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The Rationality of Theism Paperback – 27 Mar 2003

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God remains one of the best-kept secrets within the walls of academia. Read the first page
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
An Important Collection of Essays 30 April 2004
By J. Wisdom - Published on
Format: Hardcover
As the description indicates, this book is a collection of thirteen essays which, in one way or another, defend the thesis that a personal God exists. I disagree with the notion that these essays are "brand new" in that much of the material in several of the essays (e.g., Craig on the Kalam cosmological argument, Moreland on the argument from consciousness, and Collins on the teleological argument) has been published elsewhere, whether in books or academic philosophy journals. Thus, I think the description overly hypes the book somewhat. Moreover, given that an essay on aparticular topic will, pretty much necessarily, not approach the depth and rigor that a book-length treatment of a given topic would, there is a danger that a person who reads only these essays will be left with a more or less truncated picture of what a robust defense of theism on any particular front looks like. Again, the back cover statement that the book, "[aims] to offer comprehensive theistic replies to the traditional arguments against the existence of God..." seems a bit overblown. Nonetheless, this books makes an important contribution to the analytic philosophy of religion in at least two ways. First, it gives the reader a feel for what kinds of arguments for theism are currently being presented. Second, it benefits the non-expert in that it brings together under one cover a collection of material that would otherwise only be found by those already familiar with the relevant literature. Both of these are very good things, I think.
In my opinion, the strongest and/or most unique contributions in this book were the essays by Geivett on religious epistemology, Davis on ontological arguments, and Moser on the hiddenness of God. Space (and my own lack of time) precludes a discussion of these essays in any depth, but a careful reading and re-reading will richly repay the reader. Most of the other articles are pretty much standard fare for what one would already expect from the authors, but again, if one is unfamiliar with these issues in the first place, this shouldn't be a reason to not read the book. My main concern is that the retail price on both editions of this book is rather cost-prohibitive and will likely discourage all but the most interested (or wealthy) reader...that is, unless your library owns or can get you a copy. Also, I thought that Copan's essay on the moral argument could have been tighter. It seems to me that he relied too much on quotes from philosophers that he agrees with, and his sometimes inflammatory language ([e.g., to the naturalist who wants to be a moral realist:] "you have made your bed of parsimony; now sleep in it!) detracts from what are otherwise important criticisms of naturalist attempts to ground moral reality in the material world, the critic who argues that the Euthyphro dilemma is inescapable, and the like. All in all, The Rationality of Theism is an important piece of work in what is becoming an ever-increasing flood of erudite and forcefully argued philosophical works in favor of the view that a personal God exists. Any thoughtful person who is not already an expert in the field would do well to read it, even if one decides to check it out of a library instead of buying it.
Pretty excellent 4 May 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
Excellent collection of papers by top theistic philosophers. Topics deals with science and theism , challenges to thesitic belief and arguments for the existence of God. Generally good and well argued. Highlight include Collins' defense of fine-tuning and Craig's discussion of cosmology and cosmological arguments.
2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
The Rationalizing of Theism 21 Jan. 2012
By Nolan - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Together, the three sections of the book cover an impressive range of topics. Part 1 makes preliminary points about establishing theism. Part 2, the largest section, covers 7 major arguments for the existence of God, including the ontological, cosmological, teleological arguments, as well as the arguments from morality and consciousness. Part 3 addresses two arguments against God's existence, the problem of evil, and the argument from the incoherence of theism.

While no critique can cover everything, the chapters did typically either suffer from poor argumentation, or lack of depth. For example, Robert Koons argues for the concordance of science and theism, even going so far as to say that Christian theism made science possible. He ignores substantial Greek and Roman advancements in science. Moreover, there is not a single mention of the Christian Dark ages, where progress in science halted for centuries.

In the chapter on the teleological argument, Author Robin Collins relies on the "prime principle of confirmation," which states that "whenever we are considering two competing hypotheses, an observation counts as evidence in favor of the hypothesis under which the observation has the highest probability" (p. 136). Unfortunately, by Collins' logic, this means that if I win the lottery, this is strong evidence in favor of the hypothesis that magic gnomes love and favor me, and have the power to make me win the lottery. Obviously, other considerations, like simplicity and prior probability are also necessary to find a reasonable hypothesis. While Collins is aware of this limitation, it is fair to say that as presented, Collins' chapter lacks the depth needed to make a strong argument for theism.

Despite the shortcomings, for skeptics and believers who want an efficiently written overview of the basic arguments regarding the existence of God, this book is well worth the time. Still, unless one is already a believer, this book will provide insufficient grounds for accepting the "rationality of theism."
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