Important differences as well as areas of overlap emerge as each contributor states their case, receives criticism from the others and responds. Of particular value for use as an academic text, these four essays and responses, covering the naturalist moral non-realist, naturalist moral realist, moral essentialist and moral particularist views, will foster critical thinking and contribute to the development of a well-informed position on this very important issue.
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God & Morality: Four Views by R. Keith Loftin
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Aug 18, Brian Watson rated it really liked it. I was looking forward to this book, in particular to see how atheists who ground their views of morality. I think the moral argument for the existence of God is powerful put simply, if God doesn't exist, no objective basis for morality exists. I wanted to see what "the other side" might say on the issue, and how Christians would attempt to refute such views.
However, I found this book slightly disappointing. It seems like the four main essays could have been significantly longer at least ten I was looking forward to this book, in particular to see how atheists who ground their views of morality. It seems like the four main essays could have been significantly longer at least ten pages each , and perhaps there could have been better representatives of each view.
The book begins with a very brief introduction by the editor. Sometimes, introductions to this series on IVP will be longer such as the one on the Historical Jesus , but this one was quite brief. After the introduction, each of the four contributors presented an essay. At the conclusion of each essay, the other three contributors respond. Generally, these responses prove to be more enlightening than the essays.
Evan Fales represents the "Naturalist Moral Realism" position. The ontological grounds for his position that, even in a naturalistic worldview, there are absolute moral truths is the fact the universe is a teleologically organized system TOS. From observation, we can see that certain things tend to grow into other things. Fales's example is an acorn: This seems to work fine enough for the oak, but what does it have to do with human beings?
Can we really figure out the purpose or goal, or telos of each person through observation? We might have some common view of a flourishing human being a productive, law-abiding citizen who cares for others, has children, and makes some positive contribution to society, perhaps , but what does it mean that all humans die? What is the point? Can we really derive "oughts" from the "is" of human existence? Along the line he denies Hume's naturalistic fallacy it's a fallacy to derive an "ought" from an "is" , but doesn't give any justification for doing so.
Overall, Fales seems to be begging the question. Next up is Michael Ruse. Let me give him some credit. He is certainly the most interesting author among the bunch. His writing is clearer and more enjoyable to read. Here's his view "Naturalist Moral Nonrealism": We only have the phenomenon that certain things are right and other things are wrong.
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But in reality, this is just an illusion, a useful evolutionary byproduct that keeps us all from destroying each other. But, on the other hand, we've now become so clever as to realize that we are here because of unguided evolutionary forces, why should we obey the phenomenon the gut-level instinct?
After all, we once believed the sun actually revolved around the earth, but now we know better. Why not do something similar with ethics? I think there are serious holes in the whole large-scale neo- Darwinian evolutionary theory or theories out there. But if any of them are true, you can't have it both ways: If everything is the result of evolution, then our discovery that there is no meta-ethical foundation is also the result.
So why not go with that? The more evolved people now know there's no basis for morality, and they can do what they want.
God & Morality: Four Views
Keith Yandell, a Christian philosopher, presents the "Moral Essentialism" view. His view is that certain moral propositions it is wrong to murder, for example simply exist. Once all of the authors have unrolled and displayed their wares, then each gets the opportunity to walk around and point out the weaknesses and potential compatibilities of the other exhibits. It is rather unfortunate how Hasker is downright dismissive and demeaning of the classic view, while giving the other positions thoughtful interaction. Beyond that, the rest of the contributors are gracious in their criticisms, while remaining unwavering and more-or-less firm.
I became roused and reverently praying by the time I finished reading the classical position. I was positively challenged to think hard by several chapters, and was drawn to the outskirts of the ways of the Almighty Job I have no problem endorsing this book! Thanks to IVP Academic for providing, upon my request, the free copy of the book used for this review. It made more sense after I found out he adopted a Jesuit view of God called molinism. I started researching it to find that it was a heresy in the s and is still against Christian Orthodoxy today. These molinists are trying to claim christianity just like mormons and jahovahs witnesses.
Some of the most helpful books in the field of biblical and theological studies have come in the form of multiview dialogs. These books are especially useful for laity looking to survey the landscape of ideas, and the format is exceptional for argument analysis. The book is comprised of two parts. Part one is a positive presentation of each of the five views. Phillip Cary represents the classical theist view, arguing that no evil takes place unless God permits it, and in doing so, his purpose is for a greater good to be brought about in the world.
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William Lane Craig represents the Molinist view, arguing that divine middle knowledge essentially becomes the solution to the problem. William Hasker represents the open theist view and argues that God created humanity as free creatures. Thus, it is impossible for him to know with certainty what they would do in any given situation. Thomas Oord represented a modified open theist view which he refers to as an essential kenosis view.
Oord argues that God, for the sake of love, emptied kenosis himself of the ability to control the actions and effects of free creatures, and thus, is unable to stop evil from taking place. Lastly, Stephan Wykstra represents a more philosophically abstract approach to the problem of evil which is labeled the skeptical theism view. Each response essay is brief and curated into a single chapter. Consequently, while the content of the interaction between the views is helpful, it is rather brief and sometimes seems outright dismissive e.
That said this is the biggest shortcoming to an otherwise excellent display of scholarly engagement on a very important and far reaching theological topic. Despite the lackluster organization of the response section, the book shines with deep theological reflection and worthwhile interaction. Trust me, its worth the reflection!
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