Atheism and Theism

Philosophical Review 107 (3):462 (1998)


In this volume, the sixth in Blackwell's Great Debates in Philosophy series, Smart and Haldane discuss the case for and against religious belief. The debate is unusual in beginning with the negative side. After a short jointly authored introduction, there is a fairly extended presentation of the atheist position by Smart. Haldane then offers an equally extended defense of theism. The authors respond to one another in the same order, and the book concludes with a brief co-authored treatment of antirealism, which both reject. The discussion is broad-ranging, in part reflecting the size of the topic. It addresses the existence of God and the problem of evil, along with related issues having to do with God's nature and his involvement with the world: necessary being, eternity versus sempiternity, the relation between divine sovereignty and human freedom, and the possibility of miracles. But there is also discussion of subjects having to do with revealed religion, such as the reliability of scripture, and the roles of faith and reason in the life of the believer. The fact that the book commences with the case for atheism also contributes to its scope, since without a specific version of theism on which to focus, Smart has to aim broadly. The result is that topics that might otherwise have been ignored—moral arguments, and Pascal's wager, to cite two—are at least broached, though not pursued.

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Author Profiles

John Joseph Haldane
University of London
Hugh J. McCann
Texas A&M University
Jack Smart
Last affiliation: Monash University

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Citations of this work

God, Fine-Tuning, and the Problem of Old Evidence.Bradley Monton - 2006 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 57 (2):405-424.
Nontraditional Arguments for Theism.Chad A. McIntosh - 2019 - Philosophy Compass 14 (5):1-14.
Ways of Understanding Hugh MacColl's Concept of Symbolic Existence.Shahid Rahman - 1998 - Nordic Journal of Philosophical Logic 3:35-58.
Rational and Other Animals.John Haldane - 1996 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 41:17-28.

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