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God at the Crossroads of Worldviews

God at the Crossroads of Worldviews

Toward a Different Debate about the Existence of God

Paul Seungoh Chung

Debates about the existence of God persist but remain at an impasse between opposing answers. God at the Crossroads of Worldviews reframes the debate from a new perspective, characterizing the way these positions have been defined and defended not as wrong, per se, but rather as odd or awkward. Paul Chung begins with a general survey of the philosophical debate regarding the existence of God, particularly as the first cause, and how this involves a bewildering array of often-incommensurable positions that differ on the meaning of key concepts, criteria of justification, and even on where to start the discussion. According to Chung, these positions are in fact arguments both from and against larger, more comprehensive intellectual positions, which in turn comprise a set of rival “worldviews.” Moreover, there is no neutral rationality completely independent of these worldviews and capable of resolving complex intellectual questions, such as that of the existence of God.

Building from Alasdair MacIntyre’s writings on rival intellectual traditions, Chung proposes that to argue about God, we must first stand at the “crossroads” of the different intellectual journeys of the particular rival worldviews in the debate, and that the “discovery” of such a crossroad itself constitutes an argument about the existence of God. Chung argues that this is what Thomas Aquinas accomplished in his Five Ways, which are often misunderstood as simple “proofs.” From such crossroads, the debate may proceed toward a more fruitful exploration of the question of God’s existence. Chung sketches out one such crossroad by suggesting ways in which Christianity and scientific naturalism can begin a mutual dialogue from a different direction. God at the Crossroads of Worldviews will be read by philosophers of religion, advanced undergraduate and graduate students, and theologians and general readers interested in the new atheism debates.

“There is really no book to compare with God at the Crossroads of Worldviews. There are good books in the different areas of specialization that are involved in the discussion, but no book, to my knowledge, provides a comprehensive, systematic application of the new shift in theories of rationality to the debate on the existence of God between theists and scientific naturalists, and a new way of approaching the Five Ways as a result, which is precisely the original and significant contribution Paul Chung makes in this book.” — Anselm Min, Maguire Distinguished Professor of Religion, Claremont Graduate University

“This book begins with an engaging parable about arguments regarding the existence of a ‘benevolent ruler,’ showing that each explorer is asking a different question depending on different conceptions each holds on the nature of government. The point is to explain that arguments for or against the existence of God often end with participants talking past one another, in that they are working with background assumptions of different worldviews. Chung incorporates a number of ingenious arguments—including a new interpretation of what Thomas Aquinas’s ‘Five Ways’ were meant to accomplish—that together make a truly significant contribution to contemporary philosophy of religion. This is essential reading for everyone engaged in the troubling question of God.” — Nancey Claire Murphy, Fuller Theological Seminary

“Philosophers and theologians have debated the existence of God for centuries. God at the Crossroads of Worldviews is a truly remarkable book that tries to reshape the debate in a refreshingly new way. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in exploring distinct worldviews and their relations to the existence of God.” — Yujin Nagasawa, University of Birmingham

ISBN: 978-0-268-10056-8
300 pages
Publication Year: 2016

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Paul Seungoh Chung is a sessional lecturer at St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto.

“Chung insists that rationality arises within particular traditions that either compete with each other—where one tradition will win out—or can be synthesized and therefore complement each other. Using Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologica as an example of a synthesis, Chung explores similar gaps in contemporary outlooks, concluding with an outline of how one might proceed. This lively work will serve as a critical introduction for those [who] enjoy synthesizing both religious and secular viewpoints.” — Library Journal

“Chung shows that we can transform the argument for, or against, God’s existence . . . He completes the claim that the Thomistic synthesis of Greek and Augustine Catholic thought created a new way of viewing the argument about the existence of God: the reconciliation of ideas resolves differences.” — Reading Religion

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P03160

Ten Philosophical Essays in the Christian Tradition

Frederick J. Crosson
Edited by Michael J. Crowe and Nicholas Ayo, C.S.C.Tribute by Mary Katherine TillmanIntroduction by Mark Moes

