TALKING GOD by Gary Gutting
Kirkus Star


Philosophers on Belief
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Approachable, civilized discussions about the existence of God.

Gutting (Philosophy/Univ. of Notre Dame; What Philosophy Can Do, 2015, etc.) presents a collection of conversations with other philosophers, all of which originally appeared in The Stone, the philosophy blog of the New York Times. Interested in learning why most professional philosophers self-identify as atheist, as opposed to agnostic, the author interviewed a representative set of philosophers to learn their views about theism. The result is a fascinating, meaningful set of conversations that will intrigue believers and nonbelievers alike. After discussing theism and atheism broadly with Alvin Plantinga and Louise Antony, Gutting moves on to philosophical and academic topics as they apply to the subject of God: deconstruction (John Caputo), naturalism (Howard Wettstein), pragmatism (Philip Kitcher), cosmology/physics (Tim Maudlin), evolution (Michael Ruse), epistemology (Keith DeRose), and history (Daniel Garber). Gutting also realizes that the debate over God in the Western academy too often centers on the Judeo-Christian concept of divinity. Consequently, he also reached out to philosophers of other faith traditions in search of a balanced discussion: Islam (Sajjad Rizvi), Hinduism (Jonardon Ganeri), and Buddhism (Jay Garfield). Gutting and his collaborators present a welcome respite to the vitriolic works of the New Atheists—Hitchens, Dawkins et al.—offering reasoned, civil, and fair explorations of timeless issues. In each case, whether theist, agnostic, or atheist, the interlocutors discuss with respect for opposing views and with humility for what questions can and cannot be fully answered. Rather than seeing the argument as a contest to be won or lost, these philosophers honor the reality that larger issues of justice and morality are at play. As Kitcher puts it, “let’s be inspired by the world’s collection of religious metaphors insofar as they help us improve the human situation. Humanism first, atheism second.”

An exceptional introduction to the philosophical questions surrounding God and atheism.

Pub Date: Nov. 22nd, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-393-35281-8
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2016


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