The universe appears fine-tuned for life. Bayesian confirmation theory is utilized to examine two competing explanations for this fine-tuning, namely design (theism) and the existence of many universes, in comparison with the ’null’ hypothesis that just one universe exists as a brute fact. Some authors have invoked the so-called ’inverse gambler’s fallacy’ to argue that the many-universes hypothesis does not explain the fine-tuning of ’this’ universe, but flaws in this argument are exposed. Nevertheless, the hypothesis of design, being simpler, is (...) arguably of higher prior probability and, therefore, to be preferred. The hypothesis of the single brute-fact universe is disconfirmed. (shrink)
Hume's argument concerning miracles is interpreted by making approximations to terms in Bayes's theorem. This formulation is then used to analyse the impact of multiple testimony. Individual testimonies which are ‘non-miraculous’ in Hume's sense can in principle be accumulated to yield a high probability both for the occurrence of a single miracle and for the occurrence of at least one of a set of miracles. Conditions are given under which testimony for miracles may provide support for the existence of God.
It is shown that, for certain classes of cosmological model which either postulate or give rise to infinitely many universes, only a measure zero subset of the set of possible universes above a given size can in fact be physically realized. It follows that claims to explain the fine tuning of our universe on the basis of such models by appeal to the existence of all possible universes fail.
The German theologian and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer is not widely known for engaging with scientific thought, having been heavily influenced by Karl Barth's celebrated stance against natural theology. However, during the period of his maturing theology in prison Bonhoeffer read a significant scientific work, Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker's The World View of Physics. From this he gained two major insights for his theological outlook. First, he realized that the notion of a "God of the gaps" is futile, not just in (...) science but in other areas of human inquiry. Second, he felt that an infinite universe, as considered by science, would be self-subsistent and could exist as if there were no God. Bonhoeffer replaced Barth's radical critique of religion with the even more extreme view that it is a mere passing phase in history that grown-up humanity can dispense with. At the same time Bonhoeffer began an important critique of Barth's reaction, namely, the latter's retreat to a "positivism of revelation." While Bonhoeffer did not go quite as far as one might like, his approach opened up hopeful avenues for an answer to "the liberal question" and even a revived place for some kind of natural theology. (shrink)
This chapter examines Karl Barth's denouncement of natural theology and the reactions of the group of theologians following him. These theologians have all engaged with the natural sciences, but also share similar concerns to Barth in terms of prioritising revelation and of maintaining or defending an orthodox theology. Dietrich Bonhoeffer offered opportunities for intellectual engagement with the world through his notion of the penultimate and in other ways. Wolfhart Pannenberg brought scientific rationality to bear directly on theology. Thomas Torrance and (...) Alister McGrath retreated into making natural theology dependent on prior commitment to a fully orthodox, Trinitarian dogmatic position. However, each offered further opportunities for natural theology as traditionally conceived, by highlighting features of the universe, such as its rational contingency, which point to the grounding of the universe beyond itself. (shrink)