Why does a loving God allow humans to suffer so much? This is one of the most difficult problems of religious belief. Richard Swinburne gives a careful, clear examination of this problem, and offers an answer: it is because God wants more for us than just pleasure or freedom from suffering. Swinburne argues that God wants humans to learn and to love, to make the choices which make great differences for good and evil to each other, to form our characters in the way we choose; above all to be of great use to each other. If we are to have all this, there will inevitably be suffering for the short period of our lives on Earth. But because of the good that God gives to humans in this life, and because he makes it possible for us, through our choice, to share the life of Heaven, he does not wrong us if he allows suffering. Providence and the Problem of Evil is the final volume of Richard Swinburne's acclaimed tetralogy on Christian doctrine. It may be read on its own as a self-standing treatment of this eternal philosophical issue. Readers who are interested in a unified study of the philosophical foundations of Christian belief will find it now in the tetralogy and in his trilogy on the philosophy of theism.
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Richard Swinburne has been Nolloth Professor of the Philosophy of the Christian Religion at the University of Oxford since 1985; he is a Fellow of the British Academy.
`This book, the fourth in a tetralogy on philosophical questions raised by Christianity, is of the quality that readers expect of Swinburne, and will undoubtedly command the same degree of respect and attention as have his earlier works.' The Philosophical Review, vol.110, no.1
`The endeavor to take each kind of evil and relate it to some good is more complete than any I have seen in any contemporary work. Especially interesting here is the discussion ... of just how surprisingly valuable our natural disposition to sloth may be. Perhaps the most important novelty of the book, though, consists in its emphasis on the value of being of use. The ramifications that this oft-overlooked value has on theodicy are substantial, and Swinburne does a real service in pointing them out.' The Philosophical Review, vol.110, no.1
`the value of this book should not be underestimated. It provides a philosphically informed, comprehensive theodicy, sensitive to the concerns of Christian tradition, proving that the problem is not so intractable as it may first appear. This book should be required reading for all serious students of apologetics and philosophical theology.' Patrick Richmond, Themelios Vol 25:1
`Swinburne's procedure is to examine one by one the various goods that the world promises, and then to argue, with his customary care and rigour, that none of these goods can logically occur without the possibility of the related evils which in fact we experience.' Church Times
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