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I had a discussion recently where someone said we have more evidence for Jesus' existence than Hitler. I found this to be absurd. I'm not saying Jesus didn't exist, but his existence surely isn't as well-evidenced as Hitler.

A sketch of Draper's argument:

Let O (for "observations") represent the evidence to be explained, in this case observations about pain and pleasure. More formally, Draper defines O as a statement about "the kinds, amounts, and distribution of pain and pleasure in the world." In Draper's formulation, O is the conjunction (or combination) of the following:

O1 = a statement about facts concerning "moral agents experiencing pain or pleasure that we know to be biologically useful";

O2 = a statement about facts concerning "sentient beings that are not moral agents experiencing pain or pleasure that we know to be biologically useful"; and

O3 = a statement about facts concerning "sentient beings experiencing pain or pleasure that we do not know to be biologically useful."

So defined, Draper's argument from the biological role of pain and pleasure runs as follows:

1. O is known to be true.
2. Theism (T) is not much more probable intrinsically than the hypothesis of indifference (HI) [i.e., Pr(|T|) is not much greater than Pr(|HI|)].
3. O is much more likely on the assumption that the hypothesis of indifference is true than it is on the assumption that theism is true [i.e., Pr(O | HI) >! Pr(O | T)].
4. So, other evidence held equal, theism is probably false.

Skeptical Theism and Draper's Response

With respect to skeptical theism, Draper responds by granting that, for all we know, God has a good reason for allowing various instances of suffering. But, says Draper, it is also true (and antecedently just as likely) that, for all we know, God doesn't have a good reason for allowing various instances of suffering. Hence, we're right back where we started, which is working with what we do know.

Response to Draper by Perrine

Timothy Perrine responds by first combining theism with skeptical theism. That is, skeptical theism is (arguably) very likely on theism. And, if this is the case, we can't know that the third premise is true in Draper's argument.
Next, in order to deal with Draper's objection to skeptical theism, Tim combines skeptical theism and theism with a certain principle regarding belief. Tim calls the principle "Principle".  Tim summarizes it as follows:

If a person reasonably believes that P is true only if Q is true (e.g. that P implies Q), and it is unreasonable for that person to believe that Q is true, then it is unreasonable for that person to believe P.

Perrine says the following:

Suppose your students have done particularly poorly on the last in-class quiz. You claim that this data—poor quiz grades—is more probable given one hypothesis—they are incompetent—than another hypothesis—they are competent. In response, I point out that a competent but otherwise lazy and uninterested student will do just as poorly on a quiz as an incompetent one. Suppose, further, that you cannot reasonably rule out the possibility that most of your competent students are lazy and uninterested (it is early in the semester, say). Intuitively, it no longer remains reasonable for you to believe that the poor quiz grades are much more likely given that your students are incompetent than competent. Now imagine someone lodges an analogous offsetting objection:
But suppose you consider this possibility which you cannot reasonably rule out: for all you know, almost none of your competent students are lazy. This possibility “offsets” the other one. Therefore, it is now reasonable for you to once again believe that your initial data of poor quiz grades is much more likely given the hypothesis that they are incompetent than the hypothesis that they are competent. This objection is intuitively unpersuasive.

Hence, Perrine isn't just comparing the Pr(O|HI) to the Pr(O|T). Rather, he is comparing the Pr(O|T & ST & P), where ST stands for 'skeptical theism' and P stands for the Principle.

My Thoughts

I'm not sure why we still shouldn't accept that HI is a better explanation of the data of evil than Perrine's expansive theism. Perrine adds two auxiliary hypotheses to theism simpliciter. So, Perrine's explanation is much less simple than the hypothesis of indifference.

Not to mention, one can argue that human ignorance of God's reasons for allowing evil is much more expected on the hypothesis of indifference than expansive theism. Expansive theism does give us some grounds for our ignorance, but our ignorance isn't at all surprising given the hypothesis of indifference. That's because HI entails that there is no Omnipotent and Omnibenevolent Being who cares about our ignorance. On the other hand, theism does not entail skeptical theism.

Choose Your Own Topic / How many beliefs does God have?
« on: March 09, 2018, 12:15:13 pm »
Does God have an infinite number of beliefs? If God doesn't have an infinite number of beliefs, then is he omniscient? If actual infinities can't exist, according to Craig, then how can God have an infinite number of beliefs?

Choose Your Own Topic / Expanding Craig's Moral Argument
« on: March 05, 2018, 01:33:21 pm »
I think you're right. I think it's hard to harder to establish that a moral perfect being doesn't exist if God does not exist, but it's easier to establish that God doesn't exist if a morally perfect being doesn't exist (by definition). 

Perhaps my argument should be changed to:

1. Necessarily, if there does not exist a morally perfect being, then God does not exist

2. If God does not exist, then moral facts don't exist

3. Therefore, if there is does not exist a personal morally perfect being, then moral facts don't exist (1,2)

4. Moral facts do exist

5. Therefore, a personal morally perfect being exists (3,4)

6. Therefore, God exists (1,5)


1.1. If a morally perfect being does not exist, then an omnibenevolent being does not exist

1.2. If an omnibenevolent being does not exist, then an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent being does not exist

1.3. Therefore, if a morally perfect being does not exist, then an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent being does not exist

1.4. If an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent being does not exist, then God does not exist

1.5  Therefore, if a morally perfect being does not exist, then God does not exist

So, a friend of mine told me last night that he thinks the typical response from theists and many non-theists to the logical argument from evil, lends support to the possibility premise in the modal ontological argument.

