Book Review: Thinking About God: First Steps in Philosophy
by Greg West
If you’re like me, you might find just the very word, ‘philosophy’, somewhat intimidating. I never took any philosophy courses in high school, and I didn’t go far enough in college to even have to consider taking one while I was there. It wasn’t until much later when my interest in apologetics started to bloom that I was even remotely interested in philosophy and now that I’m deeper into the subject, I see that philosophy is not only something that should be of interest to everyone, but that it is absolutely essential for the budding apologist.
I used to think that philosophy was nothing more than the study of some deep thoughts and sayings from a bunch of crusty old dead dudes like Plato, Aristotle, or Rene Descartes, who is famous for coming up with, “I think, therefore I am.” I already knew that! I didn’t need to study philosophy to be able to prove my own existence, I just had to look in the mirror.
Now that I’m a little older and much much much wiser (tongue firmly planted in cheek), I now regret not taking a closer look at what some of those crusty old dudes, and even some less crusty living dudes, had to say not just about ‘thinking’, but ‘thinking about thinking’ (ouch, my brain is hurting already)— and now I’m having to play catch up!
Where to start? Take my advice and don’t start with Plato’s Republic, or even Socrates for Dummies, because because the first one will either strain your brain or put you to sleep, and the second one doesn’t even exist (at least I ‘think’ it doesn’t, therefore it… oh, never mind). The best place to start, especially for the Christian interested in learning how to defend the faith, is with Gregory Ganssle’s, Thinking About God: First Steps in Philosophy.
Thinking About God is not just another book that lays out the philosophical arguments for the existence of God and the truth claims of Christianity, it is an introduction to critical thinking, which is really what philosophy is all about-- learning how to think critically-- which is not to be confused, as it often is, with ‘skepticism’. When the skeptic says, “I’m a skeptic, therefore I’m a critical thinker”, they couldn’t be further from the truth-- philosophically speaking that is-- anyway, I digress…
While this book does cover some of the basic arguments for the existence of God such as, reasons to believe in God; objective morality; and the problem of evil, the main purpose of the book is not so much to give you the answers to these issues, but to teach us how you can ‘think’ better about these issues and others. As Ganssle puts it, “The real problem is not whether we can think about God, but whether we will think well or poorly about God.”
If you’re looking for a great introductory level book on philosophy and critical thinking, especially if you are interested in learning apologetics, then I highly recommend this book— at least I think I do, so therefore I do!
From the Publisher: Can we really think about God? Can we prove God’s existence? Are there good reasons to believe in the Christian God? What about evil? Can we really know with our finite minds anything for sure about a transcendent God? Can we avoid thinking about God? The real problem, says philosopher Gregory E. Ganssle, is not whether we can think about God, but whether we will think well or poorly about God. Admittedly there is a lot of bad thinking going around. But Ganssle, who teaches students, wants to help us think better, especially about God. He thinks philosophy can actually help and lays the groundwork for clear and careful thinking, providing us an introductory guide to doing philosophy. If you're looking for your first book for thinking clearly and carefully about God, then you'll appreciate the good thinking found in this book!
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