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Is There a God? Paperback – 1 Feb 2010
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Review from previous edition The book is ... an immensely rewarding one for those who are prepared to give it the close attention which it both requires and deserves ... Swinburne is accepting the challenge to make his case on the more difficult side. He succeeds brilliantly, and we can indeed be grateful to him for that ... a worthy counterbalance to the views of such as Dawkins and Hawking. It is much to be hoped that it receives as much attention. (The Door)
The book is clearly written, compact, and it provides an excellent introduction to the work of a prolific and significant contemporary Christian philosopher of religion. Not all will be convinced by every argument, but all will benefit from reading it with attention. (Science and Christian Belief)
He argues his case very well both in this book and in others ... if you are looking for a book which will help you to see that there is more than what you daily observe with your senses, this is a good book to read. (The Tablet)
A leading philosopher of religion addresses the religion/science debate --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
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Although this book may not acheive its intended success in the mass market, I consider it an excellent introduction to Swinburne's work. From that standpoint, "Is There a God?" may be used as a primer to his more substantial scholarly writings.
In this present title, Swinburne's first ("God"), third ("The Simplicity of God") and sixth ("Why God Allows Evil") chapters are particularly noteworthy. His two-page epilogue summarizes with great clarity one's responsibilities should theism be true.
--David A. Frenz
Basically I should start off by admitting that I find the conclusions of this book implausible. From a philosophical perspective Swinburne begins by shooting himself in the foot 'My topic is the claim that there is a God, understood in the way that Western religion (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) has generally understood that claim', the problem that raises for the religious philosopher is that the gods of the Abrahamic religions come with lots of other tie in clauses. He would perhaps have been better off disassociating his argument from particular religions. It's clear he's got an agenda, indeed he ends the book with a basic appeal to the reader to get on with worshipping.
However, the reason I started reading this book was that its larger brother was on my metaphysics reading list (i'm an undergrad philosophy student), but unavailable in the library. And when I put aside considerations of his bias it turns out that his core arguments are actually quite stimulating. I particularly like his conception of god as a single substance, it adds a nice new interpretation to the argument of first cause. Sure it doesn't in any logical way lead to a belief in a present, theistic conception of God, but present theistic gods aren't really what philosophy of religion is about. Philosophy is about constructing and deconstructing rational argument, Swinburne does construct a good rational argument and therefore gives me all the enjoyment of deconstructing it. I would basically therefore recommend it to those who want a good example of modern philosophical thought on the existence of god. It has actually given me something that's worth getting interested in and debating about.
So if you dislike the insistence of philosophers in treating all arguments, no matter how strange they may seem, with a certain credulity you're not going to like this book. But if you're prepared to accept that in philosophy some questions just don't have an answer, and you're prepared to read between the lines of Swinburnes blind faith for his actual logic you can probably get quite a bit out of it.
(as always if you don't find this review helpful please leave a comment and tell me why!)
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