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In Defense of Natural Theology 8: Giving the Devil His Due: Teleological Arguments After Hume


The author looks at the teleological argument in light of Hume’s contributions. They admit that the classical teleological argument needs refining to withstand scrutiny.

The two defenses that they use are CORNEA (condition of reasonable epistemic access), which says that if you want to assert something, you need to be able to show what you evidence would observe if your assertion were not correct. Since any difference in data could still be accounted for by a God whose plans are beyond our ken, there is no difference that we can assert.

Of course, this is a weak defense, since it cuts away any assertion that God exists can be warranted by the evidence. Since any state of the world whatsoever can be consistent with God, since the real, deep ‘good’ is beyond our understanding, they can’t assert that God exists. Oops.

It’s also hopelessly ad hoc. Special pleading. Argument from possibility. What reason do we have to believe that there is some deeper good? None? Then it is unwarranted, and they are showing logical possibility, not something worth believing.

Next, they talk about how Liebniz addressed the arguments against the designer god from imperfections. Liebniz states that efficiency is an aspect of good design, so imperfections may be simply in line with great efficiency. He addresses that argument that efficiency is only limited to finite beings, and God is infinite, but it really doesn’t hold. Jennie dies in child birth, and yet design is perfect because it is efficient? If all this suffering is worth efficiency in an all powerful God, then it’s hard to see how we can call him ‘good.’ The only response would be CORNEA, which is a failure.

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