This book addresses a fundamental question in the philosophy of religion. Can religious experience provide evidence for religious belief? If so, how? Keith Yandell argues against the notion that religious experience is ineffable, while advocating the view that strong numinous experience provides some evidence that God exists. An attractive feature of the book is that it does not confine its attention to any one religious cultural tradition, but tracks the nature of religious experience across different traditions in both the East (...) and the West. (shrink)
Letters to Doubting Thomas is an exchange of letters between two characters on the existence of God; it provides a cumulative case for Theism (the belief that God exists). Chapter by chapter, theism is compared with Naturalism (roughly, the view that there is no God and that ultimate reality is physical reality), concluding that Theism (on balance) provides a better explanation of the world and human life than does Naturalism.
Challenging the assumption that the concept of divine action is necessarily paradoxical, on the grounds that God is radically transcendent of finitude, or can perform only a master act of creating and sustaining the universe, Frank Kirkpatrick defends as philosophically credible the Christian conviction that God is a personal Agent who also acts in particular historical moments to further the divine intention of fostering universal community. Kirkpatrick claims that God and the world are distinct realities "together bound" in a mutual (...) relationship of reciprocal historical action. In this relationship, God both acts upon and responds to human beings in specific moments in their history. The implications of this claim for understanding the biblical narrative, the problem of evil, cosmological theories, and the realism of Christian community are pursued. (shrink)
Recent debates about Intelligent Design have brought into high relief the huge schism between those who believe in Darwin and the power of science to understand the world, and those who look through the prism of religious faith. Why, asks eminent philosopher Philip Kitcher, does this debate continue to rage given that the scientific consensus in favor of Darwin is overwhelming? This accessible and elegant essay attempts to answer this question. Kitcher first presents the compelling evidence on behalf of Darwin's (...) evolutionary theory, bringing out with unprecedented clarity the structure of the reasoning that has convinced almost all educated people of its merits during the past century and a half. He then sets the current debate about Intelligent Design in historical context, showing that ID theory is really dead science. Explaining the scientific issues in an elegant and accessible way, Kitcher shows how crucial discoveries successively undermined the Creationist views about life on earth that were once considered scientific orthodoxy. Finally, Kitcher goes on to analyze the recurrent opposition to Darwinian ideas, arguing that they do present a genuine threat to those forms of religion that invoke divine providence. A Darwinian understanding of the history of life makes popular forms of religious faith, including most versions of Christianity and Judaism, hard to sustain. The dispute about Intelligent Design emerges as a symptom of a much deeper problem - the clash between the deep impulses to religion and the discoveries of the natural and human sciences. Kitcher contends that we cannot resolve that clash either by denying these discoveries or by brusquely overriding the underlying impulses. Somehow, we must develop a version of secular humanism that will prove genuinely satisfying. (shrink)
Faith and Reason displays in historical perspective some of the rich dialogue between religion and philosophy over two millennia, beginning with Greek reflections about God and the gods and ending with twentieth-century debate about faith in a world which tends to reserve its reverence for science. Paul Helm uses as a case study the question of whether the world is eternal or whether it was created out of nothing, following this theme from Plato through medieval thought to modern scientific speculation (...) about the beginnings of the universe. This Oxford Reader also includes discussion of many other fundamental issues raised by the juxtaposition of faith and reason, including arguments for and against the existence of God, the relationship between religion and ethics, the contrast between reason and revelation as sources of knowledge, and the implications of religious belief for freedom of the will. (shrink)
Have evolution, science and the trappings of the modern world killed off God irrevocably? And what do we lose if we choose not to believe in him? From Newton and Descartes to Darwin and the discovery of the genome, religion has been pushed back further and further while science has gained ground. But what fills the void that religion leaves behind? This book is an attempt to look at these questions and to suggest a third way between the easy consolations (...) of religion and the persuasive force of science that the everyday modern reader can engage with. (shrink)
This book explores recently opened avenues in logic and philosophical analysis to offer new perspectives on time-honored religious beliefs. Topics covered include the nature of divine attributes, the implications of divine benevolence and divine justice, arguments in support of theism and atheism, and religion and morality.
