| || ||
IGNATIUS INSIGHT AUTHOR PAGE for RICHARD PURTILL
To Believe: Why Faith Makes Sense
Is religious belief reasonable? Of course the so-called New Atheists, such as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, energetically say, "No!," Many others, including some believers, insist that faith is utterly
beyond reasoned argument. Faith, they declare, is believing something that reason tells you can't be so. In this way they think they shield belief from rational criticism.
But philosopher Richard Purtill will have none of that approach to religion. In this newly updated classic work, Purtill carefully applies the power of the mind to understanding whether there is
a rational basis for certain religious beliefs. His focus is on widely held Christian beliefs, although much of what he says applies also to other religious traditions. Purtill assesses the common
objections to religious belief the claims that religious tenets are nonsensical, wishful thinking, the result of gullibility, immoral, or refuted by modern discoveries. Then he considers the
arguments in favor of Christian belief by studying the nature of faith, of the universe, of morality, of happiness, and the world with God in it. He also scrutinizes certain beliefs involving
claims of Christian revelation--the credentials of revelation, the idea of God, Jesus as God's Son, organized religion, and the last things (death, judgment, heaven and hell).
The two appendices tackle the Christian doctrine of the Atonement and the influence of certain Christian writers on the revival of Christian belief in the 20th century. An updated For
Further Reading section is included.
Reason to Believe is not a work of revealed theology or religious devotion; it is a highly readable book on the philosophy of religion, aimed at the reader who wants to think seriously about
religion but who doesn't know all the philosophers' and theologians' jargon and who may or may not be a committed believer.
"Sound atheists cannot be too careful of their reading, remarked C.S. Lewis. Richard Purtill gives the reason to believe that Lewis was right. Atheists will read this book at their peril.
With Lewis-like lucidity, Purtill demolishes the case for atheism systematically and makes the case for Christianity with the logic of the true philosopher. In the pages of this majestic book,
Christians will find their faith illuminated with the flare of a truly great thinker and communicator of ideas; atheists will discover that their unbelief flies in the face of the rationally
provable foundations of reality." -- Joseph Pearce, author, The Quest for Shakespeare
"Reason to Believe is a clearly-written, philosophically rooted work that will help readers better understand and appreciate the rational nature of Christian faith, and will help them to
respond to questions and challenges from skeptics. Highly recommended!" -- Carl Olson, co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax
"Richard Purtill writes with a lucidity reminiscent of Frank Sheed. The ability to show the support of faith by reason is crucial for evangelizing in today's skeptical world. As Sheed walked
the common man through theology, so Purtill guides us through a philosophical reasoning of faith." -- Joe Tremblay, Veni.sanctespirit.us, "The Permanent Things in a Bookcase".
Lord of the Elves and Eldils: Fantasy and Philosophy in C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien
A fascinating look at the fantasy and philosophy of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien. The two men were friends and fellow professors at Oxford, renowned Christian thinkers who both "found it necessary
to create for the purposes of their fiction other worlds--not utopias or dystopias, but different worlds."
"Those who enjoy reading and discussing Lewis and Tolkien often encounter an
impatient, even irritated, reaction from friends or acquaintances. Why read
fantasies or fairy stories? Aren't such things for children? Shouldn't
grown-ups read about "real life"? (One literary critic called
Tolkien's trilogy a "children's story which got out of hand".) A
former student of Lewis, novelist and critic John Wain, once challenged Lewis'
own praise and enjoyment of fantasy.
"A writer's task, I maintained, was to lay bare the human
heart, and this could not be done if he were continually taking refuge in the
spinning of fanciful webs. Lewis retorted with a theory that, since the Creator
had seen fit to build a universe and set it in motion, it was the duty of the
human artist to create as lavishly as possible in his turn. The romancer, who
invents a whole world, is worshipping God more effectively than the mere
realist who analyses that which lies about him. Looking back across fourteen
years, I can hardly believe that Lewis said anything so manifestly absurd as
this, and perhaps I misunderstood him; but that, at any rate, is how my memory
reports the incident. 
"Here we have very neatly the whole basis of the conflict
between Lewis and Tolkien on the one hand and many modern writers and critics
on the other. Wain maintains, and many moderns would agree, that a writer's
task is to "lay bare the human heart". Judged by this standard,
practically nothing written by Tolkien and only a few things written by Lewis
carry out "the writer's task". The theory attributed to Lewis, which
is a recognizable caricature of the theory developed by Tolkien in his essay
"On Fairy-Stories", is dismissed as "manifestly absurd".
Before discussing who is more nearly right, let us first try to understand more
thoroughly the theory proposed by Lewis to Wain." -- From the Introduction<
C.S. Lewis' Case For The Christian Faith
Drawing on the whole body of C.S. Lewis' published fiction and non-fiction, as well as previously unpublished letters, Richard Purtill offers a clear, comprehensive assessment of Lewis'
defense of Christianity. He examines Lewis' thinking on religion in light of contemporary thought, giving attention to such central issues as: the nature of God, the divinity of Christ, the
manifestation of miracles in history, the challenge of faith, the meaning of death and the afterlife.
C.S. Lewis' Case for the Christian Faith is an excellent introduction to Lewis's best thinking on the major themes of the Christian tradition. Those who know his writing will find a new
appreciation of his "Christian imagination" and a deep respect for his distinctive contribution to an understanding of Christianity.
"An ideal introduction to C.S. Lewis for the uninitiated and a fine recapitulation for those already familiar with Lewis's writings on religion." -- Booklist
"Impressive." -- Library Journal
J.R.R. Tolkien: Myth, Morality, And Religion
Here is an in-depth look at the role myth, morality, and religion play in J.R.R. Tolkien's works such as The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion--including Tolkien's
private letters and revealing opinions of his own work. Richard L. Purtill brilliantly argues that Tolkien's extraordinary ability to touch his readers' lives through his storytelling--so unlike
much modern literature--accounts for his enormous literary success.
