Item description for Faith and Reason: Searching for a Rational Faith by Ronald H. Nash...
Overview This book explores philosophical questions that have important implications for the truth and rationality of the Christian faith.
Publishers Description Christians should not have an inferiority complex regarding the academic or intellectual integrity of their faith and should understand that Christian faith is also a rational faith. Faith and Reason has two major purposes. First, it is designed to introduce readers to the more important questions that link philosophy and religion. It explores philosophical questions. It is also written for pastors, Christian workers, and educated laypeople who want to know how to defend the Christian faith. The book includes discussion questions.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.75" Width: 6.5" Height: 9.5" Weight: 0.9 lbs.
Release Date May 1, 1994
Publisher Zondervan Publishing
ISBN 0310294010 ISBN13 9780310294016 UPC 025986294014
Availability 0 units.
More About Ronald H. Nash
Ronald H. Nash (PhD, Syracuse University) was professor of philosophy at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He is the author of numerous books, including The Concept of God and Faith and Reason.
Ronald H. Nash currently resides in Orlando, in the state of Florida.
Ronald H. Nash has published or released items in the following series...
Spectrum Multiview Book Series Spectrum Multiview Book Serie
Reviews - What do customers think about Faith And Reason?
Nearly perfect - but with one big flaw Mar 7, 2007
There are many great strengths to this book. The greatest strength of the book is the way it presents sophisticated philosophical arguments in plain English, without getting bogged down. It also has a tremendous discussion of the problem of Evil, the best I've seen in an any basic apologetic. The argument for the existence of God based on religious experience is also excellent.
Another strength of the book is its superb critique of evidentialism - Christians have accepted the burden of proof for the existence of God when they do not need to. Think about the child who keeps asking 'why?' until you are stumped; the only way to avoid an infinite regress is to accept some beliefs as part of the foundation of your belief structure. These 'basic beliefs' necessarily do not require evidence of other beliefs. Atheists and Christians alike both have many basic beliefs: that other people are self-conscious, that objects do not disappear when we stop looking at them, that the past really happened and our memories are reliable, and many others. We all believe these propositions instinctively and without evidence. The same reasoning applies to belief in God.
The problem is that most Christians (at least, those who would actually buy books on apologetics) have already internalized evidentialism and accepted the burden of proof. They have what Nash describes as the Christian's inferiority complex. I suspect that until these Christians have successfully engaged atheists on their own turf, they will feel that rejecting evidentialism is a copout.
This leads to the central flaw in the book: the arguments for the existence of God are by far the weakest part of the book. The most powerful is the argument from religious experience (and this argument is very powerful), but that argument does not involve stepping onto the atheists turf. The are two modern arguments that do that: the Kalam cosmological argument and the cosmic teleological argument. Neither of them are developed in this book.
My advice is to buy 'Faith and Reason.' Its strengths have made it my favorite apologetic, and the friendly, plain-English writing style make it an ideal first pass through the subject. But also pick up 'Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview' by William Lane Craig and JP Moreland. It is a dense, rigorous introduction to philosophy and is not suitable for a beginner. But do read the arguments for the existence of God. They are powerful arguments written by Christians with a track record of consistently winning debates with atheists. Then you'll realize that rejecting evidentialism is not a copout. This is also the path taken by Craig and Moreland.
One of the worst books I have ever come across Jun 11, 2006
Let me begin by saying that I had high hopes for this book. It looked good for the first few chapters, when he gave an overview of what a worldview is. From there it went downhill fast. Very fast. It quickly turned into a book with some of the worst philisophical conclusions I have come across. It was simply Calvinistic Presuppositionalism to the extreme. I am not a Calvinist, so perhaps this book will be more appealing to Calvinists. It was not at all appealing to me. He also had some unfortunate conclusions which were entirely unwarranted and made me wonder what the heck he was thinking when he wrote them. For example, he claimed that the argument from religeous experience is the most convincing argument for Christianity. In fact, it is the only argument that he really seems to support in this book. If that is the case, then the argument for any other religion is just as good as the argument for Christianity, since they all have religious experiences as well.
