Item description for Reason for the Hope Within by Michael J. Murray & Alvin Plantinga...
Overview As a new believer, Murray found that explaining his faith was a lot trickier when talking to unsympathetic philosophy professors. Refined by years of graduate work at Notre Dame, he now presents a condensation of recent work in Christian philosophy for those with deep intellectual curiosity and a desire to defend orthodox Christianity.
Publishers Description During the last two decades there has been a renaissance in the field of Christian philosophy. Unfortunately, most of this excellent work has not reached general readers. Reason for the Hope Within was produced specifically to make available the best of contemporary Christian philosophy in a clear, accessible -- and highly relevant -- manner. Fourteen of America's rising Christian philosophers here cover many of the traditional themes of Christian apologetics (arguments for the existence of God, the problem of evil, the possibility of miracles) as well as topics of special relevance to today's world (Eastern religions, Christianity and science, Christianity and ethics, the existence of heaven and hell). This volume is required reading for those seeking a compelling defense of the Christian faith.
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Studio: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.3" Width: 6.28" Height: 0.95" Weight: 1.4 lbs.
Release Date Dec 28, 1998
Publisher Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
ISBN 0802844375 ISBN13 9780802844378
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More About Michael J. Murray & Alvin Plantinga
Michael J. Murray is Arthur and Katherine Shadek Professor in the Humanities and Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, Franklin and Marshall College.
Michael J. Murray was born in 1949 and has an academic affiliation as follows - Dean Emeritus, Mayo School of Health Sciences, Chair Department of Ane.
Michael J. Murray has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Reason for the Hope Within?
A most laudable project, very well executed Sep 13, 2005
Just the idea of this collection of essays is a wonderful one, and extremely valuable, for at least two reasons.
1) The motivating concept overarching these works is that of locating the proper role of apologetics. The value of this guiding principle could hardly be overstated, as seldom as it is broached among apologetic writers, who all too often leave tacit their background assumptions as to what, *precisely*, they take their arguments to be accomplishing. Michael Murray, in the opening essay, sets the tone at the outset with his eschewing of the "sledgehammer apologetics" of such as Schaeffer and Sproul. The alternative set out is an extremely wise and circumspect approach that knows the limits of reason and doesn't try to overextend it. Whatever that approach sacrifices in rhetorical effect, it more than makes up for in humility and authenticity.
2) The authors are professional philosophers with all the best thought and scholarship on their chosen topics at their fingertips, plus the discipline of clarity and precision that comes with contemporary analytic philosophy. But they're writing explicitly with the non-philosopher in mind, so are careful to apply the clarity and precision of their discipline without being at all technical or complex. The result is a serious no-BS zone, but a readily accessible one.
I don't know where you'd find either one of the above elsewhere, so to have a compendium with BOTH the aforementioned is just priceless. The results are uniformly excellent and helpful, with the notable exception of John O'Leary-Hawthorn's "Arguments for Atheism," which I found almost useless. The whole thing amounted to "Well, that's just what would be expected from someone without the gift of faith." (That's almost verbatim.) It's almost as if an atheist went "undercover" to write a exceptionally weak contribution to an apologetics volume.
That one only sticks out like a sore thumb because the rest of it is so good. Highlights for me included: Daniel Howard-Snyder - "God, Evil, and Suffering" (extremely helpful in understanding the issues; some angles on the Problem of Evil I hadn't heard before) Timothy O'Connor - "Religious Pluralism" (I said this book steers clear of "sledgehammer apologetics," but O'Connor really does give what I would regard as a flat-out refutation of they're-all-right Pluralism) Trenton Merricks - "The Resurrection of the Body and the Life Everlasting" (a Christian physicalist shows that accepting orthodox Christian truth in no way requires substance dualism, and in fact dualism may even be unBiblical, if anything) Frances Howard-Snyder - "Christianity and Ethics" (the Euthyphro dilemma examined and defused) Douglas Blount - "The Authority of Scripture" (from a theologian: how and why we get such an idea; as simple and robust as Plantinga's "properly basic" notion)
I hope you find it as valuable and edifying as I did.
