This paper investigates the link between (radical) evil and the existence of God. Arguing with contemporary atheist thinkers, such as Richard Dawkins and Victor Stenger, I hold that one can take the existence of evil as a sign of the existence of God rather than its opposite. The work of Immanuel Kant, especially his thought on evil, is a fertile source to enliven this intuition. Kant implicitly seems to argue that because man is unable to overcome evil by himself, there (...) is a need for God to bridge the gap. Si Deus est, unde malum? Si malum est, Deus est! (shrink)
The author argues that the atheist does not commit the so called “philosophy fallacy” but rather simply answers the theist’s arguments. The principle that the absence of evidence is the evidence of absence, although very sound, is nevertheless context-dependent and cannot be accepted without further qualifications. Also, any systematic study of religiousness should explore its links to emotions (prophets often invite people to open their hearts, not their minds or reasons) and its role in the constitution of identity (people often (...) claim that they are Catholics, they are Moslems, etc). (shrink)
The main object of Marxist-Leninist 'scientific atheism' consists in the discovery and assimilation of 'scientific' data and its use in the 'atheistic' destruction of religion and all its appurtenances. The first task is to show — using the data mainly of the natural sciences — the non-existence of the object of religion, i.e. God. Second, it is necessary to explain how a theory without an object came to be and continues to show signs of vitality, i.e. to find the causes (...) or 'roots' of religion: and this in terms of historical materialism. (shrink)
The compatibility of Darwinism with religious beliefs has been the subject of vigorous debate from 1859 to the present day. Darwin himself did not think that there was any incompatibility between his theory of natural selection and the existence of God. However, he did not think that appeals to the direct or indirect activity of a Creator substantially increased our understanding of any natural phenomenon. In effect, Darwin endorsed what we would today label as ’methodological naturalism,’ roughly the view that (...) the only legitimate elements of the explanation of natural phenomena must appeal only to natural processes, natural laws and natural regularities. In section 2, Darwin’s commitment to methodological Darwinism is documented. Section 3 addresses the question of whether methodological naturalism does or does not rule out belief in a divine Creator. Section 4 raises the question of whether methodological naturalists are also metaphysical naturalists. Finally, section 5 assesses the. (shrink)
First: there is ample precedent for what I am doing. Socrates, for example, examined the religious beliefs of his contemporaries-- especially the belief that we ought to do what the gods command--and showed them to be both ill-founded and conceptually confused. I wish to follow in his footsteps though not to share in his fate. A glass of wine, not of poison, would be my preferred reward.
Many things in the natural world work so well that they seem to have been designed. But by what? Could nature itself, by processes including those of evolution, be the designer? Or must their complex structure and function be attributed to some intelligent designer or God? Is natural design compatible with intelligent design? How good is the argument from the presence of design to an intelligent designer? And if we could legitimately infer the probable existence of an intelligent designer from (...) the presence of design in the natural world, what could we then infer about that designer's nature? (shrink)
Plantinga underestimates the prospects for probabilistic atheism. He employs a flawed mathematical rendition of the atheist's crucial claim, (1) and he misunderstands the utility (1) would have for the atheist.
