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Reason & Religious Belief

An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion

Fifth Edition

Michael Peterson, William Hasker, Bruce Reichenbach, and David Basinger

Publication Date - October 2012

ISBN: 9780199946570

416 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

The most comprehensive coverage of the major issues and perennial questions in philosophy of religion


Reason and Religious Belief, now in its fifth edition, explores perennial questions in the philosophy of religion. Drawing from the best in both classical and contemporary discussions, the authors examine religious experience, faith and reason, the divine attributes, arguments for and against the existence of God, divine action (in various forms of theism), Reformed epistemology, religious language, religious diversity, and religion and science.

Revised and updated to reflect current philosophical discourse, the fifth edition offers new material on neuro-theology, the "new Atheism," the intelligent design movement, theistic evolution, and skeptical theism. It also provides more coverage of non-Western religions--particularly Buddhism--and updated discussions of evidentialism, free will, life after death, apophatic theology, and more. A sophisticated yet accessible introduction, Reason and Religious Belief, Fifth Edition, is ideally suited for use with the authors' companion anthology, Philosophy of Religion: Selected Readings, Fourth Edition (OUP, 2009).

New to this Edition

  • Discussion of Buddhism added to chapters 2, 11, and 14, expands coverage beyond Christianity.
  • Chapter 2: Added a discussion of Dennett's Breaking the Spell. Added section on Buddhist non-realism. Updated and extended the discussion to other religions.
  • Chapter 3: Added section on Neuro-theology. Discusses a nonrealist, quasi-scientific approach to religious experience.
  • Chapter 11: Added discussion of Mark Johnston's Surviving Death; enhances the discussion of both dualist and the monist views of life after death. Added new section on No Persisting Self (including discussion of Parfit and Buddhism). Both updated the discussion and expanded it to other world religions.
  • Chapters 8 and 10: More clearly identify the implications of certain assumptions about God's power and knowledge for important theological concepts such as prayer, miracle and divine guidance. Helps the reader better see the interconnectedness of various religious beliefs.
  • Chapter 6: Updated discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of evidentialism - the claim that the rationality of religious belief is based on evidence open to all. To better reflect the current philosophical discussion of this issue.
  • Chapter 8: Updated discussion of the seeming incompatibility between maintaining that humans make free choices and that God foreknows what these choices will be. This better reflects the current philosophical discussion of the issue.
  • Chapter 9 includes a new section on Skeptical Theism as a growing response to the problem of evil. It also adds some modest few lines showing the connection of the problem of evil to divine hiddenness. Students gain exposure to an important and rapidly growing discussion of the problem of evil along lines of skeptical theism.
  • Chapter 13 adds new material on the New Atheism in the science-religion discussion-e.g., Stephen Hawking's argument for how the universe created itself and therefore is not dependent on God. Material added on the Intelligent Design Movement and the Theistic Evolution position. It also covers the recent Plantinga-Dennett debate over science and religion. Discusses atheist Michael Ruse's argument that evolution and philosophical naturalism make the most adequate total worldview in tension with John Polkinghorne's argument that Christian theism and evolution make the more adequate worldview. This will keep up with the rapidly growing literature reflecting the unfolding science-religion discussion on a variety of fronts. Will also keep up with the rapidly growing literature reflecting the unfolding discussion, representing recent important contributions from thinkers on both sides and providing fair analysis and classification of the positions.
  • Chapter 14: Added discussion of Buddhism. This is part of a total upgrade in treatment of nonwestern religions.
  • Chapter 12: Augmented discussion of apophatic and cataphatic theology related to issues in religious language. This treats an important debate over whether we can speak positively about what God is vs. speak only negatively about what god is not.

Previous Publication Date(s)

May 2008
November 2002
October 1997


"I believe that Reason and Religious Belief is the best text available for an introductory philosophy of religion course. One of the greatest strengths is its fair representation of differing positions and approaches to problems. The level is just right for my purposes--introducing students to philosophy of religion in a way that challenges them."--Gordon Pettit, Western Illinois University

"The treatments of opposing viewpoints are fair and well balanced. The writing style is superb: consistently economical, engaging, and clear."--Gary Rosenkrantz, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

"This is an excellent book, in my view the best available for use in philosophy of religion survey courses. It covers all the general topics likely to be covered in such courses, and then some."--Clyde P. Ragland, Saint Louis University

"I would recommend this book to anyone teaching philosophy of religion."--Kevin Carnahan, Central Methodist University

