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Philosophy Made Slightly Less Difficult: A Beginner's Guide to Life's Big Questions [Kindle Edition]

Garrett J. DeWeese , J. P. Moreland

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Product Description

Product Description

From time to time we all face life's big questions . . .

  • What is real?

  • How do we know what we know?

  • What is right?

  • Who or what am I?

  • How should we view science and its claims?

And as we wrestle with these issues, we may even find ourselves thinking, Perhaps what I need is a good dose of philosophy. It's a shame philosophy is so difficult.

Garrett DeWeese and J. P. Moreland understand this frustration and in this book offer help to make philosophy at least slightly less difficult. In straightforward language with everyday examples, they explain the basics needed to understand philosophical concepts and thus bring clarity to discussions of life's big questions.

Students, pastors, campus workers and ordinary Christians will all benefit from this user-friendly guide.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 455 KB
  • Print Length: 172 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0830827668
  • Publisher: IVP Academic (20 Aug. 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #45,047 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Christian approach to philosophy 22 July 2006
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Philosophy is not exactly everyone's cup of tea. And many believers shy away from the subject. Some even see philosophy as inimical to their faith. But we need not be afraid nor suspicious of philosophy. It is important for at least two reasons: truth matters, and ideas have consequences.

Written from a Christian perspective, this volume not only gives an accessible yet accurate account of some major philosophical themes, but it helps the believer interact with the various philosophical options from a biblical framework.

Philosophy simply has to do with the big questions in life: Why are we here? Where I am going? Important questions for everyone. Of course there are many unhelpful and even dangerous philosophies and ideas. But as C.S. Lewis has reminded us, the answer to bad philosophy is not no philosophy but good philosophy.

And while Christianity is much more than philosophy, it is also good philosophy. Thus good (Christian) thinking is needed to refute bad thinking. And given that believers are encouraged, indeed commanded, to love God with their minds, then we all should have an interest in philosophy.

But philosophy can be quite daunting to the uninitiated. It is even daunting to those who have been steeped in it. Thus the need for a somewhat simple, easy-to-read guide to the major philosophical ideas and the major philosophical thinkers. This book, subtitled "A Beginner's Guide to Life's Big Questions" nicely meets this need.

It is helpful for several reasons. One, it lays out the main philosophical discussions, such as what is right and wrong (ethics), what is real (metaphysics), and how we know (epistemology). There are also important chapters on related topics, such as the philosophy of science, and the importance of worldviews.

Two, it lays out the various philosophical options and positions taken on a given issue, and show how Christians can think biblically about these views, and wade through the various cross-currents of thought on a given topic.

Three, it provides a nice overview of how philosophy and theology intersect and play off each other. Each discipline can be enriched by the other, and the authors show us how this can be done to good effect.

The book begins with basic principles of logic, and ends with a plea to think from a biblical worldview. The authors remind us that Paul found no contradiction in proclaiming the gospel and being able to debate with the best of Greek philosophy and thinking.

We are called to do the same. We live in an age where many bad ideas are in circulation. They need to be countered by clear biblical thinking. Ideas really do matter. Faulty ideas need to be challenged, and truth needs to be proclaimed. This volume helps us to do just that.

Some may argue that this relatively brief volume (less than 170 pages) is still not exactly light-weight reading. Bear in mind that the authors were modest in their claims: this is a slightly less difficult look at a difficult and complex subject. But it does succeed in helping those who want to grapple with the big issues to do so, if they are willing to don their thinking caps and put in a bit of effort. And that effort will not go unrewarded.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Start with the last chapter 24 Jun. 2006
By Christian Book Previews - Published on
According to Garrett J. DeWeese and J.P. Moreland, "[p]hilosophy is thinking critically about questions that matter. Conceived this way, philosophy is something everyone does." Perhaps so, but few people these days, Christian or otherwise, really know how to think critically. In Philosophy Made Slightly Less Difficult: A Beginner's Guide to Life's Big Questions, DeWeese and Moreland provide a remedy to that problem by offering readers "a useful discussion of basic philosophical distinctions relevant for doing theology and for constructing and defending a Christian worldview."

Os Guinness, Mark Noll, and others have written about the anti-intellectualism that has plagued evangelicalism at least since the Scopes trial. And, writing a quarter of a century ago, Francis Schaeffer observed that "[Christians] have gradually become disturbed over permissiveness, pornography, the public schools, the breakdown of the family, and finally abortion. But...[t]hey have failed to see that all of this has come about due to a shift in world view..." Not much has changed since Schaeffer wrote that, except that homosexual marriage, assisted suicide, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, and more could be added to his list. One reason why the situation continues is that most Christians understand neither what it means to have a Christian worldview nor how other worldviews (read philosophies) have shaped the culture in which we live.

