Philosophy of Religion: A Guide and Anthology
Davies (Brian)
Source: Davies (Brian) - Philosophy of Religion: A Guide and Anthology
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Preface (Full Text)

  1. How should we define ‘philosophy of religion’? The task is not an easy one. We could say that it is ‘philosophy as applied to religious belief’. But we would then need to recognize that definitions of ‘philosophy’ and ‘religion’ vary. ‘What is philosophy?’ and ‘What is religion?’ are questions to which different people give surprisingly different answers.
  2. Yet philosophy of religion is now a thriving branch of philosophy. Many people currently describe themselves as students or teachers of the subject. And the literature devoted to it swells daily. Even if it is hard to say what philosophy of religion is exactly, there is no denying that it is currently very big business — every bit as big as, for example, philosophy of mind, philosophy of logic, or philosophy of language (phrases which also defy swift definition).
  3. A good way to understand what philosophy of religion amounts to is to examine what would commonly be taken to be standard examples of it. And this is what this book aims to help you do. Most of it consists of extracts from the writings of various philosophers. So it is first and foremost an anthology. But it is more than that. For it also contains a lot of material setting its extracts in context and guiding readers through them. Taken as a whole, the volume amounts to a self-contained introduction to philosophy of religion, one which can be used both by readers working on their own and by students working under guidance.
  4. In order to provide a helpful balance, I have selected extracts from authors of very different persuasions and philosophical traditions. In the source details at the start of each chapter, * indicates those extracts that have been edited by me, with the approval of the author. Since philosophers have reflected on religion for centuries, and since some of the most interesting and influential philosophy of religion comes from authors writing before the twentieth century, many of the extracts are from what one might call ‘classical’ rather than ‘contemporary’ sources. In so far as this volume allows readers to explore the ‘classical’ as well as the ‘contemporary’, it should help them to get a sense of what philosophy of religion has been and of how it has come to be the way it is today.
  5. I should add that I have tried, throughout my own text, to avoid gender-specific reference to God. In some instances, however, I have used ‘he’ / ‘his’ simply to avoid awkwardness in wording.

