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The God Dialogues

A Philosophical Journey

Torin Alter and Robert J. Howell

Publication Date - September 2010

ISBN: 9780195395594

192 pages
5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

In Stock

Students on a road trip across the U.S. dialogue about the existence of God


The God Dialogues is an intriguing and extensive philosophical debate about the existence of God. Engaging and accessible, it covers all the main arguments for and against God's existence, from traditional philosophical "proofs" to arguments that involve the latest developments in biology and physics. Three main characters represent the principal views: Theodore Logan, the theist; Eva Lucien, the atheist; and Gene Sesquois, the agnostic. Their debate takes place during a post-college cross-country road trip during which Gene expresses dismay over his future. He wants to do something meaningful with his life but is at a loss as to how to proceed, despite having just earned a degree in engineering. Gene's quandary precipitates a discussion of the meaning of life and its connection to God's existence. This in turn leads to vigorous debates about morality and theism, evidence for and against God's existence, probability and the rationality of belief, and the relationship between faith and reason. The strongest arguments from all three perspectives are fairly represented. An annotated list of suggested readings directs readers to relevant and helpful primary sources.

Assuming no background knowledge, The God Dialogues is ideal for courses in the philosophy of religion, an excellent supplement for introduction to philosophy courses, and a compelling introduction for anyone with an interest in the subject.

About the Author(s)

Torin Alter is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Alabama.

Robert J. Howell is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Southern Methodist University.

They are the coauthors of A Dialogue on Consciousness (OUP, 2008).


"This is a splendid book. The authors have thorough and up-to-date knowledge of the material, and their negotiation of the overall dialectic is extremely sharp. It will be the best introductory text on this topic on the market. The dialogues present a fair and balanced account of the arguments, and for that reason the book will be an attractive option, even in conjunction with an anthology."--Derk Pereboom, Cornell University

"A darn good book." --Robert Gressis, California State University, Northridge

Table of Contents

    1. Outside Boston: God, Value, and Meaning
    Searching for Meaning
    Atheism, Agnosticism, and Theism
    The Argument from Morality
    The Euthyphro Question
    Limits on God's Power
    Good as Part of the Divine Nature
    Angels, Devils, and Knowing Which is Which
    The Meaning of What?
    2. Niagara, New York: Design and Evolution
    The Grandeur of the Falls
    Paley's Argument from Analogy
    The Argument from Design
    Creation vs. Chance
    Creation vs. Evolution
    Natural Selection and Chance
    The Support for Evolution
    The Challenge of Irreducible Complexity
    Assessing Probabilities
    The Panda's Thumb
    3. From Niagara To Chicago: Life and Fine-Tuning
    The Argument from Life
    Arguing from Ignorance
    Scientific Progress on the Origins of Life
    The Argument from Consciousness
    The Probability of Life's Emergence
    The Limits of Science
    The Fine-Tuning Argument
    Selection Bias
    The Multiple-Universes Hypothesis
    The Belief in Our Own Specialness
    The Problem of Prior Probabilities
    A Finely-Tuned God
    4. Chicago, Illinois, outside the Adler Planetarium: The Cosmological Argument
    The Provocative Planetarium
    The Cosmological Argument, First Pass
    The Big Bang
    A Contradiction in the Premises
    Another Pass
    The Principle of Sufficient Reason
    Quantum Indeterminacy
    Infinite Pasts and Infinite Beings
    The Double Standard
    The Argument from Contingency
    Divine Freedom
    More Double Standards
    The Burden of Proof and the Missing Keys
    5. Chicago, Illinois, in the Hotel: The Ontological Argument
    The Ontological Argument
    Anselm and the Fool
    Places of the Mind
    God and the Representation of God
    Dreaming of Elvis
    Gaunilo's Perfect Island
    Kant's Diagnosis
    Possible Worlds and the Necessity of God
    The Impossibility of God
    Imagination and Possibility
    6. Somewhere in Iowa: Religious Experience, Testimony, and Miracles
    The Ghost of Shoeless Joe
    Testimony and Miracles
    The Bible as Authority
    Other Authorities
    Religious Experience
    Experience and Evidence
    The Psychology of Religious Experience
    Explaining Experience
    Hume on Miracles
    7. Holcomb, Kansas: The Problem of Evil
    Murder, from Kansas to Kitty Genovese
    The Problem of Evil
    The Free Will Response
    Circumventing Freedom
    The Problem of Natural Disasters
    Dark Clouds and Silver Linings
    The Dependence of Good on Evil
    The World as a Moral Proving Ground
    Evil in the Big Picture
    The Ship, The Captain, and the Grounds of Reasonable Belief
    8. Las Vegas, Nevada: Pascal's Wager
    Pascal's Wager
    Prudential vs. Evidential Reasons
    The Possibility and Legitimacy of Prudential Belief
    Dominance and the Case for Gun Ownership
    The Many-Gods Objection
    9. California: Faith and the Rationality of Belief in God
    The Weight of Combined Arguments
    Kierkegaard and Heroic Leaps of Faith
    The Dangers of Faith
    Alternative Conceptions of God
    Religion as Metaphor
    The Dangers of Metaphor
    Faith and Moral Disagreement
    The Golden Gate
    Reading Suggestions
    Sources of Quotations

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