He said the typical response is something like, "Of course it's logically possible for God and evil to co-exist". But, he says that this means that God exists in some possible world(s), namely some worlds with evil.

I'm a little bit skeptical of this move. Personally, I would say that I would not burden myself with claiming it's impossible for God and evil to co-exist. But, that's not to say that I grant that it's possible for God and evil to co-exist; rather, I suspend judgment.

But what about those non-theists who do grant that it's logically possible for God and evil to co-exist? Well, here they could be speaking of strict logical possibility which has to do with something not being contradictory. However, the possibility premise in the modal ontological argument has more to do with broad logical possibility/metaphysical possibility.

Choose Your Own Topic / Pragmatic reasons for believing in God
« on: February 05, 2018, 09:08:37 pm »
I haven't seen many posts on here about pragmatic justifications for believing in God. In one sense, it seems like we would say it's "rational" to engage in practices that benefit oneself.

Epistemically speaking, does rationality only relate to deontological/virtuous considerations? Or, is rationality only pragmatic? Or, is rationality all of the above? None of the above?

I don't get the sense that rationality is only a matter of considering what's pragmatic. I say this because I just read a paper that tried to argue that rationality was only a matter of what is pragmatic.

There's a constant debate about why the majority of philosophers of religion sign up to some form of theism. But I don't often see a distinction between philosophers of religion believing there's a god versus those same people thinking the arguments for God's existence are sound. For example, Plantinga at one point didn't take much stock in the arguments for God's existence.

Choose Your Own Topic / Philosophy of Religion Blogs
« on: December 09, 2017, 02:36:06 pm »
Hey, I found a few philosophy of religion blogs, but I'm looking for more. If anyone has any websites, I'd be happy to check them out. I'm looking for free resources.

Here are the blogs I've found:

How does Anselm's (and Descartes') ontological argument NOT assume that the concept of God is possible? Leibniz and Craig have argued that that the ontological argument assumes this. For all I know, I have a concept of something that is impossible. Or, I could draw contradictory conclusions. I have a concept of God, but, for all I know, that concept is an implicit contradiction. Similarly, I have a concept of an all-powerful and all-evil being, but, for all I know, such a being is not possible.

And that's the rub. If Anselm questions whether an evil god is possible, the skeptic will question whether God is possible.

Anselm can question the possibility of an evil god for a variety of reasons (e.g. privation theory of evil), just like a skeptic can question the possibility of God for a variety of reasons (e.g. incompatibility arguments). Anselm could question whether an evil god can be proved using his style of argument by saying, "maybe evil is a privation of good". Similarly, the skeptic will say, "maybe God's attributes don't fit together."

There's something that's wrong with saying atheism is just a lack of belief in God. The problem is that one can have a confidence level of 51% that God exists. But would we say that they believe that God exists? No.

If I have a confidence level of 51% that it is going to rain tomorrow, that is obviously not enough for belief. While I can't be sure exactly what confidence level warrants outright belief, it is almost surely not 51%. A lot of epistemologists say outright belief comes into play in the "60's".  

So, the person in our case has a 51% confidence level that God exists, but they lack belief in God. Would we call them atheist? That doesn't seem right.

What I mean is that a lot of people don't know what their individual purpose is in life. Even if God exists, you still have believers who are confused about what to do specifically in life with their walk with God. They don't know what career best fits them or what career they would like.

Purpose doesn't have to be limited to just a career, but I focused on that because that has hit me the most personally. I haven't really liked any jobs that I have ever had. I pursued education for careers that I thought would be good for me, only for doors to close. I don't seem to be good at anything. I don't know why God would create me in a 21st-century economy where I'm not good at anything nor like any of the jobs. And if there is a career fit for me, it's utterly mysterious why God wouldn't have just helped me by now like a loving parent.

I suppose you could say that God has some hidden good reason for this, but God could also have a good reason not to allow this.

This is open to both theists and non-theists alike. By the way, you don't have to think any of the arguments ultimately succeed (i.e. sound).

Choose Your Own Topic / Must the Maximally Great Being be Personal?
« on: May 02, 2017, 10:24:45 am »
It seems to me that most (if not all) ontological arguments take it for granted that the Being in question must be Personal. What is taken for granted (by Plantinga, Anselm, Descartes, etc.) is that Ultimate Reality is in some sense, Personal. But why must we suppose that? Why must the Ultimate even be theistic?

It seems like when Craig usually uses the phrase "God is the Good" he means that God is morally perfect. But clearly, goodness is more than just moral goodness.

When we say that God is all-good, we could also mean that God is perfectly loving, or we could say that being all-good entails perfect justice. And wouldn't calling God "all-good" include some aesthetics elements as well?

If God is Goodness itself (or perfect goodness) it seems like we are saying that all goods are in God, or at least that all perfections are in God.

It just seems intuitive that God being "the Good" extends beyond morality. I guess Craig would agree.

I find the studies that are done on religious demographics to be flawed in a way. For instance, there are many religious people who don't believe in God. Atheism isn't a religion, but there are some religious people who are atheists (i.e. some Buddhists, Hindus, etc.). People can fall into two categories! They can not believe in God but be part of some religious tradition or community. But most of these studies totally overlook this fact.

I think more studies need to be done to assess whether someone believes in God, instead of asking them what religious tradition they most identify; we can't forget the religion is a big cultural phenomenon! Or, at the very least people need to be aware how a lot of these religious demographic studies can be misleading, as I just pointed out.

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