Friday, February 20, 2009

Weinandy on Swinburne

Thomas Weinandy has a scathingly critical review of Swinburne's Was Jesus God? at First Things:

In this review I have only touched on a few of the most blatantly false or misconceived presuppositions that in Was Jesus God? give rise to spurious issues and erroneous conclusions. There are many more. To write an apology for the faith, one has to know the faith—the faith as it has been traditionally proclaimed and understood through the centuries. Only then is one adequately equipped to give rational arguments for why one should believe it.

I haven't read the book in question, but if it is anything like his others, I'd probably end up agreeing with Weinandy. Swinburne is not stupid, but what I usually see in his work is a brilliant person developing very dubious arguments at very great length and in very clever ways. Clever development does not make the arguments less dubious (although it perhaps makes them more interesting). Plus he's one of the people behind this horrid Bayesian epistemology that has infected so much of analytic philosophy of religion (leading to yet more brilliant people wasting their time developing dubious arguments in clever ways). I always leave off Swinburne feeling extraordinarily depressed about the future of philosophy of religion; only reading analytic philosophers discussing the Trinity or the Incarnation leaves me more pessimistic. From Weinandy's review, it sounds like Swinburne's book will ever be useful if I ever need a double dose of melancholy.

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