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The Miracle of Theism: Arguments For and Against the Existence of God Paperback

ISBN-13: 978-0198246824 ISBN-10: 019824682X Edition: Reprint

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 278 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA; Reprint edition (January 13, 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019824682X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198246824
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #314,400 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

J. L. Mackie is at University College, Oxford.

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Customer Reviews

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I unhesitatingly recommend Mackie's book to anyone who is even remotely interested in the subject matter.
DEAN STRETTON
It is also highly recommended because Mackie also tries to examine the marginal arguments for Theism made by Kierkegaard, Wittgenstein, William James, and Pascal.
Philonous
Despite its subtle attractiveness, however, I tend to agree with Mackie that something does quite feel right about it.
Reader From Aurora

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

65 of 69 people found the following review helpful By D. S. Heersink on April 3, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book, together with Swinburne's "Coherence of Theism," is among the most valuable books on the philosophy of religion from an Anglo-American analytical-philosophical perspective. While Swinburne goes back to Anselm and Aquinas, this book considers mostly post-1500 theodicy, still covering the ontological argument from Descartes' and a posteriori arguments from Hume. The full spectrum of the arguments for and against God are here, including Kant, Newman, Kierkegaard, James, Phillips, Leslie, Kung, et alia.
First, a brief exposition of a philosopher's argument is surveyed, followed by an analysis of where the philosopher's strengths and weaknesses lie. There is even a section on the most notorious of all arguments against the existence of God: the existence of evil. In the final analysis, Mackie believes theism is itself a mircle, hence the title. Overall, this book makes a significant contribution to beginning philosophy students who want a rigorous examination of the crucial questions of God's existence and non-existence. The writing is clear, generally concise, exceptionally well-constructed, and only occasionally labyrinthine.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By M. A. Krul on May 10, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Australian philosopher John Mackie, sadly now deceased, has always been one of my favorite philosophers, and when I heard from several religious people that this was in their view the best critique of religion, I decided to buy it at once. The book is indeed highly rewarding of its praise, for it is the most thorough philosophical (here as opposed to scientific) critique of all (mono)theist apologetics written so far.

Unlike such recent anti-theist writers as Dawkins and Dennett, Mackie is extraordinarily charitable to the theists' claims, making sure to mention every possible argument in their favor and using only counter-arguments that could not possibly be considered controversial or contingent on a given scientific theory, etc. In fact, he is much more charitable in some places than is really necessary; I would not have the same patience with the meaningless phrasings of Swinburne or Küng that Mackie has. In any case, Mackie diligently and cordially addresses each of the main issues surrounding theist apologetics: miracles, the ontological argument, the cosmological arguments (including Kalam), moral arguments, the issue of consciousness, free will, the argument from design, the argument from faith alone (Kierkegaard), the argument from popularity (William James), the problem of evil, the possibility of atheist morality, and so on.

Mackie shows himself at his best here - an impressive array of arguments and decisive counterarguments, even against such modern superstars of apologetics like William Lane Craig and Alvin Plantinga, are dealt with in sequence with seemingly no effort at all.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 12, 1999
Format: Paperback
I use this book with my A-Level Religious Studies students to great effect. It clearly and accurately offers thorough-going criticism of all the usual attempts to justify theism rationally. His section on the Problem of Evil should be required reading for all theists.
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful By John Barone on October 26, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I don't agree with Mr. Mackie's ultimate conclusion, but that is not the point of my review. Mackie has addressed the question in the proper fashion. He shows proper respect for the arguments of those with whom he differs and he lets the case stand or fall on its ultimate merits. Were I an atheist this book would be my model for argument. Compared to Mackie the recent works of Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins seem to be the work of crackpots. "The village atheists screaming at the village idiots" to parphrase Chesterton. I can actually envision having a rational debate with Mackie on the topic. I only hope that I would be able to hold my own. He quite cogently for his point of view and even though its not mine

any person of faith and any non believer who is interested in the concept of God from a philosophical point of view will be enriched by reading this work.
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30 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Wikman VINE VOICE on October 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
Mackie's book discusses the main arguments for and against the existence of God. The book covers many different kinds of proofs for the existence of God, for example, ontological, cosmological, teleological proofs, moral arguments for God, as well arguments from consciousness, and religious experience. He goes back to Anselm, Aquinas, Descartes, Hume and Berkeley, but a lot of his focus is on modern proofs (Plantinga, Hans Kung, Swinburne). Using what I consider nearly flawless logic he argues convincingly against all of those proofs, including the more complex modern versions. However, I do not consider his handling of the cosmological proof fully satisfying. Even though it is correct that the cosmological proof is flawed because it is possible that the Universe has always existed, modern cosmology implies an actual beginning of the universe (including time).

He is also discussing the "problem of evil" (how can evil exist if there is a good and omnipotent God). In particular he argues against Alvin Plantingas' defense of the theistic position (Plantingas defense is based on free will). However, it should be noted that many modern theological belief systems do not require an omnipotent, or all good God, and some also consider evil a "good" in the long run (soul development). So the famous problem of evil does not apply to those systems.

The book is well written, coherent, concise, and uses well constructed and correct logical arguments throughout. It is an excellent book in philosophy. However, I question its relevancy to the average theist and atheist alike. For example, I have never met anyone who is basing his faith on the ontological proof for God's existence. Clearly religious faith is often an adaptation to the faith of your family and society.
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