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Is There a God? Paperback – February 1, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0199580439 ISBN-10: 019958043X Edition: Revised

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

This condensation and popularization of the positive case for the existence of God put forward in Swinburne's 1979 book, The Existence of God, is an argument from the orderliness of the universe, maintaining that theism accounts for that orderliness more simply and more completely than humanism or materialism. Historically, arguments for the existence of God tend toward "preaching to the choir." This one is no exception. The choir will find it compelling, but others--while admiring the system and orderliness of the book--are not likely to be convinced. Steve Schroeder --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Revised edition (February 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019958043X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199580439
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 0.6 x 5.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #90,377 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Richard Swinburne is a British philosopher. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, and was Professor of the Philosophy of Religion at Oxford University from 1985 until 2002.His latest book Mind. Brain and Free Will argues that humans consist of two parts, body and soul, and that humans have free will. He is best known for his trilogy on the philosophy of theism (The Coherence of Theism, The Existence of God, and Faith and Reason). The Existence of God (2nd edition, 2004)claims that arguments from the existence of laws of nature, those laws as being such as to lead to the evolution of human bodies, and humans being conscious, make it probable that there is a God. He has written four books on the meaning and justification of central Christian doctrines (including Providence and the Problem of Evil); and he has applied his views about what is made probable by what evidence to the evidence about the Resurrection of Jesus in The Resurrection of God Incarnate. Is there a God? and Was Jesus God? are short books summarizing the arguments of the longer books. He has written at various lengths on many of the other major issues of philosophy (including epistemology, the study of what makes a belief rational or justified, in his book Epistemic Justification). He lives in Oxford, and lectures frequently in many different countries.

Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By John S. Ryan on October 12, 1999
Format: Paperback
I understand why Swinburne closes this volume with some "dissatisfaction," because it is a very brief distillation and summary of his much more detailed work elsewhere and it does, as he readily admits, invite any number of critical replies he does not have room to address. Nevertheless this volume is a good introduction to his thought.
Be warned: the God of Swinburne's "natural theology" does not quite have all the attributes one expects in the God of traditional theism. His God is not, for example, "eternal" (in the sense "outside of time altogether," though he is "everlasting"), nor (therefore) does He have full foreknowledge of what His creatures will do, nor is He sovereign over moral law.
Swinburne's basic idea is that although no particular argument clinches the case for God, several arguments together render His existence altogether more likely than not. And, according to Swinburne, He provides an explanation for scientific law in the sense that His existence explains why there are such laws at all.
In this work, written as a popular reply to Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking, Swinburne boils down his arguments to the bare minimum and aims to present them readably to a popular audience. He does it well, though the interested reader is referred to his other work for details.
He is probably at his least convincing in dealing with theodicy and the problem of evil. But other reviewers have already commented on that, so I'll say no more about it here.
All in all, if you are looking for an introduction to Swinburne's thought, this book is an excellent choice.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By TSENG Bruce on January 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
Swinburne is widely acclaimed as one of the most distinguished philosophers of religion nowadays (others along the same ranking include Alvin Plantinga, William Alston, etc). Anyone who is seriously discussing about theistic arguments may disagree with him but he/she cannot ignore Swinburne, whose contribution in the area is significant. His arguments are somewhat original. His analytical style of writing might seem dry to some readers, but bear in mind, he has been writing for professional analytical philosophers for the past 25 years or so. In this book, he tried to present his arguments to the general public in a more readable manner.
In his earlier work, "The Existence of God", he spent one-third of the book discussing about his methodology (about inductive arguments, what does it mean when we say we explain something, the probability approach, etc). But in this condensed version, he focused more on the arguments - but only a selection of them (brief discussion with only the susbtance presented). And of course, due to limited space, he could not give detailed reply to every single rebuttal against his arguments. It would therefore appear (wrongly) to some that his arguments did not conclusively "prove" the existence of God (in the normal/scientific sense of the word). It is for this reason that Swinburne expressed some dissatisfaction after completing the book. However, in my opinion, one could have a glance of Swinburne's contribution in the whole discussion of Theistic arguments by reading this book. It presents his general approach and some important substance of his arguments. For those who need a bit more detailed arguments, they must refer to the more complicated version, "The Existence of God" published in 1979.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 9, 1999
Format: Paperback
Swinburne takes the moldy old "primal mover" argument for the existence of God and brilliantly revitalizes it to such an extent that it is nearly unrecognizable. I am an atheist-an open-minded one. If the arguments for God's existence ever become compelling again, I will change camps. This book was so fresh and original that it deserves a second read-which I am doing. I cannot say that I am convinced but I am very intrigued by Swinburne's argument. It is difficult to summarize his long and subtle argument here. Any attempt to do so would do it injustice so keep that in mind. He suggests that God-a simple non-material being-is the best explanation for the totality of the information that we have about the universe and that no other theory explains the universe as simply or completely as the existence of God does. In other words, using the old principle of "Occam's Razor" (the principle that "the simplest (not more complex) solution is often the correct one") God, rather than seeming a holdover from dark, superstitious times, is a very efficient and elegant solution to the reason why the universe exists at all. You will have to read the book to appreciate this in all its interesting details. And it is interesting and very thought provoking. At the very least, it is a very clever and subtle restating of a very old argument. That alone is enough reason to buy this book if you are interested in these issues. At the most, he may be onto something. A second reading is necessary. One complaint: Swinburne tries to simplify his larger volume for this edition. He writes like a typical academic-which means that his prose is often leaden and dry. It appears that he has shortened his work without necessarily making it more elegant in its presentation.Read more ›
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