Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
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In Defense of Natural Theology: A Post–Humean Assessment. James F. Sennett and Douglas Groothuis, ed., InterVarsity Press, 2005. 336 pp. $26.00. ISBN 0–8308-2767–6.
This is the companion volume to In Defense of Miracles which was released by InterVarsity Press in 1997. It contains several noted Humean scholars and many well known Christian philosophers. The study of Natural Theology (or thinking about God apart from the Bible) is a vital part, if not the most vital, of Christian apologetics. If there are no (good) reasons to think God exists, then belief in God would be irrational. Thus, if anyone believed in God, then it would be on purely fideistic grounds. Many of today’s agnostics and skeptics acknowledge the importance of Hume’s arguments in their own thinking. Indeed, many of the criticisms leveled against religion in general, and Christianity in particular, are taken directly from Hume. Recognizing the importance of Hume’s legacy, the editors have assembled an array of thinkers to combat Hume’s arguments against doing Natural Theology. This is a fairly technical work and a good working knowledge of philosophy and logic is helpful to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Not all of the chapters are as technical and the concepts
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discussed certainly deserve careful consideration and thought. As such, this book is intended for those who are engaged with skeptical arguments on a regular basis and for those who need to present a refutation of skeptical arguments to others.
The book is composed of two main parts. Part 1 (composed of four chapters) establishes Hume’s arguments against Natural Theology, and Part 2 (composed of nine chapters) evaluates various aspects of Hume’s thought. Chapter 1 is the introduction written by the editors and lays out the groundwork for the book. Chapter 2, is written by Terence Penelhum, a well known Hume scholar. He puts Hume in an historical context and discusses the most important works Hume wrote on Natural Theology. Chapter 3, written by Hume supporter Todd Furman, explains why skeptics find Hume’s arguments against Natural Theology so effective. Chapter 4 discusses what Hume hoped to accomplish with his philosophy and how Hume planned to accomplish his goal. Chapter 5 examines “Hume’s stopper,” which says that even if Natural Theology were successful in proving there was a God, the God proven by the argumentation is nothing like the God espoused in religious belief. Chapter 6 explores the implications of the cosmological argument in light of Hume’s criticism. Chapter 7 examines the implications of the Kalam cosmological argument. Chapter 8 discusses a possible solution to Hume’s criticisms of teleological arguments. C...
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