The Clarity of God's Existence: The Ethics of Belief After the Enlightenment

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Wipf and Stock Publishers, Jul 23, 2008 - Religion - 224 pages
The Clarity of God's Existence examines the need for theistic proofs within historic Christianity, and the challenges to these since the Enlightenment. Historically (and scripturally), Christianity has maintained that unbelief is inexcusable. If failing to know God is a sin, the implication is that humans can and should know God. Humans should know God because his eternal power and divine nature are clearly revealed in the things that are made. And yet, Anderson argues, more time is spent on avoiding the need for clarity to establish inexcusability than on actually providing an argument or proof. Proofs that rely on Aristotle or Plato and that establish a Prime Mover or designer are thought to be sufficient. But the adequacy of these, not only to prove the God of theism, but also to prove anything at all, has been called into question by Enlightenment thinkers like David Hume.

After considering the traditional proofs, and tracing the history of challenges to theistic proofs (from Hume to Kant and down to the twentieth century), Anderson argues that the standard methods of apologetics have failed to sufficiently respond. Classical Apologetics, Evidentialism, Presuppositionalism, Reformed Epistemology, and others fail to adequately answer the challenges of the Enlightenment. If this is the case, what is the outcome for Christianity?

Anderson offers an explanation as to why traditional proofs have failed, and for what is necessary to offer a proof that not only responds to Hume and Kant but also establishes the clarity of God's existence. The traditional proofs failed precisely in not aiming at the clarity of God's existence, and they failed in this because of a faulty view of the goal of Christian life. If the blessed life is to be attained in a direct vision of God in heaven, then there is little to no reason to ask for more than the bare minimum required to get into heaven (justification). Furthermore, if the highest blessing is this direct vision, then the glory of God revealed in his work is considered as less important and even set aside. By way of contrast, if God's eternal power and divine nature are clearly revealed in his works, and the blessing comes in knowing God, then it is of the utmost importance for Christianity to demonstrate the clarity of God's existence.
 

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Contents

Chapter Two Attempts to Avoid the Need for Clarity 21
1
Fideism
2
Probability and Plausibility
9
Mysticism and Religious Experience
11
Scripture Alone
17
No Free Will or Free Will and Predestination are Incompatible
20
The Fall Provides an Excuse
24
Clarity as a Precondition to Redemptive Claims
27
Clarity and the Inexcusability of Hume and Kant
49
Humes Challenge to Reason
51
The Idea of the Eternal
54
No Uncaused Events No Being from NonBeing
56
The Impossibility of Uncaused Events
57
Kants Response to Hume
61
The Transcendental Method
62
The Transcendental Illusion
64

Chapter Four Theistic Arguments before Hume 59
31
Chapter Five Enlightenment Challenges to Theistic Belief 81
31
Chapter Six Victory Over Theism? 99
31
Albrecht Ritschl
31
Friedrich Nietzsche 6 Sigmund Freud
31
After Kant
31
Chapter Seven Theistic Responses to the Challenge of Hume and Kant 109
31
FineTuning Theistic Arguments
31
Fideism
31
NonCognitivism
31
Classical Apologetics
31
Evidentialism
33
Cumulative Case Theory
34
Presuppositionalism
35
Reformed Epistemology
39
The Establishment of Clarity as a Precondition to Exclusivist Claims
45
Chapter eight The First Step toward the Clarity of Gods Existence 139
47
Steps for Showing the Clarity of Gods Existence
48
Responding to Kant
67
The Ontological Role of Reason
69
Presuppositional Thinking
71
The Error of Kants Solution and the Response
73
Thinking about Being or Silence
74
Chapter Nine Historical Overview of Being from NonBeing 167
75
Leibniz and Occasionalism
78
David Hume
81
Immanuel Kant
83
William James
86
John Stuart Mill
90
Bertrand Russell and Analytic Philosophy
91
Alan Guth Quentin Smith and Quantum Physics
93
Existentialism and Postmodernism
96
Philosophical Buddhism LaoTzu Wang Pi and ChuangTzu
99
Empiricism and Uncaused Events
101
Bibliography 203
111
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About the author (2008)

Owen Anderson is Assistant Professor of Philosophy of Religion at Arizona State University West. He is the author of Reason and Worldviews (2008).

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