God in the Age of Science?: A Critique of Religious Reason is a book by the Dutch philosopher Herman Philipse, written in English and published in the. Given, however, that we are living in the age of science, Philipse argues that the natural theologian is faced with a dilemma he calls “The. God in the Age of Science?: A Critique Of Religious Reason. by. Herman Philipse . Philipse tackles religion from an epistemilogical point of view whereas most.

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Preview — God philipsw the Age of Science? God in the Age of Science?: God in the Age of Science? The main options may be presented as the end nodes of a decision tree for religious believers. The faithful can interpret a creedal statement e. If it is a truth claim, they can either be warranted to God in the Age of Science? If it is a truth claim, they can either be warranted to endorse it without evidence, or not. Finally, if evidence is needed, should its evidential support be assessed by the same logical criteria that we use in evaluating evidence in science, or not?

Each of these options has been defended by prominent analytic philosophers of religion. In part I Herman Philipse assesses these options and argues that the most promising for believers who want to be justified in accepting their creed in our scientific age is the Bayesian cumulative case strategy developed by Richard Swinburne.

Using a ‘strategy of subsidiary arguments’, Philipse concludes 1 that theism cannot be stated meaningfully; 2 that if theism were meaningful, it would have no predictive power concerning existing evidence, so that Bayesian arguments cannot get started; and 3 that if the Bayesian cumulative case strategy did work, one should conclude that atheism is more probable than theism.

Philipse provides a careful, rigorous, and original critique of theism ths the world today. Hardcoverpages. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about God in the Age of Science? Be the first to ask a question about God in the Age of Science? Lists with This Book.

Generally speaking, one can divide religious critique into two categories. The first is to attack religion as a political institution, whereby the social effects sciwnce religion are examined and subject to scrutiny. The second is to go after the truth status of religious claims. While these two categories have some overlap, it’s worth remembering that truth and utility aren’t the same thing. It is good that critiques of the utility of religion are taken as the reason for critiques on the truth Generally speaking, one can divide religious critique into two categories.

It is unfortunate that critiques of the utility of religion are taken as the reason for critiques on the truth of religion. It’s not that God is a nonsense notion, it’s that atheists have some psychological hatred of theism as it is practised that leads to the denial of God altogether. It’s unfortunate because the critiques of belief itself are ignored as some outcome of one’s impression on thf utility of religion, they remain largely unaddressed.

Explain the “reasons” for atheism and explain away the need to address atheism.

Herman Philipse’s book completely focuses on the second category. This category is further narrowed by the distinction between natural theology and revealed theology, where the focus was almost exclusively on natural theology. The question the book explores is what to make of a concept like God in light of modern science, and is largely an exploration of the case made by the philosopher Richard Swinburne.


To understand the way Philipse laid out the critique, it’s worth exploring the three dilemmas Philipse proposes the theist has to answer: Claims about God’s existence are a factual claims, or b non-factual claims. If areligious belief c needs to be backed up by reasons evidence, or d it does not. If cthis can be done by e methods completely unlike those used by scientists and scholars, or f like those methods.


Although there are a few exponents of bthe claims themselves are prima facie a claims. For dthere are a couple of chapters devoted to exploring the merits of Plantinga’s argument for reformed epistemology.

But the real concern is the answer to the third dilemma, with Richard Swinburne’s cumulative inductive case for the existence of God taken as the paradigmatic example of how one ought to approach God in the age of science.

The chapters addressing Plantinga are instructive to the tone of the rest of the book. While Plantinga has weaved an elaborate logical defence, of ad hoc claims, bare assertions, defeater-deflectors and defeater-defeaters, one might be curious as to what purpose Platinga’s argument would achieve.

God in the Age of Science?: A Critique of Religious Reason – Oxford Scholarship

At no point do we have any evidence that our brains possess a sensis divinituslet alone that it’s actually at work in religious experiences, that it’s faulty for most people, but less faulty for monotheists, and reliable when it comes to Christian beliefs. Yet this idea gets two chapters of logical objections! But the vast majority of the book is taken up with a critical analysis of Swinburne’s ideas. His argumentation style, much like the opening of the book, often involves particular dilemmas, followed by why each horn of the dilemma is problematic.

