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33 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok, But Better is Available, December 15, 2005
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This review is from: The Existence of God (Paperback)
Published in 2004 this is an updated version of the "The Existence of God" - originally released in the 1970's. Unlike many updates, however, that incorporate relatively minor changes this text has a significant amount of new and reworked material. Through examination of arguments for and against theism Swinburne makes a cumulative probabilistic argument for the existence of God. I offer the following thoughts for potential buyers.

The text provides a solid examination of the classic arguments for and against the existence of God. At the outset Swinburne lays out some of the basics of philosophical argumentation, i.e. what is an inductive argument, what is a deductive argument, etc. This approach may be helpful to readers new to philosophical discussion. I also thought the discussion of the argument from evil and the hiddeness of God to be quite well handled. His discussion of the other arguments, while not bad, were not noteworthy. I say this not because of the author's particular views (indeed I think share many of them) but, rather because of approach. His arguments seemed to oscilate between being excessiving accommodating to popular thought and being theologically bloated and rambling. While Swinburne has his followers, his writing is not at the level of a Craig or Plantinga.

With respect to shortcomings, I was surprised by the amount of typos that I noticed - this type of editorial minutia is not normally my forte. Also from a general perspective the text struck me as a bit too self-referential. In light of the tremendous amount of excellent contemporary material in this area it came across as either a bit lazy or even egotistical. Although by no means a terrible book, my strongest impression was - why? Swinburne does not say anything that has not already been said better by others.

Overall, I am not disappointed to have this book in my collection and I would not discourage anyone from picking it up. Readers new to this area would be better advised to start with one of the several great debate books co-authored by Craig (the ones with Flew and Synott-Armstrong are especially strong) and then some of the tremendous works by Plantinga.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 15, 2009 10:30:14 PM PST
S. Marzioli says:
I've read both Craig and Plantinga, and I find Swinburne to be well above Craig's class and at least equal to Plantinga. Do you feel the updates he made to this edition are the cause of the negative review or do you feel this way about Swinburne in general? Have you compared the texts? When I first read the 1st edition, several years ago, I was nothing short of impressed.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 16, 2009 11:34:24 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 17, 2009 4:11:58 AM PST
Mr Marzioli;

Going from memory I think the new material may have contributed somewhat to my view. With regard to Swinburne in general, while he is a respected commentator in this field, he does not especially appeal to me - I think he is a bit overrated given the tremendous amount of great thinkers and communicators currently working in this field. . Perhaps my opinion is too influenced by stylistic factors. In his writings, but, more so on the few occasions I have heard him speak, Swinburne strikes me as a pompous and unwilling to give appropriate credit to others when it is due, e.g. Plantinga. Perhaps with greater exposure my opinion would change. With regard to Craig, while he may not be in Plantinga's class as a philosopher, I find his writing a better starting point than Swinburne's for those initially approaching the broad question of theism.

Posted on Jul 20, 2014 11:48:43 AM PDT
Thanks for the great review. I was curious as to why you rated it a 3. Now I know and will probably buy it.
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