- Series: Scaling the Secular City
- Paperback: 276 pages
- Publisher: Baker Academic; 1st edition (February 1, 1987)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0801062225
- ISBN-13: 978-0801062223
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #167,348 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Scaling the Secular City: A Defense of Christianity Paperback – February 1, 1987
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From the Back Cover
'No evangelical now writing on apologetics surpasses Moreland in philosophical ability. Every person who intends to speak for Christ to the contemporary mind should master the content and spirit of this book.' -Dallas Willard (University of Southern California)
About the Author
J. P. Moreland (Ph.D., University of Southern California) is professor of philosophy at Talbot School of Theology. He has authored or coauthored many books, including Scaling the Secular City, Love Your God with All Your Mind, and Immortality: The Other Side of Death.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book is written to an educated audience and parts of it are difficult. The most difficult part was Moreland's discussion of the kalam cosmological argument and the mathematical part evidence therein. Moreland is an excellent scholar; in total, there are 359 footnotes where Moreland documents arguments, refers to other philosophers and so on. There is also an excellent bibliography at the end where Moreland classes the books under three categories: Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced.
Moreland covers what one would expect to find in an apologetics book:
The Cosmological Argument
The Design Argument
The Historicity of the New Testament
The Resurrection of Jesus
Much of this material can be found in hundreds of other books. In his chapter on the Cosmological Argument, Moreland focuses on a specific form of it, recently revived by William Lane Craig, namely the kalam Cosmological argument (in brief: If the universe had a beginning, then it was either caused or not-caused, if caused, then the cause is either personal or not-personal). In the Design Argument, Moreland covers different forms of Design, some of which are untouched, even if evolution is true (e.g. Design as Order, Purpose, Simplicity, Complexity, Beauty, Sense and Cognition, Information and Cosmic Constants).
Moreland's defense of the Resurrection is similar in many respects to Craig's; see my reviews of, "Jesus' Resurrection: Fact or Fiction," and, "Will the real Jesus please stand up?"
However, Moreland has several chapters that make his book stand out from the crowd:
God and the Argument from the Mind
God and the Meaning of Life
Science and Christianity
Four Final Issues
In the Mind chapter, Moreland argues for and defends the idea of substantial, immaterial human souls or minds to the existence of an original Mind or Soul (i.e. God). In the Meaning chapter, Moreland looks at the ethics dimension of the question, examines the options (e.g. Nihilism, optimistic humanism, immanent purpose and Christianity), and concludes that Christianity is not only the most rational but also provides more meaning than the competing views.
In the Science chapter, Moreland discusses philosophy of science and the creation/evolution debate. Often, there is an idea that either science and theology are working in totally different spheres of reality or that science should dictate to theology what it can and cannot do. I think Moreland makes an important advance here; his approach takes both science and the Bible seriously. He concludes the chapter with a discussion of evolution and offers a serious of reasons why creation science IS NOT a religion.
In the last chapter, he looks at four final issues; the �problem� of the visibility of God, the religious experience argument for God, the objection that God is merely a psychological projection and relativism. To explain the visibility problem is the view that sense God cannot be seen, one cannot know He exists; Moreland rightly exposes this as, �crude empiricism.� The author offers two fairly convincing arguments based on religious experience; the reader must keep in mind that even if you reject this argument, there are numerous other objective arguments that are objective in nature. Psychologists and sociologists originally came up with the idea that God is a projection of the mind, or a fulfillment of psychological needs, obviously forgot that philosophy is not their realm. Moreland responds by saying that to explain the origin of the belief does not show whether one is justified in believing it (to discredit an idea solely by pointing to its origin is to commit the genetic fallacy), and Moreland also questions the premise that people project God. Relativism is the view that there are no universal moral rules that apply to all people, all cultures and all times; for more on this topic, see my review of, �Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air.�
Throughout the book, Moreland considers objections to his arguments and systematically disables them. He does not make up objections, but footnotes specific books written by advocates of different philosophies. To those that claim that Christianity is intellectually bankrupt, irrational or whatever, you have a challenge to deal with. Moreland shows the intellectual strength of Christianity and makes it difficult to dismiss Christianity casually.
I would highly recommend this book to college and university students and all those who long for a robust defense of the faith.
1 The cosmological argument
2 The design argument
3 God and the argument from mind
4 God and the meaning of life
5 The historicity of the New Testament
6 The resurrection of Jesus
7 Science and Christianity
8 Four final issues
The excellent treatments of these issues are however not integrated, linked together. One must already have an idea of their relevance (I can recommend here the book of N. L. Geisler, "Christian Apologetics", Baker Book House).
I also would like to recommend Moreland's other books ("The Creation Hypothesis", "Jesus under fire", ...).
The Hague, Hollan
Moreland clearly demonstrates himself to be of a classical apologetic bent, by putting forth and defending many of the traditional arguments for God's existence. His discourse on the cosmological argument is very good, as is his design argument. These philosophical arguments have been sources of severe debate for decades, not only between theists and non-theists, but also among theists of differing apologetic approaches. I happen to agree with Moreland that these arguments remain compelling and have actually been made sharper as a result of the many arguments that have been waged against them.
Overall, I felt that Moreland has produced an effective multifaceted presentation for why belief in the Christian God is plausible and reasonable, and that such belief appears to stand on firmer ground than believing in alternative viewpoints.
Although I admit that this is not a fair criticism, I will point out something to interested readers. A few years after this book by Moreland, Bill Craig came out with his 'Reasonable Faith'. In my view, Craig's book is stronger on the cosmological argument, the veracity of the Bible and the resurrection of Christ than Moreland is here in this book. I recognize that it's not really fair to demote the review of this book based on a book that came out subsequently, and that's why I'm giving this book 5 stars. At the time, it was probably the best contemporary apologetic in print that was accessible to a wide audience of lay readers. But given a choice between this book and 'Reasonable Faith' by Craig, I believe the latter is a slightly better book for today's reader. I highly recommend both and believe that everyday Christians should pray for God to give them a passion to study these issues and reflect upon them, so that they may be equipped to lovingly contend for the faith in a world that's trying to convince them their beliefs are wrong, as well as to enhance and deepen one's own Christian walk by intellectually meditating upon these issues and how they relate to the God we worship.