This collection of essays, written between 1975 and 1987, covers topics including the doctrine of analogy, the Trinity, theological realism, the problims of evil and suffering, ecclesiology, and the so-called theistic proofs. The earlier writings relect the author's training as a philosopher in the Anglo-Aamerican analytic tradition. Later essays have a more explicitly theological focus, and they attempt to deal with and move beyond the tradition through hermeneutics, and literary and social theory. This collection thus addresses a wider list of (...) topics than is usual in works of philsophical theology, and is unique in its use of interdisciplinary methods and approaches. (shrink)
At least since Darwin's Origin of Species was published in 1859, it has increasingly become accepted that the existence of God is, intellectually, a lost cause, and that religious faith is an entirely non-rational matter--the province of those who willingly refuse to accept the dramatic advances of modern cosmology. Are belief in God and belief in science really mutually exclusive? Or, as noted philosopher of science and religion Richard Swinburne puts forth, can the very same criteria which scientists use to (...) reach theories about everything from DNA to the Big Bang be used to argue for the existence of God? In Is There a God? Swinburne presents a powerful and approachable case for the existence of God. Using the methods of scientific reasoning, Swinburne rigorously argues that science, far from replacing God, provides good grounds for belief in God. With each new discovery and advance, from black holes to quarks, superstrings to continuing evolution, science brings us closer to a complete understanding of how things work--but science can only go so far. Though it can explain much of how the universe works, science doesn't tell us why there is a universe at all. We can understand much of how life evolved, but why is there any life on earth? We can name and explicate scientific laws, but how is it that they operate in the universe? The Darwinian theory holds that the complex animal and human bodies that are here today exist because, ages ago, there were certain chemicals on earth, and given the laws of evolution, it was probable that complex organisms would emerge. But why those laws rather than any other? Why those chemicals? In Swinburne's view, the ultimate grand unifying theory is possible only by a belief in what he calls theism, acknowledging the existence of God: it was God who brought about the natural laws so that humans and animals would evolve. The watch may have been made, Swinburne asserts in reference to Richard Dawkins, with the aid of some blind screwdrivers (or even a blind watchmaking machine), but they were guided by a watchmaker with some very clear sight. At the heart of his argument is Swinburne's belief that the very success of science in showing us how deeply ordered the natural world is provides strong grounds for believing there is an even deeper cause of that order. By embracing a belief in God that acknowledges the truth in science, Swinburne's elegant argument supplies an essential spiritual element to our understanding of order and beauty, the structure beneath the chaos of the natural world. This informed and provocative volume will be essential reading for all readers of popular science, philosophy, and religion. (shrink)
This unique textbook--the first to offer balanced, comprehensive coverage of all major perspectives on the rational justification of religious belief--includes twenty-four key papers by some of the world's leading philosophers of religion. Arranged in six sections, each representing a major approach to religious epistemology, the book begins with papers by noted atheists, setting the stage for the main theistic responses--Wittgensteinian Fideism, Reformed epistemology, natural theology, prudential accounts of religious beliefs, and rational belief based in religious experience--in each case offering a (...) representative sample of papers by leading exponents, a critical paper, and a substantial bibliography. A comprehensive introductory essay and ample cross-references help students to contrast and evaluate the different approaches, while the overall arrangement encourages them to assess the full range of philosophical positions on the issue. Carefully selected to provide both a comprehensive overview of current work and a series of modern perspectives on many classic sources--Swinburne's detailed discussion of Hume's critique of the design argument, for example, as well as an entire section evaluating and extending Pascal's famous Wager--the essays also provide a uniquely readable survey that will be useful in a wide range of undergraduate and graduate courses in philosophy of religion and epistemology. (shrink)
The editorial stance of this book is that mysticism and science offer a way forward here, but only if they abandon the idol of a single logical synthesis and acknowledge the diversity of different ways of knowing. The contributors from disciplines as diverse as music, psychology, mathematics and religion, build a vision that honours diversity while pointing to an implicit unity.
On Religion is a thrilling and accessible exploration of religious faith today. If God is dead, why is religion back? Digging up the roots of all things religious, Caputo inspects them with clarity and style. Along the way, some fascinating questions crop up: What do I love when I love my God? What are people doing when they perform an act "in the name of God?" Drawing widely on examples from popular culture, telecommunications and philosophy, the author asks why and (...) how religion is for many a source of personal inspiration and moral guidance in a digitalized, post-industrial, nihilistic age. (shrink)
We live in a culture which, while largely dependent on science for its material welfare, is largely ignorant of the new ideas and perspectives on which science is based. This book examines the true significance of science and technology for society over the last three hundred years. Professor Hanbury Brown's insight and experience have resulted in a novel approach to the discussion of the cultural role of science. After reviewing the history of how science grew to be both useful to, (...) and feared by society, the book traces the same period in the context of new ideas and concepts in scientific research. Later chapters deal with society's current view of science and the need for attitudes to be changed, and then a discussion of the religious dimensions of science. This book aims to clear away some of the popular misconceptions about science and to put in their place a wider and deeper understanding of the nature of science and its value to society. (shrink)
