Over 700,000 copies of the original hardcover and paperback editions of this stunningly popular book have been sold. Karen Armstrong's superbly readable exploration of how the three dominant monotheistic religions of the world—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—have shaped and altered the conception of God is a tour de force. One of Britain's foremost commentators on religious affairs, Armstrong traces the history of how men and women have perceived and experienced God, from the time of Abraham to the present. From classical philosophy (...) and medieval mysticism to the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and the modern age of skepticism, Armstrong performs the near miracle of distilling the intellectual history of monotheism into one compelling volume. (shrink)
The work of the French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy shares with the thinkers of the ‘theological turn in phenomenology’ the programmatic desire to place the ‘theological’, in the broad sense of rethinking the religious traditions in our secular time, back on the agenda of critical thought. Like those advocating a theological turn in phenomenology, Nancy’s deconstructive approach to philosophical analysis aims to develop a new sensibility for the other, for transcendence, conceptualized as the non-apparent in the realm of appearing phenomena. This (...) is why Nancy launches a project looking for the ‘unthought’ and unexpected within the Christian traditions, called deconstruction of Christianity. However, the deconstructive approach to the non-apparent differs fundamentally from that of the thinkers of the turn (1) in its being non-apologetic and non-restorative with regard to religion, because it starts from a problematization of the—typically modern, that is romantic—desire to defend and protect what would be ‘lost’ and possibly to restore this, (2) in its focus on the complex difference-at-work (différance) between religion and secularism, a difference that can be termed entanglement and complicity between these two, (3) in its hypothesis that this entanglement is essentially one between (the meaning and experience of, the rituality around) presence and absence in modern culture, (4) in its conviction that the philosophy and history of culture must join, support, complete and maybe even turn around phenomenology when dealing with the difficult task of determining what exactly would be ‘left’ of the ‘theological’ in our time. In this article, both positions are compared and confronted further, leading to an account of Nancy’s re-readings of the Christian legacy (its theology, doctrine, art, rituals etc.), and ending in a more detailed, exemplary inquiry into the tension between distance and proximity, characteristic of the Christian God. (shrink)
Despite the central role that the concept of God played in Kitarō Nishida's philosophy—and more broadly, within the Kyoto School which formed around Nishida—Anglophone studies of the religious philosophy of modern Japan have not seriously considered the nature and role of God in Nishida's thought. Indeed, relevant Anglophone studies even strongly suggest that where the concept of God does appear in Nishida's writings, such a concept is to be dismissed as a 'subjective fiction', a 'penultimate designation', or a peripheral Western (...) intrusion with no genuine relationship to the core of Nishida's thought. However, a careful study of Nishida's own writings reveals that for Nishida, in his own words, God is 'that which is indispensable and decisive'. For the first time in English, this present study reveals Nishida's view of God, especially examining Nishida's debt to the theologian Karl Barth and Christianity. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss critically Richard Swinburne’s concept of God, which I find to be incoherent, and his understanding of Christianity, which I find to be based on a precritical use of the New Testament.
According to Jean-Luc Nancy, a deconstruction of Christianity looks for the ‘unthought’ in the Christian religion. By this unthought dimension, he means ‘something’ in Christianity that at the same time ‘is not Christianity proper’ and ‘has not mingled with it’. It appears to be simultaneously outside and inside Christianity. This unthought undermines and ‘exhausts’ Christianity, and such self-exhaustion appears to be a key characteristic of Christianity. As a result, a deconstruction of Christianity primarily investigates the way Christianity deconstructs itself. In (...) this article, it is argued that this complex, unthought structure of Christianity expresses Christianity’s modern status, and is expressed in Christianity’s core traditions, i.e. in the ways in which Christianity deals with the name, the experience and the concept of God. In dialogue with Nancy’s work, this is demonstrated by offering short analyses of the Christian doctrines of Creation and the Trinity. These analyses show that the Christian God ‘incarnates’ the structure of being outside and inside in various specific ways: outside as well as inside Himself, the world, and even outside and inside Christianity. Shaped by this double bind, the unthought God is always a retreating God. (shrink)
This essay evaluates two arguments found in John Morreall’s Taking Laughter Seriously: That Christianity is incompatible with a sense of humor since the latter requires that a person take nothing with absolute seriousness, and that God can have no sense of humor because he is omniscient. I point out that seriousness about something is a necessary condition of humor and that what people find funny is in part a function of what they take seriously. I illustrate these points with examples (...) from Samuel Johnson and SorenKierkegaard. Then I show how ultimate seriousness is compatible with a sense of humor, by appeal to Kierkegaard’s notion of a “way out” of responsibility for the object of one’s seriousness. Here I illustrate with St. Francis of Assisi, William James, and Kierkegaard.Morreall’s claim that God’s omniscience rules out his having a sense of humor turns on the thesis, fundamental to his book, that humor depends on “psychological shift,” which he mistakenly identifies with surprise. I distinguish these concepts, show that humor should not be construed even in terms of the concept of psychological shift, and suggest a way of understanding God’s omniscience such that it is compatible with his sense of humor. (shrink)
For the Glory of God provides an illuminating history of the role of Christian ideas in the physical and biological sciences from the Middle Ages to today. Jones shows that a “control” model explains the complex history of religion and science, while the popular “war” and “harmony” models do not.