Table of Contents

    Preface to the Fifth Edition
    1. Thinking about God: The Search for the Divine
    Defining Religion
    What Is Philosophy of Religion?
    The God of Theism
    Thoughtful Inquiry and Religious Faith
    The Religious Ambiguity of Life
    Our Task
    2. The Nature of Religion: What Are Religious Beliefs About?
    Religious Non-realism
    Buddhist Non-realism
    Religious Realism
    Wittgenstein on Religion
    Why Is This Issue Important?
    3. Religious Experience: What Does It Mean to Encounter the Divine?
    Types of Religious Experience
    Religious Experience as Feeling
    Some Religious Experience as Perceptual Experience
    Religious Experience as Interpretation Based on Religious Beliefs
    Can Religious Experience Justify Religious Belief?
    The Principle of Credulity
    Diversity of Religious Experiences
    Is There a Common Core to Religious Experience?
    4. Faith and Reason: How Are They Related?
    Can Reason Be Trusted?
    Strong Rationalism
    Critical Rationalism
    5. Theistic Arguments: Is there Evidence for God's Existence?
    Theistic Arguments as Proofs
    The Ontological Argument
    Contemporary Versions of the Ontological Argument
    The Cosmological Argument
    The Kalam Cosmological Argument
    The Atemporal Cosmological Argument
    The Analogical Teleological Argument
    The Anthropic Teleological Argument
    The Intelligent Design Teleological Argument
    The Moral Argument
    Cumulative Case Arguments and God
    The God of Religion and of Philosophy
    6. Knowing God without Arguments: Does Theism Need a Basis?
    Critique of Evidentialism
    Plantinga on Properly Basic Beliefs
    Alston on Perceiving God
    Plantinga on Warrant and Knowledge
    7. The Divine Attributes: What Is God Like?
    Perfect and Worthy of Worship
    Necessary and Self-Existent
    Personal and Free Creator
    All-Powerful, All-Knowing, and Perfectly Good
    God Eternal--Timeless or Everlasting
    8. Divine Action: How Does God Relate to the World?
    What Kind of Power Does God Exercise?
    What Kind of Freedom Has God Given?
    Does God Know What Would Have Happened?
    Does God Know the Actual Future?
    What If the Future Is Truly Open?
    9. The Problem of Evil: Is there Evidence against God's Existence?
    The Logical Problem of Evil
    The Evidential Problem of Evil
    Skeptical Theism as a Response
    Can Theists Accept the Factual Premise?
    Defense and Theodicy
    Themes in Theodicy
    Some Important Global Theodicies
    Horrendous Evils and the Assessment of Theism
    10. Miracles: Does God Intervene in Earthly Affairs?
    Miracles Defined
    Miracles as Possible Events
    Miracles as Historical Events
    Miracles as Unexplainable Events
    Miracles as Acts of God
    The "Miraculous" Resurrection of Jesus
    Miracles and Evil
    11. Life after Death: Are there Reasons for Hope?
    Concepts of Life after Death
    Personal Identity and the Soul
    Immortality of the Soul
    Criticism of the Soul-Concept
    The Self as a Psychophysical Unity
    Re-creation and Spatiotemporal Continuity
    There Is No Persisting Self
    A Posteriori Arguments for Life after Death
    A Priori Arguments for Life after Death
    12. Religious Language: How Can We Speak Meaningfully of God?
    Human Language and the Infinite
    The Classical Theory of Analogy
    Verification and Falsification Issues
    The Functions of Religious Discourse
    Religious Language as Symbolic
    Feminism and Masculine God-Talk
    Can Talk of God Be Literal?
    13. Religion and Science: Are They Compatible or Incompatible?
    Do Religion and Science Conflict?
    Are Religion and Science Independent?
    Is Dialogue Possible?
    Attempts at Integration
    Theistic Evolution and the Science-Religion Debate
    14. Religious Diversity: How Can We Understand Differences among Religions?
    Religious Diversity
    Critique of Exclusivism
    Exclusivism and Justified Belief
    Critique of Pluralism
    Pluralism as Plurality of Salvations
    Critique of Inclusivism
    Criteria for Assessing Religions
    15. Religious Ethics: What Is God's Relation to Morality?
    The Source of Religious Ethical Truth
    The Authoritative Basis of Religious Ethical Truth
    The Acquisition of Religiously Based Ethical Truth
    The Significance of Religiously Based Ethical Truth
    Current Issues
    16. The Continuing Quest: God and the Human Venture
    The Intellectual Process
    Philosophical Activity and Religious Faith
    Where Do We Go from Here?
    Name Index
    General Index