New Books in Philosophy, Theology, and Apologetics – January 2013


God & Morality: Four Views – Edited by R. Keith Loftin (InterVarsity, 2012) **

Is morality dependent upon belief in God? Is there more than one way for Christians to understand the nature of morality? Is there any agreement between Christians and atheists or agnostics on this heated issue?

In God and Morality: Four Views four distinguished voices in moral philosophy articulate and defend their place in the current debate between naturalism and theism. Christian philosophers Keith Yandell and Mark Linville and two self-identified atheist/agnostics, Evan Fales and Michael Ruse, clearly and honestly represent their differing views on the nature of morality.

Views represented are 1) naturalist moral non-realist, 2) naturalist moral realist, 3) moral essentialist, and 4) moral particularist.


Reason & Religious Belief: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion (5th ed.)  Michael Peterson, William Hasker, Bruce Reichenbach, and David Basinger (OUP, 2012)

Reason and Religious Belief, now in its fifth edition, explores perennial questions in the philosophy of religion. Drawing from the best in both classical and contemporary discussions, the authors examine religious experience, faith and reason, the divine attributes, arguments for and against the existence of God, divine action (in various forms of theism), Reformed epistemology, religious language, religious diversity, and religion and science.

Revised and updated to reflect current philosophical discourse, the fifth edition offers new material on neuro-theology, the “new Atheism,” the intelligent design movement, theistic evolution, and skeptical theism. It also provides more coverage of non-Western religions–particularly Buddhism–and updated discussions of evidentialism, free will, life after death, apophatic theology, and more. A sophisticated yet accessible introduction, Reason and Religious Belief, Fifth Edition, is ideally suited for use with the authors’ companion anthology, Philosophy of Religion: Selected Readings, Fourth Edition (OUP, 2009).


God and Evil: The Case for God in a World Filled with PainEdited by Chad Meister and James K. Dew Jr. (InterVarsity, 2013)

The question of evil—its origins, its justification, its solution—has plagued humankind from the beginning. Every generation raises the question and struggles with the responses it is given. Questions about the nature of evil and how it is reconciled with the truth claims of Christianity are unavoidable; we need to be prepared to respond to such questions with great clarity and good faith.

God and Evil compiles the best thinking on all angles on the question of evil, from some of the finest scholars in religion, philosophy and apologetics, including

  • Gregory E. Ganssle and Yena Lee
  • Bruce Little
  • Garry DeWeese
  • R. Douglas Geivett
  • James Spiegel
  • Jill Graper Hernandez
  • Win Corduan
  • David Beck



From Morality to Metaphysics: The Theistic Implications of our Ethical Commitments – Angus Ritchie (OUP, 2012)

From Morality to Metaphysics offers an argument for the existence of God, based on our most fundamental moral beliefs. Angus Ritchie engages with a range of the most significant secular moral philosophers of our time, and argues that they all face a common difficulty which only theism can overcome.

The book begins with a defense of the ‘deliberative indispensability’ of moral realism, arguing that the practical deliberation human beings engage in on a daily basis only makes sense if they take themselves to be aiming at an objective truth. Furthermore, when humans engage in practical deliberation, they necessarily take their processes of reasoning to have some ability to track the truth. Ritchie’s central argument builds on this claim, to assert that only theism can adequately explain our capacity for knowledge of objective moral truths. He demonstrates that we need an explanation as well as a justification of these cognitive capacities. Evolutionary biology is not able to generate the kind of explanation which is required–and, in consequence, all secular philosophical accounts are forced either to abandon moral objectivism or to render the human capacity for moral knowledge inexplicable.

From Morality to Metaphysics


Mappings the Origins Debate: Six Models of the Beginning of EverythingGerald Rau (InterVarsity, 2012)

What are the main positions in the debate over creation and evolution? Why do they disagree? Can the debates about origins and evolution ever be resolved? Gerald Rau offers a fair-minded overview of the six predominant models used to explain the origins of the universe, of life, of species and of humans. He aims to show the contours of current debates both among Christians and between Christians and non-theists.  He accomplishes this by not only describing the options on origins, but by exploring the philosophical assumptions behind each and how evidence is counted corresponding with each model.  He also notes the limits of a scientifically gained knowledge. Readers will not only become better informed about the current debates on origins but better thinkers about the issues at stake.


** Descriptions provided by the publishers.

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Philosophy Word of the Day — Critical Realism

“Critical realism affirms that objects exist independently of our thoughts about them (realism) and asserts that human knowledge of reality is a progressive dialogue between knower and known (critical).  Critical realists argue that in human perception some qualities or properties accurately represent external objects while some sensory data do not accurately represent reality.  Thus critical realists locate their position between direct realism, which takes the immediate objects of perception to be external objects, and antirealism, which denies that the human mind can know anything external to itself.

In philosophy of science, critical realism upholds the real existence of the entities and processes that are investigated and endorses scientific method as a form of rationality that is appropriate for confirming theories (and thus generating knowledge) about a real world that exists independently of the human mind.” [. . . ]

— Michael L. Peterson in A Science and Religion Primer, 73.



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Philosophy Word of the Day – Truth

A property of statements or claims about reality; thus a claim is “true” (or “false”).  Aristotle claimed that truth is “to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not.” This notion of truth involves both a saying (“of something that it is”) and reality (“what is or is not”).  So there are two elements to truth: the truth bearer (a proposition, statement, or a sentence) and the truth maker (the world, a fact, or a state of affairs).  In making a true statement, one asserts a proposition and reality makes that proposition true (or false).  The dominant metaphor used to describe this relationship is the correspondence theory of truth, which holds that a claim is true insofar as it corresponds to the external or extramental world.  So my claim “the chair is red” is true if, in fact, that particular chair has the property of redness. . . .

Christian theology, because of its realism, has tended to adopt some version of the correspondence theory of truth.  With respect to central spiritual truths, it matters whether the sentences “Christ is God incarnate” and “Jesus rose from the dead” are made true by the facts that Christ is God incarnate and that Jesus rose from the dead.  The biblical witness adds that people need to be related appropriately to Jesus, the Truth (John 14:8). This relational dimension suggests that grasping Christian truth involves a way of being-in-the-world and being-in-relation-to-God. Finally, the New Testament emphasizes a correlation between truth and love (1 Corinthians 8:2-3; 13:1-3).

(Excerpted from 101 Key Terms in Philosophy and Their Importance for Theology, Kelly James Clark, Richard Lints, James K. A. Smith [Westminster John Knox Press, 2004] 96.)

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