Christian orthodoxy has maintained that in Jesus Christ God became man, i.e., acquired a human nature, while remaining God. Given two not unreasonable restrictions on the understanding of "man", that claim is perfectly coherent. But if the New Testament is correct in claiming that in some sense Christ was ignorant, weak, and temptable, we have to suppose that Christ has a divided mind; or, in traditional terminology, that the two natures did not totally interpenetrate.
In this book, Jones methodically challenges both the claim that theological doctrines are the source of modern science and the idea that theology has the right to control the content of all scientific theories.
Feuerbach is known for his unmasking of the concept of God insofar he solved it in a celestial idealization of the human essence. Xenophanes already rejected the popular idea of the gods, which were described as deified human beings. Our purpose is to compare the process both thinkers followed, because both set the human as the focus of their arguments. Xenophanes’ divinity retained some aspect in common with humans and such a God, despite his diversity from men and his transcendence, (...) is human enough, so that he cannot be taken as a rival of man. Ultimately, one should point out how Christianity fits into this humanistic line of understanding of God and His relationship with man. (shrink)
During his time as Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams addressed the relations between Christianity and science at some length. While many contemporary theologians have explored the natural sciences in detail and have deployed scientific ideas and concepts in their theological work, Williams's writings suggest that theology has little need for natural scientific knowledge. For Williams, the created order's relationship to God renders the content of scientific theories about how finite causes are materially constituted and interact of little theological importance. At (...) the same time, Williams is convinced that theological and scientific work must each remain within their proper bounds, a position that can best succeed in practice when participants in each discipline are aware of how both disciplines approach their subject matter. Although Williams's view challenges those who would insist that theology requires anything more than minimal engagement with the sciences, the ability to clearly demarcate and preserve the boundaries between scientific and theological work nevertheless requires of the theologian the kind of understanding of scientific methods and theories that Williams himself demonstrates. (shrink)
Meet the God Who Is Greater Than Your Biggest Questions. The Bible never shies away from seeming contradictions. We are told both to resist our enemies and to love them, and that our all-knowing God can sometimes forget. Unable to reconcile such biblical paradoxes, some people abandon Christianity, while others pretend that the seeming contradictions don’t exist–preferring to believe in an uncomplicated, easy-to-comprehend God. Yet countless others are hungry for new insight into the God behind the Bible’s mysterious paradoxes. Responding (...) to this spiritual hunger, James Lucas delves into the mysteries of Scripture, demonstrating that biblical “contradictions” are actually exquisite paradoxes that enlarge our understanding of God. With this book as your guide, you can embrace the paradoxes of Scripture and pursue honest answers to your hardest questions. The study of biblical paradox leads to greater devotion to the majestic God who makes himself known even while he surpasses human understanding. Today, you can begin Knowing the Unknowable God. (shrink)
Hobbes accepts only one proof for God's existence: God as first cause of nature. Thus, the laws of nature express God's will, nothing else is knowable about God. The state projects God's will because it responds to the deepest natural -- security and prosperity -- by opposing anti-social tendencies. Thus, the sovereign, by right reason, is the public measurer of religion. In private, religion is a matter of faith. Christianity is based on the sole proposition that salvation comes by Christ. (...) That scriptural message was attested to by miracles in the Apostolic era but is now a matter of faith. The contemporary assertion of miracles is suspect; especially, when it is institutionalized and endangers the power of the sovereign. (shrink)
If God exists, where can we find adequate evidence for God's existence? In this book, Paul Moser offers a new perspective on the evidence for God that centers on a morally robust version of theism that is cognitively resilient. The resulting evidence for God is not speculative, abstract, or casual. Rather, it is morally and existentially challenging to humans, as they themselves responsively and willingly become evidence of God's reality in receiving and reflecting God's moral character for others. Moser calls (...) this 'personifying evidence of God,' because it requires the evidence to be personified in an intentional agent - such as a human - and thereby to be inherent evidence of an intentional agent. Contrasting this approach with skepticism, scientific naturalism, fideism, and natural theology, Moser also grapples with the potential problems of divine hiddenness, religious diversity, and vast evil. (shrink)
The problem of evil -- Aquinas, philosophy, and theology -- What there is -- Goodness and badness -- God the creator -- God's perfection and goodness -- The creator and evil -- Providence and grace -- The trinity and Christ -- Aquinas on god and evil.
What is it for there to be a God, and what reason is there for supposing him to conform to the claims of Christian doctrine? In this pivotal volume of his tetralogy, Richard Swinburne builds a rigorous metaphysical system for describing the world, and applies this to assessing the worth of the Christian tenets of the Trinity and the Incarnation. Part I is dedicated to analyzing the categories needed to address accounts of the divine nature--substance, cause, time, and necessity. Part (...) II begins by setting out, in terms of these categories, the fundamental doctrine of Western religions--that there is a God. After pointing out some of the different ways in which this doctrine can be developed, Swinburne spells out the simplest possible account of divine nature. He then goes on to clarify the implications of this account for the specifically Christian doctrines of the Trinity (that God is "three persons in one substance") and of the Incarnation (that God became incarnate in Jesus Christ). Swinburne finds that there are good reasons to believe the Christian additions to the core Western idea of God. The Christian God builds upon Swinburne's acclaimed previous work to form a self-contained text which will no doubt become a classic in the philosophy of religion. (shrink)