As the title indicates, in this book DeWeese and Moreland have done their best to make philosophy "slightly less difficult," and to show readers how important philosophy truly is, not just to professors inhabiting ivory towers, but to every one of us in our everyday lives. In its seven chapters, the book provides an overview of logic, metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, philosophical and theological anthropology, and the philosophy of science. Though some of these terms are unfamiliar and even daunting to the lay Christian, DeWeese and Moreland use familiar examples, anecdotes, and situations to introduce them to and define them for the reader. Within the chapters of this slim volume, readers will find the basic tools they need to begin to understand worldviews and to develop one of their own.

Although this book will probably appeal primarily to pastors and others in leadership positions, the last chapter makes a compelling case that an understanding of philosophy is critical for all Christians. If, due to ignorance, Christians fail to challenge the false philosophies underwriting the things Schaeffer listed and more, not only will we and our children find ourselves living in an increasingly degenerate world, but our ability to fulfill the Great Commission will be seriously compromised.

If you're serious about your faith, consider "doing" a little philosophy by reading and studying Philosophy Made Slightly Less Difficult. And make sure you start with the last chapter! - Linda Whitlock, Christian Book
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Slightly" Is the Key Word 30 Mar. 2006
By H. G. Scott - Published on
The primary goal of DeWeese and Moreland is not to transform their readers into professional philosophers; rather, it is to equip men and women to "have a better understanding and appreciation for the contributions philosophy can make to understanding and declaring (the Christian) faith in our world" (p. 155).

The bulk of the book (the first five chapters) is devoted to defining five philosophical concepts: logic, metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and anthropology, and chapter six explains how Christians should approach the philosophical problems related to the field of science. The final chapter is a clarion call for Christians to actively and intellectually engage with the secular culture.

The overall goal of the book is a commendable one, and the authors did an incredible job of condensing complex and highly detailed information into a mere seven chapters. It is no small feat to "boil it down" to the basics.

However, having said that, the material in this book is still very difficult. Despite a strong background in theology, I had to read the text several times and make copius notes over each term before I finally began to "get it". The authors give great definitions for key philosophical terms, but fail to adequately explain how these terms fit in the big picture.

This book would be an excellent resource for those who have some background in philosophy, for those who have a professor or instructor to guide them through the material, or for those who are willing to struggle through it.

If you're a beginner in philosophy, you may want to start with a book that gives a broad overview of the field before moving on to this one.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Only "Slightly" Less Difficult 26 Jan. 2006
By Roger N. Overton - Published on
According to J.P. Moreland and Garrett DeWeese, "The gospel is never heard in isolation. It is always heard against the background of a worldview." (157) Therefore, part of our responsibility in sharing the gospel is to cultivate a worldview that can make sense of it. Moreland and DeWeese have written Philosophy Made Slightly Less Difficult to help meet the need of Christians who aren't trained to deal with certain philosophical worldview issues.

The book begins by explaining the basics of logic- the laws, forms of argumentation, and common fallacies. Periodically, summary definitions of key terms are placed in boxes to the side of the text. The first chapter ends describing the importance of philosophy to theology and how the two fields interact.

Following these introductory explanations, the bulk of the book is divided into the five main areas of contemporary philosophy- metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, anthropology, and science. Moreland and DeWeese seek to provide a balance of covering the current debates in each area, while not getting bogged down in all the nuances of the debates. On occasion, application is made of certain points to their importance for Christians. After the five main areas of contemporary philosophy are dealt with, Moreland and DeWeese provide a final chapter on the intellectual crisis of our day and the importance of philosophical training for Christians.

I was somewhat disappointed with Philosophy Made Slightly Less Difficult. I was expecting an accessible guide to the basics of philosophy. Unfortunately, I don't think someone without prior philosophical training would be able to get through the first two chapters. Most of the book is precise and clear through its points and argumentation. However, the brief outline of Reformed epistemology and its application to apologetics is overly simplistic and confused

