This concise, well-structured survey examines the problem of evil in the context of the philosophy of religion. One of the core topics in that field, the problem of evil is an enduring challenge that Western philosophers have pondered for almost two thousand years. The main problem of evil consists in reconciling belief in a just and loving God with the evil and suffering in the world. Michael Peterson frames this issue by working through questions such as the following: What is (...) the relation of rational belief to religious faith? What different conceptual moves are possible on either side of the issue? What responses have important thinkers advanced and which seem most promising? Is it possible to maintain religious commitment in light of evil? Peterson relies on the helpful distinction between moral and natural evil to clarify our understanding of the different aspects of the problem as well as avenues for response.The overall format of the text rests on classifying various types of argument from evil: the logical, the probabilistic, the evidential, and the existential arguments. Each type of argument has its own strategy which both theists and nontheists must recognize and develop. Giving both theistic and nontheistic perspectives fair representation, the text works through the issues of whether evil shows theistic belief to be inconsistent, improbable, discredited by the evidence, or threatened by personal crisis.Peterson explains how defensive strategies are particularly geared for responding to the logical and probabilistic arguments from evil while theodicy is an appropriate response to the evidential argument. Theodicy has traditionally been understood as the attempt to justify belief in a God who is all-powerful and all-good in light of evil. The text discusses the theodicies of Augustine, Leibniz, Hick, and Whitehead as enlightening examples of theodicy. This discussion allows Peterson to identify and evaluate a rather dominant theme in most theodicies: that evil can be justified by designating a greater good. In the end, Peterson even explores how certain types of theodicy, based on specifically Christian renditions of theism, might provide a basis for addressing the existential problem of evil. The reader of this book gains not only an intellectual grasp of the debate over God and evil in professional philosophy but also the personal benefit of thinking through one of the most important issues in human life. (shrink)
This excellent anthology in the philosophy of religion examines the basic classical and a host of contemporary issues in thirteen thematic sections. Assuming little or no familiarity with the religious concepts it addresses, it provides a well-balanced and accessible approach to the field. The articles cover the standard topics in the field, including religious experience, theistic arguments, the problem of evil, and miracles, as well as topics that have gained the attention of philosophers of religion in the last fifteen years, (...) such as reformed epistemology, the philosophical analysis of theological doctrine, and the kalam theological argument. The collection also includes topics often requested by instructors but seldom covered in competing texts, such as religion and science, religious pluralism, process theism, and religious ethics, offering greater flexibility in choosing exact topics for use in courses. The format of the book makes it an ideal teaching text, as each section begins with a brief introduction to the central topic or issue treated by the readings which follow. Each reading is preceded by a one paragraph summary, and a bibliography of suggested readings follow each section. Philosophy of Religion functions well as a stand-alone textbook for courses in the philosophy of religion, and is readily compatible for use as a primary source reader in conjunction with a secondary text. It is an ideal companion to Reason and Religious Belief, 2e (OUP, 1997). (shrink)
Although Lewis's personal journey was a deeply philosophical search for the most adequate worldview, the few extant books about his Christian philosophy focus on specific topics rather than his overall worldview. In this book, Michael Peterson develops a comprehensive, coherent framework for understanding Lewis's Christian worldview-from his arguments from reason, morality, and desire to his ideas about Incarnation, Trinity, and Atonement. All worldviews address fundamental questions about reality, knowledge, human nature, meaning, and so forth. Peterson therefore examines Lewis's Christian approach (...) to these same questions in interaction with other worldviews. Accenting that the intellectual strength and existential relevance of Lewis's works rest on his philosophical acumen as well as his Christian orthodoxy-which he famously called "mere Christianity"-Peterson skillfully shows how Lewis's Christian thought engages a variety of important issues raised by believers and nonbelievers alike: the problem of evil and suffering, the problem of religious diversity, the problem of meaning, the relation of prayer and providence, the relation of science and religion, the nature of humanity, and others. Just as Lewis was gifted in communicating philosophical ideas and arguments in an accessible style, Peterson has crafted a major contribution to Lewis scholarship presented in a way that will interest scholars and benefit the general reader ". (shrink)
Suffering and evil in the world provide the basis for the most difficult challenge to monotheistic belief. This Element discusses how the three great monotheisms – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – respond to the problem of suffering and evil. Different versions of the problem, types of answers, and recurring themes in philosophical and religious sources are analyzed. Objections to the enterprise of theodicy are also discussed as are additional objections to the monotheistic God more broadly. This treatment culminates in a (...) recommendation for how monotheism can best respond to the most serious formulation of the problem, the argument from gratuitous evil. (shrink)
The science-religion debate is a hot topic in academic circles and contemporary culture, and evolution makes the subject particularly contentious. Does modern science tip the scales toward atheism? Or does religion have resources to support its credibility and relevance? And how does evolution influence both worldviews? Comprehensive, balanced, and engaging, Science, Evolution, and Religion provides a dynamic yet respectful introduction to the science-religion debate, framed as a conflict between theism and atheism and structured around the impact of evolution on both (...) perspectives. Philosophers Michael Peterson and Michael Ruse argue for theism and atheism, respectively. Peterson occasionally draws from Christian doctrine to supplement theism; Ruse often supports his atheism with elements drawn from the larger context of philosophical naturalism. The result is a rich dialogue on the nature and history of science, cosmic origins, biological origins, the anthropic principle, the foundations of morality, human uniqueness, the meaning of life, and other important topics in this area. (shrink)
Of all the issues in the philosophy of religion, the problem of evil arguably commands more attention that any other. This text, which is broad in scope, is organized in a way that clearly exhibits the main structure of the overall problem as it has been treated in Western theistic traditions generally and the Christian tradition specifically.
With All Your Mind makes a compelling case for the value of thinking deeply about education in America from a historically orthodox and broadly ecumenical Christian point of view. Few people dispute that education in America is in a state of crisis. But not many have posed workable solutions to this serious problem. Michael Peterson contends that thinking philosophically about education is our only hope for meaningful progress. In this refreshing book, he invites all who are concerned about education in (...) America to "participate" in his study, which analyzes representative theories and practical strategies that reveal the power of Christian ideas in this vital area. Peterson addresses the most fundamental questions facing educators, and society in general, such as: What is the purpose of education? What goals do new techniques and methods serve? What kind of person is our educational system supposed to produce? He also explores questions of unique importance to Christians, such as: What is the relation between Christianity and the pursuit of intellectual excellence? How can Christians bring their faith to bear on all areas of knowledge? Can educated Christians significantly influence culture? With All Your Mind examines the key assumptions and implications of influential classical and contemporary philosophies with respect to education, including idealism, naturalism, Thomism, experimentalism, existentialism, linguistic analysis, and postmodernism. Based on this analysis, Peterson develops an unapologetically Christian philosophy of education in regard to curriculum design, instilling ethics and values, and the nature of teaching and learning. Peterson further advances the merits of an ecumenical Christian philosophy of education by showing how it can be used to analyze key issues in educational theory, such as the relation of general education to liberal learning, the integration of faith and learning, and the demand for professional and technical training. From a practical standpoint, Peterson's approach brings balance and common sense to issues such as the clash between public and private education, the rise of multiculturalism, the changing demographic and psychological profile of America's youth, and the impact of computer and Internet technology. With All Your Mind concludes with a stirring vision for education that is embedded in an all-encompassing Christian view of life. Using clear, jargon-free language, Peterson teaches a good deal of basic philosophy while developing a powerful argument for the value of liberal arts education iinteracting with Christian faith at all levels of schooling. (shrink)