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God Matters: Readings in the Philosophy of Religion

God Matters: Readings in the Philosophy of Religion

God Matters is a state-of-the-art, accessible anthology of the major issues in philosophy of religion.

Its accessibility is due to its mix of classic readings and brand new readings about contemporary issues, commissioned specifically with an undergraduate student in mind. These commissioned readings make the difficult concepts of contemporary philosophy of religion easy to understand, and are complemented by key excerpts from more technical philosophers’ writing on the same subjects.

The result is an engaging, comprehensive reader that introduces the most important ideas in classical and contemporary philosophy of religion from the most important thinkers, including excerpts from the key texts in which these thinkers presented their groundbreaking theories.


The text provides comprehensive coverage of ten major issues (approximately 70 selections), along with shorter, boxed selections that present alternative viewpoints, provide the “flavor” of certain philosophers’ writing, or introduce short ideas relevant to the longer readings.

Eighteen specially commissioned, user-friendly selections–written just for this text by prominent philosophers such as Antony Flew and Michael Martin–provide exciting introductions to the most important current issues in understandable language (rather than the technical language of much contemporary philosophy), while 25 selections from the most important classical literature present the ideas of some of the great philosophers–Plato, Augustine, Aquinas–in their own words.

Short excerpts from a diverse selection of important thinkers, Western and non-Western, are included in boxes throughout the book. This boxed material greatly expands the number of authors and points of view that the reader is introduced to, and adds interest to the text by breaking up longer selections.

A biographical/thematic introduction to every selection in the text personalizes the readings and orients the reader to them.

“Questions for Further Reflection” after each selection encourage the reader to think critically about the reading and consider the issues in greater depth.

“Suggestions for Further Reading” after every selection provide additional readings that will help the reader to gain a deeper understanding of the issues presented.

Table of Contents

Note: * Indicates original essay, commissioned for this book, which make difficult concepts easier to understand.





1. God Is All Powerful, Thomas Aquinas

2. Some Puzzles Concerning Omnipotence, George I. Mavrodes. Box: Harry G. Frankfurt, “The Paradox of the Stone”


3. God’s Knowledge, Thomas Aquinas

*4. Divine Knowledge and Human Freedom, Scott Davison

”Box: Augustine, “God’s Foreknowledge Does Not Rule out Free Will”

”Box: Jonathan Edwards, “God’s Foreknowledge Rules out Libertarian Freedom

God and Time

5. God Is Outside of Time, Boethius

6. Eternity, Eleanor Stump and Norman Kretzmann

”Box: William Lane Craig, “Time: The Familiar Stranger”

”Box: William J. Wainwright, “God’s Compassion”


The Ontological Argument

7. The Ontological Argument, Anselm and Gaunilo

”Box: Rene Descartes, “It Is Impossible to Think of God as Not Existing”

8. Critique of the Ontological Argument, Immanuel Kant

”Box: William Rowe, “Anselm Begs the Question”

”Box: Stephen Davis, “Existence Is a Predicate”

9. Anselm’s Ontological Arguments, Norman Malcolm

”Box: Alvin Plantinga, “The Hartshorne-Malcolm Version of the Ontological Argument”

The Cosmological Argument

10. The Five Ways, Thomas Aquinas

”Box: Frederick Copleston, “A Hierarchy of Causes”

*11. The Cosmological Argument, David Yandell and Keith Yandell

”Box: Gottfried Leibniz, “Proving God”

”Box: Bertrand Russell and Frederick Copleston, “The Russell-Copleston Debate”

12. Criticisms of Cosmological Arguments, J.L. Mackie

”Box: Elliot Sober, “The Birthday Fallacy”

”Box: William Rowe, “An Argument Against the Principle of Sufficient Reason”

13. The Kalam Cosmological Argument, William Lane Craig

”Box: Paul Davies, “Is the Universe a Free Lunch?

”Box: John D. Barrow and Frank J. Tipler, “The Anthropic Principle”

*14. A Critical Examination of the Kalam Cosmological Argument, Wes Morriston

The Design Argument

15. The Watch and the Watchmaker, William Paley

”Box: Michael Denton, “Self-Duplication as Evidence of Design”

”Box: Walter Bradley, “Complex Living Systems Are Evidence of Design”

16. Critique of the Design Argument, David Hume

”Box: George Smith, “Who Designed the Designer?”

”Box: Robin Le Poidevin, “Evolution Explains Apparent Design”

*17. God, Design, and Fine-Turing, Robin Collins

”Box: Richard Dawkins, “Atheism Before Darwin?”

