A Companion to Philosophy of Religion

Article excerpt

A Companion to Philosophy of Religion. Edited by Philip L. Quinn and Charles Taliaferro. Blackwell Companions to Philosophy. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Blackwell, 199 i . v + 639 pp. $65.00 (cloth).

In the last twenty years, Anglo-American philosophy of religion has enjoyed a minor renaissance. Philosophers trained in logic, epistemology, and the philosophy of language have turned their attention to the philosophy of religion, changing the field dramatically. Currently, Christian philosophers discuss traditional Christian doctrines, philosophers of language analyze terms like doctrine and religion, and comparative philosophers of religion explore philosophical concepts in non-Western religious traditions. This superb volume reflects these developments. With seventy-eight original essays, it presents the best recent work in the philosophy of religion.

Philip Quinn and Charles Taliaferro organize the book into eleven parts. These include "Philosophical Issues in the Religions of the World," "Philosophical Theology and Philosophy of Religion in Western History," "Some Currents in Twentieth Century Philosophy of Religion," "Theism and the Linguistic Turn," "The Theistic Conception of God," "The Justification of Theistic Belief," "Challenges to the Rationality of Theistic Belief," "Theism and Modern Science," "Theism and Values," "Philosophical Reflection on Christian Faith," and "New Directions in Philosophy of Religion." As these sections indicate, the book focuses heavily on theism. Most of the entries are devoted to issues that arise in theistic traditions, with articles on heaven and hell, the Trinity, theism and evolution, and God's attributes. However, there are also essays on non-Western traditions, modern philosophy, and pluralism.

This book has several attractive features. Most of the contributors are well-known, and have written previously on the topics they discuss. To name just a few, John Hick writes on "Religious Pluralism," Paul Griffiths contributes articles on "Buddhism" and "Comparative Philosophy of Religion," and Alvin Plantinga discusses "Reformed Epistemology." Carefully, these experienced authors outline the debates about a particular issue, and define areas for future research. Moreover, they respond to recent work, and often discuss criticism of their own books. Richard Creel ("Immutability and Impassability") exemplifies this willingness to engage critics. Departing from earlier work in which he defends divine impassability in nature, will, and feeling (Divine Impassability: An Essay in Philosophical Theology, Cambridge, 1982), Creel changes his mind, and acknowledges that God is "touched" by what happens in the world.

In addition to drawing on well-established scholars, this volume also introduces new voices and explores neglected topics. Laura L. Garcia ("Teleological and Design Arguments") reexamines arguments for God's existence which appeal to purposiveness in the natural world or general features of the universe. …