Nash also has a horrid section in the middle where he decribes how it is perfectly acceptable to believe in God for absolutely no reason whatsoever. He says people do not need any evidence to believe in God (either experiental or philosophical), and that they are perfectly justified of being completely ignorant of any reason why they believe what they believe. This seems to seriously undermine the apologetics that Nash is claiming to do, since if we need have no reason for believing in God, then why should atheists need any reason for not believing in God. In giving Christians the freedom to believe in God in spite of any evidence brought against that view, Nash gives atheists the equal right to not believe in God despite any arguments brought against their view, which is absolutely absurd since he is writing an book which is supossed to be apologetic in nature.
In conclusion, if you ar looking for the epitomy of Calvinistic presuppositional apologetics, it is embodied in this book.
Overall grade: F
Rationality does not necessarily need proof Dec 2, 2005
Rationality does not necessarily need proof. Weird it may sound. But this is one of important things discussed in the book Faith and Reason. Our belief in God is rational, even if we do not have any arguments to prove it.
In his introduction, Nash says that Faith and Reason was written to introduce readers to important questions related to philosophy and religion, while at the same time attempt to answer them. Among these questions are: Is Christian faith rational? Can we answer challenges directed towards Christian faith? How do we help others to see that Christian faith is a rational faith?
Nash emphasizes the importance of approaching apologetics from the perspective of worldviews. He says that Christianity should be seen as a system, as a total world and lifeview. Of course there are reasons behind his words. "Once people understand that both Christianity and its competitors are world-views, they will be in a better position to judge the relative merits of all the systems" (p.25). He continues, "The reason why many people reject Christianity is not due to their problems with one or two isolated issues; it results rather for the simple reason that their anti-Christian conceptual scheme leads them to reject information and arguments that for believers provide support for the Christian world-view" (p. 26). That is why the first part of the book is written to discuss world-view: what is world-view, what is Christian world-view, and how to choose a world-view. It is highly recommended that reader reads the first part carefully, and if possible, several times, to avoid unnecessary confusion later.
Nash differentiates positive and negative apologetics. Closely related with this, Nash also underlines the importance of understanding the burden of proof in apologetics. He writes, "Surprisingly, many Christian apologists in the past have agreed to play the atheologian's game, and they have played it according to the atheologian's rules... that the only proper way to begin the task of apologetics is... to prove that God exists" (p. 84), or in other words, it is theists who have to bear the burden of proof. Nash and a number of other Reformed thinkers believe that Christians are not supposed to follow the atheists' rule of play. "The sensible person will reject the claim that theism should be presumed guilty until proven innocent" (p. 18). The task of negative apologetics is to challenge the view that Christian faith has to be declared irrational if there are no proofs to support it. It is these important concepts, such as world-view, positive and negative apologetics, and burden of proof, that underline the following parts of the book. Part two to five consecutively deals with the rationality of religious belief, some arguments for God's existence, the problem of evil, and miracles.
From the first part, the reader should have had the hints why belief in God is rational. But Nash elaborates this further in the second part. One important term that appears a number of times in this part is basic belief, which he defines as belief that does not depend on any other beliefs. It is in relation to its basicality that Christian faith does not depend on any arguments. From here Nash concludes with the Reformed view on natural theology (the effort to prove the existence of God without relying on special revelation).
Although natural theology is not needed, Nash, who has more than 40 years of teaching experience, dedicates the third part of the book to discuss some famous arguments of natural theology. In his opinion, even if natural theology is not needed to support the rationality of Christian faith, Reformed epistemology has made it possible for us to see natural theology with different functions. "... consideration of a theistic argument may present [humans] with information or lead them to experiences that, in conjunction with God-implanted dispositions, will help trigger belief in God..." (p. 102). Part three to five present various arguments, sophisticated yet interesting, which argue for the existence of God, each with its strength and weakness, as well as various objections which so far have not had enough to undermine the rationality of Christian faith. In these parts, Nash delicately weaves the ideas of many thinkers from all ages. Ideas of classic thinkers like Plato, Augustine, Descartes, and Kierkegaard, as well as well-known contemporary Christian philosophers such as Alvin Plantinga, Nicholas Wolterstorff, George Mavrodes, and William Alston, colour the pages of the book.
