Terrence REYNOLDS, The Phenomenon of Religious Faith.. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: 2005. pp. 468. $ 51.33 ISBN0-13-048115-7.
Reviewed by Nathan KOLLAR, St. John Fisher College, Rochester, NY 14618

"Great thinkers pondering great themes provide a never-ending source of nourishment for the mind and the imagination," says Terrence Reynolds. This text is a never-ending source of nourishment for mind, imagination, and heart because it gathers together and places into conversation the great thinkers of our age who deal with questions of God's existence and relationship to us. Many people refuse to question or to listen to the answers of those who become part of this conversation. They claim to have both clear questions and definite answers. "Faith," to them, can never be questioned or sought to be understood. The "mind," to them, is the devil's instrument when it challenges or tries to clarify faith. Obviously the nourishment offered by great thinkers and compiled for us by Reynolds is poison. This text is not for them.

These faith-filled religious people are tearing apart our planet. Their cries that true believers follow God's will, leaves them seeking those of like-faith; distaining, excluding, and damning those who differ from them in faith and thought. The emptiness of faith challenged and the hurt of mind trying to grasp difficult ideas are avoided by many in our contemporary life. But, if God's gift of intellect is to be used to face our present challenges it must deal with the questions found in this text There are many who realize that to destroy life in the name of faith is a sinful option for those who follow a living God—one who sustains the life of our mind as well as our body and asks that we do the same. The mind must be nourished. The mind must inquire. We must talk about God's existence and communication with us.

Reynold's text introduces us to this God talk. To those who are new to both the questions and answers about God, Reynolds has gathered some of the best attempts to formulate and respond to them; to those who have spent many years trying to wrap their minds around them, Reynolds has brought together many of your favorites and placed them into conversation with each other, with a brief prologue to each part of the conversation. To those who have never taken up these questions, Reynolds has provided you with an excellent introduction to the best thinkers in the Western world. The result in all cases is a text worth reading and/or using in a course dealing with God.

The text is divided into six parts: "Preliminary Questions" dealing with the relationship of one's faith with the real world (Flew, Hare, Mitchell, Rousseau, Russell, Ayer), "Arguments for God's Existence" (Taylor, Paley, Anselm, Hume, Bysshe Shelley, Shaffer), "Models of Religious Faith" ( Aquinas, Hick, Russell Hanson, Pascal, Cargill, Morris, Clifford, James, Yeager, Kierkegaard, Taylor, Evans, Heaney, Wesley Robbins), " The Rationality of Religious Faith" (Wittgenstein, Malcolm, Van Hook, Wolterstorff, Plantinga, Martin), "Religious Faith and the Issue of Pluralism" (Hick, Twiss, Rahner, Cantwell Smith) and "The experience of the Divine" (James, Merton, Alston, Proudfoot, Gale).

Whether you read some or all of what is here your reading will result in strong food for thought.


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