This is one of those rare books that once you start, you don’t want to put down. With Louis Pojman’s Philosophy of Religion, the reader is introduced to one of the most diverse and controversial topics in history, yet Pojman approaches it from a middle-of-the-road viewpoint. His goal of writing the book is made clear in the Preface,
“My goal in writing this book in philosophy of religion is to produce a text which is analytically rigorous, accessible to students, and balanced in presentation and which covers the major issues, ranging from the traditional arguments for and against God through personal identity and immortality to the questions of the relationship between faith and reason and the relationship between morality and religion. I have endeavored to discuss these issues succinctly and lucidly, avoiding unnecessary jargon, and have striven to present in an impartial (though not neutral) and sympathetic manner the main theories and arguments on each topic discussed in this work.” (p. vii)
A description has not been more true. Pojman’s writing style is for anyone, no matter what stage of life. He makes these topics understandable, giving the reader enough information within the text, as well as additional reading suggestions and study questions after each chapter. He wants the student to further their understanding, and to come to his or her own conclusions on the matter. Again, Pojman has not written a book of his own conclusions (although he does let the reader know what he finds compelling). Instead, he has treated these topics fairly, presenting both sides of the argument, which, if you ask me, is something we need more of today. There is also included at the back of the book a glossary of terms used throughout the book that are commonly used in the realm of philosophy of religion. So, novices can rest assured that any words unfamiliar to them can be easily looked up.
Pojman writes on a number of topics, those mentioned above, but also the Role of Religion in Human History (Chapter 1), Rationality (Chapter 1), the Problem of Evil (Chapter 6), and Faith, Hope, and Doubt (Chapter 10). However, to me, the standout chapter of this book covers Personal Identity and Immortality (Chapter 8). This chapter is broken into two parts. Part One discusses personal identity, or philosophy of mind. In other words, what makes you, you. Is there a separate mind working in conjunction with the brain, or are we simply made up of firing neurons and chemical reactions? Part Two then asks the question, Do we survive death? If so, how? I had no previous knowledge or interest in the topic of personal identity, but Pojman’s presentation in this chapter created a desire to study this area further.
As mentioned above, the student’s exploration should not end with this book, but it should definitely be one of many starting places in the field of philosophy of religion. I have read many books touching on many of the topics written about here, but Pojman presented many new ideas I had not previously heard or studied. This volume will challenge you to think, and, in the end, that’s not such a bad thing.