Does God Exist?

25 December 2005

In Does God Exist, J.P. Moreland and Kai Nielsen debate the issue of God’s existence and the issue of moral knowledge. Unfortunately, the individual chapters are too short to develop much substance, and the debate participants often talk past each other. Thankfully, the two atheist respondents (Antony Flew and Keith Parsons) and the two theist respondents (William Lane Craig and Dallas Willard) add quite a bit of substance to the book.

In the main debate, Moreland uses a variety of arguments to support his contention that it is rational to be a theist. For the most part, his case revolves around the Cosmological Argument and the Argument from Christ’s Resurrection, but he also alludes to the Teleological Argument, the Argument from Biblical Reliability, and the Argument from Personal Experience. Nielsen, however, takes a different approach to the debate- he focuses on only one argument for atheism. It is Nielsen’s contention that the Christian God is not coherently defined. If such were the case, then Christian theism would be utterly irrational.

In the main debate, Nielsen doesn’t really answer Moreland’s arguments at all. He dismisses them with the pompous claim that he has “dealt with them before”. On the other hand, although to a lesser extent, Moreland does not address Nielsen’s claims sufficiently, in my opinion. The result is a debate in which the participants are speaking past each other.

The four respondents comment on the debate, and for the most part they all give a solid contribution. The two atheistic respondents actually respond to Moreland’s arguments, although Moreland later deals with their objections very well. William Lane Craig gives an objective analysis of the debate. He concludes, as I do, that there is very little “clash” between the participants, and that this is mostly Nielsen’s fault. He also adds a great discussion of the Teleological Argument. Willard offers a well-written essay, although it seems a little misplaced.

Overall, Does God Exist is an interesting read, but ultimately not recommended. There are much better resources out there.


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