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Some Classics on the Philosophy of Religion

Published onAug 24, 2021
Some Classics on the Philosophy of Religion

If defined broadly, the Philosophy of Religion involves issues in all the main areas of philosophy, such as metaphysics, ethics, philosophy of art, of language, science, and so on. Since it is more instructive to discuss one of these areas only with some precision instead of providing an overview, I focused on religious epistemology in this article. Let me refer readers interested in an encompassing survey of the field to sections on the Philosophy of Religion in encyclopedias available on internet, such as the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

To those of you who want to read a well-written introduction, I would recommend Robin Le Poidevin, Arguing for Atheism. An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion (Routledge, 1996). In our times, philosophers who are believing Christians have defended their faiths in many different ways. One of the most able advocates of theism is Richard Swinburne, whose book The Existence of God (second edition, 2004) I recommend to those of you who are interested in rational arguments in favour of a religious claim to truth. I evaluated Swinburne’s arguments in my (2012, 2014) book God in the Age of Science? A Critique of Religious Reason. A very different Christian approach to religious beliefs has been defended by John Cottingham in his Philosophy of Religion. Towards a More Humane Approach (Cambridge University Press, 2014). Inspired by Blaise Pascal, he pleads for “an epistemology of involvement” if one wants to understand God’s personal call to allegiance, which is directed “not to the analytic mind but to the heart”.

Let me end my list of recommended books on philosophy of religion with a classic written by John Leslie Mackie: The Miracle of Theism. Arguments for and against the existence of God (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1982). According to Mackie, “the question whether there is or is not a god can and should be discussed rationally and reasonably”, whereas this question is “too important for us to take sides about it casually or arbitrarily”.

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