4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Nothing original, obvious flaws,
This review is from: Is There a God? (Paperback)
Before this book, there was no valid and sound argument for the existence of a theistic god. There still isn't one.
Swinbourne begins by defining what he means by "god", and even here some fallacies are apparent - he somehow goes from his god's "perfect freedom of will and omniscience" to omnibenevolence by conflating moral good/best with good/best action in terms of a goal and assuming, circularly, that the god's goal is goodness.
In Chapter 2, "How We Explain Things", a demarcation is drawn between impersonal and personal explanations (though why personal explanations should be considered for natural phenomena is not addressed). The simplicity of his god as an explanation is brought up, along with Occam's Razor, not realizing that he's glomming his god onto pre-existing scientific principles - "natural + god" is LESS simple than "natural".
Two chapters follow based upon a rather egregious logical error: "if my god exists, we would expect X; we see X, therefore my god exists." No. No, no, no. This is called "affirming the consequent".
If I have the flu, then I have a sore throat.
I have a sore throat.
Therefore, I have the flu.
is equivalent. What he needed to do, and didn't, was to show that if his god DIDN'T exist, we would NOT expect X (humans and consistency of nature are the examples he uses, but there are many others).
There is a brief discussion of theodicy (which counters a point I never bother making - "how can a good god allow suffering?"), followed by an analysis of religious experiences and mircales. This last chapter, more than anything, is the reason for my one-star rating. An appeal is made to the "principle of credulity" - since our experiences reflect reality in the vast majority of cases, we should assume that we experience what we think we do until we have reason to think otherwise. The point of the book is hazy, but if Swinbourne's assertion is that there is good reason for non-believers to accept theism, the PoC is utter nonsense. Do we assume that people who've "experienced" alien abduction were, in fact, abducted by aliens? Helpfully, Swinbourne shoots himself in the foot by conceding (though he doesn't seem to realize it's a concession) that people usually attribute experiences to their particular gods AFTER a context has been provided by upbringing and/or culture.
Despite protestations that he's not resorting to "god of the gaps", a final leap from "unexplained by science" to "unexplainABLE by science" is made. Indeed, throughout there is an underlying assumption that being AN explanation in the absence of competing explanations somehow lends weight.