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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Knapp pens book on philosophy and religion

University President Steven Knapp’s newest book on the intersection of faith and science will be released in early November by Oxford University Press.

“The Predicament of Belief,” co-written with dean of the Claremont School of Theology, Philip Clayton, analyzes contemporary arguments for and against the existence of God. It draws from modern concepts of science, philosophy and religion, with a focus on Christian tradition and scattered references to Judaism and Islam.

Knapp and Clayton claim that modern science should lead people to cast doubt on some of the more far-fetched claims of religious traditions, but that alone should not be reason to completely discredit religion.

“The questions religious communities address are fundamental to human experience, and the answers they offer exert, at least on some of us, a gravitational pull that is hard to escape or ignore,” Knapp said in an interview.

The authors promote a version of Christianity that considers both traditional ideals and modern scientific data.

Knapp believes this topic is relevant to society and the University community.

“What people believe – or don’t believe – about what is ultimately the case has a profound influence on the choices they make,” Knapp said. “Since arriving here four years ago, I have been struck by how respectfully the members of our community treat the beliefs of others.”

This subject of philosophy and religion is nothing new to the University’s 16th president. Knapp, a former English professor, specializes in Romanticism and the relationship between religion, philosophy and literature.

He published books in 1985 and 1993 about personification in literature and literary language, respectively.

Knapp and Clayton, who met 25 years ago at Williams College, while Knapp was on sabbatical from teaching at the University of California at Berkeley, worked on the book via e-mail for six years.

“For those who…still want to know whether the Christian understanding of ultimate reality is viable, there is only one alternative, and that is to understand the reasons for doubt as fully and clearly as possible: to look those reasons, so to speak, directly in the eye,” according to the text.

The book can be pre-ordered on Oxford University Press or for $29.95.

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