Saturday, 9 July 2016

The most important contemporary analytic philosophers of religion: An opinionated list


This is by no means an exhaustive list, but these philosophers and their works represent some of the best material available on philosophy of religion. Some of the philosophers listed here have worked outside of the mentioned specializations, e.g. Alex Pruss worked on sexual ethics, Robin Collins on argument from consciousness, Robert Adams on problem of evil, Stephen Evans on Divine command ethics, William Lane Craig on many other issues, and so on.

Also, as mentioned in the title, this is an opinionated list, depending on the scope of my readings as well as the degree to which I was convinced by various treatments. Readers may note I have not included any treatment on the ontological argument, since I find that argument uninteresting in apologetics. In addition, I haven't mentioned WLC's resources for the Kalam Cosmological Argument, because I think his work in that area leaves something to be desired. Nor have I included Al Plantinga under Religious Epistemology (or anywhere else, for that matter). I haven't included any material on the more epistemological arguments for theism e.g. argument from reason, evolutionary argument against naturalism, mathematical applicability and scientific discoverability of the universe, and so forth because of my scant readings in that field. I hear Vic Reppert and Robin Collins are good bets though.

There are also some areas where I just don't think a philosopher of a high enough caliber has risen to fame yet. Obvious example is biological design arguments- I respect these arguments immensely, and I'm an avid reader of folks like Stephen Meyer and Fazale Rana, but I just don't think their work has rigor of the sort found in these other philosophers. Another example of this sort is Mark Baker's work in Philosophy of Language. John Foster is an incredibly innovative philosopher and he has produced an argument for God's existence based on the existence of laws (basically a revamped version of Aquinas' fifth way)- but I didn't find that as convincing as I find, say, Alex Pruss or Robin Collins' arguments. This list is only about the best treatments available. In that way, it's a very restricted reading and again, should not be thought exhaustive.

With those out of the way-

1. Alexander Pruss (Cosmological arguments)- notable for Principle of Sufficient Reason: A Reassessment, Necessary Existence (forthcoming, co-authored with Joshua Rasmussen), Infinity, Causation and Paradox (forthcoming), The Leibnizian Cosmological Argument (essay, published in Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology);

2. Robin Collins (Fine-tuning argument)- notable for The Teleological Argument: An Exploration of the Fine-Tuning of the Universe (essay, published in the aforementioned Blackwell), The Fine-tuning for Life, Technology, and Discovery: The Scientific Evidence (forthcoming);

3. J. P. Moreland (Argument from consciousness)- notable for Consciousness and the Existence of God: A Theistic Argument;

4. Stephen Braude (Argument from religious experience)- notable for ESP and Psychokinesis: A Philosophical Examination, Immortal Remains;

5. Peter van Inwagen (Problem of Evil)- notable for The Problem of Evil (book), The Problem of Evil, the Problem of Air, and the Problem of Silence (essay, published in The Evidential Argument from Evil, sequel to the essay with responses to contentions published in the same volume),

6. Michael Murray (Problem of animal suffering, Divine Hiddenness, Evolutionary explanations for religious belief)- notable for Nature Red in Tooth and Claw: Theism and the Problem of Animal Suffering, Deus Absconditus (essay, published in Divine Hiddenness: New Essays), Scientific explanations of religion and the justifications for religious belief (essay, published in The Believing Primate: Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Reflections on the Origin of Religion), Evolutionary accounts of religion: Explaining and explaining away (essay, published in The Believing Primate);

7. Robert Merrihew Adams (Divine Command Theory of ethics)- notable for Finite and Infinite Goods: A Framework for Ethics, A Theory of Virtue: Excellence in being for the Good;

8. C. Stephen Evans (Religious epistemology)- notable for Natural Signs and the Knowledge of God;

9. William Lane Craig (coherence of theism)- notable for Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom: The Coherence of Theism, God, Time, and Eternity: The Coherence of Theism.

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