Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Journal of Christian Apologetics
Volume: JCA 01:2 (Winter 1997)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

Stephen Parrish. God and Necessity A Defense of Classical Theism (Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, 1997). 321 pp. Cloth. Reviewed by Gary R. Habermas, Distinguished Professor of Apologetics and Philosophy, Liberty University.

This volume is essentially the content of Parrish’s Ph.D. dissertation in the area of philosophy, done for a committee that was in almost total disagreement with him about the truth of theism (p. vii). The author attempts two main tasks: a determination of the meaning of the concept “necessary” and an examination “as to what kind of being, if any, could coherently be called necessary (p. ix). Along the way, the reader is treated to a plethora of relevant theological issues.

Chapter 1 sets forth definitions of many key terms employed or assumed throughout. The author discusses two kinds of necessity in Chapters 2–3. He rejects the concept of a factually necessary God, finding it to be incoherent (p. 48). But he defends the notion of God as logically necessary, indicating an existence in all possible worlds (p. 80).

A modal version of the ontological argument is presented in Chapter 4. Chapter 5 discusses various forms of the teleological and cosmological arguments, concluding that no one has ever shown that either sufficient reason or existential causality are necessarily true apart from an a priori belief in a logically necessary God.

One of Parrish’s strongest chapters is the next one (6), where he argues that one’s presuppositions guide the a priori plausibility that is assigned to typically theistic beliefs, such as miracles. He makes an excellent contribution to the latter subject, chiefly in regard to the crucial issue of antecedent probability (pp. 156, 171-172). He concludes that a successful theistic proof must establish that God is logically prior to any justified beliefs.

The heart of the volume begins in Chapter 7, where Parrish delineates the “three positions as to why the universe exists in the manner it does” (p. 183) -Brute Fact Theory, the Necessary Universe Theory, and the Necessary Deity Theory. Each is investigated according to its answers in three areas: natural law, ontology, and epistemology.

Chapter 8 is arguably the strongest conclusion in the book. Parrish points out multiple problems for the Brute Fact Theory, concluding with the statement: “Brute Fact Theory is totally and utterly unable to justify order, being, and especially knowledge. Indeed, knowledge of any kind is

impossible in the Brute Fact Theory” (p. 214). Therefore, “its falsity must be presupposed in order for there to be any j...

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