Question of beliefs

4th December 1998 at 00:00
THE PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION. By Beverley and Brian Clack. Polity Press. Pounds 13.95.

PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION. By H J Richards. Heinemann. Pounds 12.50.

With the growth in A-level philosophy of religion, it is frustrating that students so often find the recommended reading from exam boards too difficult or dull.

While we need books that provide sufficient depth for students to obtain top grades, it is also essential they find the material comprehensible.

The Philosophy of Religion is a first-rate book. The traditional syllabus themes (concept and arguments for the existence of God, problem of evil, religious language and verification, miracles, immortality) are combined with a refreshing approach which draws on Wittgenstein's writings,a feminist critique of theism and the challenges facing belief in a secular age.

Brief extracts from literature are used to good effect and the debate between realism and anti-realism, which runs through the book, is considered in a balanced manner.

Students who find A-level religious studies demanding may be helped by H J Richards' Philosophy of Religion. It won't guarantee an A grade, but is clearly presented with bite-size chunks of primary readings, shaded boxes, glossaries and questions for discussions. The text is accessible and provocative quotations from well known philosophers, playwrights and scriptures may help stimulate further thought.

Richards explores philosophical issues from a Christian perspective and the concise chapters, which range from "What sort of God?" to "God and Science" cover the religious aspects of a general studies sixth-form course.

John Waters is head of religious and moral philosophy, Parkstone grammar school, Dorset

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