William Davis’s Argument from Objective, Nonutilitarian Value to Theism

Here is an excerpt from Davis’s chapter in Reason for the Hope Within.

While many human activities are pursued because of their usefulness (utility), and some are valuable only in the eyes of a few people (nonobjective), there are kinds of human activity which possess objective, nonutilitarian value.  Two obvious examples of this are self-sacrificial love and artistic beauty (which may be useful, but don’t need to be).  If everything (including humanity) is the result of random, impersonal forces which encouraged only survival, then it seems highly unlikely that the process would yield organisms (humans) which recognized values like these which aren’t survival conducive.  But values like these are what we would expect if humans (and the human environment) were created by a personal, loving God.  God’s existence is a much better explanation for the existence of nonutilitarian value than any explanation without God.

Source: William C. Davis, “Theistic Arguments” Reason for the Hope Within (ed. Michael J. Murray, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999), p. 39.

Davis’s Argument Formulated

Here is my attempt to provide the logical structure of Davis’s argument.

(1) There are kinds of human activity (e.g., self-sacrificial love and artistic beauty) which possess objective, nonutilitarian value.
(2) If theism were true, we would expect human activities which possess objective, nonutilitarian value.
(3) If metaphysical naturalism were true, we would not expect objective, nonutilitarian value.
(4) Therefore, theism is probably true. [abductive inference from (1)-(3)]

Is this an inductively correct argument? Please feel free to discuss in the combox.

About Jeffery Jay Lowder

Jeffery Jay Lowder is President Emeritus of Internet Infidels, Inc., which he co-founded in 1995. He is also co-editor of the book, The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave.


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