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The God Dialogues


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Table of Contents

Preface: Acknowledgments: 1. Outside Boston: God, Value, and Meaning Searching for Meaning Atheism, Agnosticism, and Theism The Argument from Morality The Euthyphro Question Limits on God's Power Good as Part of the Divine Nature Angels, Devils, and Knowing Which is Which The Meaning of What? 2. Niagara, New York: Design and Evolution The Grandeur of the Falls Paley's Argument from Analogy The Argument from Design Creation vs. Chance Creation vs. Evolution Natural Selection and Chance The Support for Evolution The Challenge of Irreducible Complexity Assessing Probabilities The Panda's Thumb 3. From Niagara To Chicago: Life and Fine-Tuning The Argument from Life Arguing from Ignorance Scientific Progress on the Origins of Life The Argument from Consciousness The Probability of Life's Emergence The Limits of Science The Fine-Tuning Argument Selection Bias The Multiple-Universes Hypothesis The Belief in Our Own Specialness The Problem of Prior Probabilities A Finely-Tuned God 4. Chicago, Illinois, outside the Adler Planetarium: The Cosmological Argument The Provocative Planetarium The Cosmological Argument, First Pass The Big Bang A Contradiction in the Premises Another Pass The Principle of Sufficient Reason Quantum Indeterminacy Infinite Pasts and Infinite Beings The Double Standard The Argument from Contingency Divine Freedom More Double Standards The Burden of Proof and the Missing Keys 5. Chicago, Illinois, in the Hotel: The Ontological Argument The Ontological Argument Anselm and the Fool Places of the Mind God and the Representation of God Dreaming of Elvis Gaunilo's Perfect Island Kant's Diagnosis Possible Worlds and the Necessity of God The Impossibility of God Imagination and Possibility 6. Somewhere in Iowa: Religious Experience, Testimony, and Miracles The Ghost of Shoeless Joe Testimony and Miracles The Bible as Authority Other Authorities Religious Experience Experience and Evidence The Psychology of Religious Experience Explaining Experience Hume on Miracles 7. Holcomb, Kansas: The Problem of Evil Murder, from Kansas to Kitty Genovese The Problem of Evil Omniomniomni The Free Will Response Circumventing Freedom The Problem of Natural Disasters Dark Clouds and Silver Linings The Dependence of Good on Evil The World as a Moral Proving Ground Evil in the Big Picture The Ship, The Captain, and the Grounds of Reasonable Belief 8. Las Vegas, Nevada: Pascal's Wager Pascal's Wager Prudential vs. Evidential Reasons The Possibility and Legitimacy of Prudential Belief Dominance and the Case for Gun Ownership The Many-Gods Objection 9. California: Faith and the Rationality of Belief in God The Weight of Combined Arguments Kierkegaard and Heroic Leaps of Faith The Dangers of Faith Alternative Conceptions of God Religion as Metaphor The Dangers of Metaphor Faith and Moral Disagreement The Golden Gate Reading Suggestions: Sources of Quotations: Index:

About the Author

Torin Alter is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Alabama. Robert J. Howell is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Southern Methodist University. They are the coauthors of A Dialogue on Consciousness (OUP, 2008).


"This is a splendid book. The authors have thorough and up-to-date knowledge of the material, and their negotiation of the overall dialectic is extremely sharp. It will be the best introductory text on this topic on the market. The dialogues present a fair and balanced account of the arguments, and for that reason the book will be an attractive option, even in conjunction with an anthology."--Derk Pereboom, Cornell University "The greatest strength of the book is its combination of readability with commendable thoroughness in the topics undertaken. The level is generally perfect for introducing this material to undergraduates."--J. Gregory Keller, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis "A darn good book." --Robert Gressis, California State University, Northridge

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