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When the New Atheists famously coined the phrase 'There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life,' they implicitly suggested that it was no longer reasonable to believe in God. Brian Harris tackles three of the most common accusations made against the Christian faith, namely that Christianity is intellectually vacuous, morally suspect and experientially empty. He looks at each accusation in turn, outlining the issue in the first chapter of each section, then looking at evidence against the claim before evaluating the argument as a whole. He is clear that he is not trying to 'prove' that Christianity is true as he acknowledges that absolute proof is impossible in this life, and in reality there are many tough and challenging questions to be faced - whether you are a Christian believer, a believer in another faith, an agnostic or an atheist. This book explores these questions in a rigorous but accessible way. It doesn't offer easy, solve everything answers, but it does build a cumulative case based on reason, history and experience to suggest that God probably exists, and that the Christian understanding of God could well be valid.
The concept of providence is embedded in the life and theology of the church. Its uses are frequent and varied in understandings of politics, nature, and individual life-stories. Parallels can be discerned in other faiths. In this volume, David Fergusson traces the development of providential ideas at successive periods in church history. These include the early appropriation of Stoic and Platonic ideas, the codification of providence in the Middle Ages, its foregrounding in Reformed theology, and its secular applications in the modern era. Responses to the Lisbon earthquake (1755) provide an instructive case study. Although confidence in divine providence was shaken after 1914, several models were advanced during the twentieth century. Drawing upon this diversity of approaches, Fergusson offers a chastened but constructive account for the contemporary church. Arguing for a polyphonic approach, he aims to distribute providence across all three articles of the faith.
Open theism paints the picture of a flexible God who engages in a dynamic history with his free creatures, a history in which the future is not yet definitely known to God but rather unfolds as a range of open possibilities. As one might expect, this position has proven fractious. Though much of the noise surrounding the issue of God's predestination and humanity's freedom has quieted in recent years, the conversation is ongoing and a continual source of contention in evangelical circles. God In Motion is the first in-depth analysis of the biblical-hermeneutical questions driving the heated open theism debate. Unlike previous books on the open view of God, Manuel Schmid's work does not take sides. Rather, God in Motion offers a qualified and critical look at the standard arguments of both the proponents and critics of open theism and suggests new perspectives. Schmid proposes an alternate path to understanding what is at stake in this debate, bringing open theism into conversation with weighty representatives of German-language theology such as Karl Barth, Emil Brunner, Wolfhard Pannenberg, and Jurgen Moltmann. God in Motion shows ways out of the theological dead ends that have characterized the debate, especially regarding the biblical grounding of open theism, by giving careful consideration to lessons learned from the controversies of current theological discourse. In all of this analysis, Schmid conveys a passion for serious pursuit of a biblically, theologically, and philosophically coherent Christian doctrine of God for the twenty-first century. Those wrestling with questions about biblical theology and eager to gain a more nuanced conception of God out of the richness of biblical texts and traditions will greatly benefit from God in Motion, as they follow Schmid past the polemics of theological controversy to fresh and challenging insights.
In this little but profound volume, Robert Kane and Carolina Sartorio debate a perennial question: Do We Have Free Will? Kane introduces and defends libertarianism about free will: free will is incompatible with determinism; we are free; we are not determined. Sartorio introduces and defends compatibilism about free will: free will is compatible with determinism; we can be free even while our actions are determined through and through. Simplifying tricky terminology and complicated concepts for readers new to the debate, the authors also cover the latest developments on a controversial topic that gets us entangled in questions about blameworthiness and responsibility, coercion and control, and much more. Each author first presents their own side, and then they interact through two rounds of objections and replies. Pedagogical features include standard form arguments, section summaries, bolded key terms and principles, a glossary, and annotated reading lists. Short, lively and accessible, the debate showcases diverse and cutting-edge work on free will. As per Saul Smilansky's foreword, Kane and Sartorio, "present the readers with two things at once: an introduction to the traditional free will problem; and a demonstration of what a great yet very much alive and relevant philosophical problem is like." Key Features: Covers major concepts, views and arguments about free will in an engaging format Accessible style and pedagogical features for students and general readers Cutting-edge contributions by preeminent scholars on free will.