Naive and sophomoric May 21, 2005
Skimming through this book will reveal a number of articles with interesting titles, but only one of them, entitled "A Scientific Argument for the Existence of God" was studied by this reviewer, and hence only it will be reviewed here. It regards the notion of the "fine-tuning" of various physical parameters as being "proof" for the existence of God. The tone of the article is extremely sophomoric, and it exaggerates what is really known in modern physics.
The author gives five examples of what he calls "fine-tuning", with this "fine-tuning" supposedly defined with respect to the occurrence of "life," the latter of which is left undefined in the article. The reader though can assume an ordinary, common sense view of life, and for the purposes of this review the definition could be very liberal, i.e. merely supposing the existence of carbon molecules, or very stringent, i.e. the existence of a simple living organism, such as a paramecium.
The first example regards what the author oddly calls the "strength" of the big bang. He states that if the "strength" of the big bang differed by one part in 10^60, then "life" would be impossible. He quotes a reference that supposedly sheds light on this statement. This reviewer has not examined this reference, but it would seem unlikely that it would be of interest from the standpoint of cosmology. If life is taken to mean carbon molecules, then this would require solving the bound state problem in quantum field theory, which has not been done in physics to this date. If life is taken to mean a paramecium, one needs to start with the big bang, evolve the universe, show the eventual appearance of carbon molecules, and then show how these and other molecules formed the paramecium (and face the formidable protein-folding problem in the process). Then one has to show how a change in the "strength" of the big bang of one part in 10^60 would not result in the eventual appearance of carbon molecules, but even if they did appear, the paramecium (or any other simple life form) would not be formed. Either way the calculation will be extraordinarily difficult. It has not been performed by the author of this article or in any research article that this reviewer is aware of. It would seem that the author, in his rush to justify his theistic biases, is willing to accept extremely weak evidence, at least from the standpoint of physics. It will do no good to quote "eminent" physicists in this regard, since they have not done these calculations explicitly, due to their extreme difficulty. Indeed, Freeman Dyson, who the author quotes in the article, has certainly done valuable work in perturbative quantum field theory (quantum electrodynamics to be exact), but he has not even come close to solving the (non-perturbative) bound-state problem in quantum field theory. The author therefore naively gives credit to the well-known physicists he quotes, without understanding the true nature and difficulty of the physical problems that must be solved before he can make the claims that he does in this article. Arguments from authority are worthless in a scientific argument, the latter of which the author has designated his article to be.
The same commentary also applies to the author's assertion that "life" would be impossible if the strong interaction has been stronger or weaker by as little as five percent. As it stands, this is a huge claim, since calculations with the strong interaction are extremely difficult to carry out. The theory of the strong interaction is governed by quantum chromodynamics, and only approximations to this theory, such as lattice calculations, have shown promise for an understanding of the dynamics of strongly interacting particles. Once again, in his hurry to justify his theistic biases, the author uses examples that do not reflect the true status of modern physical theory.
In the third example of "fine tuning", the author quotes work that concludes that if gravity had been stronger or weaker by one part in 10^40, then "life" would be impossible. One needs a successful theory of quantum gravity to make this claim, and such a theory has not yet reached the level of sophistication that would allow this claim to be made with confidence.
Similar objections could be made to the other two examples of "fine tuning", but will not be done here. But in addition to his naivete about what has really been accomplished in modern physics, the author makes unproven claims about how scientists really operate during their research. The most extreme example of this is in what he calls the `prime principle of confirmation', which is supposed to give criteria for rejecting one scientific hypothesis over another. The author though does not give historical test cases in scientific research that show the viability of this principle. It is certainly not one that scientists are vocal about or self-consciously follow. In fact, the assignment of probabilities to hypotheses is only one of many ways to model the process of scientific research. Each of these has their advantages and disadvantages, and their validation is currently hotly contested, especially in the field of automated scientific discovery.
