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Reason for the Hope Within 2: Theistic Arguments


Davis is doing just a brief sketch of arguments for God, looking most closely at cosmological arguments and arguments from complexity of things like beauty, humor, order, etc.

Thanks to Robin Le Poidevin, I can see that arguments for a necessary cause from contingency fail, and that totally undermines Davis’ first half.

The second half is undermined thanks to my better understanding of good explanations (Gregory Dawes’ Theism and Explanation).

Davis focuses primarily on explanatory power (p. 28-29), skipping over simplicity (footnote  says “I will be assuming that the simplicity of the pairs of hypotheses considered her are roughly equal. This means that explanatory power plays the determining role”). There is no mention of novel predictions, of the tradition of the explanatory tradition, or background knowledge, among others. This is key, since any “just so” story can have amazing explanatory power, especially if it is catered directly to explain the phenomenon.

This is exactly what is happening here. With all the things like beauty, humor, morality, etc., the argument starts with God, and the apologist comes up with a rationale for God to create it. But if we were just given the attributes of God, and asked to deduce these things without knowledge of the world, would we really come up with humor, beauty, consciousness? Seems unlikely. If there was no such thing as beauty, would people who believe in God think this counts against him? I doubt it. No one would try to deduce it from God’s attributes.

I’m confident that the apologist could come up with a creative rationale for any possible observation. Since the God explanation doesn’t constrain our expectations in any reasonable way, it fails the test of having novel predictions. That’s just the beginning.

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