Benedict (Baruch) de Spinoza (1632-1677) was one of the most systematic, inspiring, and influential philosophers of the early modern period. From a pantheistic starting point that identified God with Nature as all of reality, he sought to demonstrate an ethics of reason, virtue, and freedom while unifying religion with science and mind with body. His contributions to metaphysics, epistemology, psychology, ethics, politics, and the analysis of religion remain vital to the present day. Yet his writings initially appear forbidding to contemporary readers, and his ideas have often been misunderstood. This second edition of The Cambridge Companion to Spinoza includes new chapters on Spinoza's life and his metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of religion, and biblical scholarship, as well as extensive updates to the previous chapters and bibliography. A thorough, reliable, and accessible guide to this extraordinary philosopher, it will be invaluable to anyone who wants to understand what Spinoza has to teach.
This is the first collection to investigate Charles Dickens on his vast and various opinions about the uses and abuses of the tenets of Christian faith that imbue English Victorian culture. Although previous studies have looked at his well-known antipathies toward Dissenters, Evangelicals, Catholics, and Jews, they have also disagreed about Dickens' thoughts on Unitarianism and speculated on doctrines of Protestantism that he endorsed or rejected. Besides addressing his depiction of these religious groups, the volume's contributors locate gaps in scholarship and unresolved illations about poverty and charity, representations of children, graveyards, labor, scientific controversy, and other social issues through an investigation of Dickens' theological concerns. In addition, given that Dickens' texts continue to influence every generation around the globe, a timely inclusion in the collection is a consideration of the neo-Victorian multi-media representations of Dickens' work and his ideas on theological questions pitched to a postmodern society.
This book provides the first comprehensive examination of Karl Barth's view of beauty. For over fifty years scholars have assumed Barth recovered traditional belief in God's beauty but refused to entertain any relationship between this and more familiar natural and artistic beauties. Hans Urs von Balthasar was the first to offer this interpretation and his conclusion has been echoed ever since, rendering Barth's view of beauty irrelevant to work in theological aesthetics. This volume continues the late twentieth century revision of Balthasar's interpretation of Barth by arguing that this too is a significant misunderstanding of his theology. Andrew Dunstan demonstrates that, through an encounter with fatalistic forms of Reformed theology, Brunner's charges that his dogmatics were irrelevant and medieval thought, Barth gradually developed an analogy of divine, ecclesial and worldly beauty with all the theological, christocentric and actualistic hallmarks of his previous forms of analogy. This not only yields valuable new insight into Barth's view of analogy but also provides a much needed foundation for a distinctively Protestant and post-Barthian approach to theological aesthetics.
Originally published in 1956, this book brings together from the canonical writings of Buddhism, Islam and Christianity the most important of the passages in which the view of the Founder is reflected. It aims to let each of the sacred traditions tell its own story and only such comments have been added as seem necessary to bring out the full significance of the passage quoted. The final chapter summarizes some of the difficult questions which arise from a comparison of the extracts from the 3 traditions.
When this was originally published in 1950 this was the fullest biography of one of China's greatest poets that had ever appeared in any language. It tells the story of the poet's life against the background of contemporary history and, in doing so, gives a brilliant picture of Chinese life in the eighth century A.D. - during a period of the Tang Dynasty, fertile in great poets, such as Wang Wei, Tu Fu and Meng Haojan.
