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Thinking About God: First Steps in Philosophy Paperback – December 10, 2004

4.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Ganssle provides a helpful, introductory guide for many of the most basic philosophical hurdles surrounding matters of faith. (Relevant, Jul/Aug 2007)

"This is a superb introduction to philosophical thinking about God. But it is much more than that--it's a refreshingly clear, compelling and funny introduction to thinking itself, to the world of philosophy. I can't think of a better way into these subjects than with Ganssle as a guide." (David A. Horner, Associate Professor of Biblical Studies and Christian Ethics, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, and Research Scholar and Minister, Centers for Christian Study, International)

"Thinking About God: First Steps in Philosophy is an outstanding book for those who want to learn to think philosophically about God's existence and nature. Ganssle's book uses these topics to help the reader learn to work through arguments to reasoned conclusions. Although religious beliefs are often dealt with emotionally, Ganssle shows the reader how to think carefully about them. While other philosophical texts tend to deal with technicalities which make them largely inaccessible to the inexperienced reader, Ganssle's book is aimed at helping these readers understand the underlying arguments and issues. Hence, this book provides a much-needed resource, a bridge between technical philosophical arguments and the untrained thinker that will be valuable in many churches and the lives of many Christians today. I highly recommend this book to those who wish to learn to think about the God they worship." (Dr. David Woodruff, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Huntington College, Indiana)

"Ganssle does a masterful job of guiding readers through the fundamental philosophical questions about God. He writes with a clarity rarely found in philosophers, simplifying complex issues without descending in simplistic explanations, and does it all with a touch of humor. A great introduction to philosophy of religion." (Steve Wilkens, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy and Ethics, Azusa Pacific University)

About the Author

Greg Ganssle (PhD, Syracuse) is professor of philosophy at Talbot School of Theology at Biola University. He is the author of several books, including A Reasonable God: Engaging the New Face of Atheism and Thinking About God, and he is the editor of God and Time.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 187 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic (December 10, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830827846
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830827848
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #242,363 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Greg Ganssle has produced the most fun and readable introduction to philosophy of religion I have ever encountered. His target audience runs from high school seniors to introductory college students, and I can say that I have enjoyed teaching an introductory philosophy course using this book. He presents the issues in a clear-headed way while drawing readers in with fun examples and humor.

After arguing for the value of thinking through philosophical questions in a reasonable way, Ganssle argues for open-mindedness in the sense of not being so sure of your views that you are not open to reason, but he also dismisses the idea that we must be neutral or that we must not make exclusive truth claims. Open-mindedness does not require having no views in those ways. I especially like seeing this in a book designed for younger students unfamiliar enough with philosophy to need some kind of way of heading off the simplistic kind of relativism that many students of philosophy find themselves stumbling over.

The main body of the work considers philosophical arguments for and against the existence of God. His presentation of the cosmological argument is the clearest I have ever seen, avoiding technical terminology when it is not needed but making the concepts as clear as can be done without such terms. His treatment of the design argument focuses on the fine-tuning argument after showing why very few are today convinced of biological design arguments, a choice perhaps reflecting a desire to stay out of intelligent design controversies in the political realm but nonetheless reflecting the philosophical consensus among believing philosophers today.
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Gregory Ganssle's Thinking About God: First steps in Philosophy is an excellent introduction to the philosophy of religion and, more specifically, to the question of God's existence. It's written in a simple, lucid style, and it is intelligent and substantial. The book reads as if a kind, wise uncle took his young nephew or niece along for a gentle walk in the park and tried to explain to him or her how philosophy works, which he then applies to the existence of God. It'd be suitable and beneficial for anyone who would like an introduction to philosophy.

Thinking About God is divided into four main sections:

1. Introduction. Here Ganssle introduces readers to what philosophy is and how it works. This section props up the rest of the book inasmuch as it applies its lesson in logic, critical thinking, etc. to the question of God's existence.

He makes other valuable points such as the following (p. 26):

"I agree that I cannot provide an argument for God's existence that will convince all thinking people. But what does this tell me? Does this tell me anything about God? No. Does this tell me whether or not it is reasonable to believe in God? No. This tells me a lot about the nature of proof but very little about whether God exists. I cannot provide an argument that will convince everyone, without a possibility of reasonable doubt, that God exists. That is no problem. You see, I cannot provide an argument for any interesting philosophical conclusion that will be accepted by everyone without the possibility of reasonable doubt. For exaxmple, I cannot prove beyond the possibility of doubt - in a way that will convince all philosophers - that the Rocky Mountains are really there. . . .
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I found this book to be a very good intro/primer for someone wanting to dip their toes into the waters of religious philiosophy. Ganssle doesn't get bogged down by the technical nuances of rational proofs like a number of other philisophy books. And yet he is still able to make the points necessary to introduce the reader to the ideas of thinking rationally about a God that we must take by faith.
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I thoroughly enjoyed this book as the title of my review states. To preface my review I want to say I have read this book very carefully. I tried to completely understand everything the author was saying by following the methods prescribed in How to Read a Book. In short I have spent a lot of time with this book because I felt it was good enough to chew and digest after a quick initial read.

If I could summarize the book into a short statement it would be the following: We should think well about the most important areas of life and the best example of this is thinking about God. Ganssle gives assistance in how to think about God well by both providing evidence for theism being more probably true than atheism and exploring the likely characteristics of God.

The Positives
• Very well written and for the most part easy to follow.
• The author is engaging and there is some quality humor sprinkled in (much of it self-deprecating). You can’t help but like Ganssle.
• Very reasonable tone to his argumentation and he doesn't overstate case. I find this very important myself and have much respect when people argue this way.
• Makes his cases well and I think is correct with most of his main propositions.
• Even though I am well versed in apologetic issues, this book was very helpful for me to better formalize my thoughts on the issues covered in this book and others that are not.
• He provides a helpful definition of faith: “holding what is true by trusting in a reliable source”. I think this is a more helpful way for Christians to describe faith and one that atheists are more likely to respect.
• While I’m not sure where I land on how I think God and time work, his thoughts are helpful for thinking through the issue.
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