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The Existence of God 10: The Argument from Providence


Short chapter, but Swinburne is trying to make the case that the world as we see it, in which we cannot infinitely harm, but can continue improving the world forever, and one in which there are animals etc., is likely given God. It all seems like fitting current knowledge with God. Swinburne continually gives an example of something that is true, and says something like “and it is obviously good that. . .” or “it is reasonably good that. . .” but almost nothing is ruled out. Swinburne doesn’t think there is a best of all possible worlds, so that means that you can keep getting worse and worse and worse, and it will still be in line with God.

Perhaps calling them ‘ad hoc’ is the best description. We need to avoid this by looking at what novel predictions God as an explanation brings forth. Swinburne can speculate all day about how this world is just what a perfectly good God would create, but he shows a deep flaw in his explanation if he avoids making novel, specific predictions that could potentially falsify his theory. Until he does so, it all seems like an elaborate ‘just so’ story.

Kindle Notes:

Is a world with the opportunity for unrequired benefit good thing? Surely yes, for it is a great good for me to benefit you, to be able to give things to you and do things for you. Think how awful it would be if we could never be of any use to anyone (2978).

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