The Resurrection of God Incarnate

By Richard Swinburne | Go to book overview

13 The Balance of Probability

I began this book with the claim that generally available public evidence (not directly concerned with the Christian tradition) favours the hypothesis that there is a God of the traditional kind—omnipotent, omniscient, perfectly free, and perfectly good. I have not argued for this claim here, although I have done so elsewhere. I do not wish to exaggerate the strength of the evidence, and so I have claimed merely that the evidence makes it as probable as not that there is a God. I then went on to claim that a perfectly good God who saw the sin and the suffering of the human race would want to do something about it. He would want to help us to know which actions are good and which are bad (and especially which actions are obligatory and which are wrong), so that we might do good actions and by living good lives could begin to form characters suited to enjoy him for ever. He would want to help us to make atonement for our past sins in a serious way. And above all, if he has subjected us to suffering (quite a lot of it in no way the result of human sin) for the sake of good purposes, he would nevertheless want to identify with our suffering by sharing it. While the first two of these reasons are reasons why it would be good for God to become incarnate (to take a human nature and live a human life on Earth), the third plausibly makes it obligatory for him to do so. Any serious reflection on how a good creator God would react to a race of suffering and sinful creatures whom he has created must give considerable force to the claim that he must become incarnate. Again, I do not wish to exaggerate the strength of this plausibility and I suggested that it is as probable as not that God will be come incarnate.

I have suggested three reasons (or groups of reasons) why God might choose to become incarnate. If he became incarnate for all

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