    Notes on Contributors – xv
    General introduction – 1
    Advice on further reading – 11
    Part I Philosophy and religious belief
    Introduction – 17
  1. Thomas Aquinas: Faith and reason in harmony – 25
  2. W. K. Clifford: The ethics of belief – 31
  3. Antony Flew: The presumption of atheism – 36
  4. Alvin Plantinga: Religious belief as ‘properly basic’ – 42
  5. Norman Kretzmann: Evidence and religious belief – 95
  6. D. Z. Phillips: Grammar and religious belief – 108
  7. Norman Malcolm: The groundlessness of religious belief – 115
    Questions for discussion – 123
    Advice on further reading – 124
    Part II The problem of God-Talk
    Introduction – 129
  8. Augustine of Hippo: How believers find God-Talk puzzling – 141
  9. A. J. Ayer: God-Talk is evidently nonsense – 143
  10. Richard Swinburne: God-Talk is not evidently nonsense – 147
  11. Antony Flew: ‘Death by a thousand qualifications’ – 153
  12. Thomas Aquinas: One way of understanding God-Talk – 156
    Questions for discussion – 168
    Advice on further reading – 169
    Part III Arguments for God’s existence
    Introduction – 175
    Advice on further reading – 177
    Cosmological arguments
    Introduction – 179
  13. Anselm of Canterbury: A concise cosmological argument from the eleventh century – 186
  14. Thomas Aquinas: A thirteenth-century cosmological argument – 188
  15. John Duns Scotus: A fourteenth-century cosmological argument – 191
  16. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz: A seventeenth-century cosmological argument – 194
  17. Herbert McCabe: A modern cosmological argument – 196
  18. Paul Edwards: Objections to cosmological arguments – 202
  19. J. L. Mackie: More objections to cosmological arguments – 213
  20. David Hume: Why is a cause always necessary? – 230
  21. G. E. M. Anscombe: ‘Whatever has a beginning of existence must have a cause’ – 233
  22. James A. Sadowsky: Can there be an endless regress of causes? – 239
    Questions for discussion – 242
    Advice on further reading – 243
    Design arguments
    Introduction 245
  23. Thomas Aquinas: Is the world ruled by providence? – 251
  24. William Paley: An especially famous design argument – 253
  25. David Hume: We cannot know that the world is designed by God – 260
  26. Immanuel Kant: The limits of design arguments – 271
  27. R. G. Swinburne: God, regularity, and David Hume – 274
  28. Robert Hambourger: Can design arguments be defended today? – 286
    Questions for discussion – 301
    Advice on further reading – 302
    Logical arguments
    introduction – 304
  29. Anselm of Canterbury: Anselm argues that God cannot be thought not to exist – 311
  30. Gaunilo of Marmoutiers: Gaunilo argues that Anselm is wrong – 313
  31. Anselm of Canterbury: Anselm replies to Gaunilo – 318
  32. Rene Descartes: Descartes defends an ontological argument – 327
  33. Rene Descartes, Pierre Gassendi, Johannes Caterus: Descartes replies to critics – 330
  34. Immanuel Kant: A classic repudiation of ontological arguments – 337
  35. Alvin Plantinga: A contemporary defence of ontological arguments – 342
    Questions for discussion – 353
    Advice on further reading – 354
    God and human experience
    Introduction – 356
  36. C. B. Martin: Why ‘knowing God by experience’ is a notion open to question – 362
  37. Peter Donovan: Can we know God by experience? – 370
  38. William P. Alston: Why should there not be experience of God? – 382
    Questions for discussion – 387
    Advice on further reading – 388
    Part IV What is God?
    Introduction – 393
    Advice on further reading – 395
    Introduction – 397
  39. Thomas V. Morris: A modern discussion of divine omnipotence – 402
  40. Thomas Aquinas: Why think of God as omnipotent? – 415
  41. Richard Swinburne: Miracles and laws of nature – 422
  42. David Hume: Why we should disbelieve in miracles – 430
    Questions for discussion – 436
    Advice on further reading – 437
    Introduction – 439
  43. Thomas Aquinas: Why ascribe knowledge to God? – 446
  44. Boethius: Omniscience and human freedom: a classic discussion – 456
  45. Nelson Pike: Problems for the notion of divine omniscience – 465
    Questions for discussion – 473
    Advice on further reading – 474
    Introduction – 476
  46. Thomas Aquinas: Why call God ‘eternal’? – 482
  47. Nicholas Wolterstorff: God is ‘everlasting’, not ‘eternal’ – 485
  48. Eleanore Stump and Norman Kretzmann: A modern defence of divine eternity – 505
  49. Paul Helm: A different modern defence of divine eternity – 519
    Questions for discussion – 531
    Advice on further reading – 532
    Introduction – 533
  50. Thomas Aquinas: A classic defence of divine simplicity – 539
  51. Thomas V. Morris: Problems with divine simplicity – 545
  52. Brian Davies: A modern defence of divine simplicity – 549
    Questions for discussion – 565
    Advice on further reading – 566
    Part V The problem of evil
    Introduction – 571
  53. J. L. Mackie: Evil shows that there is no God – 581
  54. Augustine of Hippo: What is evil? – 592
  55. Richard Swinburne: Evil does not show that there is no God – 599
  56. Herbert McCabe: God, evil, and divine responsibility – 614
  57. Thomas Aquinas: God and human freedom – 625
    Questions for discussion – 628
    Advice on further reading – 629
    Part VI Morality and religion
    Introduction – 633
  58. Immanuel Kant: God as a ‘postulate’ of sound moral thinking – 639
  59. H. P. Owen: Why morality implies the existence of God – 646
  60. Illtyd Trethowan: Moral thinking as awareness of God – 659
  61. Kai Nielsen: Morality does not imply the existence of God – 668
    Questions for discussion – 682
    Advice on further reading – 683
    Part VII People and life after death1
    Introduction – 687
  62. Steven T. Davis: Philosophy and life after death2: the questions and the options – 691
  63. Plato: Life after death3: an ancient Greek view – 708
  64. Bertrand Russell: Belief in life after death4 comes from emotion, not reason – 721
  65. Peter Geach: What must be true of me if I survive my death? – 724
    Questions for discussion – 732
    Advice on further reading – 733
    Index – 735

Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)

  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2018
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)

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