The Problem with “God”: Classical Theism under the Spotlight

By Jonathan MS Pearce

This ebook sets out a cumulative case that puts classical theism, the belief in an all-powerful, -knowing and -loving God, under the spotlight. God is left wanting as Pearce brings together previous blog writing, adapted pieces and original writing to hammer home the point: classical theism is incoherent. This ebook is perfect for armchair philosophers, Christian apologists, and interested atheists and theists everywhere, as well as packing a solid philosophical punch suitable for the more philosophically inclined reader. Something for everyone.

“The Problem with “God” intends to “put classical theism under the spotlight” and on the rack, and that is a goal that it achieves in one concise essay after another. It constitutes a welcome addition to any library of philosophical challenges to the classical, philosophical conception of God, and for that purpose and all need remaining to it, it is pleasantly recommended.” – James A. Lindsay, author of Dot, Dot, Dot: Infinity Plus God Equals Folly.

Here are some reviews from Amazon:

Think of this as Jonathan Pearces greatest hits all compiled together. He is one of the most interesting and convincing philosophers of modern times. Some of my favorite posts are here, which I have at my fingertips when I need its resource.

It was somewhat difficult to read this on my phone, I don’t usually read kindle books, I prefer old school books, but I managed to just finish it.

These blogs are fascinating, deep and well written and persuasively convincing of why theism fails on several accounts. The choice of topics are amazing, and no one can deliver this as good as Pearce can.

If you are a Christian, you won’t find this book rude or obnoxious, it is fair, well balanced and I encourage you to give it a chance. Challenge yourself, for no one will challenge you better than Johnny can.

Excellent selection and content, and Johnny hits another home run.

Jonathan Pearce has put together a series of short articles on God. His writing is smart, gentle (believers should appreciate the overall tone of the book, which is never angry or condescending), and filled with lots of good points that you’ll definitely want to use in your conversations with believers (‘ammunition’ is what I call it). As a long-time atheist, it’s kind of shocking to read this book and realize that so many people believe in something that is obviously false, and can be shown false by lots of everyday observations. For instance, believers often think that our lives on earth are like a test before we get to heaven. But if this is so, how come such a huge percentage of pregnancies end in miscarriage? Life can’t be a test if so many who show up for the test aren’t given the chance to take, not when an all powerful being is in charge. Pearce offers some thoughts on why The biblical God is absurd: Emotions, for instance, are very much biological in nature and have evolved often for obvious survival purposes (see his quotes from Stephen Pinker), and so it is therefore beyond belief that a non-physical, infinite being would ever get angry, jealous, etc. This is especially obvious in bible passages like Exodus 33:1-3, in which Yahweh expresses concerns about his own ability to control his anger!

“The Problem with “God” is a provocative collection of blogged articles. Professor of Philosophy, Jonathan M.S. Pearce provides the readers with a series of articles that covers a wide-philosophical spectrum of theological topics regarding the Christian God. This entertaining 178-page eBook includes thirty-seven topics and a forward by James A. Lindsey

1. Accessible and entertaining. Pearce is engaging.
2. The always stimulating topic of religion in the capable hands of Professor Pearce.
3. The tone is provocative and prodding but never disrespectful. It has an informal feel at times like armchair philosophy with a touch of humor.
4. Interesting selection of topics covered. Links to articles and supplementary material provided which is one of the big advantages of an eBook.
5. The foundation of philosophy exuded throughout this eBook, asking the right questions. “If there was nothing but God, then what good reason could God have for creating us, that thing there, cancer, some fluff, or, well, anything?”
6. A look at free will. “What’s more, according to Paul (who said in Romans 6:7 “he who has died is freed from sin”) people who die and go to heaven are freed from sin, but potentially from the will, too. Does this mean that free will is not available to those in heaven?”
7. Does a good job of defining concepts. “Process Theology is a position that involves an understanding that God is fluent and evolving, not classically immutable and unchanging.”
8. One of the strongest features of this book is Pearce’s insistence on addressing the strongest arguments against his position. The frequent reference to William Lane Craig lends to better and more challenging responses since he is considered one of the best defenders of the Christian faith. “Craig’s approach is to establish our morality in a reflection of God’s commands (such as “Love thy neighbor”), but to deny God the same moral obligation: Since God doesn’t issue commands to Himself, He has no moral duties to fulfil.”
9. Persuasive argument, God is a consequentialist. “From every design facet to every death in the bible, to every unit of pain and suffering experienced in the world, God must be valuing his own actions and omissions on the basis of their consequences. I can see no way around this conundrum.”
10. One of the most provocative articles, “God Loves Abortion!” “It is estimated that three out of four eggs that are fertilized do not fuse their DNA correctly, and therefore either do not attempt to implant or fail at implantation.”
11. The problem of evil takes center stage. “The fundamental dilemma of theodicy is the problem of evil, its continuing existence and God’s apparent inability or unwillingness to eradicate it.”
12. Thought-provoking statements. “The fact that Judaism was based on a monotheistic idea of God whereas Christianity was based on a Trinitarian idea of God (who had been a Trinity of persons from all eternity) reveals that both religions were man made and not divinely revealed.”
13. Provides a better version of the Problem of Evil.
14. Explains the problems with the Divine Command Theory (DCT). “The first problem with any DCT is that we have no evidence that there even is the requisite God, much less which God’s commands are the commands of that God.” “
15. The issue of conditional love. Love me or else. “Why does God continually require acceptance (belief) from humans in order for them to receive his love?”
16. One of Pearce’s favorite arguments. “Why don’t humans and all animals photosynthesize?”
17. Valerie Tarico contributes to this anthology, “Rather than evoking the humility, wonder and delight of the unknown, they offer the comfort of false knowledge.”
18. A fascinating look at Yahweh and why such concept is disconnected from current conceptions of God.
19. A look at heaven and hell. “If there is free will in heaven, and no suffering in heaven, why cannot this be made so on earth?”
20. And much more…

1. The anthology is a little uneven and at times repetitious.
2. I was disappointed that the topic of slavery never took center stage.
3. The problem with the soul was not addressed.
4. There are many good book references, a consolidated bibliography would have added value.

In summary, as expected Pearce doesn’t fail to be provocative and entertaining. This anthology actually gets better as you read on and everyone will have their favorite topics and aha moments. The only minor issue is a bit of repetition and the problem of slavery not getting its due. That aside, I recommend it.

Further recommendations: “Beyond an Absence of Faith” and “The Little Book of Unholy questions” by the same author…