Philosophers and theologians have debated this question for centuries, offering arguments and counter-arguments taking many different forms. More recently scientists and historians have joined the fray to weigh in on things from their own perspectives. Still, well over two millennia later, and in spite of a bounty of examples of religiously-inspired violence, we find the question persists. According to some, the survival of theism — the belief in god s — is nothing short of miraculous; it testifies to the power and value of faith.
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Mackie is definitely not in the class of Dawkins, Krauss, Hitchens, or Dennett. After reading Mackie, I suspect he would distance himself from such characters. I could be wrong about this, but based on his writing he seems to at least have respect for his theistic academicians. It should be noted that this book is first and foremost an academic treatment of atheism and theism. Atheists and theists who are As a Christian, I have been tired of the neo-Athiest movement and its caustic rhetoric. Atheists and theists who are used to the popular, neo-Atheistic writings of Dawkins and his ilk will find this book challenging.
In terms of contemporary theists, Richard Swinburne and Alvin Plantinga are given special attention throughout this work, especially Swinburne. He admits that atheism has challenges in the areas of consciousness and that there are ways to evade his famous problem of evil arguments, should one modify his definitions of evil.
He offers polemics, but these are not the same as demonstrations of naturalism philosophically. All of his arguments for atheism are completely dependent on arguments for theism. Second, while he does bring good arguments against James on religious experience, it is hard to see how his views on morality do not fall prey to the same arguments. But, to his credit, Mackie does provide a sound rejection of communism and Marxist political theories as being too oppressive and overly optimistic. And admits that although he does not like the closed minded Catholics, they have done more to stand against oppressive regimes and communist governments than atheists have.
In summary, I wish that the popular atheists of today would recognize what it means to be respectable, courteous, and possess academic integrity rather than resorting to rhetoric and ad hominem arguments insulting ones character to discredit their position. I think that this was an excellent book to read and helpful if you are looking for atheists who have truly thought through atheism and theism and reasoned to atheism.
But given that his seems to end on a self-defeating conclusion i.
The Miracle of Theism: Arguments for and Against the Existence of God