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Philosophy of Religion: Thinking About Faith (Contours of Christian Philosophy) 02nd Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0830838769
ISBN-10: 0830838767
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

C. Stephen Evans (Ph.D., Yale) is Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy and the Humanities at Baylor University. He previously taught in the philosophy departments at Calvin College, St. Olaf College and Wheaton College. His publications include Why Believe?, The Historical Christ and the Jesus of Faith: The Incarnational Narrative as History, Kierkegaard's Ethic of Love and Keirkegaard on Faith and the Self: Collected Essays.

R. Zachary Manis (Ph.D., Baylor University) is assistant professor of philosophy at Southwest Baptist University.
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Product Details

  • Series: Contours of Christian Philosophy
  • Paperback: 244 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic; 02 edition (October 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830838767
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830838769
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,731 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Matthew Everhard on September 28, 2012
Format: Paperback
In this short book, C. Stephen Evans has done an admirable job of making the incredibly complex world of the philosophy of religion attainable to new students in this field. As such, this work would make a very helpful textbook at the introductory college level. Throughout this work, Evans does a remarkable job of defining the seemingly unending array of technical verbiage, while giving helpful illustrations to explain their usage to the reader.

"Philosophy of religion," as a technical term, is the particular branch of philosophy which, as its name suggests, grapples with religious truth claims and beliefs through the grid of reason and logic. Among the topics covered in this book are:

the classical "proofs" for the existence of God,
the validity of religious experience,
the nature and possibility of miracles,
particular objections to theism (such as evil and the apparent contradictions of science),
and the unsettling difficulties related to religious pluralism.

Each one of these topic could easily fill an entire volume.

In this reviewer's opinion, the most helpful aspect of this work is the way that Evans fairly and evenhandedly deals with skeptics' attacks on theism. While Evans eventually does show the rationality of theism (and particularly Christianity) in each chapter, I don't think anyone could accuse Evans of attempting to deal with the skeptic's challenges unfairly or impatiently. Where he sees weaknesses in the theistic position, he does not attempt to hide them. Where he sees strengths, he likewise argues back with equal force.

No chapter of this book should be seen as an outright apologetic defense of theism in general or Christianity in particular. It is not a book on apologetics.
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Format: Paperback
This is one of several books in the series, Contours of Christian Philosophy. Evans is the series editor. In this book he defines philosophy of religion as "critical reflection on religious belief." The book is an excellent and readable introductory survey of the most pressing questions that have arisen about religious belief. It was refreshing to have all the various points of views on things presented fairly. Though a Christian, Evans doesn't duck the difficult questions that Christian faith poses.

In the first chapter he defines the field. He specially discusses two approaches to this field: fideism and neutralism. Arguments for and against these are presented. He prefers another approach, which he calls "critical dialog." He describes this as open dialog with people of opposing points of view with a "willingness to test one's commitments." There aren't any fixed rules for this, but this approach implies a willingness to listen to other points of view and respond courteously even if firmly.

The second chapter is about how theists attempt to discuss the existence of God. He explains the approaches of natural theology. The third chapter presents the four most common classical proofs of the existence of God: ontological (about reality and being), cosmological (the existence of the universe), teleological (design), and moral. He presents some of the responses which bring out why none of them are completely satisfying to unbelievers. This chapter includes an interesting "case study" concerning divine foreknowledge and human freedom. There is also a discussion of the problems of religious language.

The fourth chapter is about religious experiences. The reality of such experiences can't be denied.
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Format: Paperback
C. Stephen Evans is Professor of Philosophy and Humanities at Baylor University; he has also written Quest for Faith, The Historical Christ and the Jesus of Faith, God and Moral Obligation, Preserving the Person, etc. This book was first published in 1982.

He wrote, "the fideist has a valid point when he stresses the way our thought is conditioned by basic assumptions and attitudes. And surely the neutralist has a point against the fideist in stressing the value of honest, no-holds-barred, critical reflection on our commitments. How then can reason and commitment be combined? Perhaps the two can be brought into a happy if sometimes tension-filled alliance by rethinking what it means to be reasonable. Instead of seeing reason as presuppositionless thinking, suppose we view reason as a willingness to test one's commitments." (Pg. 25)

He observes, "the question which we must ask is whether the basic order of the universe, the natural laws which have operated to bring about the apparent design in nature (if evolution is true), is a brute fact. The critic of the argument will insist that no explanation can be given of why the basic laws of nature operate; they just do. The defender of the argument naturally wonders why we have laws of nature at all... the person who rejects the argument seems to be ...
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