What I found most useful about the book was the applications it made for why certain points are important for Christians. While being philosophically rigorous, Moreland and DeWeese demonstrate the need for interaction between philosophy and theology in a manner that brings further devotion of our hearts and minds to Christ. Though the book makes philosophy only "slightly" less difficult, it is generally a good introduction to the important philosophical issues of our day.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Read! 3 Jun. 2014
By Denise Powell - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Philosophy Made Slightly Less Difficult by Garret J. DeWesse and J.P Moreland is a great overview of philosophy that is short, easy to understand, and comprehensive. The book deals with the fundamental questions in life like what is real and how we know things. As a student who knew little about philosophy, this book was a great “starter book.” It always explained terms and gave definitions. Even when definitions were confusing, the examples that were given explained the term well and in a way that was easy to understand.
For example, in the chapter “What is Real” discusses the daunting topic of metaphysics. Not only does the chapter discuss the topic itself, but also incentive for studying it and why it is important. It explained the difference between particularist and methodist. I thought this was important because the reader was better able to understand what perspective the authors were coming from. I was very impressed with the book’s explanation of “universals,” or more commonly known as the problem of the one and the many. I had briefly studied this before reading this book and was particularly confused and didn’t see what the problem was. This book not only explained what the problem was, but also explained how we deal with it. The question is how we deal with universals as well as particulars. The discussion that can stem from the section on the “is” of identity was very intriguing. But this chapter particularly helped me understand what it means to exist. The explanation of the differences between necessary, possible, and actual worlds helped me grasp what metaphysics is and the clear explanations made me feel like I had a better grasp on the subject. This actually helped with my understanding of philosophy as a whole. Things like laws of logic are necessary and things not real, but possibly real go in possible worlds. But we live in the actual world. The implications of this in my understanding of metaphysics in general were astounding. This actually added to my understanding of the ontological argument. So this chapter was very easily applied to other areas of knowledge.
The next chapter was titled “How Do I Know?” and dealt with epistemology. The first thing explained in this chapter were different kinds of knowledge. The three kinds of knowledge were propositional, by acquaintance, and skill knowledge. Knowledge was defined as justified true belief. The authors did a great job of explaining exactly what that meant. I particularly think they excelled in explaining the difference between belief and truth. I think this was an incredible distinction because of the “post-modern” “relativism” that our culture so embraces. Basically, a common belief in our culture is that whatever you feel is truth. That we can decide our own truth and our opinions become truth statements. This is why we see people making their own gods and meshing different religions together to make their own. Its “true for them” because they believe it. This is why I think DeWesse and Moreland hit the nail on the head with their distinction between belief and truth. Just because someone believes something, doesn’t mean that it is true. But they also were able to explain were another dilemma lies: in how he justify a belief to be true. This is what epistemology is all about: how we know what is metaphysically true. What I think was done extremely well in this chapter was an explanation of how to deal with epistemology from a Christian standpoint. I also enjoyed how they discussed how skepticism is wrong. They really gave a beautiful explanation of how skepticism is self refuting. They explained that academic skepticism is the refutation of all knowledge. Many people that I know find skepticism profound and therefore are draw to it. They become naïve skeptics and question our ability to know anything at all. But the authors describe how academic skeptics are a problem. They do not realize how this is self refuting that the knowledge claim of saying there is no knowledge is self refuting. I think this is important in today’s society because it very clearly pointed out the flow in a popular way of thought.
The next chapter was about ethics. Ethics are the morals which govern. I particularly liked this chapter because even though it was from a Christian standpoint, it first backed up ethics from a secular standpoint. I think this is important for how we think about ethics because, as a Christian, we still need to be able to interact with how other non-Christians think about ethics. Christians are often faced with the problem of backing up our claims. But if we can back up our claims about ethics from a secular and Christian standpoint, I think that will get us very far. This chapter explored different theories of how we get ethics. What I liked about their explanation of the different theories was that they were able to explain the good in each theory. I really seemed like they were able to look objectively at each theory and way its worth. I think this is important for how we view different ethical theories because to be able to objectively view things is important because it helps us to converse and build bridges with people who think differently than us. It is important, especially when trying to tell someone about Jesus, to build bridges instead of burning them. So I think that seeing commonalities with Christian ethics and other ethical systems will help us in the long run. It will also give us a fuller view of ethics within a Christian worldview.
Another thing I thought was extremely interesting was the discussion of what we are: discussing our place and our soul. I thought they made one particular point in this chapter about how thoughts are not physical. So its ironic. When someone says that they have a thought that all things are physical, they are actually using a self refuting fallacy. This is self refuting because they are using a nonphysical thing to substantiate a claim about all things being physical. I though this was a good point particularly.
So, all in all, I really really enjoyed this book. It was from a Christian perspective, but I really liked how the authors were completely willing and able to engage in the secular world. I learned from this book that you can believe the bible and still engage and understand philosophy. I give this book a 4/5 because it was comprehensive and gave a great overview of philosophy in general. Sometimes you could tell that it was a condensed version of a bigger book because sometimes it would seem to move on too quickly and it left me feeling like I need to know more and there was more to the subject. But, all terms were easily understood and definitions were freely given. So from this book I really feel that I understand more and can actively engage in philosophical discussions. This point also helped me with other subjects. I am able to able what I learned to subjects like literature and theology. Great Read! Highly Recommended!
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