I debated whether to give this interesting little book three stars or four, and in the end I settled on three primarily for reasons of personal taste.I debated whether to give this interesting little book three stars or four, and in the end I settled on three primarily for reasons of personal taste. I simply didn't enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed most of the books I have rated four stars, but make no mistake: this is a good book.
"Imaginative Apologetics" is a collection of essays advocating a "different" view of apologetics (i.e. different than your average contemporary apologist). It emphasizes the importance of appealing to the imagination, wonder, and desire to help people glimpse a Christian perspective on the world. Without this, apologetics tends to be a dead, soulless, and probably futile project. A chapter on C. S. Lewis' apologetic and a chapter on the use of literature in apologetics were particularly interesting explorations of this point.
The early chapters of the book, however, were a critique of an alternative approach to apologetics--an approach (as one essayist pointed out) that is exemplified in Oxford philosopher Richard Swinburne's cold, dry, probabilistic calculation that Christianity is likely true. Many of the points made in these early chapters were good ones, but the trouble I had with this portion of the book is that I really don't think there are very many Swinburnes out there. Most apologists recognize that effective apologetics is not a simple matter of mechanically constructing arguments or "following the evidence wherever it leads." Rather, they recognize that people have worldviews, presuppositions, and different intuitions about what is rational, that human reason is not the final authority, and that faith is not (or at least not exclusively) based on arguments. So some (though not all) of the criticisms of what we might call "unimaginative apologetics" were too simplistic.
I was also surprised that nearly every chapter made reference to the "New Atheism." Personally I think that secularism is going to increasingly give way to other apologetic concerns in the not-so-distant future (Islam, vague "spiritualities," etc.), but the focus on atheists like Dawkins and Dennet in even this very "different" look at apologetics further evidences the role of the New Atheism in the modern resurgence of Christian apologetics.
The core message of this book--that imagination and wonder can (and need) to play a bigger role in apologetics--is one that should not be dismissed without serious consideration. In fact this may be the secret to the success of some of the most popular apologists, such as C. S. Lewis and Ravi Zacharias. In particular, I would commend this book to budding apologists and to those who are interested in the study of apologetic methodology. ...more
This one is a mind-bender. After reading Plantinga's God, Freedom, and Evil (a well-liked book among apologists), I learned that some of the ideas inThis one is a mind-bender. After reading Plantinga's God, Freedom, and Evil (a well-liked book among apologists), I learned that some of the ideas in that book were originally explored in the more technical discussion The Nature of Necessity. I eventually found a good deal on the latter title (the normal price is a bit steep), and recently had the chance to read through it. While the entire book was interesting and valuable, I have to admit that my primary interest was the final two chapters (on the problem of evil and the modal ontological argument). The rest of the book was a defense and articulation of the metaphysical foundation on which Plantinga's work in these subjects is constructed. If you are not one for technical works in philosophy, then stay away from Necessity. But I recommend this book to anyone who is up for the challenge of digging deeper into the issues addressed in God, Freedom, and Evil. Those final chapters were not disappointing. ...more
The editor definitely picked the right people to contribute to this book. It was very well put-together. My own views on the subject haven't changed mThe editor definitely picked the right people to contribute to this book. It was very well put-together. My own views on the subject haven't changed much, but I feel like I have a clearer picture of the contemporary debate on God and time....more
I was first introduced to Alvin Plantinga's "reformed epistemology" through the work of William Lane Craig. He and J. P. Moreland, in their book PhiloI was first introduced to Alvin Plantinga's "reformed epistemology" through the work of William Lane Craig. He and J. P. Moreland, in their book Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview, offer a brief presentation and critique of Plantinga's model, and then present their own modified version, which they argue is more Biblically consistent. I was intrigued by the idea that theistic belief and even specifically Christian belief could be properly basic in a way similar to belief in other minds, the external world, memory beliefs, and so on, and I wanted to see Plantinga's own detailed presentation of his model, so I picked up this book. After reading it, I have to disagree with Craig that Plantinga's original model is not as Scripturally consistent as Craig's modified version; I think they are both live options Scripturally and philosophically. Furthermore, I find myself agreeing with both Plantinga and Craig that "if Christian belief is true, [Plantinga's] model or something similar is likely to be correct." ...more
Very insightful and enlightening little book, considering that it's meant to be just an introduction. Highlights: the treatment of omnipotence, a propVery insightful and enlightening little book, considering that it's meant to be just an introduction. Highlights: the treatment of omnipotence, a proposed latin trinity model (though he prefers a social trinity), also addresses an unresolved question from his past book on the incarnation. ...more
This book is quite simply the best of its kind. Natural theology is (primarily) the project of arguing for the existence of God. Though the disciplineThis book is quite simply the best of its kind. Natural theology is (primarily) the project of arguing for the existence of God. Though the discipline has been around for centuries, this book represents the cutting edge of contemporary work on the subject. The editors, J. P. Moreland and William Lane Craig, tracked down today's leading defenders of the best-known theistic arguments and gave them each 50-100 pages to make their case. The result is impressive to say the least.
The book opens with an introduction by the editors and a relatively brief chapter in defense of natural theology by Charles Taliaferro. Following this preliminary material, the genius Catholic philosopher Alexander Pruss presents a defense of the Leibnizian cosmological argument. His treatment of libertarian free will is a notable gem buried in his extended discussion of the Principle of Sufficient Reason. Following this, William Lane Craig teams up with James D. Sinclair to defend the kalam cosmological argument (those familiar with Craig's work won't be surprised by anything in this chapter), and Robin Collins defends the teleological argument based on the fine-tuning of the universe. Notably, no other version of the teleological argument (such as the biological versions endorsed by the ID movement) are included, for lack of space.
The argument from consciousness (J. P. Moreland) and the argument from reason (Victor Reppert) come next. I was a bit surprised to see how different Reppert's approach to the argument from reason was compared to Alvin Plantinga's "evolutionary argument against naturalism." Next, Mark D. Linville presents two versions of the moral argument, and Stewart Goetz contributes the only primarily-defensive chapter of the book on the argument from evil. I was surprised to find him arguing against the use of mere "defenses" in response to the argument from evil, and pushing instead for the development of a theodicy.
In the final chapters, Kai-Man Kwan defends the argument from religious experience, Robert Maydole presents several versions of the ontological argument (defending most of them as sound and non-question begging), and Timothy and Lydia McGrew make a Bayesian case for the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. I was delighted to see that they even addressed Plantinga's "Principle of Dwindling Probabilities" argument from his Warranted Christian Belief.
Some of the cases were more convincing than others, of course. But the whole volume is worth reading. Each chapter is packed with valuable material and insights.
A word of caution: this book is not intended for laymen. It is very technical and should be avoided by anyone not interested in a significant mental challenge--the kind where you stop every few sentences upon realizing that you didn't understand a word of what you just read. As a layman myself I found it manageable only with the help of a lot of prior reading on the subject, and even then certain things (e.g. the sections with heavy amounts of symbolic logic) were above my pay-grade. But if that doesn't scare you off, then by all means read this book: it is an unmatched work in natural theology. ...more