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ISBN/ASIN : 0754631907
Manufacturer : Ashgate Publishing|
Release data : December, 2003
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Best debate on God's existence I have read
William Lane Craig, a Christian apologist, debated Antony Flew, a former* atheist philosopher, on the 50th anniversary of the famous Russell-Copelston debate. This book is the product of that.
Craig's arguments are standard and predictable from anyone familiar with Criag, and Flew fizzles, as even atheists William Rowe and Michael Martin admit. Why is the debate so good then? The commentary on the debate by such HUGE names in the field of philosophy of religion as William Rowe, Keith Parsons, Michael Martin, Paul Draper, Douglas Geivett, Keith Yandell, William Wainwright, etc. is what makes the book so great. Representing a varitey of traditions, from militant atheist (Martin and Parsons), Agnosticism (Draper), to theism, these respondents comment on the debate and press the issues deeper than an oral, short, debate allows.
The best part of the book is that Craig and Flew each get a chance to respond to what the other scholars said. Craig's response to objections chapter is worth the entire price of the book. Craig defends his arguments against heavy criticisms from some of the most prolific atheist currently writing. Anyone who wants to read a very good debate (though admittedly tilted for theism) needs to pick this up.
Excellent Introduction to Subject
Does God Exist? is based on the 1998 public debate between Christian philosopher William Craig and atheist philosopher Anthony Flew (Flew has recently had a highly publicized albeit somewhat tenuous move into theism). The debate itself was held on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of a similarly titled debate between Russell and Copleston in 1948.
The layout follows a common format for debate-type books. First, a transcript of the debate is provided, followed by comments from subject matter experts representing both sides of the argument. Finally, the debaters are given an opportunity to make closing comments and respond to points raised by the other contributors.
The debate itself was quite good with the discussion covering all the major arguments, cosmological, teleological, existence of evil, etc. In fact, the 1998 debate was superior to the Russell-Copeston debate wherein Russell was largely evasive and did not actively engaged in debate (still an interesting read though). For those new to this area William Craig is the preeminent contemporary Christian apologist (arguably also one of the finest current day philosophers). In addition to his impressive intellectual abilities Craig is a seasoned debater and excellent communicator. Anthony Flew is also a well-known philosopher who has written and debated on the existence of God and other related philosophical questions. Although I respect Flew as a philosopher, he was overmatched by Craig both intellectually and rhetorically in this encounter.
In my opinion the weakest part of the book was the commentary by the subject matter experts. This is unfortunate, because quite often it is one of the more enjoyable aspects of this format. Michael Martin's comments were interesting, however, the others particularly David and Keith Yandell were weak and added little.
In summary, good book that provides a strong overview of contemporary arguments for and against the existence of God. If someone were to read just one book of this type, however, I would recommend God? God? is a debate on the same issue between Craig and Walter-Sinnott-Armstrong. Craig is outstanding in both these efforts, but Sinnott -Armstrong presents a stronger case than Flew for atheism.
Flew is not an atheist.
An intellectual bombshell dropped last week when British professor Antony Flew, for decades one of the world's leading philosophers of atheism, publicly announced that he now affirms the existence of a deity.
To be sure, Mr. Flew has not become an adherent of any creed. He simply believes that science points to the existence of some sort of intelligent designer of the universe. He says evidence from DNA research convinces him that the genetic structure of biological life is too complex to have evolved entirely on its own. Though the 81-year-old philosopher believes Darwinian theory explains a lot, he contends that it cannot account for how life initially began.
We (the Editorial Board of the Dallas Morning News) found this conversion interesting in light of last year's controversy regarding proposed revisions to the state's (Texas) high school biology textbooks. Our view then was that while religion must be kept out of science classes, intellectual honesty demands that when science produces reliable data challenging the prevailing orthodoxies, students should be taught them.
We were bothered by Harvard geneticist Richard Lewontin's statement that for scientists, materialism must be "absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door." That's called stacking the deck.
Mr. Flew may be dead wrong, but it's refreshing to see that an academic of his stature is unafraid to let new facts change his mind. The philosopher told The Associated Press that if admirers are upset with his about-face, then "that's too bad. My whole life has been guided by the principle of Plato's Socrates: Follow the evidence, wherever it leads."
If the scientific data are compelling enough to cause an atheist academic of Antony Flew's reputation to recant much of his life's work, why shouldn't Texas schoolchildren be taught the controversy?