Written by Jason Petersen
Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview is a book authored by William Lane Craig and JP Moreland. Dr. Craig is known as one of the world’s leading Christian apologists. He specializes in the Philosophy of Time and Space. He is known for strengthening the premises of the Kalam Cosmological Argument. Dr. Moreland is an expert in metaphysics and is known for his defense of the soul. Both of these men are accomplished Christian philosophers that have published numerous books and articles in peer reviewed philosophy journals. Both of them are analytic philosophers. This means that they heavily emphasize logic and clarity of argument.
Some Concerns in Regards to Readability
This book is identified as an introduction to philosophy book; however, I would disagree. This book goes a bit beyond what some intro to philosophy classes would go in some respects. While terms that are being taught in the book are clearly defined, some of the chapters are very heavy on philosophical jargon. Unfortunately, some of these words are not defined. This may make it difficult for some readers to fully comprehend what is being taught in the book. Of course, any reader can look up any definition that they don’t understand online or in a thesaurus if they so desire. I would recommend “Introduction to Philosophy” by Norman Geisler and Paul Feinberg for a more introductory text.
Fortunately, if you are able to take the time to read and study this book, you will have a greatly enhanced vocabulary. You will be able to define and explain philosophical terms clearly. If you are in an apologetic situation and someone is talking about their views, you will be able to identify which views they are appealing to. If you already have studied philosophy either as a layman or academically, you should be able to get through this book.
The Apologetics Section
It is likely that if you are interested in philosophy as a Christian, then you are likely interested in apologetics. This book dedicated two sections to the existence of God. Anyone who knows Craig and Moreland should already be aware that this book takes a classical approach. The arguments covered are:
1.) The Kalam Cosmological Argument
2.) The Teleological Argument
3.) The Ontological Argument
4.) The Axiological(moral) Argument
These arguments will be satisfying to those who have never read up on the classical arguments for the existence of God; however, anyone who has read On Guard or Reasonable Faith will not get very much out of this section, as the points made are very similar to the aforementioned texts. No arguments concerning the reliability of the Gospels or the resurrection of Jesus Christ is mentioned in this book. Of course, this is likely because this is a philosophy book.
One other helpful section for apologists will be the section on logic. Be warned, parts of it can get quite advanced and most readers will likely not understand the entire section. However, most of the section is relatively easy to understand. Much effort is put towards explaining the rules of inferences in arguments. The efforts that the authors give to explain the rules of inferences are easy to follow.
The Problem of Skepticism?
Much of the section on epistemology(the study of knowledge) focuses on the problem of skepticism. The problem of skepticism is basically the question: “How can we know anything?” This seems to be a silly question, but this question has been nagging at philosophers for years. Some philosophers are so tired of dealing with the question, that they ignore the question all together. In this book, Craig and Moreland offer two competing philosophies:
1.) Foundationalism-Basically, if you have good reasons to believe something, then you are rational to accept it.
2.) Coherentism-You are justified in saying you can have knowledge if all of your beliefs are coherent with one another.
The main problem that these two areas try to address in regards to skepticism is to avoid an infinite regress of “How do you know?” type of questions. For instance, one can answer, I know A because of B because of C because of D…to infinity. Both foundationalism and coherentism are attempts to get out of this infinite regress. The authors of this book clearly endorse foundationalism over coherentism. Unfortunately, I disagree with Craig and Moreland’s conclusion that foundationalism avoids an infinite regress. If you must explain what reasons you have to be justified in believing something(B), then this does not get you out of an infinite regress. This is because you would likewise have to give an explanation for the preceding claim(A) that justifies the first claim that you explained, then so on and so forth. I have a solution to the problem of skepticism, but it will not be explained in this article.
Other than what was mentioned before, the section on epistemology is detailed and many terms are given to memorize. Whether or not you agree with the authors’ conclusions, you will come out of the section with strong understanding of epistemology and the issues surrounding it.
Secondary Theological Issues
How could a Christian Philosophy book not explain some of the central doctrines of Christianity? Fortunately, the authors have numerous sections in the book that explains the doctrines of Christianity. Be aware that the authors do not come at this section with a neutral standpoint, their acceptance of Molinism is very apparent. Many Christians will likely not have a problem with this, but this makes calvinists like myself cringe. Also, the issue of free will is covered at length. The authors endorse a libertarian form of free will. Those that accept things such as compatibilism will find themselves in heavy disagreement with the authors in this section. Despite some of the nuances in regards to secondary doctrinal issues, the authors do a great job of explaining the central doctrines of Christianity. Anyone who gets through this section will likely feel more confident in explaining Christianity to others.
Many areas in philosophy are covered in this book. The authors do not approach issues neutrally, but one should not expect any Christian philosopher to do so. In fact, if one were to look for philosophy books where philosophers do not insert their own biases, they would be looking for a long time! Throughout each section and chapter, objections that are given to each views are discussed at length. This is a very dense book. By this, I mean there is a lot of information. It is recommended that anyone who read through this book take their time getting through it. While I disagreed with a lot of what was said in the book, I got a lot out of reading it. I have been studying philosophy as a layperson since 2010, and this book has really sharpened my knowledge on philosophy. I was assigned this text book in one of my philosophy classes at Columbia Evangelical Seminary, and after reading the book I can see why. I’d recommend this book to anyone who has studied philosophy, but wants a better understanding of it. Again, I caution people that plan on making this the first philosophy book they read. I’d recommend reading a more simple intro to philosophy book before tackling Philosophical Foundations for A Christian Worldview if you are new to philosophy.