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The God Debates by John R. Shook
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Jan 01, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: atheism-religion
Read in December, 2011

The God Debates: A 21st Century Guide for Atheists and Believers (and Everyone in Between) by John R. Shook

"The God Debates" is the even-handed, accessible philosophical book about the quest of knowledge of God. Philosopher John R. Shook examines the key arguments for God's existence and the atheological responses. This 256-page book is composed of the following eight chapters: 1. Debating Religion, 2. Five Types of Theologies, 3. Theologies From The Scripture, 4. Theology From The World, 5. Theology Beyond The World, 6. Theology In The Know, 7. Theology Into The Myst, and 8. Reason and Faith.

Positives:
1. Well-researched, well-written book that takes a philosophical look at the arguments for the existence of God and the corresponding refutes.
2. Treats the topic with utmost care and respect. A professional book.
3. Great logical format. Breaks the topics out in a sensible manner.
4. Profound without being unintelligible. Thought-provoking.
5. The author does a good job of defining terms. Really lays the foundation early on for each worldview.
6. Great wisdom throughout, "There is no way to establish whether god exists by criticizing the conduct of believers or nonbelievers."
7. The author references well-known positions held by other authors and/or philosophers throughout the book.
8. All the well-known arguments for the existence of god are here and then some. Ontological, cosmological, teleological, etc...Excellent!
9. A great discussion on naturalism.
10. The best tools that leads to skepticism.
11. The book breaks out Christian theology into five types: Theology From The Scripture, Theology From The World, Theology Beyond The World, Theology In The Know, and Theology Into The Myst.
12. Thought-provoking questions and satisfactory answers.
13. In defense of science..."only scientific method advances science."
14. I've heard of the god of the gaps routine but "god of the surprises"...interesting.
15. A great section on scientific history.
16. A look at the gospels, are they trustworthy? Good stuff.
17. The impact of Paul on Christianity.
18. The supernatural in its proper place, "If hypotheses about the supernatural provide better explanations than any naturalistic hypotheses, then belief in the supernatural would be reasonable."
19. The divine designer debunked.
20. Really enjoyed the section on arguments from morality. The difference between objective moral truth and absolute moral truth.
21. Fine-tuning argument debunked.
22. Problem of evil.
23. Thought-provoking quotes, "The best explanation for the absence of convincing reasons for god's existence is god's nonexistence."
24. A good discussion on diverse worldviews. The author discusses twelve in particular.
25. A thorough references section.

Negatives:
1. No Kindle links.
2. Some of the topics covered here have been covered in more depth from other books. As an example, Victor Stenger has an entire book dedicated to debunking the fine-tuning argument.
3. The use of acronyms sometimes muddles the discussion.

In summary, I was reluctant to purchase the book because of the price but I'm glad that I did. Philosopher John R. Shook does a wonderful job of presenting the best reasoned justifications for the existence of god as well as the best counter arguments. The use of sound reason and logic that is accessible to the masses is the book's greatest strength. It also does a wonderful job of treating the subject with respect. It's a book that can be recommended to all without concern of personal attacks. I highly recommend this book.

Further suggestions: "God? A Debate between a Christian and an Atheist" William Lane Craig, "God and the Burden of Proof" Keith M. Parsons, "Atheism: The Case Against God" by George H. Smith, "Sense and Goodness Without God" by Richard Carrier, "God's Defenders" by S.T. Joshi, "50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God" by Guy P. Harrison, and "The Cambridge Companion to Atheism" by Michael Martin.
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