Faith Through the Prism of Psychology introduces readers to the structure and function of the inherent ability of our Self to invest objects with reality - existentialization (EXON). The author moves away from traditional ideas of existence and faith, arguing that it is an inherent ability of an individual mind to invest entities (both objective and subjective) with reality. The book treats faith as a psychological ability of the mind to upgrade the existential statuses of imaginary entities, such as ghosts or gods; the working of faith is operationalized and analyzed in empirical psychological studies. It presents a new model of investing objects with existence, with such structural elements as the belief in object permanence (BOP), magic/ordinary distinguisher (MOD), magic/trick distinguisher (MTD), imaginary/perceived distinguisher (IPD), BOP defense mechanism (BOP/DM) and realities distinguisher (RD). It will be essential reading for anyone interested in existence from psychology, philosophy, theology or psychotherapy backgrounds.
This book provides an original and comprehensive assessment of the hypotheses concerning the origin of resurrection Christology. It fills a gap in the literature by addressing these issues using a transdisciplinary approach involving historical-critical study of the New Testament, theology, analytic philosophy, psychology and comparative religion. Using a novel analytic framework, this book demonstrates that a logically exhaustive list of hypotheses concerning the claims of Jesus' post-mortem appearances and the outcome of Jesus' body can be formulated. It addresses these hypotheses in detail, including sophisticated combinations of hallucination hypothesis with cognitive dissonance; memory distortion; and confirmation bias. Addressing writings from both within and outside of Christianity, it also demonstrates how a comparative religion approach might further illuminate the origins of Christianity. This is a thorough study of arguably the key event in the formation of the Christian faith. As such, it will be of keen interest to theologians, New Testament scholars, philosophers, and scholars of religious studies.
'There are certain words which possess, in themselves, when properly used, a virtue which illumines and lifts up towards the good' The philosopher and activist Simone Weil was one of the most courageous thinkers of the twentieth century. Here she writes, with honesty and moral clarity, about the manipulation of language by the powerful, the obligations of individuals to one another and the needs - for order, equality, liberty and truth - that make us human. One of twenty new books in the bestselling Penguin Great Ideas series. This new selection showcases a diverse list of thinkers who have helped shape our world today, from anarchists to stoics, feminists to prophets, satirists to Zen Buddhists.
In one volume, an anthology of seminal work of one of the twentieth century's most original thinkers.
This book presents a philosophical study of the idea of reenchantment and its merits in the interrelated fields of philosophical anthropology, ethics, and ontology. It features chapters from leading contributors to the debate about reenchantment, including Charles Taylor, John Cottingham, Akeel Bilgrami, and Jane Bennett. The chapters examine neglected and contested notions such as enchantment, transcendence, interpretation, attention, resonance, and the sacred or reverence-worthy-notions that are crucial to human self-understanding but have no place in a scientific worldview. They also explore the significance of adopting a reenchanting perspective for debates on major concepts such as nature, naturalism, God, ontology, and disenchantment. Taken together, they demonstrate that there is much to be gained from working with a more substantial and affirmative concept of reenchantment, understood as a fundamental existential orientation towards what is seen as meaningful and of value. The Philosophy of Reenchantment will be of interest to scholars and advanced students in philosophy-especially those working in moral philosophy, metaphysics, philosophy of religion, theology, religious studies, and sociology.
Many forms of Buddhism, divergent in philosophy and style, emerged as Buddhism filtered out of India into other parts of Asia. Nonetheless, all of them embodied an ethical core that is remarkably consistent. Articulated by the historical Buddha in his first sermon, this moral core is founded on the concept of karma-that intentions and actions have future consequences for an individual-and is summarized as Right Speech, Right Action, and Right Livelihood, three of the elements of the Eightfold Path. Although they were later elaborated and interpreted in a multitude of ways, none of these core principles were ever abandoned. The Oxford Handbook of Buddhist Ethics provides a comprehensive overview of the field of Buddhist ethics in the twenty-first century. The Handbook discusses the foundations of Buddhist ethics focusing on karma and the precepts looking at abstinence from harming others, stealing, and intoxication. It considers ethics in the different Buddhist traditions and the similarities they share, and compares Buddhist ethics to Western ethics and the psychology of moral judgments. The volume also investigates Buddhism and society analysing economics, environmental ethics, and Just War ethics. The final section focuses on contemporary issues surrounding Buddhist ethics, including gender, sexuality, animal rights, and euthanasia. This groundbreaking collection offers an indispensable reference work for students and scholars of Buddhist ethics and comparative moral philosophy.
