An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion 3rd Edition
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"Davies' book is among the best -- if not the best -- introductions to philosophy of religion. It is engaging, clear, rich in arguments, and provocative. This book provides a wonderful entry point into the field as well as offering the trained scholar some powerful, challenging arguments."--Charles Taliaferro, St. Olaf's College
"I am stunned at the completeness of the work, and especially at its equanimity in approaching and helping others to grasp quite contrary philosophical positions . . . a masterpiece of its genre."--David B. Burrell, University of Notre Dame
"Once again, Davies' treatment of the issues is sufficiently engaged to excite the reader's attention, and sufficiently sympathetic to alternative viewpoints to meet the needs of a beginner in the subject."--Mark Wynn, University of Exeter
About the Author
Brian Davies is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Fordham University.
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Davis does not go into the same depth that other introductory philosophies might go into with various topics. With that said, he engages the reader in a couple of ways. He uses an interesting type of formatting - while I'm sure it's not original to Davies, it's not the sort of formatting and organization that a reader might run across often. By approaching the various philosophical topics through argument, conclusion, and thoughts from his own perspective, Davies is able to accomplish the difficult task of offering a valid and objective look at the topic while also attempting to persuade the reader toward his perspective in a way that is not forceful, but helpful.
Overall, the anthology would have been a helpful tool. With that said, Davies engages the primary sources enough throughout his introductory work that this particular reader was able to view the thoughts of the foremost philosophers on these various issues without having to approach a difficult text like the anthology. I would recommend this to other readers.
This text is small, yet, thorough. He deals masterfully with some of the biggest arguments for God: Ontological, cosmological, and teleogical as well as others. His chapter on miracles is easy to understand and well written. The book doesn't try to sway the student in any direction, but instead, shows that it is reasonable to believe or not to believe in God.
Top international reviews
Davies's starting point is to differentiate between classical theism and theistic personalism. The former was developed from both Biblical and philosophical arguments which saw everything as being dependent on God for its being and existence while the latter is associated with process theology which denies individual immortality in favour of oneness with God eternally. In considering the philosophical concept of God Davies notes the argument that belief needs to be justified by reason but, citing Wittgenstein's distinction between surface and depth grammar, concludes that there are differences in believing in God and believing in a hypothesis which can be verified by evidence.
In brief, while the concept or existence of God is a hypothesis which can neither be verified nor falsified by empirical evidence, it is possible, as Alvin Plantinga suggests, " that it is entirely right, rational, reasonable and proper to believe in God without any evidence of argument". It is not necessary for theism to be based on arguments for God's existence and "those who think that thesists need evidence for their position do not generally state what sort of evidence is needed. In general they are only suggesting that it is irrational to believe God exists without any evidence or reason at all". However, empirical evidence is neither a sufficient nor a complete justification for dispensing with the concept of God any more than it is required for many beliefs held by human beings.
Davies examines the cosmological, design and ontological arguments for belief in God. These arguments and the questions which they seek to answer have not changed for centuries. Why is the universe as it is? Does it have a teleological purpose? What can be inferred from such empirical evidence as we have and, by implication, is the scientific method relevant to the search for God? The implications of the idea of omnipotence, omniscience, morality, the problem of evil and life after death are discussed in a thoroughly balanced manner with all the main thinkers, Aquinas, Anselm, Hume, Descartes, Kant from history and more recently Flew, Phillips, Hick and Mackie explained. It is the ideal antidote to the simplistic rantings of Dawkins et.al.
The book is as complete an introduction to the subject as any on the market. Each chapter includes excellent references, provides detailed advice on further reading and is followed with a series of searching questions for discussion. In this respect Davies has not written an updated version of earlier editions but a completely new book. As a text it is ideal for an introductory undergraduate course, raising issues and interest for anyone who wishes to move beyond the slap happy populist approach to philosophy or religion. I finished the book with a keen sense of how superficial discussions of the subject have often been and with the profound impression that, whatever we do know, we are missing something fundamental by seeking to describe God in our own terms.
I recommend this new edition to anyone who wants to consider the subject in depth. It is an ideal introduction to other sources of information which will cause the reader to think deeply about a subject which tries to get to the heart of who we are, what are we doing here and whether there is a purpose to it all. Five stars, no question.
BUT the 'second hand' quality is great, we wouldn't know it was second hand and it was delivered promptly