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The Rationality of Theism 5-7: Traditional Arguments


It all seems to be the same as in the chapters I’ve already read. Not much to comment on! Ontological, teleological, and cosmological arguments all look the same as always!

Kindle Notes:

Atheists typically assert that, there being no God, it is false that everything has an explanation of its existence, for the universe, in this case, just exists inexplicably.5 In so saying, the atheist implicitly recognizes that if the universe has an explanation, then God exists as its explanatory ground (2905).

Note: Is that true? Some say that not even God works as an explanatory ground.

An analysis of what it is to be cause of the universe reveals that 14 If the universe has a cause, then an uncaused, personal Creator of the universe exists, who sans the universe is beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, and enormously powerful (3238).

Finally, and most strikingly, such a transcendent cause is plausibly to be regarded as personal. Three reasons can be given for this conclusion. First, as Swinburne points out, there are two types of causal explanation: scientific explanations in terms of laws and initial conditions, and personal explanations in terms of agents and their volitions. A first state of the universe cannot have a scientific explanation, since there is nothing before it, and therefore it can be accounted for only in terms of a personal explanation (3246).

Note: I would say the same of personal explanations.

Second, the personhood of the cause of the universe is implied by its timelessness and immateriality, since the only entities we know of which can possess such properties are either minds or abstract objects, and abstract objects do not stand in causal relations (3250).

Note: Evidence for this?

Simply put, the principle says that whenever we are considering two competing hypotheses, an observation counts as evidence in favor of the hypothesis under which the observation has the highest probability (or is the least improbable) (3444).

Note: Ignores prior probability, parsimony.

Using this principle, we can develop the fine-tuning argument in a two-step form as follows: 1 The existence of the fine-tuning is not highly improbable under theism. 2 The existence of the fine-tuning is very improbable under the atheistic single-universe hypothesis.17 We can conclude from premises 1 and 2 and the prime principle of confirmation that the fine-tuning data provide significant evidence to favor of the design hypothesis over the atheistic single-universe hypothesis (3453).

Note: More ignoring of background evidence.

Similarly the evidence of fine-tuning significantly supports theism over the atheistic single-universe hypothesis, but it does not itself show that, everything considered, theism is the most plausible explanation of the fine-tuning or the world (3470).

Note: Here’s an acknowledgement.

On the other hand, if the being were a subscriber to the atheistic single-universe hypothesis, it would have no reason to think that the values would be in the life-permitting region instead of any other part of the “theoretically possible” range of values (3519).

Note: Add to the hypothesis the stipulation that only one range of values is even possible and that is this one. That raises the probability to 1. Our universe counts as evidence for this hypothesis by Collins’ own criterion.

up one level, to that of the postulated physical law itself (3537).

Note: By Collins own criterion, our universe is evidence for this. Positing God is entirely speculative as well, and would also constitute moving the question up one level. We can ask: why is it good for God to create us, or what are the odds God would be such that he’d want to create us?

Indeed, medieval philosophers and theologians often went as far as advocating the doctrine of divine simplicity, according to which God is claimed to be absolutely simple, without any internal complexity. So, atheists who push this objection have a lot of arguing to do to make it stick (3584).

Note: Theists have much arguing to show that an infinitely powerful an all knowing being could be infinitely simple.

Is morality as natural as granola? Did human dignity and moral obligation just emerge through the course of naturalistic evolution? I suggest that the answer is no. Rather, it is theism that furnishes the metaphysical resources to make sense of the instantiation of moral properties in the form of objective moral values, human dignity, human rights, and obligations. Theism actually offers us a more suitable environment and thus a more plausible explanation for the existence of objective moral values (i.e. the instantiation of moral properties) (3872).

Thesis: In deciding between two competing hypotheses, we should look for (a) the more natural (less ad hoc) transition from the overall theory to the entity in question, (b) the more unified theory, and (c) the more basic theory (3878).

The same applies to objective moral values, which flow readily from a supremely valuable Being to us as his valuable creatures. Such a smooth transition does not appear in the move from mindless, valueless, naturalistic evolutionary processes (3892).

Note: How do they flow?

If one is open to the supernatural, a Grand Unified Theory or Theory of Everything is on the horizon (3906).

Note: It explains everything. How not historically ad hoc?

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