Skeptical Atheism and the Fine-Tuning Argument?

The multiple universes objection is a common objection to fine-tuning arguments for God’s existence. Paul Draper once wrote an interesting essay comparing that objection to that argument to the same objection applied to arguments from evil. What I’ve often wondered is this: what if we tried to draw another parallel between fine-tuning arguments and arguments from evil, this time focusing on “skeptical theism”? In other words, I think it would be interesting to compare, on the one hand, skeptical theism as an objection to arguments from evil, to, on the other hand, skeptical atheism as an objection to fine-tuning arguments.

For example, here are three theses often associated with skeptical theism (ST):

S1 We have no good reason for thinking that the possible goods we know of are representative, relative to the property of figuring in a (potentially) God-justifying reason for permitting such things as hiddenness or horrors, of the possible goods there are.
S2 We have no good reason for thinking that the possible evils we know of are representative, relative to the property of figuring in a (potentially) God-justifying reason for permitting such things as hiddenness or horrors, of the possible evils there are.
S3 We have no good reason for thinking that the entailment relations we know of between possible goods and the permission of possible evils are representative, relative to the property of figuring in a (potentially) God-justifying reason for permitting such things as hiddenness or horrors, of the entailment relations there are between possible goods and the permission of possible evils.
Now consider the following parallel thesis of “skeptical atheism,” taken from a recent paper by J.L. Schellenberg:
S4 We have no good reason for thinking that the considerations opposing the epistemic force of religious experience we know of are representative, relative to the property of (potentially) figuring in an undefeatable defeater of religious experience as justification for theistic belief, of the considerations opposing the epistemic force of religious experience there are.
Schellenberg’s focus is on investigating “skeptical atheism’s” ability to undercut the epistemic force of religious experience. But we can try extending the scope of “skeptical atheism’s” reach by applying it to fine-tuning arguments:

S5 We have no good reason for thinking that our universe is the only universe.

S6 We have no good reason for thinking that the physical constants (free parameters) which make our universe life-permitting are anything but the chance outcome of unknown, physical processes operating at the level of the multiverse.
S7 We have no good reason for thinking that our present understanding of physical cosmology is mature or reliable enough to justify inferences regarding the (a)theological implications of physical cosmology.
Is the “skeptical atheism” objection to fine-arguments stronger than the “skeptical theism” objection to arguments from evil? Thoughts?

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.

  • Cheerful Charlie

    There are several ways of casting such arguments. One way for Atheists is as a Plantingian defense. There is no reason to think a multi-universe does not exist.
    Unless theists can find a true defeater for that concept, we cannot accept the fine-tuning argument is true or useful. That is simply relying on assumptions that may not be true and is merely argument from ignorance.

    William C. Barwell


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