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A fresh and original contribution to the debate
am 9. November 1999
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. I thought of many examples and illustrations he offered which were not as helpful as he must have thought they might be. If you can dig your way through his flat writing style and have some background in this area, this is a must read book.