The Six Best Books on God

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This page contains a list of the six best books on God. Finding good introductory philosophy books can be difficult for two reasons. First, searching google for recommendations usually doesn’t bring up anything useful. Second, phrases like “best books on God” are ambiguous. One person may be looking for a short, beginner friendly introduction, someone else may want a comprehensive academic overview, a third person may be looking for classic works on God. This list tries to account for this ambiguity by recommending different types of books on God. Here are the best books on God in no particular order:

Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion – David Hume

Category: Classic | Length: 160 pages | Originally Published: 1779

Publisher description: In the posthumously published Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, the Enlightenment philosopher David Hume attacked many of the traditional arguments for the existence of God, expressing the belief that religion is founded on ignorance and irrational fears. Though calm and courteous in tone – at times even tactfully ambiguous – the conversations between Hume’s vividly realized fictional figures form perhaps the most searching case ever mounted against orthodox Christian theological thinking and the ‘deism’ of the time, which pointed to the wonders of creation as conclusive evidence of God’s Design. Hume’s characters debate these issues with extraordinary passion, lucidity and humour, in one of the most compelling philosophical works ever written.

An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion – Brian Davies

Category: General Introduction | Length: 344 pages | Published: 2004 (3e)

Publisher description: The third edition of An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion provides a critical examination of some fundamental questions posed by religious belief: What does belief in God amount to? Can God’s existence be proved? Is there life after death?

Brian Davies considers these questions and many others, sometimes offering provocative answers of his own, but more often giving readers room to each independent conclusions. He explains how a range of thinkers have approached the subject — including Anselm, Aquinas, Descartes, Leibniz, Hume, and Kant — and also discusses how contemporary author now engage with the issues involved. Completely revised to cover the latest developments in the field, the new edition of this established textbook will prove the ideal introduction for all students of the philosophy of religion.

Arguing about Gods – Graham Oppy

Category: General Introduction | Length: 472 pages | Published: 2009

Publisher description: In this book, Graham Oppy examines arguments for and against the existence of God. He shows that none of these arguments is powerful enough to change the minds of reasonable participants in debates on the question of the existence of God. His conclusion is supported by detailed analyses of the arguments as well as by the development of a theory about the purpose of arguments and the criteria that should be used in judging whether or not arguments are successful. Oppy discusses the work of a wide array of philosophers, including Anselm, Aquinas, Descartes, Locke, Leibniz, Kant, Hume and, more recently, Plantinga, Dembski, White, Dawkins, Bergman, Gale and Pruss.

Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Religion – C. Meister & P. Copan

Category: Comprehensive Textbook | Length: 848 pages | Published: 2012 (2e)

Publisher description: The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Religion, Second edition is an indispensable guide and reference source to the major themes, movements, debates and topics in philosophy of religion. Considerably expanded for the second edition, over seventy entries from a team of renowned international contributors are organized into nine clear parts:

  • philosophical issues in world religions
  • key figures in philosophy of religion
  • religious diversity
  • the theistic conception of God
  • arguments for the existence of God
  • arguments against the existence of God
  • philosophical theology
  • Christian theism
  • recent topics in philosophy of religion.

Covering key world religions including Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam, and key figures such as Augustine, Aquinas and Kierkegaard, the Companion explores the central topics in theism such as the ontological, cosmological and teleological arguments for God’s existence. Three final parts consider Catholicism, Protestantism, Eastern orthodoxy and current debates including phenomenology, reformed epistemology, religious experience, and religion and science, making the Companion as a whole essential reading for students of philosophy or religion, and suitable for anyone coming to the subject for the first time.

This second edition includes new chapters on Blaise Pascal, Baruch Spinoza, Interreligious Dialogue, Death and the Afterlife, Incorporeality, Religion and Global Ethics, New Religious Movements, Religion and the Environment, and Religion and Film.

Five Proofs of the Existence of GodEdward Feser

Category: Contemporary | Length: 336 pages | Published: 2017

Publisher description: This book provides a detailed, updated exposition and defense of five of the historically most important (but in recent years largely neglected) philosophical proofs of God’s existence: the Aristotelian, the Neo-Platonic, the Augustinian, the Thomistic, and the Rationalist.

It also offers a thorough treatment of each of the key divine attributes—unity, simplicity,  eternity, omnipotence, omniscience, perfect goodness, and so forth—showing that they  must be possessed by the God whose existence is demonstrated by the proofs.  Finally, it answers at length all of the objections that have been leveled against these proofs.

This work provides as ambitious and complete a defense of traditional natural theology as is currently in print.  Its aim is to vindicate the view of the greatest philosophers of the past— thinkers like Aristotle, Plotinus, Augustine, Aquinas, Leibniz, and many others— that the existence of God can be established with certainty by way of purely rational arguments.  It thereby serves as a refutation both of atheism and of the fideism that gives aid and comfort to atheism.

The Miracle of Theism: Arguments For and Against the Existence of God – J. L. Mackie

Category: Contemporary | Length: 288 pages | Published: 1983

Publisher description: This book discusses, carefully but in a way that the general reader can follow, the main arguments for and against the existence of God. These include the traditional ontological, cosmological, and design arguments, the arguments from consciousness and from morality, and on the other side the problem of evil.

 


This list was created by following a method that I’ve found to be useful when searching for introductory philosophy books. It involves:

  • browsing required reading lists on university course syllabi
  • searching for books using the Open Syllabus Project
  • browsing the bibliographies of articles on the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  • searching for recommendations on philosophy forums

The following sources were used to build this list:

University Course Syllabi:

Bibliographies:

Other Recommendations:

If you’d like to learn more about philosophical views on God, check out:

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