Scaling the Secular City, though a bit old, is an extremely relevant and impressive apologetic work. J.P. Moreland’s thorough analysis and impressive scope make this book a must-see for the intellectual Christian.
In the first chapter, Moreland presents a powerful formulation and defense of the Cosmological Argument. He leaves few stones unturned as he covers almost all major objections to the argument (it is worth noting that many objections to the Cosmological Argument have been advanced in years after the publication of Moreland’s book). He presents numerous arguments for the impossibility of the existence of an infinite in the actual world, and it is here that he seems most impressive. Moreland follows this up with a discussion of the Design Argument. In this chapter he points out that there are many different versions of the Design Argument. For example, the theory of evolution, even if true, does not affect the Teleological Argument branch of the Design Argument (which infers design from the coincidence of hospitable cosmological constants.) He enunciates 11 different types of arguments. Unfortunately, he does not defend any in detail, but he does deal with many objections advanced against Design Arguments in general. Moreland finishes up his strong trio of arguments for God’s existence with a discussion of the mind. Substance dualism, argues Moreland, is the most reasonable stance to take and tends to lead one to theistic belief. With the evidence compiled from these three chapters, Christian theism finds itself on a strong foundation.
Moreland’s next chapter deals with the issue of the meaning of life. Here I find the logic to be solid, but I do not believe that the meaning of life has any direct implication upon the evidence for the existence of God. However, along the way, Moreland also argues for objective morality grounded in God’s nature, which I find to be a potentially valuable argument for God’s existence. His analysis of various moral systems is quite useful.
Moreland takes a break from the philosophical analysis in the next two chapters, where he deals with the issues of New Testament historicity and the resurrection of Christ, respectively. The resurrection of Christ is by far the most important issue concerning Christianity, and the discussion of the historicity of the New Testament is mainly just a subsidiary to the most important fact of Christianity- Christ’s bodily resurrection. Due to space limitations, Moreland’s discussion of this is somewhat limited, but he is nevertheless very thorough and precise in dealing with the evidence for this amazing event.
The last two chapters cover a variety of issues related to Christianity. The first of these two is a fairly in-depth analysis of the relation between science and Christianity. Moreland describes the various views about the nature of science, including realist and non-realist interpretations. This is followed up with a very fair analysis of the various interpretations of the first chapters of Genesis with regards to the origins debate. Moreland concludes that the Young-Earth interpretation is perhaps the most likely on a purely hermeneutical basis, but that other interpretations are viable options. Therefore, it is reasonable for a Christian to consider other options if certain theories fail to mesh with the scientific evidence. However, Moreland regards evolution theory as contradictory to Christianity (or, in the least, impossible to mesh with a responsible interpretation of the Bible). He offers some evidence against evolution, but this section is unfortunately not nearly detailed enough. The last chapter of the book deals with four issues of importance to Christianity, including a discussion of personal experiences and a section on moral relativism.
Overall, this work is very thorough, detailed, and objective. Moreland lays out the issues coherently, and pulls no punches as he offers his analysis. I loved Moreland’s style and layout for the book. The scope of the book is quite impressive. In addition, there is a very comprehensive listing of recommended further reading. Each book is identified as recommended for Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced readership. In conclusion, Scaling the Secular City is an impressive tour de force of apologetics. I highly recommend it for all Christians and sincere intellectual seekers.