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The Existence of God [Kindle Edition]

Richard Swinburne
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Richard Swinburne presents a substantially rewritten and updated edition of his most celebrated book. No other work has made a more powerful case for the probability of the existence of God. Swinburne argues compellingly that the existence of the universe, its law-governed nature and fine-tuning, human consciousness and moral awareness, and evidence of miracles and religious experience, all taken together (and despite the occurrence of pain and suffering), make it likely that there is a God.

Editorial Reviews


"An excellent and important contribution to the philosophy of religion....No one interested in [the subject] can afford to ignore it....It is...the best and most philosophically interesting among recent defenses of theism."--The Thomist

"His arguments are uniformly insightful, clear, and interesting."--Religious Studies Review

About the Author

Richard Swinburne, Nolloth Professor of the Philosophy of the Christian Religion, University of Oxford.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2865 KB
  • Print Length: 376 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA; 2 edition (December 13, 1979)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001E10KOU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #587,783 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
89 of 100 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic of Natural Theology April 28, 2002
Swinburne is perhaps the leading figure in contemporary natural theology and _The Existence of God_ is his most important work. In it, he employs the tools of modern confirmation theory to develop a sustained argument for theism.
Swinburne views himself as part of the long tradition of Christian evidentialism that seeks to give rational reasons for belief in God. However, unlike, say, Anselm, Aquinas, or Paley, Swinburne thinks that every deductive argument for theism rests on premises that could rationally be rejected by the skeptic. Thus his arguments are inductive; he treats theism as a large-scale explanatory theory on a par with, say, quantum theory or Newton's theory of motion. He takes several classical arguments (the cosmological and teleological arguments, the argument from religious experience, etc.) and recasts them in terms of Bayesian probability theory, arguing that each of them confirms God's existence, i.e. raises the probability that He exists.
This is, I think, a brilliant strategy: it means that Swinburne's case does not rest on the cogency of any one argument and that none of his arguments depends on such controversial grounds as the principle of sufficient reaon or the claim that existence is a "real predicate." Rather, his premises generally reflect obvious features of the world (such as its existence and complexity) together with a set of widely accepted principles of scientific reasoning. Moreover, he establishes a rational framework applicable to any inductive arguments for theism, making it easier for other philosophers of religion to offer their own inductive arguments. (I'm surprised more of them have not done so!)
Of course, the book is open to criticism.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is why Swinburne is part of the elite May 4, 2011
By Cornell
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is very meaty, this book is very powerful, this book is mind food.

You have Alvin Plantinga, William Lane Craig and Richard Swinburne carrying the torch for Christian philosophy and apologetics. Richard Swinburne is probably the least known, but offers the most pop. The Moral Argument he presents takes the classical route and I like using it at times, he speaks alot about contingency in this regard.

Swinburne is underated in a sense where he should be more known to everyone. The guy is brilliant and while he isn't well known to the layman, he is definitely well known to other Christian Philosophers as well as his opponents. Swinburne is quoted in many other book from apologists and now I can see why. A reviewer below said that Swinburnes arguments have been refuted which is a little misleading, just because someone puts a rebuttal to an argument, doesn't mean that other person was correct. I have yet to see any arguments from the other side that even scratch Swinburnes arguments. All I see is the other side blowing smoke and hoping quanity beats up on quality.

Swinburne is very technical, sometimes you have to read what he is saying over and over before it fully sinks in, and when it does sink in you are glad you spent the time reading over again, because what he says makes alot of sense and it is something that you never have thought over before.

What I like about Swinburne is that he uses the argument from religious experience and makes it persuasive from facts I would have never thought possible until Swinburnes thought provoking statements. This argument is criticized and many apologists stay away from it, because it seem biased, but Swinburne adds in much logic to show that is a rationally sound argument.

I would suggest this book if you are in the stage of intermediate to advanced level of apologetics. The next book I want to check out is the Coherence of Theism.
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36 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Innovative--should be read by all interested in the topic February 17, 1999
Swinburne's book adopts the strategy of defending theism as the best explanation for a wide range of phenomena. By doing so, Swinburne brings to the philosophy of religion a new and innovative epistemology, one which focuses on the importance explanation plays in our quest for knowledge. As a result, his defense of theism is clearly the best out there. Much of _The Existence of God_ is devoted to the topic of explanation, making this book a key text not only for those working in philosophy of religion but in epistemology and philosophy of science as well. Swinburne's methodology is, I think, clearly on the right track; and as a result there is little doubt that his arguments for theism are powerful and deserve serious consideration.
I do not, however, find Swinburne's defense of theism to be successful. Swinburne focuses too much on simplicity as what determines the best explanation. If we take into consideration other elements of good explanations, such as explanatory depth, Swinburne may not be able to make many of the arguments he does. Also, many of Swinburne's arguments are based on what God has *reasons* to bring about; a consideration which may simply beg the question against the atheist. Swinburne's main critic, J.L. Mackie, says nothing about explanation in his response, _The Miracle of Theism_, and thus lets Swinburne get away without being challenged at the heart of his defense.
However, despite its flaws, Swinburne's book is the most powerful use to date of the new explanationist methodology applied to the question of God's existence. No one interested in this issue can afford to pass this work up.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Intellectual theism
The best modern philosophical defense of theism.
Published 1 month ago by Brian D. Babiak
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Important Book
This is a fascinating, densely-argued book. Essentially, Swinburne examines the probability of God’s existence; he does not press for proofs of God’s existence that would compel... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Richard B. Schwartz
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent.
Though a committed atheist necessarily won't agree with everything in this book, it is written in such a way, that some of the most intelligent anti-theistic writers (Mackie, Oppy,... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Mark D. Thomas
4.0 out of 5 stars Review Title
This book has some pretty good arguments. I haven't finished reading it yet, but I'd say that it was a worthwhile purchase.
Published on October 1, 2012 by Purusha
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Thorough Thesis
A complex book looking at the issue of proofs of God's existence very thoroughly. The author rightly rejects a priori deductive proofs of God's existence and non existence as... Read more
Published on June 26, 2012 by Sir Furboy
2.0 out of 5 stars Arduous and ill-founded
Richard Swinburne makes a cumulative argument in The Existence of God, claiming that given considerations like the existence and fine-tuning of the universe, objective morality,... Read more
Published on September 21, 2011 by Nolan
2.0 out of 5 stars Limiting God
Something that is not often mentioned is that the moment anyone attributes a property to God, that limits God, making his ineffability and infinity impossible, not to mention his... Read more
Published on July 27, 2011 by Stephen B. Gray
5.0 out of 5 stars More Mysteries, Please
I wasn't persuaded by "The Existence of God." Its argument for theism is meticulous but it depends on heroic assumptions about the "simplicity" of God, the kind of... Read more
Published on July 11, 2010 by not me
1.0 out of 5 stars God and Ogd
What did the author intend by naming his book "The Existence of God"? Most reviewers who thought this was a well argued book did not see the fundamental flaw which renders every... Read more
Published on October 15, 2008 by Hande Z
2.0 out of 5 stars Proofs of God's Existence Questionable
There are several criticism of any proof of a Christian God, or any religion's God that any thoughtful person should be aware of.

1. Read more
Published on August 23, 2008 by Mason D. Kelsey
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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.

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