I don’t usually accept “challenges” to read this or that religious or philosophical tome, all guaranteed to remove the scales from my eyes, but this one merits mention.
Besides the many comments prompted by the CfI post, I received several private emails. One came from a philosopher whose identity I’ll keep confidential. The person wrote me arguing that the very best arguments for the existence of God come not from theology but from the analytical philosophy of religion. He/she also recommends two books that give the best a.p. arguments for God. With the philosopher’s permission, I’m posting excerpts of the email in hopes that people will either read these books or comment here if they’ve already read them:
Further on in the post you say that you have tried to keep up with theology, but have found only obfuscation where the arguments for God's existence are concerned. I have my own beefs with modern theology, but my point here is just that this is the wrong place to look for interesting arguments for God's existence! (Theologians, after all, tend to *presuppose* God's existence, working out more detailed understandings of the world fed by that presupposition. That is their job.) So what's the right place? Analytical philosophy of religion. I find a surprising ignorance among many today who comment about God concerning this source of sophisticated argumentation about God's existence. I have my beefs with many analytical philosophers of religion, too, who are believers and whose philosophizing is most fundamentally motivated not by a love of understanding but by a love of God. However it's just a fact that this believing sub-group, fired by its religious loyalties and a newfound intellectual toughmindedness, has in the last few decades managed to produce more impressive arguments for God's existence, and for the rationality of theistic belief (which some are saying can be defended without arguments for God's existence), than have ever been seen before. There are some extremely smart people in this group. I'm not saying any of their arguments is *successful*, all things considered. But no inquiry into belief in God can get anywhere close to the level of sophistication readers of your book are enabled to achieve without engaging these arguments seriously. . .
So who should you be reading? I'd suggest Richard Swinburne's *The Existence of God,* for one. (And really *read* it, instead of taking your lead from those who say they have done so but who may be uncomprehending or poorly motivated. I have been amazed to find, from misinterpretations of my own work by believers, how badly many people read. As serious intellectuals, I suggest that we should repay evil with good here!) Another, quite different, work is William P. Alston's *Perceiving God: The Epistemology of Religious Experience.* These two are probably good enough for a start. Either work may well irritate you or leave you dissatisfied in various ways. But I predict that if you approach it with an open mind, it won't elicit the sort of commentary that other believers' works have occasioned in your posts. Instead, I expect you will manage more respect -- thereby achieving (in my opinion at least!) a deeper respectability.
So, I guess I’ll be reading these in the fullness of time. I suspect, however, that even if we find better arguments for the existence of God, we won’t see good arguments for the truth of Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, or any other specific faith. I’ll add that, as a scientist, I’m dubious that any argument for God’s existence can be convincing without some empirical evidence. After all, even the assertions of theoretical physics require empirical confirmation.