Why Believe? 
by John Cottingham

978-0-8264-9636-2 hardcover (2009) £14.99
978-1-4411-4305-1 paperback (2011) £10.99 


‘In this book John Cottingham seeks to show that every human being possesses impulses and aspirations for which religious belief offers a home, and which only religious belief can adequately satisfy. The text is mercifully free from the hectoring and browbeating that disfigures much contemporary controversial writing, both theist and atheist. Instead, Cottingham offers gentle and courteous persuasion, whether philosophical, historical, or literary. Lucid and accessible, the book is a pleasure to read.’
Sir Anthony Kenny (Oxford University)

‘Cottingham’s insightful book invites his  readers to consider what in their own lived experience should prompt religious questioning and then guides them in reasoning their way through their questions. Neither polemic nor apologetic, it is informed by an admirable respect for its readers. Reflective unbelievers should take note.’
Alasdair MacIntyre (University of Notre Dame)

‘Here is a study of the phenomena of religious life which is analytically acute and at the same time humane. In this finely crafted and accessible work, John Cottingham displays how religious believing implies a commitment of the person in their emotional, intellectual and practical integrity.’
Mark Wynn (University of Exeter)

The virtues of Cottingham’s ... thinking – a gracious, open-minded integrity, and an ability to combine spiritual insight with philosophical analysis – enrich his defence of Christian belief and practice.’
Clare Carlisle, Times Literary Supplement

Fascinating and accessible reading for anyone with an appetite for philosophy of religion… tackle[s] fundamental methodological issues, raise[s] questions for further enquiry, and dispel[s] the fear that the discipline is in danger of running into the sand.’
Fiona Ellis, The Way

Religious belief, or its lack, is something that touches our integrity very deeply. It goes to the heart of who we are, what we take ourselves to be doing with our lives, and how we locate ourselves in relation to others. Much philosophy tackles belief in God as if it depended entirely on abstract intellectual argument, but John Cottingham’s carefully reasoned yet impassioned account shows how the religious outlook connects with our deepest human longings, how it links up with our moral and aesthetic experience, how it is integrally involved in the quest for self-understanding, and how it is not after all in conflict with a scientific understanding of the world. Rigorously argued yet maximally accessible, this book cuts through the sterility of much modern debate and offers a new and exciting perspective on the conflict between secularism and spirituality.

One: Belief and its Benefits
1. How believing affects living
2. How believing works
3. Belief and human sensibilities
4. Belief and integrity

Two: Belief, Reason, Goodness
1. Yearnings and their objective correlative
2. From benefits to reasons
3. God as source
4. The best explanation?

Three: Belief and the Unknown
1. The unknown God?
2. Hume’s critique
3. The problems of transcendence
4. Revelation and the Incarnate Word

Four: Obstacles to Belief
1. How difficult can it get?
2. Supernatural intervention
3. Back to fundamentalism?
4. Revelation and cognition

Five: Belief and Meaning
1. Truth and concealment
2. Evidence and accessibility
3. Vision and transformation
4. Moral growth and spiritual conversion

Six: Learning to Believe
1. The lessons of life
2. Prevailing images of belief: exclusivism
3. Ultimate responsibility
4. Souls and the afterlife

Seven: Believing and living
1. Providence and suffering
2. Humility and hope
3. Awe and thanksgiving
4. ‘Walk the believer’s road!’

See also the sequel/companion volume How to Believe