The standard model of elementary particle physics has been fine-tuned to get the right answers, but this fine-tuning is not what the author has in mind. He wants to justify the existence of a theistic designer, but he has not given any sound, scientific arguments in this article. To justify the claims made by the author would take an army of researchers and massive computer calculations. The results would be very important in themselves, as the bound state problem and protein-folding problem are of great interest to physicists and computational biologists. The author's arguments are though extremely weak, and remind one of a piece of bread lying in a bowl full of milk: seemingly solid, but when one lifts it up for examination it falls to pieces.
A Thought Provoking Collection of Articles Jul 6, 2004
I would certainly recommend this book to anyone interested in a philosophical approach to Christian beliefs. The chapters are (for the most part) very well written and most people will find new and thought-provoking ideas within its pages.
"Reason for the Hope Within" is not mainly trying to give reasons for the Christian faith. Instead, it appears to me, to be concerned primarily with the reasonableness of Christian beliefs. It is a defense, from a philosophical point of view, for the viability of Christianity as a worldview.
Several articles address head-on the strongest arguments against the Christian faith. The result often leaves Christianity, like the tree pictured on the cover, battered and barely standing - even going in slightly different directions than you might have guessed - but never-the-less standing.
Other articles address, not attacks from the outside, but questions Christians should ask themselves as they seek to build up a rigorous faith.
And still others attempt to make unbelievers "uncomfortable" with their position. These articles address just how far Christians can expect arguments for their believe to take them when addressing unbelievers.
Some of the many topics covered include: -The problem of evil (and suffering) -Are faith and reason opposed -The conflict between divine providence and human freedom -Plausibility of Jesus being fully God and fully man or of God being three and yet one. -What is meant by the physical resurrection of each person's body -What is the nature of hell and is it justifiable -Does science undermine Christian faith -What are miracles, can they happen, could they convince one to accept Christianity -Biblical ethics -And Biblical inerrancy
Along the way it also (more briefly) addresses the belief systems of Hindus, Atheists, Pluralists, and ethical relativists.
For the number of topics covered, there is a surprising amount of substance to each article (a few, however, did leave me wanting to have further discussion with its author). Though it was not light reading, I enjoyed this book very much.
Comprehensive collection of modern Christian apologetics. Dec 13, 2001
'Reason for the Hope Within' showcases contemporary papers in the philosophy of religion and philosophical theology by a clutch of up-and-coming Christian philosophers. The book's aim, in which it generally succeeds, is to introduce non-philosophers to the latest developments in Christian philosophy. The authors attended a conference to road-test their material in apologetics workshops for Christian leaders and laity. The care taken to make their collected material accessible means that this volume would make an ideal `reader' for the intelligent non-specialist, or for philosophy undergraduates. The general tone of the papers might be described as the philosophical equivalent of `smart-casual', and one or two of the authors try just a little too hard to `let their hair down'. This is not to accuse these papers of flippancy or a failure to treat their subjects with due seriousness when they are being serious. This is a well produced book, edited with an introduction and a couple of papers by Professor Michael J. Murray, who co-edited 'Philosophy of Religion: The Big Questions'. It also comes with a foreword by Alvin Plantinga. The range of subjects covered in sixteen chapters is admirable: pro and anti- theistic arguments, the relationship between faith and reason, religious pluralism, providence, religion and science, the incarnation and the trinity, resurrection, heaven and hell, miracles, ethics and the authority of scripture. I would highlight the scrupulous but nevertheless refreshing contributions from Robin Collins (on `The Fine Tuning Design Argument' and `Eastern Religions') for particular praise. The papers on `Religion and Science' (W. Christopher Stewart) and `The Authority of Scripture' (Douglas Blount on a topic infrequently covered in similar books) are also particularly edifying. My main criticism for this compendium is that it has a distinct lack of suggested further reading, an oversight that will leave more advanced readers straining at the leash for greater detail and less advanced readers with no-where to advance towards. However, this is a fine body of accessible work that deserves attention from believers and non-believers alike.
Catch up with Contemporary Apologetics!!! Mar 19, 2001
This book is tremendous!! As I read this book, it amazed me how each article had such new insights into the defense of the faith. You just can't buy this material anywhere else. This book is for the able reader(or someone who is relatively familiar with Evangelical Apologetics)who wants to know what Christian Scholars are thinking these days.