How religious ritual united a growing and diversifying Roman Republic Many narrative histories of Rome's transformation from an Italian city-state to a Mediterranean superpower focus on political and military conflicts as the primary agents of social change. Divine Institutions places religion at the heart of this transformation, showing how religious ritual and observance held the Roman Republic together during the fourth and third centuries BCE, a period when the Roman state significantly expanded and diversified. Blending the latest advances in archaeology with innovative sociological and anthropological methods, Dan-el Padilla Peralta takes readers from the capitulation of Rome's neighbor and adversary Veii in 398 BCE to the end of the Second Punic War in 202 BCE, demonstrating how the Roman state was redefined through the twin pillars of temple construction and pilgrimage. He sheds light on how the proliferation of temples together with changes to Rome's calendar created new civic rhythms of festival celebration, and how pilgrimage to the city surged with the increase in the number and frequency of festivals attached to Rome's temple structures. Divine Institutions overcomes many of the evidentiary hurdles that for so long have impeded research into this pivotal period in Rome's history. This book reconstructs the scale and social costs of these religious practices and reveals how religious observance emerged as an indispensable strategy for bringing Romans of many different backgrounds to the center, both physically and symbolically.
The hard work required to make God real, how it changes the people who do it, and why it helps explain the enduring power of faith How do gods and spirits come to feel vividly real to people-as if they were standing right next to them? Humans tend to see supernatural agents everywhere, as the cognitive science of religion has shown. But it isn't easy to maintain a sense that there are invisible spirits who care about you. In How God Becomes Real, acclaimed anthropologist and scholar of religion T. M. Luhrmann argues that people must work incredibly hard to make gods real and that this effort-by changing the people who do it and giving them the benefits they seek from invisible others-helps to explain the enduring power of faith. Drawing on ethnographic studies of evangelical Christians, pagans, magicians, Zoroastrians, Black Catholics, Santeria initiates, and newly orthodox Jews, Luhrmann notes that none of these people behave as if gods and spirits are simply there. Rather, these worshippers make strenuous efforts to create a world in which invisible others matter and can become intensely present and real. The faithful accomplish this through detailed stories, absorption, the cultivation of inner senses, belief in a porous mind, strong sensory experiences, prayer, and other practices. Along the way, Luhrmann shows why faith is harder than belief, why prayer is a metacognitive activity like therapy, why becoming religious is like getting engrossed in a book, and much more. A fascinating account of why religious practices are more powerful than religious beliefs, How God Becomes Real suggests that faith is resilient not because it provides intuitions about gods and spirits-but because it changes the faithful in profound ways.
Known as the "patron saint of all outsiders," Simone Weil (1909-43) was one of the twentieth century's most remarkable thinkers, a philosopher who truly lived by her political and ethical ideals. In a short life framed by the two world wars, Weil taught philosophy to lycee students and organized union workers, fought alongside anarchists during the Spanish Civil War and labored alongside workers on assembly lines, joined the Free French movement in London and died in despair because she was not sent to France to help the Resistance. Though Weil published little during her life, after her death, thanks largely to the efforts of Albert Camus, hundreds of pages of her manuscripts were published to critical and popular acclaim. While many seekers have been attracted to Weil's religious thought, Robert Zaretsky gives us a different Weil, exploring her insights into politics and ethics, and showing us a new side of Weil that balances her contradictions-the rigorous rationalist who also had her own brand of Catholic mysticism; the revolutionary with a soft spot for anarchism yet who believed in the hierarchy of labor; and the humanitarian who emphasized human needs and obligations over human rights. Reflecting on the relationship between thought and action in Weil's life, The Subversive Simone Weil honors the complexity of Weil's thought and speaks to why it matters and continues to fascinate readers today.
