- Series: Great Debates in Philosophy
- Paperback: 280 pages
- Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell (April 28, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0631193642
- ISBN-13: 978-0631193647
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,926,358 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Knowledge of God
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"I would recommend the book to professional philosophers ofreligion and philosophy graduate students for these significantcontributions." (Journal of Religion, 1 October 2010)
"The book's style is very different from other philosophy ofreligion texts, because it presents the issues within the contextof a lively debate, capturing the excitement of philosophicalargumentation and epitomizing how philosophy should be practiced."(American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, Summer2010)"Alvin Plantinga and Michael Tooley here debate the questionwhether God's existence is known—or, at least, justifiablybelieved. As expected from two such distinguished philosophers,their discussion has the originality and intellectual weight torepay careful consideration, as much by philosophers of mind andepistemologists as by philosophers of religion." (Mind,October 2009)
"The book illuminates some important issues in philosophicaltheology. Recommended." (CHOICE, October 2008)
"I found this book strangely compelling … .Plantinga usesan ingenious new version of the Design Argument to demonstrate 'theepistemic probability' that God exists; Tooley argues that 'thefact of evil' on our world makes the existence of a benevolent God'very unlikely.'" (Church Times, January 2009)
"The present volume, by two heavyweight analytical philosophers,is rather different from the usual pattern." (TheTablet)
"A very fine book, presenting arguments for and against theismand naturalism by two very distinguished philosophers. I stronglyrecommend it for graduate level courses." (Notre DamePhilosophical Reviews)
“Knowledge of God is a work of major significance. There isno other debate-style book in the philosophy of religion that packsthe intellectual punches thrown by heavy-weights Plantinga andTooley. Excellent.” –Thomas Senor,University of Arkansasz
"A rigorous yet accessible debate on central issues in thephilosophy of religion by two leading contributors to the field.When Plantinga and Tooley turn to discuss each other's views, theyshed light not only on these topics but on a whole range of furtherissues, including minds and materialism, propositional content,evolutionary explanation, and probabilistic reasoning. A first-rateexchange, full of philosophical insight." –EdwardWierenga, University of Rochester
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First of All, I should probably say that I am not an atheist, I am a Christian, and I am a huge fan of Alvin Plantinga. I think the man is a brilliant philosopher, but he certainly found someone about as brilliant as him in Michael Tooley, and I say that without reserve. While I disagreed with most of Tooley's conclusions, the man is a serious opponent and presents what I think is the best version of the problem of evil I have ever seen. While I think Plantinga dealt with it very well, I think it is worth a read for every theist (and atheist) out there. I also loved Plantinga's offense against naturalism, and his ever so brilliant evolutionary argument against naturalism. I never get tired of reading about it. Overall, I think Plantinga succeeds in giving us some good reasons to doubt naturalism, and I am not saying that because I am a fan of his. I have often reflected upon the obvious ineptness of any naturalistic worldview to account for things like consciousness and intentionality (which Plantinga does not even talk about here). Plantinga's argument that if naturalism is true then the concept of proper function does not apply to human beings, and that if naturalism is true then there are no such things as "beliefs", and of course his evolutionary against naturalism all are intellectually exhilarating (to me at least). While I think Tooley countered them well, I still think they were somewhat successful in showing why a naturalistic worldview is untenable. That being said, I absolutely agree with Tooley: just because naturalism is false this does not make theism true. I think Plantinga makes that jump (that is obviously not a sound one, logically speaking) because there are only so many worldviews that try to explain reality, and naturalism and theism happen to be the two most popular ones, such that if naturalism is false, that gives credence to theism. But I think Tooley is right, this is an unjustified leap, especially from the perspective of a naturalist. Overall, I think Plantinga wins this one (of course I do), but not by much!
Alvin Plantinga defends the rationality of theism. He spends a real brief period presenting his "Reformed Epistemology" that he has developed elsewhere (Warranted Christian Belief, and Faith & Rationality: Reason & Belief in God)--namely that, if theism is true, then it is rational to believe in God because God has provided us with a sensus divinitatis. He then turns the bulk of his essay to critiquing the major opponent of theism--philosophical naturalism. He levels three arguments. First, that naturalism cannot provide an acceptable model of `proper function' and therefore cannot explain what it means to be sick, health, etc. Second, naturalism, construed as materialism regarding human persons, gives one reason to believe that the majority of one's beliefs are false. Finally, naturalism, as materialism again, does not allow for a person to hold beliefs.
Tooley begins by making many important distinctions that many atheologians do not. After many qualifications, he begin with his arguments for theism being unreasonable. First, he argues that the a priori probability of God existing is lower than (or equal to) a third, and, therefore, the default position should be atheism. Then he spends the bulk of his essay devoted to one (16 premised) argument from evil. It is a very complicated and dense one. He focuses on one particular event--the Lisbon earthquake of 1755--and argues that, probably God did not exist at that time. The reason? That earthquake exhibited certain wrong-making properties that are inconsistent with a morally perfect loving God allowing. He then generalizes to other events, using the same rough formulation. (This rough characteristic leaves out many of Tooley's interesting and complicated points.)
There are many things to like about this book. There are some very interesting responses between the authors, and each makes important distinctions and very critical and probing remarks. Tooley's argument from evil highlights (and tries to amend) some of the problems with current formulations of inductive/probabilities accounts of the problems of evil. Despite these virtues, there are some things readers should be warned of. First, much of Plantinga's comments (except for his critique of materialism), he has extensively treated before, and this book is, in many ways, simply a condensed version of things he has said elsewhere. Second, the book is very difficult at times. Although most advanced undergraduates should be able to tackle the majority of the text, this text is most at home in a graduate level setting. General readers ought to think about perhaps passing on this book for a little while until they are more familiar with this particular niche of philosophy. Nevertheless, this is an interesting piece of professional philosophy which highlights how amicable discussions of this sort can be.
Tooley is a formidable opponent and actually challenges Plantinga a few times. unfortunately, in his response to Plantinga's argument about the inability of a material object to think, he just assumes that it can(which Plantinga points out).
This is a fantastic book(only the probability calculus was boring, the rest was fascinating!) and both philosophers are great!