The existence of God is a subject that has occupied individual thinkers and entire schools of philosophy for thousands of years, and it remains one of the greatest debates of our day. In The God Debates: A 21st Century Guide for Atheists and Believers, John Shook, Director of Education and Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Inquiry, and a self-professed “fair and open-minded skeptic,” explains prominent arguments about God’s existence in a nontechnical manner and justly analyzes the chances of their success. Shook challenges believers and nonbelievers alike to engage in an informed dialogue about the existence of God.
All major traditional and contemporary arguments for God are included in the following sections:
Debating Religion (a guide to terminology and debating)
Five Types of Theologies (an introduction to the ways of arguing for God)
Theology From The Scripture (can we trust its accounts of Jesus?)
Theology From The World (should we supplement science with God hypotheses?)
Theology Beyond The World (does cosmology need supernaturalism to explain the universe?)
Theology In The Know (grounding religious knowledge on certain first principles)
Theology Into The Myst (letting religious experiences of the divine lead the way)
The final section on Faith and Reason compares today’s worldviews struggling to reconcile rationality and fidelity.
This book is aimed at people who want to know what is going on with all the God debating, people who want to learn the arguments, and their pros and cons, as efficiently as possible without encountering too much technical philosophy or theology.
“The God Debates is a clear, accessible, up-to-date account of philosophical wrangles about the existence of God. Shook reorganizes the arguments in an interesting way … [and] takes on more-esoteric arguments such as the claim that we must presuppose the existence of God if we are to engage in reasoning and scientific inquiry. In all, this is a lucid, concise, up-to-date, yet comprehensive account of intellectual debates about the existence of God. It is easy enough to be used by senior high school students, and could certainly be useful in undergraduate courses in philosophy of religion.”
— Metamagician and the Hellfire Club, October 2010)
“If you’ve been puzzled by the complexity of the recent debates for and against God, this is the place to start. Shook lays out the questions, controversies, and schools of thought with amazing clarity, gradually building his case for a ‘staunchly naturalistic yet faithfully ethical humanism’ … Clear and blunt, with a light touch of irony.”
— Philip Clayton, author of In Quest of Freedom and the Oxford Handbook of Religion and Science
“Knowing for sure is not necessarily a virtue. By mapping scriptural, intellectual, and mystical theologies as well as naturalistic ethical worldviews, John Shook helps us to understand the rich range of human ideas and arguments, and hence ourselves and our neighbors. Shook invites us all to become winners when he writes in the preface ‘real winners are those who think about the questions, reflect on proposed answers, and come up with new questions.’ A most interesting and valuable book.”
— Willem B. Drees, professor of philosophy of religion, Leiden University; editor of Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science; author of Religion and Science in Context: A Guide to the Debates
“The Center for Inquiry’s John Shook, author of The God Debates, will discuss effective ways for nonbelievers to engage believers over that very question: ‘Does a god exist?’ Maybe it’s not the old, familiar arguments themselves, but new strategies and tactics that make the atheist message get heard and produce results.”
— Science in the City, February 2011