No thinker has reflected more deeply on the role of religion in human life than Soren Kierkegaard, who produced in little more than a decade an astonishing number of works devoted to an analysis of the kind of personality, character, and spiritual qualities needed to become an authentic human being or self. Understanding religion to consist essentially as an inward, passionate, personal relation to God or the eternal, Kierkegaard depicts the art of living religiously as a self through the creation of a kaleidoscope of poetic figures who exemplify the constituents of selfhood or the lack thereof. The present study seeks to bring Kierkegaard into conversation with contemporary empirical psychology and virtue ethics, highlighting spiritual dimensions of human existence in his thought that are inaccessible to empirical measurement, as well as challenging on religious grounds the claim that he is a virtue ethicist in continuity with the classical and medieval virtue tradition.
Drawing on first-hand sources which had been inaccessible to Western readers at the time this book was originally published in 1961, this book gives a vivid picture of life in an order of Muslim mystics or Sufis. Against this background stands the unforgettable figure of the Algerian Shaikh who was head of the order from the death of his Master in 1909 until his own demise in 1934. The last chapters are devoted to his writings, which include some remarkable mystic poems.
Originally published in 1953, The Hebrew Prophets' conception of the meaning and purpose of human history has considerable significance for a religious view of the world situation in the middle of the 20th Century. This book discusses the nature of the Hebrew prophets and the grounds for their claim to inspiration. He then examines the fundamental and universal religious ideas underlying their pronouncements. Particular attention is paid to their views on the basis of human morals, the character of the good society, the duties of government and the relation between religion and politics. Other chapters deal with their ideas of true religion and of the relation of God to human life.
Originally published in 1955, and containing some 500 passages, this Biblical anthology brings together, in their original wording, the highest expressions of the Biblical view of life. The anthology is non-historical and non-doctrinal. It starts with the confrontations of man with God as seen in the 'calls' of the prophets, and proceeds to the ways of life demanded of man and the duties accompanying the privilege of vocation. It ends with the visions of the ideal society which in times of trial the author believes have sustained the mind. When this was first published, the anthology used often forgotten texts, and in so doing stimulated much attention to these enduring religious documents.
Originally published in 1956, this book provides a clear, scholarly, introduction to the main tenets of Zoroastrian dualism presented largely in the words of the Zoroastrian texts themselves. The book demonstrates the essential reasonableness of Zoroastrian dualism, which is the dualism of a good and an evil spirit, and to show what the means in everyday life and how it is philosophically justified. There are chapters on cosmology, the relation of man to God, the nature of religion, ethics, sacraments and sacrifice, the soul's fate at death and eschatology.
Originally published in 1973, this volume consists of a sequence of essays in religious thinking, responsive to the impact of Quranic style and emphasis. It traces the implications of the Qur'an in the related fields of man and history, evil and forgiveness, unity and worship, wonder and the hallowing of the world. It does so with a critical eye for the classical commentators, three of whom are translated here in their exegesis of three important Surahs. The underlying emphasis of this book is inter-religious converse and responsibility in the contemporary world.
This book discusses various aspects of God's causal activity. Traditional theology has long held that God acts in the world and interrupts the normal course of events by performing special acts. Although the tradition is unified in affirming that God does create, conserve, and act, there is much disagreement about the details of divine activity. The essays in this book fruitfully explore these disagreements about divine causation. The essays are divided into two sections. The first explores historical views of divine causal activity from the Pre-Socratics to Hume. The second section addresses a variety of contemporary issues related to God's causal activity. These essays include defenses of the possibility of special acts of God, proposals of models of divine causation, and analyses of divine conservation. Philosophical Essays on Divine Causation will be of interest to researchers and graduate students working in philosophy of religion, philosophical theology, and metaphysics.
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