What do I think of Jerry Walls and Trent Dougherty’s book published by Oxford University Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Around thirty or so years ago, Alvin Plantinga gave a talk on two dozen arguments for the existence of God. It’s my understanding these were brief synopses of some arguments. Some Plantinga favored and some he didn’t. These are also generally outside of the usual classical traditional arguments. You won’t find the Thomist arguments in there and Bill Craig adds in the Kalam and the moral argument isn’t there as much and even the fine-tuning argument has some updating to it.
Now that topic has been fleshed out further and each of these arguments has a fuller explanation of it given. Some arguments people will like more than others. Each should give the reader something to think about. It will be interesting to see what replies come from the other side in response to this project.
Let me start with a criticism here also. I consider myself a classical theologian and think in those philosophical terms. As it was, most of the arguments in the book then I did not understand the logic of. I don’t speak in terms of modal logic and possible worlds and much of the symbolism found did not make sense to me. This work then I would say is not really layman friendly. It would be nice to see another work done like this that would work on the popular level for the rest of us.
My favorite essay then in the book was actually Tim McGrew’s on the argument from miracles. This is because much of it spoke to my area of history and there were even side notes in there I can use such as problems with the argument from silence, a favorite of mythicists and others on the internet. Other arguments did give me something to think about when it came to things that I did understand.
Consider something like the argument from numbers. Does this point to an eternal mind? The same kind of idea could be at work in my debate with Dan Barker where Barker actually said that 2 + 2 = 4 was not true in the time of the dinosaurs. If that is the case, then that would mean all truths like that would be truths that depend on us for their making. If we make them, we can change them. That would also include the moral truths that Barker emphasizes such as behaviors he thinks are evil when done by God, which would refute his whole argument.
The book also has an appendix with a brief interview of Plantinga discussing various questions about the project. Many people could be interested in his answers to questions about day to day Christian living. There is a notes section at the end looking at the arguments in the book, but I found it unclear if this was Plantinga’s musings going on or something else.
Those who enjoy philosophy will appreciate this book, but I think it will be those who enjoy philosophy of a certain kind. For the layman, I recommend waiting for a version to come out friendly to the layman. I hope the editors will seriously consider that as it would be another great gift for the man in the pew.