Bret James Stewart's Reviews > Philosophy of Religion: Thinking about Faith

Philosophy of Religion by C. Stephen Evans
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it was ok

I have to preface this review by saying I am generally annoyed by philosophy books. It seems like some sort of Cracker Jack pseudo-religious material compiled by a too-smart-for-his-own good man who thinks he has the answers to life. Secular philosophers, especially, seem to have no filter for ridiculous concepts, and I have read the most glorious nonsense that I would have thought the author would have been too embarrased to claim. Okay, I realize this is not a fair statement, some philosophers are legit, and some good can be garnered from reading philosophy (at least in theory).

This book is from a Christian perspective, so that is somewhat better--at least it is coming from the proper mindset and potentially incorporating the correct presuppositions. Also, this is a survey, so that is better than an in-depth book that will go deep into the nonsense. Now that we know my presuppositions, we can proceed with the review.

Philosophy of Religion is a book about philosophy by philosophers. The main thrust of the book is to serve as a survey in the field of the philosophy of religion and to maintain a Christian defense and worldview as it pertains to that field.

As might be expected, the first portion of the book seeks to identify and define the term “philosophy of religion,” both by what it is and what it is not. Critical dialogue is selected as the methodology for the book’s approach. This term assumes reason to mean “the willingness to test one’s commitments,” thereby allowing an honest appraisal in grappling with the complex issues Christianity or any belief system faces. This permits the possibility and judgment as to which system(s) are viable.

One of the main arguments in the book is that it is not unreasonable for people to believe in a theistic God without evidential proof. The existence of God cannot be, strictly speaking, proven or disproven. This does not mean belief in God is irrational. Indeed, some arguments, such as the ontological, teleological, moral, and cosmological—collectively known as the classical arguments--arguing for the existence of God, are able to utilize reason to reach their conclusions.

A defense of the rationality of miracles is present as is a comparison and contrast of religion to its sometime-opponents in the hard and soft sciences, philosophical/social movements such as modernity, Darwinism, and Marxism. When compared to these maxims, the authors argue that belief in God is as viable as the alternatives. Sometimes, theism is even a more logical position.

Another major purpose of the book is to challenge the assumption that the presence of evil in the world is indicative that God does not exist. This general concept is known as the problem of evil. The authors demonstrate that the various forms of the no-God argument are not convincing and can be rebutted logically and accurately. In one of the better portions of the book, in my opinion, they show how the existence of evil can be used to prove the existence of God, thereby turning the objection on its ear.

The conclusions reached are that belief in God is logical, normal, and defendable. Christianity is a viable faith. The truth claims made in the Bible and/or by the religion can be defended and should be considered accurate.

There was nothing proposed by the authors with which I disagreed, although I am not a philosopher, so some of the arguments may have been flawed and I did not recognize this. There were two issues that respectively annoyed and surprised me. First, the decision to use “he” and “she” randomly made reading the book distracting. When I read “she,” I assume the passage applies exclusively to women. Combined with my general dislike of philosophical books, this use of random pronouns really made me not like reading the text. Further, the author’s decision to use the random pronouns in an attempt to adhere to modern contrivance seems like selling out to a more liberal mindset. The surprising part of the book was that the section dealing with the problem of evil does not include the current satanic reign over the earth, which I had surmised would be the main element of this argument.

I would normally rank this 2.3 stars, but, since there are only full stars, I rounded down. This book might help someone (students and scholars would be the normal candidates) grappling with some sort of philosophical religious dilemma, but, otherwise, I would skip it, if I were you. This book is too superficial (it is a survey, as I mentioned) for most scholars, so that leaves students. Unless you are assigned this book, I recommend taking a pass.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
February 25, 2014 – Shelved

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