Different religious traditions offer apparently very different pictures of the world. How are we to make sense of this radical diversity of religious belief? In this book, Professor Godlove argues that religions are alternative conceptual frameworks, the categories of which organise experience in diverse ways. He traces the history of this idea from Kant to Durkheim, and then proceeds to discuss two constraints on the diversity of all human judgment and belief: first that human experience is made possible by shared, (...) a priori rules, and second, that as language-users we must presuppose that we hold the vast bulk of our beliefs in common. Given these unavoidable constraints, it is clear how religions may offer encompassing symbolic systems that often diverge dramatically from one another. 'An original and brilliant critique of Durkheim and Kant from within the framework of Davidson's semantic theory. This book is required reading for anyone interested in the academic study of religion, and the problems of relativism and the diversity of belief.' -- Hans H. Penner, Dartmouth CollegeDifferent religious traditions offer apparently very different pictures of the world. How are we to make sense of this radical diversity of religious belief? In this book, Professor Godlove argues that religions are alternative conceptual frameworks, the categories of which organise experience in diverse ways. He traces the history of this idea from Kant to Durkheim, and then proceeds to discuss two constraints on the diversity of all human judgment and belief: first that human experience is made possible by shared, a priori rules, and second, that as language-users we must presuppose that we hold the vast bulk of our beliefs in common. Given these unavoidable constraints, it is clear how religions may offer encompassing symbolic systems that often diverge dramatically from one another. 'An original and brilliant critique of Durkheim and Kant from within the framework of Davidson's semantic theory. This book is required reading for anyone interested in the academic study of religion, and the problems of relativism and the diversity of belief.' -- Hans H. Penner, Dartmouth College. (shrink)
Major Philosophers of Jewish Prayer in the Twentieth Century addresses the troubling questions posed by the modern Jewish worshiper, including such obstacles to prayer as the inability to concentrate on the words and meanings of formal liturgy, the paucity of emotional involvement, the lack of theological conviction, the anthropomorphic and particularly the masculine emphasis of prayer nomenclature, and other matters. In assessing these difficultites, Cohen brings to the reader the writings on prayer of some seminal 20th century Jewish theologians. These (...) include Herman Cohen, Franz Rosenzweig, Avraham Yitzhak, Hoakohen Kook, Mordecai M. Kaplan, R. Arele, Aaron Rote, Elie Munk, Abraham J. Heschel, Jakob J. Petuchowski, Eugene B. Borowitz, and Lawrence A. Hoffman. (shrink)
A reader's guide -- An endpoint called origin -- High atop the dune -- Alphabetical liftoff -- Portable yet homebound -- One for all -- The mediating body -- Salve Regina -- The last flame -- Parricidal Christ -- Every man for himself -- The eternity of the eternal.
At his death in 1987, Paul W. Pruyser of the Menninger Foundation was widely recognized as one of America's foremost authorities on the psychology of religion. His book A Dynamic Psychology of Religion set the stage for creative dialogue on the subject. In this volume, two leading practitioners in the field present a compilation of Pruyser's seminal articles, providing an overview of the major themes in Pruyser's thought. Newton Malony and Bernard Spilka evaluate Pruyser's viewpoint and suggest how (...) his position continues to influence the psychology of religion. (shrink)
In the ninth century BCE, the peoples of four distinct regions of the civilized world created the religious and philosophical traditions that have continued to nourish humanity to the present day: Confucianism and Daoism in China, Hinduism and Buddhism in India, monotheism in Israel, and philosophical rationalism in Greece. Later generations further developed these initial insights, but we have never grown beyond them. Rabbinic Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, for example, were all secondary flowerings of the original Israelite vision. Now, in (...) The Great Transformation , Karen Armstrong reveals how the sages of this pivotal “Axial Age” can speak clearly and helpfully to the violence and desperation that we experience in our own times. Armstrong traces the development of the Axial Age chronologically, examining the contributions of such figures as the Buddha, Socrates, Confucius, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, the mystics of the Upanishads, Mencius, and Euripides. All of the Axial Age faiths began in principled and visceral recoil from the unprecedented violence of their time. Despite some differences of emphasis, there was a remarkable consensus in their call for an abandonment of selfishness and a spirituality of compassion. With regard to dealing with fear, despair, hatred, rage, and violence, the Axial sages gave their people and give us, Armstrong says, two important pieces of advice: first there must be personal responsibility and self-criticism, and it must be followed by practical, effective action. In her introduction and concluding chapter, Armstrong urges us to consider how these spiritualities challenge the way we are religious today. In our various institutions, we sometimes seem to be attempting to create exactly the kind of religion that Axial sages and prophets had hoped to eliminate. We often equate faith with doctrinal conformity, but the traditions of the Axial Age were not about dogma. All insisted on the primacy of compassion even in the midst of suffering. In each Axial Age case, a disciplined revulsion from violence and hatred proved to be the major catalyst of spiritual change. (shrink)
If one is presented with a report of a miracle, a violation of a law of nature, should one ever believe the report and so come to favor the idea that a god has acted? Hume thought not; many philosophers and theologians have agreed with him and have developed or added to his arguments. This book argues that Hume and his supporters beg questions, and that miracle stories may contribute towards reasonable belief in God. Implications in epistemology, science, history, and (...) theology are pursued. (shrink)
Our contemporary nihilism -- Homer's polytheism -- From Aeschylus to Augustine : monotheism on the rise -- From Dante to Kant : the attractions and dangers of autonomy -- Fanaticism, polytheism, and Melville's "evil art" -- David Foster Wallace's nihilism -- Conclusion : lives worth living in a secular age.