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God and the Burden of Proof (Frontiers of Philosophy) Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Series: Frontiers of Philosophy
  • Hardcover: 156 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (November 1, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879755512
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879755515
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,224,594 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Keith M. Parsons is on the faculty of The University of Houston--Clear Lake, where he is Associate Professor of Philosophy and the recent winner of the President's Distinguished Research Award. His previous publications include the books God and the Burden of Proof (Prometheus Books, 1989), Drawing Out Leviathan (Indiana University Press, 2001), and The Great Dinosaur Controversy (ABC Clio Press, 2003). He holds a doctorate from the Department of History and Philosophy of Science of The University of Pittsburgh and a doctorate in philosophy from Queen's University (Canada). Dr. Parsons was the founding editor of the philosophical journal Philo. He has often served as a lecturer, debater, and workshop leader in a number of venues.

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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By DEAN STRETTON on September 1, 1998
Format: Hardcover
The topics covered in Parsons's book are: (1) Alvin Plantinga's attempt to show that theistic belief can be rational even without positive arguments in its favour, (2) Richard Swinburne's cosmological argument, and (3) the problem of evil.

The aim of the book is, presumably, to introduce uninitiated readers to some of the issues currently at the forefront of philosophical theology. It meets this aim brilliantly. The clarity and simplicity of Parsons's writing allow the reader to fully understand the arguments being considered. At the same time, he is careful not to oversimplify, with the result that his critiques are no less incisive for their nontechnicality. I am not aware of any book that offers a better introduction to the issues Parsons considers. Indeed, it is difficult to think of any way the book could be significantly improved -- save, perhaps, a halving of its somewhat ridiculous cost price.

One word of warning: all of the material Parsons presents can be found elsewhere -- for example, in Michael Martin's _Atheism: A Philosophical Justification_. Thus, if you have already read (and understood) Martin's book, there would be little point buying _God: and the Burden of Proof_. On the other hand, if you are as yet unfamiliar with the arguments of Plantinga and Swinburne (two of today's leading theologians), there is no better place to start than Parsons's book. Highly recommended.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 17, 1997
Format: Hardcover
In debating the existence of God, a fundamental question is who -- if anyone -- should bear the burden of proof. In _God and the Burden of Proof_, Keith Parsons explains why theists (but not atheists) bear the burden of proof. Along the way, he manages to provided a nontechnical response to two of the most influential theistic philosophers of our time, Alvin Plantinga and Richard Swinburne. Highly recommended, despite the book's excessive cost. -- Jeffery Jay Lowde
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Patrick T. on April 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Extremely clear writing style. Parsons assumes only an intro level of philosophical knowledge. He is rarely condescending and this is particularly refreshing in the era of in-your-face atheism. Still, every now and then Parsons can't help but sneer. For example, in his conclusion Parsons writes,

"What rightly offends secular humanists is the...persecuting zeal that all too often accompany theistic belief...[like] the crusade against abortion..." (p145).

He then states that this sometimes leads atheists to shout: "Crush the infamous thing!" (the "thing" is institutional theism). However, I think Parsons assumes too much here. The biggest assumption is that one needs to be religious (or use religious arguments) to oppose abortion. I want to note that there are atheists strongly opposed to abortion. Patrick Lee has penned a brilliant, secular defense of the pro-life position called "Abortion and Unborn Human Life." Lee is not an atheist, but he makes a secular, pro-life argument. Thus, it is a mistake to automatically link pro-life arguments to religious arguments.

This contention on my part, however, is minor; save for this one example, Parsons handles the theist/atheist debate very gracefully. Overall, the book is excellent. If you're interested in the God debate, you need to read this. Very much recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Barry Rucker on November 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Keith Parsons has written an amazingly lucid critique of the current analytic philosophy of religion. Chapter one of God and the Burden of Proof shows that Alvin Plantinga's defense of theism as being a properly basic belief is no better than Linus's basic belief in The Great Pumpkin. Chapter two explains Richard Swinburne's cosmological argument so clearly that its flaws are obvious. Chapter 3 defends the problem of evil and concludes that it is a very effective attack on theism. For those who found the critiques of Plantinga and Swinburne in Michael Martin's Atheism: A Philosophical Justification rough going, Parsons's explanation is much more accessible.
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Format: Hardcover
Parsons has done a service to all those interested in Philosophy of Religion, but who lack the necessary technical knowledge to engage with the material. What "God and the Burden of Proof" offers is an easy-to-read, accessible analyses of some contemporary arguments given for the existence of God.

Given the amount of arguments Parsons could cover, he allowed himself a careful, in-depth analyses of two arguments defending theism and one against theism.

The first chapter describes and assesses Alvin Plantinga's defense for the Rationality of Theism. Chapter two is dedicated to Richard Swinburne's Cosmological Argument for the existence of God. These two chapters show that theists hold a burden of proof when it comes to God's existence, and Parsons does an excellent job of cutting out the all-too-technical aspects of these arguments without sacrificing intellectual rigor. That being said, Parsons does assume the reader have some knowledge of basic philosophical concepts and words. But, he does a fantastic job of explaining many of the concepts brought up.

Finally, chapter three gives good assessment of the Problem of Evil. This is where, as Parsons shows, atheists hold a burden of proof in showing the falsity of theism. Parsons does a fair job of explaining the Problem of Evil and describing a defense of evil, namely, the Free Will Defense. From there, Parsons looks at Plantinga's and Swinburne's attempts to solve the problem of evil.

Overall, this was a great read. It's for those who want to get a little more in-depth into modern defenses of theism, but who haven't spent extensive amount of time studying all that is necessary to understand advanced Logic and probability.
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