Disturbing the public

The atheist blogosphere (to the extent that there is such a thing) seems convulsed about the question about whether public advocacy of atheism etc. is a good idea—after all, maybe the public can't handle it. (I'll just mention a post by Jason Rosenhouse; follow the links back from him if you're at all interested.)Everybody's trying to figure out some principled position or other about the matter. But whatever comes out of such a debate, I doubt if it will be very generalizable.Consider, for … [Read more...]

Swinburne’s Case for God – Part 4

Swinburne makes use of Bayes' Theorem in presenting most of the a posteriori arguments for and against God in The Existence of God (EOG), and he makes significant use of it in summing up his case for God. Although his argument can be presented without using Bayes' Theorem, I want to stick closely to Swinburne's presentation of his case as presented in EOG, so I expect to take a look at his use of Bayes' Theorem as part of presenting and explaining his case for God. This theorem looks a bit … [Read more...]

Swinburne’s Case for God – Part 3

Before we look at the a posteriori arguments that Swinburne presents and evaluates in The Existence of God (EOG), I should briefly describe his views on a priori arguments for and against the existence of God.In Chapter 1 of EOG, Swinburne mentions an assumption that his case for God makes:In reaching my final conclusion about how probable it is that there is a God, I assume that no a priori arguments of either species, and no a posteriori arguments other than those that I discuss, have any … [Read more...]

DoSER

After my presentation Friday at the AAAS meeting, I stopped by the reception of DoSER (AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion).It was interesting, but my impression was that this was a bunch of people trying to keep the peace by setting aside discordant voices: Dawkins-style nonbelievers and Discovery Institute-style believers. (In other words, anyone who more agressively highlights disagreements.) So it's a bit of a club devoted to mutual back-slapping about their common … [Read more...]

Swinburne’s Case for God – Part 2

Swinburne's case for God (in The Existence of God, 2nd ed.) can be summed up this way:1. Based on evidence other than religious experience, the existence of God is not very improbable.2. If based on evidence other than religious experience, the existence of God is not very improbable, then the evidence from religious experience (in combination with other relevant evidence) makes the existence of God more probable than not.Therefore:3. The evidence from religious experience (in combination with … [Read more...]

Swinburne’s Case for God – Part 1

Richard Swinburne summarizes his case for God in the final pages of the final chapter of The Existence of God:…all that my conclusion so far amounts to is that it is something like as probable as not that theism is true, on the evidence so far considered. However, so far in this chapter I have ignored one crucial piece of evidence, the evidence from religious experience. I concluded the last chapter (p.326) with the claim that, unless the probability of theism on other evidence is very low, … [Read more...]

Froese, Bader, and the compatibility of science and religion

I just finished Paul Froese and Christopher Bader's America's Four Gods, which was a very interesting survey of American religious beliefs analyzed according to four major conceptions of God: the Authoritative God, the Benevolent God, and the Distant God. It's well worth reading.Still, I have to gripe about something that appears on page 145.The authors cite the books of Richard Dawkins, Vic Stenger, Mark Perakh, and myself as examples of "prominent science professors making similar arguments" … [Read more...]

How Many Ways to Analyze the Word ‘God’ – Part 6

In the last post on this subject (Part 5), I claimed that one can generate over 5,000,000 definitions of 'divine person' from a set of five divine attributes.In reflecting over my previous analysis of how many definitions one can generate from a set of just four divine attributes (power, knowledge, freedom, goodness), I noticed that my specifications of four degrees of these attributes (human, superhuman, perfect, and eternally perfect) mixed two different types of specification together: … [Read more...]

How Many Ways to Analyze the Word ‘God’? – Part 5

I have previously shown that using just four divine attributes (power, knowledge, freedom, goodness) that can occur in four different degrees (human, superhuman, perfect, eternally perfect), one can create more than 200,000 definitions of 'divine person'.That is not quite as impressive as the estimate of three million definitions that I made initially, based on some mistaken assumptions. However, it is very easy to get up into the millions of defintions. By adding just one more divine attribute, … [Read more...]

A Simple Statement of the Problem of Evil

I have been trying to come up with a statement of the problem of evil that is comprehensible to undergraduates. Below is my draft. It makes for a rather long post, but any comments, suggestions, or criticisms would be appreciated. A SIMPLE STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM OF EVILBelievers tell us that God is good. Not only is he good, he is perfectly good, supremely good, as good as can be. God is also powerful. Not only is he powerful, he is omnipotent, that is, all-powerful. Most theologians and … [Read more...]