A debut book reconsiders God in light of the philosophical strides taken in modernity.
The last 400 years ushered in not only massive technological innovation, but also a tectonic revision of the philosophical, scientific, and cultural prisms through which individuals see the world. But Hill argues that insufficient attention has been drawn to similarly dramatic changes in the way the concept of God has been reworked. First, the author examines the revolution of intellectual thought that took place between 1600 and 1900, one that ultimately shook the metaphysical foundations that underpin a traditional notion of a personal, transcendent God. Hill furnishes a familiar but artfully concise philosophical history of modern thought that ranges from Newtonian Deism through Darwinian evolution to Nietzsche’s astonishingly bold announcement of the death of God. The author also examines the contributions made by the postmodern discovery of the elusiveness of an objective reality, and the scientific and exegetical innovations that undermine biblical history, and as an extension, scriptural authority. Hill then considers the fresh interpretations of God offered by three major post-Christian thinkers—Paul Tillich, Lloyd Geering, and John Shelby Spong—all of whom attempted to update the concept of God to meet the current state of scientific knowledge. The author finally discusses two different permutations of pantheism that also try to refashion God into something both scientifically legitimate and spiritually meaningful. Hill’s exposition is a fine example of scrupulously rigorous scholarship—it is remarkable how much ground is covered within his brief historical survey. In addition, he discusses a wide range of academically abstruse subjects in consistently lucid, nontechnical prose. The primary value of this study is as a condensed introduction to the subject—Hill’s meticulousness as a historian outstretches his originality as a philosopher. He also sometimes permits himself a facile reduction of a torturously complex issue to oversimplified parts: “Yet God is really just a symbolic word that references all that we sense exists in our experience but that we are unable to identify.”
An impressive and accessible introduction to a challenging philosophical topic.