Richard Swinburne (Christian Philosopher)

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Richard Swinburne, born 26 December 1934 in the town of Smethwick, England, is an influential British philosopher (1). He is the Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Oxford, was a professor of Philosophy at the University of Keele (1972), and the Nolloth Professor of the Philosophy of the Christian Religion (1985-2002). He was elected as a Fellow of the British Academy (1993), and has been awarded Honorary Doctorates by the Catholic University of Lublin (2015), Dimitrie Cantemir Christian University (2016), and the International Academy of Philosophy (2017). Swinburne continues to write since his retirement.

Swinburne has a prolific several decade long career in the philosophy of religion and the philosophy of science, and has defended philosophical arguments for the existence of God (2). Through his students years he developed an interest in the issue of whether there is adequate justification for belief in God and the doctrines of the Christian religion, which ultimately led to a nine year journey into the philosophy of science.

Swinburne has engaged numerous philosophical topics including the mind body problem (he defends substance dualism), personal identity (he defends the concept of the soul), free will (he defends libertarian free will), epistemic justification, and Cartesian dualism. Swinburne has also written widely on apologetics, arguing that Christian belief is philosophically rational and coherent.

Many books bear Swinbrune’s name on their covers, some of which should be mentioned. Swinburne’s first book, Space and Time (1968), provides an account of the nature of space and time in the light of relativity theory and cosmology. He is the author of a trilogy on theism which includes The Coherence of Theism (1977), The Existence of God (1979), and Faith and Reason (1981). The Existence of God, from which Swinburne is best known, sought to re-establish “natural theology,” and provides probabilistic arguments from the general features of the world to the existence of God. Together the trilogy argues for the possibility of God’s existence, the probability of God’s existence, and matters relating to religious faith. Four other books penned over several years such as Responsibility and Atonement (1989), Revelation (1992), The Christian God (1994), and Providence and the Problem of Evil (1998) focus on the meaning and justification of the doctrines which distinguish Christianity from other religions. Epistemic Justification (2001) is an examination of what constitutes the justification of a belief (and what constitutes knowledge), and The Resurrection of God Incarnate (2003) argues in favour of the resurrection of Jesus and through the use of Bayes‘ theorem, Swinburne argues that the historicity of Jesus‘ resurrection can be established with 97% certainty. Mind, Brain, and Free Will (2013) argues that all humans consist of two parts, a soul (essential part) and body (contingent part), and that we probably have free will (of an indeterministic kind).

References

1. University of Oxford. Richard Swinburne – short intellectual autobiography. Available.

2. philosophyofreligion.org. Richard Swinburne. Available.

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