While Hume has often been held to have been an agnostic or atheist, several contemporary scholars have argued that Hume was a theist. These interpretations depend chiefly on several passages in which Hume allegedly confesses to theism. In this paper, I argue against this position by giving a threshold characterization of theism and using it to show that Hume does not confess. His most important confession does not cross this threshold and the ones that do are often expressive rather than (...) assertive. I then argue that Hume is best interpreted as an atheist. Instead of interpreting Hume as a proto-logical positivist and arguing on the basis of Hume’s theories of meaning and method, I show that textually he appears to align himself with atheism, that his arguments in the Dialogues on Natural Religion support atheism, and that this position is most consistent with Hume’s naturalism. But, I hold that his atheism is soft and therefore distinct from that of his peers like Baron d’Holbach—while Hume really does reject theism, he neither embraces a dogmatically materialist position nor takes up a purely polemical stance towards theism. I conclude by suggesting several ways in which Hume’s atheistic philosophy of religion is relevant to contemporary discussions. (shrink)
Contemporary science presents us with the remarkable theory that the universe began to exist about fifteen billion years ago with a cataclysmic explosion called "the Big Bang." The question of whether Big Bang cosmology supports theism or atheism has long been a matter of discussion among the general public and in popular science books, but has received scant attention from philosophers. This book sets out to fill this gap by means of a sustained debate between two philosophers, William Lane Craig (...) and Quentin Smith, who defend opposing positions. Craig argues that the Big Bang that began the universe was created by God, while Smith argues that the Big Bang has no cause. Alternating chapters by the two philosophers criticize and attempt to refute preceding arguments. Their arguments are based on Einstein's theory of relativity and include a discussion of the new quantum cosmology recently developed by Stephen Hawking and popularized in A Brief History of Time. (shrink)
Skeptical theism (ST) may undercut the key inference in the evidential argument from evil, but it does so at a cost. If ST is true, then we lose our ability to assess the all things considered (ATC) value of natural events and states of affairs. And if we lose that ability, a whole slew of undesirable consequences follow. So goes a common consequential critique of ST. In a recent article, Anderson has argued that this consequential critique is flawed. Anderson claims (...) that ST only has the consequence that we lack epistemic access to potentially God-justifying reasons for permitting a prima facie “bad” (or “evil”) event. But this is very different from lacking epistemic access to the ATC value of such events. God could have an (unknowable) reason for not intervening to prevent E and yet E could still be (knowably) ATC-bad. Ingenious though it is, this article argues that Anderson’s attempted defence of ST is flawed. This is for two reasons. First, and most importantly, the consequential critique does not rely on the questionable assumption he identifies. Indeed, the argument can be made quite easily by relying purely on Anderson’s distinction between God-justifying reasons for permitting E and the ATC value of E. And second, Anderson’s defence of his position, if correct, would serve to undermine the foundations of ST. (shrink)
Although Kant argues that morality is prior to and independent of religion, Kant nevertheless claims that religion of a certain sort (“moral theism”) follows from morality, and that atheism poses threats to morality. Kant criticizes atheism as morally problematic in four ways: atheism robs the atheist of springs for moral action, leads the atheist to moral despair, corrupts the atheist’s moral character, and has a pernicious influence on the atheist’s community. I argue that Kant is right to say that moral (...) theism can help support morality, and that (for some people), morality leads to religion. But I also argue that one may refrain from accepting the existence of God and still act from respect for the moral law, resist despair, cultivate and retain a virtuous character, and pose no moral threat to one’s community. Indeed, theism, even moral theism, raises moral risks of its own. This article includes discussions of different versions of the highest good, and of two main types of atheism (skeptical and dogmatic). (shrink)
Descartes, in the _Meditations_ (1641), notes that "there are only two ways of proving the existence of God, one by means of his effects, and the other by means of his nature or essence.” (AT VII, 120). The latter, _a priori _path, represented paradigmatically by the Ontological Argument of Saint Anselm (and its offspring, including Descartes’s own version), has perennial appeal to a certain sort of philosopher, but leaves most people cold. The former, represented paradigmatically by the Argument from Design, (...) is surely the most compelling of all arguments against atheism, and it apparently arises spontaneously whenever people anywhere are challenged to justify their belief in God. William Paley’s example of finding a watch while strolling on the heath epitomizes the theme and leads, he says, to “the inference we think is inevitable, that the watch must have had a maker-that there must have existed, at some time and at some place or other, an artificer or artificers who formed it for the purpose which we find it actually to answer, who comprehended its construction and designed its use.” (_Natural Theology_, 1800) Until Darwin came along, this was a respectable argument, worthy of Hume’s corrosive but indecisive broadside in his _Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion_ (1779). Descartes himself subscribed to a version of the Argument from Design, in his notorious Third Meditation argument that his idea of God was too wonderful to have been created by him. Though Descartes surely considered himself intelligent, and moreover an accomplished designer of ideas, he could not imagine that he could be the intelligent designer of his own idea of God. (shrink)
In this article, we examine in detail the New Atheists' most serious argument for the conclusion that God does not exist, namely, Richard Dawkins's Ultimate 747 Gambit. Dawkins relies upon a strong explanatory principle involving simplicity. We systematically inspect the various kinds of simplicity that Dawkins may invoke. Finding his crucial premises false on any common conception of simplicity, we conclude that Dawkins has not given good reason to think God does not exist.