Philosophy of Religion: A Contemporary Introduction by Keith Yandell

Philosophy of Religion is written by professor Keith E. Yandell, who is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin. It is part of the Routledge Contemporary Introductions to Philosophy series. The series as a whole is aimed at students that have already done an introductory courses in philosophy. However, this book is very clear for someone who wants to read up in the subject of philosophy of religion.

The aim of the book is to look at the philosophy of religion but the author does NOT consider the subject from the point of view of Christianity like many other books on the subject. He understands that religious traditions are different. They make different claims, argue from different points of view and have different aims and goals.

Yandell deals constructively with the views and arguments from Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Jainism. The book also includes a discussion of the major philosophical figures in religious traditions as well as important contemporary philosophers. The books starts at the very beginning by asking the questions “What is philosophy?” and “What is religion?” and goes on to more complex ideas and concepts.  I learned new things and got rid of some misconceptions I had.  The logic he uses sometimes can make your head hurt but in a good way.

I loved the book because the author has the ability (and the willingness) to argue points in detail rather than just give us the highlights of the arguments. The writing style of the author is witty and easily engages the mind. And believe me your mind is engaged constantly to follow what he is saying and digest it all before you move on.  Its not an easy read but it is an interesting one. At the end of each chapter he includes questions to be pondered and resources for further reading and research. At the end of the book he has a glossary of all the new words and concepts he addresses, a list of some of the great names in the history of philosophy of religion and an extensive bibliography. I know that some will think that the book is limited by the choice of religions he has decided to discuss but the approach can be used on other religions as well. So everyone gets something out of this book, whether they were interested in the arguments for these specific religions or others that are completely different.


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