The Moral Argument

18. The Moral Argument for the Existence of God, C.S. Lewis

19. Critique of the Moral Argument, J.L. Mackie


The Evidential Challenge

20. The Presumption of Atheism, Antony Flew

”Box: Michael Scriven, “Santa Claus and the Belief in God”

*21. A Pascalian Rejoinder to the Presumption of Atheism, R. Douglas Geivett

*22. Response to R. Douglas Geivett’s “A Pascalian Rejoinder to the Presumption of Athesism,”Antony Flew

23. It Is Wrong to Believe Without Evidence, William Clifford

24. What Should We Expect from Theistic Proofs?, George I. Mavrodes

Belief Without Evidence: A Defense

25. Pascal’s Wagner, Blaise Pascal

”Box: William Lycan and George Schlesinger, “You Bet Your Life”

26. The Will to Believe, William James

27. Religious Belief Requires a Leap of Faith, Soren Kierkegaard

28. Kierkegaard’s Leap of Faith, Robert Merrihew Adams

29. Reformed Epistemology and the Rationality of Theistic Belief, James F. Sennett

”Box: Alvin Plantinga, “The Aquinas/Calvin Model”

”Box: Alvin Plantinga, “The Great Pumpkin Objection”

*30. Reformed Epistemology: An Atheist Perspective, Keith M. Parsons

”Box: Michael Martin, “Son of a Great Pumpkin”

*31. Religious Belief for the Rest of Us: Reflections on Reformed Epistemology, Sandra Menssen and Thomas Sullivan

Reason and Revelation

32. Reason and Revelations Compliment Each Other, Thomas Aquinas


33. Evil and the Existence of God, David Hume

”Box: An Author of Genesis, “Abraham and Isaac”

34. Soul-Making Theodicy, John Hick

”Box: Edward Madden and Peter Hare, “The Torturing Headmaster”

”Box: Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, “Karma and Freedom”

35. This Is the Best of All Possible Worlds, Gottfried Leibniz

36. Must God Create the Best?, Robert M. Adams

”Box: Tan Tai Wei, “Morality and the God of Love”

37. The Logical Problem of Evil, J. L. Mackie

38. The Free Will Defense, Alvin Plantinga

”Box: Richard Gale, “The Causal Compatibilist Objection”

”Box: Richard Swinburne, “Free to Be Responsible for Others”

39. The Evidential Argument from Evil, Michael Martin

”Box: William Rowe, “The Inductive Argument from Evil”

”Box: Paul Draper, “The Abductive Argument from Evil”

*40. Induction, Abduction, and the Argument from Evil, Christopher Bernard


41. Varieties of Religious Experience, William James

”Box: Shankara, “The Mind”

”Box: Laozi, “Dao De Jing”

*42. Is Numinous Experience Evidence that God Exists?, Keith Yandell

”Box: Walpola Rahula, “Nirvana”

43. Perceiving God, “William P. Alston”

44. Critique of the Argument From Religious Experience, Michael Scriven


45. Of Miracles, David Hume

*46. On Hume’s Philosophical Case Against Miracles, Daniel Howard-Snyder

”Box: C.S. Lewis, “Hume Begs the Question”

*47. Historians on Miracles, Raymond Martin

”Box: Morton Smith, “Historical Method and the Study of Religion”

”Box: Nancy Murphy, “The Historian as Philosopher”


48. Science Refutes Religion, Richard Dawkins

”Box: Daniel Dennett, “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea”

49. Darwinist Religion, Phillip E. Johnson

”Box: Alvin Plantigna, “The Grand Evolutionary Myth”

50. Evolution is Not a Threat to Religion, Phillip Kitcher


51. Death and Immorality, Plato

”Box: Sri Aurobindo, “The Nature of the Self”

”Box: Shunryu Suzuki, “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind”

*52. Exploring the Case for Life After Death, J.P. Moreland

”Box: Peter van Inwagen, “Resurrection”

”Box: Thomas Nagel, “Death”

”Box: C. J. Ducasse, “Remembrances of Past Lives”


53. The Euthyphro Dilemma, Plato

”Box: Jiddu Krishnamurti, “Religion and Spirituality”

*54. Is God the Source of Morality? Sharon Kaye and Harry Gensler

55. My Confession, Leo Tolstoy

”Box: Adrienne Rich, “The Liar Fears the Void

56. The Myth of Sisyphus, Albert Camus

”Box: Robert Nozick, “Why Are Traces Important?”


57. Religious Pluralism, John Hick

”Box: Nancy Hartsock, “Feminist Revolution”

58. A Defense of Religious Exclusivism, Alvin Plantinga

”Box: Peter van Inwagen, “Born into the Right Religion?”

*59. Exlusivism, Pluralism, and Anarchy, Kevin Meeker

”Box: Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Choices”

*60. Religious Diversity and Religious Belief, Allen Stairs

”Box: Jane Flax, “Patriarchy”

”Box: Naomi Goldenberg, “Women Priests”

61. Religion from an African Perspective, Kwasi Wiredu

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