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Miracle of Theism Review

11/20/2011

The Miracle of Theism is a surprisingly up to date examination of arguments for and against God. Despite being published in 1982, many of the topics, like the cosmological argument, arguments from morality and design, and the problem of evil, are still used in more or less the same form today. On top of arguments for and against God, Mackie approaches related issues, like belief without reason (Pascal’s wager), the accusation of nihilism as result of adopting atheism, and a surprising but outstanding examination of the relationship between free will and theism.

Although he consistently falls on the side of atheism, Mackie shows his even handed approach by examining arguments based on their merits, not on their popularity. He spends a chapter on Berkeley’s argument for God, which includes a belief that there is no material universe, an assumption that even theists will be unlikely to take. His fairness is also apparent in his even, careful approach to the issue lacking any visible vitriol or emotional bias. While he ultimately rules that the “balance of probabilities comes out strongly against the existence of God,” (p. 253), he certainly takes the issue seriously, and approaches the issue in a away that both believers and non-believers can benefit from.

This is a concise and readable primer on basic issues in the God debate, and it’s clear that this book has shaped the debate that continues today. Even after nearly thirty years, this book is likely one of the best books arguing against theism out there.

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