Is There a God?

by Richard Swinburne, Oxford University Press,
ISBN 0-19-823544-5,143 pages, 1996

For the most part, we do not spend much time in this periodical dealing with strictly philosophical discussions. The primary reason for that is that the editor's background is in the physical sciences and I do not feel qualified to discuss philosophical issues. It is distressing to me, however, that a large percentage of what is presented to the public philosophically about the existence of God is negative. It is also distressing that much of what is presented comes from people with little background in the subject areas which they are coming from and from educational institutions that can rightfully be challenged as having a huge bias. Dr. Richard Swinburne is a professor of philosophy at the University of Oxford so such charges would not apply here.

The purpose of the book is clearly stated in chapter 1 in the first sentence: "My topic is the claim that there is a God, understood in the way that Western Religion (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) has generally understood that claim." This is a theism argument, and the book deals philosophically only with this concept. Swinburne is not arguing for Jesus or for the Bible but rather for the reasoning processes that lead us to believe that God as defined in the Bible does exist. After talking about the nature of the concept of God, the book discusses how we approach explanations of the cosmos we see. Swinburne discusses how the concept of God explains the world and its order and of humans. He ends the book by talking about the concept of evil and miracles.

This is a book the philosophy students will find interesting and useful. Lay readers may not find it as useful, but will see a very intellectual approach to the basic processes of how we think. There are also some interesting discussions of why things like parallel universes have no impact upon the arguments for the existence of God. We recommend this book for college students and teachers or those who have an interest in philosophy and theology at an academic level.

Back to Contents Does God Exist?, MayJun04.