C. Stephen Evans (PhD 1974, Philosophy), University Professor of Philosophy and Humanities at Baylor University, recently won first prize in the C. S. Lewis Book Competition. Awarded by the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota and funded by the John Templeton Foundation, the prize is given for the best book published in the philosophy of religion or philosophical theology for a general audience in the last five years. Evans’ book, Natural Signs and the Knowledge of God: A New Look at Theistic Arguments (Oxford University Press, 2010), has been described by reviewer John Cottingham in the Times Literary Supplement as “lucidly written and carefully argued.”
In the book, Evans reasons that if there is a God of the kind accepted by Christians, Jews, and Muslims, it is likely that knowledge of God would be widely available through what he calls “natural signs,” such as our sense of wonder that the universe exists at all, our sense that the universe is meaningful and purposeful, and our sense of moral responsibility.
“The theistic arguments come from ideas that go all the way back to the ancient Greeks,” Evans says. “The core of each of these arguments doesn't necessarily prove the existence of God, but someone who knows how to read the signs and is open to their meaning will find the evidence convincing. My view is that God doesn't want to push himself onto those who don’t want to have a relationship with Him.”
Evans says he wrote his book partly in response to the New Atheists, who hold that belief in God has no rational basis. Some contemporary cognitive psychologists think that religious faith is discredited because humans are biologically and psychologically hard-wired to believe in a higher power. “They claim that discredits belief, but in my book, I argue that if we are hard-wired to believe in God, it is because God has created us that way: we have a natural impulse to believe.” he said.
Before joining the Baylor faculty in 2001, Evans taught at Calvin College, St. Olaf College, and Wheaton College. He has published numerous books and articles in the philosophy of religion and on Danish philosopher-theologian Søren Kierkegaard. Evans also is a past president of the Society of Christian Philosophers and of the Kierkegaard Society of North America.