- Must a belief be based on argument or evidence in order to be a rational belief? Can one invoke the Free-Will Defence if one believes in God as maker and sustainer of the universe? Is it correct to think of God as a moral agent subject to duties and obligations? What is the significance of Darwin for the Argument from Design? How can one recognize God as an object of one's experience?
- Brian Davies considers all these problems and more, sometimes proposing provocative answers of his own, more often leaving readers to decide for themselves.
This second edition places particular emphasis on recently controversial issues and provides a critical examination of the fundamental question of religion and the ways in which they have been treated by such thinkers as Anselm, Aquinas, Descartes, Leibniz, Hume, Kant, Karl Barth, and Wittgenstein.
Amazon Customer Review
- Brian Davies has written an excellent introduction to the Philosophy of Religion. He concentrates on theism, the doctrine of God as defined by the three major religions of the world, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. His discussion incorporates all the main issues arising from the subject, the nature and qualities of God, arguments from cosmology, design and ontology, question of omnipotence and omniscience, the problem of evil, miracles, morality and life after death1. Each topic is discussed with balance, arguments for and against are marshalled, discussed and debated in a thoughtful manner which contrasts sharply with the nonsensical hysteria which passes for rational debate between theists and their opponents.
- Davies's starting point is to differentiate between classical theism and theistic personalism. The former was developed from both Biblical and philosophical arguments which saw everything as being dependent on God for its being and existence while the latter is associated with process theology which denies individual immortality in favour of oneness with God eternally. In considering the philosophical concept of God Davies notes the argument that belief needs to be justified by reason but, citing Wittgenstein's distinction between surface and depth grammar, concludes that there are differences in believing in God and believing in a hypothesis which can be verified by evidence.
- In brief, while the concept or existence of God is a hypothesis which can neither be verified nor falsified by empirical evidence, it is possible, as Alvin Plantinga suggests, "that it is entirely right, rational, reasonable and proper to believe in God without any evidence of argument". It is not necessary for theism to be based on arguments for God's existence and "those who think that thesists need evidence for their position do not generally state what sort of evidence is needed. In general they are only suggesting that it is irrational to believe God exists without any evidence or reason at all". However, empirical evidence is neither a sufficient nor a complete justification for dispensing with the concept of God any more than it is required for many beliefs held by human beings.
- Davies examines the cosmological, design and ontological arguments for belief in God. These arguments and the questions which they seek to answer have not changed for centuries. Why is the universe as it is? Does it have a teleological purpose? What can be inferred from such empirical evidence as we have and, by implication, is the scientific method relevant to the search for God? The implications of the idea of omnipotence, omniscience, morality, the problem of evil and life after death2 are discussed in a thoroughly balanced manner with all the main thinkers, Aquinas, Anselm, Hume, Descartes, Kant from history and more recently Flew, Phillips, Hick and Mackie explained. It is the ideal antidote to the simplistic rantings of Dawkins et.al.
- The book is as complete an introduction to the subject as any on the market. Each chapter includes excellent references, provides detailed advice on further reading and is followed with a series of searching questions for discussion. In this respect Davies has not written an updated version of earlier editions but a completely new book. As a text it is ideal for an introductory undergraduate course, raising issues and interest for anyone who wishes to move beyond the slap happy populist approach to philosophy or religion. I finished the book with a keen sense of how superficial discussions of the subject have often been and with the profound impression that, whatever we do know, we are missing something fundamental by seeking to describe God in our own terms.
- I recommend this new edition to anyone who wants to consider the subject in depth. It is an ideal introduction to other sources of information which will cause the reader to think deeply about a subject which tries to get to the heart of who we are, what are we doing here and whether there is a purpose to it all.
Introduction – ix
- Philosophy and Religious Belief – 1
- Talking about God – 20
- God and Evil – 32
- The Ontological Argument – 55
- The Cosmological Argument – 74
- The Argument from Design – 94
- Experience and God – 120
- Eternity – 141
- Morality and Religion – 168
- Miracle – 190
- Life after Death3 – 212
Notes – 235
Bibliography – 252
Index – 257
Oxford Paperbacks; 2nd Revised edition edition (18 Feb 1993)
"Davies (Brian) - An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion"
Source: Davies (Brian) - An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion
Introduction (Full Text)
- It is difficult to say what the philosophy of religion is. One might define it as 'philosophizing about religion'. But people disagree about the nature of philosophy and religion, so this definition has its drawbacks. Philosophy of religion is now a very flourishing branch of philosophy. Thirty years or so ago, specialists in philosophy of religion were a rare breed. But they are now very common, and they publish a lot. Many of them would describe themselves as philosophers of religion. Yet it would be rash to conclude from this that we can easily define 'the philosophy of religion'. It is not, for example, a discipline distinguishable from others as chemistry is from needlework.
- In this book I do not attempt the perilous task of defining 'philosophy of religion'. My intention is to offer an introductory look at some of the topics traditionally thought to fall within its scope. The most prominent of these is the existence of God, so much of what follows is devoted to that issue and to matters which arise in connection with it. I also consider the relationship between morality and religion, the concept of miracle, and the notion of life after death1.
- It is inevitable that my own views will become clear as the book proceeds, for it is hard to discuss any philosophical issue without taking sides, or seeming to do so. But I have tried to write so as to help readers take up some sides for themselves. I have also tried to write on the assumption that readers have little or no philosophical background. This book is therefore a basic introduction for those who are approaching the philosophy of religion for the first time. Its bibliography will, I hope, allow them to take matters further.
- A great deal more than I discuss could be brought in under the heading of philosophy of religion. There are, for example, matters arising from the comparative study of religion and from various beliefs complicated, and space is limited in an introduction. In any case, one has to start somewhere.
- What follows is a very heavily revised .version of a text published by Oxford University Press in 1982. I was asked to provide a second edition of that text, but I have effectively ended up writing a new book, though chunks of the old one remain. …
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