For dilemma 3 above, the danger of choosing e is choosing methodology that has no respectability among intellectuals, while the danger of f is that it opens God up to empirical disconfirmation. The exercise begins by seeing whether Swinburne is successful in casting God as a successful theory in the way scientific theories are.

Swinburne’s approach is correct, but unfortunately God is not up to the task of being a proper scientific theory.

There are obstacles to this, such as God being an irreducible analogy, or using personal terms to describe something that doesn’t fit our use of personal language. To examine Swinburne’s inductive argument, he sets aside his earlier criticisms before forcefully showing the problems with Swinburne’s approach. Some of the errors are quite technical, such as whether some of Swinburne’s arguments are successful C-inductive arguments, but there’s a lot of food for thought at each stage.

The end result predictably ;hilipse that Swinburne’s approach simply doesn’t have the predictive power attributed to it. Like Plantinga’s argument, there were times when the exercise bordered on the absurd. God being the simplest thing there is because infinites are simpler than non-infinites mathematically. Philipse deals with this argument early, but as a justification this keeps coming up in Swinburne’s inductive argument.

One could simply point out that since there is no way of measuring God, there is no way of knowing how simple God is, but the joke goes beyond the pale when Swinburne insists that infinite things are simpler than finite things of the same kind. It takes a lot of complexity to have finite persons with finite knowledge, but an infinite person with infinite knowledge is simple?!

It’s a tough question to answer. There are many ways of addressing the truth scisnce of religion, and whether one feels it’s worth digging into this book depends on whether natural theology is seen kn the best way to assess the truth. This is in contrast to revealed theology the specific doctrines of theistic religions and in contrast to the idea that theology is a pseudodiscipline.


Philipse does his best to argue for the relevance of natural theology as philpise approach one ought to take, and he aimed at the best natural theology has to offer in his arguments.

The end result is something quite technical, but still full of interesting approaches to particular problem. The arguments themselves cover a wide range of philosophical topics, covering not only philosophy of religion, but questions of language, epistemology, mathematics, and meaning.

Sscience that light, the case for natural theology is not as esoteric as it seems prima facie. One of the strengths of the book is that it pushes the issue of theology in the scientific age, and is full of philipze facing afe at each potential turn. In that respect, the book is incredibly useful for the current debate about whether science and religion are compatible.

Anyone who sceince an interest on this question will find this book invaluable.

However, this is not a book about how religion is practised, nor is it a book about revealed theology, and the arguments sometimes get bogged down in logical problems when empirical arguments would have been more to the point.

And for those who see believing in God as an act of faith, there will be nothing in this book to change their minds. But for those who find the question interesting, and for those who seek a modern understanding of how to address the question, this book is well worth reading. This is absolutely the best book on this subject.

Philipse tackles religion from an epistemilogical point of view whereas most of the ‘new atheists’ write from a non-philosophical pamphlet point of view, for example: Dawkins’ God Delusion, Hitchens’ God is not great.

God in the Age of Science? – Hardcover – Herman Philipse – Oxford University Press

Philipse explores the four options a This is absolutely the best book on this subject. Philipse explores the four options a believer has by explaining the strongest arguments made by theologians who adhere to these various positions. After explaining their positions, he points to the fallacies in their arguments. In doing so he presents a very strong case gox atheism.

God in the Age of Science?

This book is exhaustive in the author’s words in that it covers all the options and the best arguments for religious belief. The downside to this is the philosophical ‘deepness’ ecience the book. Oct 06, Joshua Centanni rated it it was ok Shelves: Not the best thing I’ve ever read. Not the worst either. Philipse is a big fan of probability calculus, false dichotomies and dismissing opinions that differ from his. That being said, he does pose some interesting difficulties for folks who are big into natural theology.

Mar 26, Ester marked it as to-read Shelves: Recommended by Richard Dawkins.

Jan 19, Dennis rated it it was amazing Shelves: Heavy reading from the first paragraph, but excellent. Perhaps too academic for most. Probably the best ones on the subject, and certainly the most expensive: Stefan rated it it was amazing Jan 22, Bernard Neary rated it really liked it Feb 21, Martijn Leeuw rated it it was amazing Sep 14, Rainer rated it it was ok Mar 13, Jon Good rated it really liked it Nov 24,