This book demonstrates the moral depth in Tolkien's work and cuts through current subjectivism and cynicism about morality. A careful reader will find a subtle religious dimension to Tolkien's
work--all the more potent because it is below the surface. Purtill reveals that Tolkien's fantasy stories creatively incorporate profound religious and ethical ideas. For example, Purtill shows us
how hobbits reflect both the pettiness of parochial humanity and unexpected heroism.
Purtill, author of nineteen books, effectively addresses larger issues of the place of myth, the relation of religion and morality to literature, the relation of Tolkien's work to traditional
mythology, and the lessons Tolkien's work teaches for our own lives.
"Richard Purtill is both a clear and commonsensical philosopher and an accomplished fantasy writer. Discovering him is like meeting Strider in the Inn at Bree: we have found a Ranger, a reliable guide
through Middle-earth." -- Peter Kreeft, Author, C. S. Lewis for the Third Millenium and The Philosophy of Tolkien
EXCERPTS and INTERVIEWS:
The Better We Reason, the Nearer We Come to Truth | The Introduction to Reason to Believe
Why Fantasy? | From the Introduction to Lord of the Elves and Eldils
C.S. Lewiss Case for Christianity | An Interview with Richard Purtill
The Two Lives of Richard Purtill | By Gord Wilson | June 16, 2005
For years Dr. Richard Purtill lived two lives: by day, professor of philosophy;
by night, writer of pulp fiction. By day he authored textbooks; by night
he spun out fantasy and science fiction pocket paperbacks. Weekdays he lectured
in classrooms; weekends he was feted at fantasy conventions. When he retired
from his day job, he plunged all the more into his nighttime pursuit, eventually
publishing over twenty books.
The prolific professor is probably best known for his two bestsellers published
by Ignatius Press: J.R.R.
Tolkien: Myth, Morality and Religion and C.S.
Lewis Case for the Christian Faith. Thats not surprising
since his conversion to Catholicism in high school came largely through
reading C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton. During a stint in the Army, he was
stationed in England, where he met the Wards and the Sheeds, famous Catholic
writers and publishers. (Hes written about this time in an essay,
"Chesterton, the Wards, the Sheeds and the Catholic Revival" in
The Riddle of Joy: G.K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis, ed. Tadie and
MacDonald, Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1989). In that heady atmosphere
he found his calling as a writer and philosopher. After receiving his doctorate
from the University of Chicago, he pursued his love of writing and teaching
as Professor of Philosophy at Western Washington University, Bellingham,
By day he taught a standing room only class called "Philosophy and Fantasy,"
in which students read and examined books by popular fantasy and science
fiction writers including Lewis, Tolkien, Charles Williams, Ursula LeGuinn,
Robert Heinlein, Madeline LEngle and others. By night he reworked
the class notes into his two bestsellers for Ignatius Press, along with
a third book, Lord of the Elves and Eldils: Philosophy and Fantasy in
C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien (forthcoming from Ignatius Press).
He had this in common with Lewis and Tolkien: professor by day, by night
author of fantasy fiction. Like them also, his authorship ranged widely,
from philosophic tomes to murder mysteries: Murdercon (Doubleday
Press); science fiction: The Parallel Man (DAW Books), fantasy fiction:
The Kaphtu Trilogy (Author House). From apologetics (Reason to
Believe, to be published by Ignatius Press) to textbooks in philosophy,
ethics and religion. From entries in the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy
and the C.S. Lewis Readers Encyclopaedia to short stories
in Alfred Hitchcocks Mystery Magazine, Isaac Asimovs
Science Fiction Magazine, and Marion Zimmer Bradleys Fantasy
Magazine. By day he led the universitys summer sessions in Greece;
by night he was a guest of honor at San Diegos Mythcon and other fantasy
and science fiction conventions.
In short, Richard Purtill is both a Catholic and a catholic writer, both
a Roman convert and a wide-ranging author, which may explain his unique
appeal. Retired from teaching, he is still actively writing (his latest
novel, The Eleusinian Gate, is forthcoming from Author House). He
is a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, The Author's
Guild, The National Writer's Union, and The Mythopoeic Society.
Philosopher and apologist Peter Kreeft
calls Richard Purtill "a clear and commonsensical philosopher and an
accomplished fantasy writer." Bradley Birzer, author of J.R.R. Tolkiens
Sanctifying Myth, writes: "Purtill's intellectual and highly readable
work offers an overflowing stream of brilliant insights into Tolkien the
man, the author, and the Roman Catholic. One comes away from this book not
only with a better understanding of Tolkien, but more importantly, with
a greater grasp of truth, beauty, and Grace." Peter Kreeft continues: "Discovering
Richard Purtill is like meeting Strider in the Inn at Bree: we have found
a Ranger, a reliable guide through Middle-earth."
For more information, visit Richard Purtills official site at www.alivingdog.com.
Gord Wilson has an M.A. in English from Western Washington University,
where Dr. Purtill was his philosophy professor. He has written for Campus
Life, His, CCM, New Oxford Review, HM, and various animation magazines
and local publications. A convert to Catholicism, he states that he followed
Malcom Muggeridge, Thomas Howard, and G.K. Chesterton into the Catholic
Church. Prior to becoming Catholic he was active in Campus Crusade and InterVarsity.
He still enjoys contemporary Christian music and is writing a book about
If you'd like to receive the FREE IgnatiusInsight.com
e-letter (about every 1 to 2 weeks), which includes regular updates
about IgnatiusInsight.com articles, reviews, excerpts, and author appearances,
please click here to sign-up today!
| || || |