Bertrand Russell famously quipped that he didn’t believe in God for the same reason that he didn’t believe in a teapot in orbit between the earth and Mars: it is a bizarre assertion for which no evidence can be provided. Is belief in God really like belief in Russell’s teapot? Kenneth L. Pearce argues that God is no teapot. God is a real answer to the deepest question of all: why is there something rather than nothing? Graham Oppy argues that we should believe that there are none but natural causal entities with none but natural causal properties—and hence should believe that there are no gods. Beginning from this basic disagreement, the authors proceed to discuss and debate a wide range of philosophical questions, including questions about explanation, necessity, rationality, religious experience, mathematical objects, the foundations of ethics, and the methodology of philosophy. Each author first presents his own side, and then they interact through two rounds of objections and replies.
Pedagogical features include standard form arguments, section summaries, bolded key terms and principles, a glossary, and annotated reading lists. In the volume foreword, Helen De Cruz calls the debate "both edifying and a joy," and sums up what’s at stake: "Here you have two carefully formulated positive proposals for worldviews that explain all that is: classical theism, or naturalistic atheism. You can follow along with the authors and deliberate: which one do you find more plausible?"
Though written with beginning students in mind, this debate will be of interest to philosophers at all levels and to anyone who values careful, rational thought about the nature of reality and our place in it.
Table of Contents
Foreword: Worldview comparison and religious commitment
Helen De Cruz
1. Classical Theism: An Exposition and Defense
2. Are There Any Gods?
First Round of Replies
3. Reply to Graham Oppy’s Opening Statement
4. Reply to Kenny Pearce’s Opening Statement
Second Round of Replies
5. Reply to Graham Oppy's Reply
6. Reply to Kenny Pearces’s Reply
Graham Oppy, FAHA, is Professor of Philosophy at Monash University in Australia. His authored books include Arguing About Gods (2006), Philosophical Perspectives on Infinity (2006), The Best Argument Against God (2013), Describing Gods (2014), Reinventing Philosophy of Religion (2014), Naturalism and Religion (2018), Atheism and Agnosticism (2018), and Atheism: The Basics (2019).
Kenneth L. Pearce is Ussher Assistant Professor in Berkeley Studies at Trinity College Dublin. He has published extensively on philosophy of religion and the history of early modern philosophy, and was the winner of the 2016 Sanders Prize in Philosophy of Religion. He is the author of Language and the Structure of Berkeley’s World (2017) and co-editor (with Tyron Goldschmidt) of Idealism: New Essays in Metaphysics (2017).
Helen De Cruz is Professor of Philosophy and the Danforth Chair in the Humanities at Saint Louis University, USA.
"Kenneth Pearce and Graham Oppy are first-rate philosophers of religion. This book offers an engaging and fruitful dialogue between a theist and an atheist, addressing all key concepts and arguments in the contemporary debate on the existence of God. I recommend the book to all readers who are interested in studying both sides of the debate."
Yujin Nagasawa, H. G. Wood Professor of the Philosophy of Religion, University of Birmingham, U.K.
"This exchange between Oppy and Pearce represents the finest in philosophical inquiry. Together they create a new chandelier with structure and detail as they systematically discuss questions of worldview along the cutting edge of philosophical inquiry. Their exchange is professional, productive, and elegant."
Joshua Rasmussen, Department of Philosophy, Azusa Pacific University, U.S.A.