P03012

Golden Cord

A Short Book on the Secular and the Sacred

Charles Taliaferro

P01516

Christianity and Secular Reason

Classical Themes and Modern Developments


Edited by Jeffrey Bloechl

God at the Crossroads of Worldviews

Toward a Different Debate about the Existence of God

Paul Seungoh Chung

 God at the Crossroads of Worldviews: Toward a Different Debate about the Existence of God
Cloth Edition

Debates about the existence of God persist but remain at an impasse between opposing answers. God at the Crossroads of Worldviews reframes the debate from a new perspective, characterizing the way these positions have been defined and defended not as wrong, per se, but rather as odd or awkward. Paul Chung begins with a general survey of the philosophical debate regarding the existence of God, particularly as the first cause, and how this involves a bewildering array of often-incommensurable positions that differ on the meaning of key concepts, criteria of justification, and even on where to start the discussion. According to Chung, these positions are in fact arguments both from and against larger, more comprehensive intellectual positions, which in turn comprise a set of rival “worldviews.” Moreover, there is no neutral rationality completely independent of these worldviews and capable of resolving complex intellectual questions, such as that of the existence of God.

Building from Alasdair MacIntyre’s writings on rival intellectual traditions, Chung proposes that to argue about God, we must first stand at the “crossroads” of the different intellectual journeys of the particular rival worldviews in the debate, and that the “discovery” of such a crossroad itself constitutes an argument about the existence of God. Chung argues that this is what Thomas Aquinas accomplished in his Five Ways, which are often misunderstood as simple “proofs.” From such crossroads, the debate may proceed toward a more fruitful exploration of the question of God’s existence. Chung sketches out one such crossroad by suggesting ways in which Christianity and scientific naturalism can begin a mutual dialogue from a different direction. God at the Crossroads of Worldviews will be read by philosophers of religion, advanced undergraduate and graduate students, and theologians and general readers interested in the new atheism debates.

“There is really no book to compare with God at the Crossroads of Worldviews. There are good books in the different areas of specialization that are involved in the discussion, but no book, to my knowledge, provides a comprehensive, systematic application of the new shift in theories of rationality to the debate on the existence of God between theists and scientific naturalists, and a new way of approaching the Five Ways as a result, which is precisely the original and significant contribution Paul Chung makes in this book.” — Anselm Min, Maguire Distinguished Professor of Religion, Claremont Graduate University

“This book begins with an engaging parable about arguments regarding the existence of a ‘benevolent ruler,’ showing that each explorer is asking a different question depending on different conceptions each holds on the nature of government. The point is to explain that arguments for or against the existence of God often end with participants talking past one another, in that they are working with background assumptions of different worldviews. Chung incorporates a number of ingenious arguments—including a new interpretation of what Thomas Aquinas’s ‘Five Ways’ were meant to accomplish—that together make a truly significant contribution to contemporary philosophy of religion. This is essential reading for everyone engaged in the troubling question of God.” — Nancey Claire Murphy, Fuller Theological Seminary

“Philosophers and theologians have debated the existence of God for centuries. God at the Crossroads of Worldviews is a truly remarkable book that tries to reshape the debate in a refreshingly new way. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in exploring distinct worldviews and their relations to the existence of God.” — Yujin Nagasawa, University of Birmingham

ISBN: 978-0-268-10056-8

300 pages

“Chung insists that rationality arises within particular traditions that either compete with each other—where one tradition will win out—or can be synthesized and therefore complement each other. Using Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologica as an example of a synthesis, Chung explores similar gaps in contemporary outlooks, concluding with an outline of how one might proceed. This lively work will serve as a critical introduction for those [who] enjoy synthesizing both religious and secular viewpoints.” — Library Journal

“Chung shows that we can transform the argument for, or against, God’s existence . . . He completes the claim that the Thomistic synthesis of Greek and Augustine Catholic thought created a new way of viewing the argument about the existence of God: the reconciliation of ideas resolves differences.” — Reading Religion