The reader will also find questions so basic such that they are unthinkable, such as Plato's question on Equality, "What must be the case before any person can judge that one thing is equal to another" (p. 171)? According to Plato, one cannot know that a is equal to b unless he knows the standard, that is The Equal itself. In Plato's definition, universals, such as equality, truth, and goodness cannot be found in earthly particulars. "It is impossible, for example, to obtain an idea of the perfect circle by contemplating examples of imperfect circles" (p. 172). But then, what is the connection between Plato's idea and the existence of God? Plato's idea is similar to Descartes' argument to prove that God has placed the idea of God as a part of human nature. "For how would it be possible that I should know... that I am not quite perfect, unless I had within me some idea of a Being more perfect than myself, in comparison with which I should recognize the deficiencies of my nature" (pp. 172-173)?
For beginners, the book is not hard to digest. Nash, who has written and edited more than 30 books, often uses illustrations from daily life. To illustrate that beliefs evident to the senses are basic, Nash writes, "Anyone crossing a street hearing the warning, "Look out for the taxi!" (a proposition evident to the senses) who demanded proof before acting might well encounter problems of a different kind" (p. 84). The reader's understanding of a particular topic is also enhanced by convenient repetitions through different point of views, although at times the reader needs to turn to previous pages. Conclusions in the end of every chapter help the reader to pause, and see how far the discussion has progressed. Each chapter also provides questions for further exploration, which make the book suitable for group discussion. Nash also recommends books for topics that need more elaborate discussions.
For laymen, Faith and Reason offers a truly comprehensive introduction to the philosophy of religion and apologetics.
A thorough and well-reasoned Christian apologetic Dec 10, 2002
In this book, Ronald Nash presents his Christian apologetic and worldview. Starting with his definition of a worldview and how a person should go about choosing one, Nash discusses everything from evidentialism to the miraculous, from the various theistic arguments to the problem of evil. The book is well-written and enjoyable to read from beginning to end.
By answering many of the questions philosophy asks, Nash shows that Christianity can not only assert itself as a reasonable worldview, but also surpass the reasonability of other belief systems. For those interested in learning how Christianity answers the great philosophical questions, this book is an excellent starting place.
Introductory, Yet Meaty Book Apr 26, 2002
Ron Nash wrote this wide ranging book back in the '80s, but much of its material is applicable and helpful for the reader today.
I debated whether to give the book 4 stars or 5. I opted for 5, but I think a certain kind of reader might not rank it that high. I found that there were parts of the book, particularly the early parts dealing with noetic structures and worldview formulation, that tend to drag a bit. But, for someone who is new to the field of apologetics and the intellectual side of the Christian faith, these chapters might well be very engaging. Since it appears that Nash's target audience was at a more beginner-type level, I have no problem with his extensive early treatment of noetic structures since it lays a good foundation for the rest of the book. That's why I did not demote my 5 star rating even though I found a fair amount of this specific material to be a bit dragging. Someone else who has been around the block a few times with these issues might not give it a 5 star rating due to the amount of time Nash devotes to this area, but I think Nash's treatment is very good and would be quite helpful for the beginner.
I found the real highlight of the book to be Nash's treatment of miracles. His critique of Hume's landmark work on the subject is outstanding, as is his examination of non-Hume objections to miracles. Also, Nash's examination of the problem of evil is also quite good, but given his Reformed theological background, I was a bit confused by his often repeated emphasis on the preservation of human free will as a central issue in the problem of evil. I happen to think this line of thinking has merit, but I'm unclear as to how it fits into a Reformed worldview. Nonetheless, for Christians who don't have entrenched theological leanings on the free will issue and simply want to be able to respond to the problem of evil, Nash offers a lot of meat to chew on.
In summary, this is a wide ranging book that takes the reader from the infancy of noetic structure and worldview formation, to the more advanced issues that face theism such as cosmology, design, the problem of evil, and the problem of miracles. And while I believe it is a very good and unintimidating resource for the beginner, I also think there's plenty of meat in this book for more advanced readers to make it worth reading.