baggett proceeds to answer it.
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The premise of "Good God: The Theistic Foundations of Morality" is that the existence of a universal moral intuition, and the philosophical conclusions drawn from the analysis of this intuition, rationally lead to a belief in a good God. "In a nutshell," said David Baggett in an interview with the Evangelical Philosophical Society, "our aim is to show that the God of classical theism and orthodox Christianity is reasonably thought to make best sense of moral truths that most everyone--theists and atheists alike--claim to believe in."

One of the things I most appreciate about this book is the authors' unapologetic honesty about the nature of reality. "If our goal is the pursuit of truth rather than winning an argument" they write, "then what good reason is there to deny what seems undeniable: that there are authoritative moral obligations?" It is refreshing for trained philosophers to have an unapologetic commitment to what goes on in the real world. The authors feel free to assume that this belief is true both because they instinctively know it and because most people in most places instinctively know it too. In response to a philosopher or theologian who might construct a syllogism in which God could, for example, issue a command to torture children for fun, the authors respond, "What could we possibly appeal to as more morally obvious than the falsehood of that conclusion?"

Another positive aspect of this book is its defense of the relationship between faith and reason. Anyone who has hung around evangelical Christians for any amount of time has heard someone say that faith is only truly faith when it believes something that doesn't make sense.
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