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God, Freedom, and Evil Paperback – March 21, 1989
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-- John Carroll University
"A witty and logical introduction to the groundbreaking work of Alvin Plantinga, who has done more than anyone else to restore in analytic circles the respectability of belief in God."
-- University of San Diego
"A classic work in the philosophy of religion, Plantinga's God, Freedom, and Evil is the single most influential text on the problem of evil in the past fifty years."
Stephen T. Davis
-- Claremont McKenna College
"Alvin Plantinga is one of the top Christian philosophers in the world today. He is well known in Christian and secular philosophical circles for his logical skills, his rigorous arguments, and his energetic defense of full-blooded Christianity. This book covers some of the same ground as his more technical The Nature of Necessity, but unlike most of Plantinga's works, it is aimed at the general reader. . . Students can understand this book; they must only be willing to think as hard as they read."
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Top Customer Reviews
Even though the book is more accessible to the public than most of his others, I imagine that someone without any basic training in philosophy may struggle with the read (but a struggle is not a good excuse not to read a good book!). In addition to the defense against evil, his exposition of the Ontological argument is very interesting, and worthwhile for anyone who intends to properly understand that argument. Those in the field of philosophy have almost universally accepted it as the theistic solution to the problem of evil. If you are an atheist, I challenge you to study his arguments to understand the rational case he is making. This will definitely be an exciting and fun read for the philosopher, as well as to the thinking and outspoken theist and atheist.
(By the way, if you are looking for a good THEODICY - try MAKING SENSE OUT OF SUFFERING by Peter Kreeft, philosophy professor at Boston College.)
A large part of the book is dedicated the so-called problem of evil. That is, the question of whether or not the existence of evil is compatible with the existence of an all-knowing all-powerful and wholly good God. In addressing this issue Plantinga focuses on the question of whether evil and God can logically co-exist - it is not a theodicy which seeks to explain the existence of evil. With regard the former more modest question the author is quite successful in proving that evil and God are not incompatible as had been previously argued - written nearly 30 years ago it has yet to be challenged in any significant way. Plantinga can rightfully take credit in helping this question largely disappear amongst serious thinkers. Arguments in this area now tend to be focused on the level of evil rather than its mere existence (i.e. is there too much evil to be consistent with the existence of God). As an earlier reader commented, I too find the author's argument about transworld depravity awkward - it removal, however, does not serious impact Plantinga position.
In the remainder of the book Plantinga offers some brief thoughts on the classic arguments of natural theology - I found this part of the book less helpful. Plantinga indicates that he finds the ontological argument more compelling than either the argument from design or the cosmological argument. I tend to disagree with his views in this regard.Read more ›
The arguments in this book, especially Plantinga's account of Transworld Depravity and other complex issues regarding possible worlds, are quite cumbersome. Still, if one is willing to take to work to a quiet corner and faithfully think through its contents, he will not be disappointed.
Leibniz's Lapse: Contrary to Leibniz, there are possible worlds that God cannot actualize
Here's an informal proof.
Imagine a situation S in which Curley is free to take, or to refuse, a bribe. Suppose God wants Curley freely to refrain from taking the bribe in S. The most he could do to bring this about would be to make Curley free in S. Can God get what he wants? That depends on which of the following propositions is true. (Note that one of them must be true, and the other false,)
(t) If Curley were free in S, then Curley would take the bribe.
(r) If Curley were free in S, then Curley would not take the bribe.
(Terminological note: (t) and (r) are among Curley's "counterfactuals of freedom.")
If (t) is true and God makes Curley free in S, then Curley will take the bribe and God won't get what he wants. Only if (r) is true will Curley do what God wants him to do.
Now let Wt be a possible world in which God makes Curley free in S and Curley freely takes the bribe. And let Wr be a world in which in which God makes Curley free in S and Curley freely refuses the bribe. If (t) is true, then God cannot actualize Wr. If, on the other hand, (r) is true, then God cannot actualize Wt. Since either (t) or (r) must be true, it follows that God can't actualize one or the other of these worlds--there is at least one possible world which he cannot actualize.
TWD ("transworld depravity")
For each possible person, and for each situation in which that person might exist and be free, there is a complete set of true conditional propositions (like (t) and (r)) about what that person would do if she were free in that situation.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
some letters are incomplete. The content of the book is great.Published 5 months ago by Andres Castaneda
Plantinga, summarizing his earlier work in The Nature of Necessity and God and Other Minds, demonstrates that the theist does not face a contradiction in a) asserting God exists... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Jacob
Plantinga is one of the key thinkers of our day. If you are a thinker, you should read this book.Published 11 months ago by WSV1975
There are other reviews who better explain why this book is a good read, but in short... His free will defense (not a theodicy, brilliant! Read morePublished 13 months ago by Joshua Tanis
This book primarily begins with a study of theodicy. Theodicy is an attempt to explain the existence of evil. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Brian D. Babiak
For those who are actually interested in why there is evil when God is good, this is recommended. It shows that what we call evil is often the result of our own choices, and God... Read morePublished 20 months ago by uayfb1