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The Problem of Evil: The Gifford Lectures Delivered in the University of St Andrews in 2003 Paperback – 1 Jun 2008


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Review

'Van Inwagen must be the clearest writer and the best stylist in analytic philosophy, at least since the passing of W. V. Quine.' (Ars Disputandi Journal, Daniel J. Hill)

'[a] fine book' (Trenton Merricks, The Times Literary Supplement)

About the Author

Peter van Inwagen is the O'Hara Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. His many publications include An Essay on Free Will (1983), Material Beings (1990), Ontology, Identity, and Modality: Essays in Metaphysics (2001), and Metaphysics (1993, second edition 2002). He has delivered the Gifford Lectures at the University of St Andrews, the Wilde Lectures at Oxford University, the Maurice Lectures at the University of London, and the Stewart Lectures at Princeton University. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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Amazon.com: 2 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Refreshing assessment of the problem of evil 26 Dec 2011
By Levon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've heard many responses to this very important issue so to find some originality in this book was definitely refreshing from my perspective.

The good:

-The author did a fantastic job articulating his position and clearly defining his goals
-The author was extremely humble in his approach and did not make unreasonable claims (e.g., no claims inconsistent with mainstream science). This made him seem very sensible.
-The core of his rebuttal on what he calls the "global argument from evil" was presented in a story format which was easy to understand. He then followed with answers to possible objections which were exactly what you yourself, as the reader, may have been thinking.

Overall, Peter van Inwagen does a great job of offering an explanation for the evil we see in the world. It's not perfect but it just may be good enough.

The bad:

-The book isn't quite as long as it could have been, especially considering that more objections could be posed and refuted as the main rebuttals to the various versions of the argument from evil were complex enough to warrant further discussion. Basically, he could have spent more time strengthening his arguments.
-The actual problem of evil doesn't begin to be addressed until chapter 4.
-His answer to divine hiddenness is lacking in comparison to the quality of his other answers. Really it's too short and leaves too many questions in your head. He says that God doesn't care as much about belief in him, and more about a change of heart and a relationship. He says if God performed miracles to make people believe in him they would, despite being convinced of his existence, still refuse to essentially be good people or improve their moral state...I think the idea has some potential, that God is not solely interested in mere belief in his existence, but why think that people wouldn't change if they saw miracles being performed? Some may, some may not, but it's ridiculous to assume that no one would change their moral state or come to a relationship with God if God performed a miracle and proved to them he exists.

Again, this is overall a fantastic book and though could have been better, definitely interesting and worth the read. That's why it gets five stars.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A new analysis of the problem of evil 30 Mar 2013
By Ronald - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
This is among the most stimulating books on the problem evil that I have run across. The author writes clearly about a problem that has been covered in numerous ways and still manages to have something new to say in regard to the problem. His thesis that philosophical arguments don't convince anyone is certainly interesting and highly controversial. This is one philosophical work that I could hardly put down. Not a difficult read but it requires a certain amount of thought and concentration as does any work dealing with the problem of evil. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in philosophy and the problem of evil
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