Inspired by Stephen J. Gould's NOMA thesis, it is commonly maintained among academic theists (and some atheists) that religion and science are not in conflict. In this essay David Kyle Johnson argues, by analogy, that science and religion undeniably are in conflict. It begins by quickly defining religion and science and then presents multiple examples that are unquestionable instances of unscientific reasoning and beliefs, and shows how they precisely parallel common mainstream orthodox religious reasoning and doctrines. The essay then considers objections before showing that religion and science conflict when religion encroaches into the scientific domain. It wraps up by showing that religion and science might also conflict when science encroaches into domains traditionally reserved for religion.
Published on the Secular Web
[ Modern Library ]
Christian apologists, like Willian Lane Craig and Stephen T. Davis, argue that belief in Jesus' resurrection is reasonable because it provides the best explanation of the available evidence. In this article, David Kyle Johnson refutes that thesis by laying out how the logic of inference to the best explanation (IBE) operates and what good explanations must be and do by definition, and then applying IBE to the issue at hand. Multiple explanations—including the resurrection hypothesis, the lie hypothesis, the coma hypothesis, the imposter hypothesis, and the legend hypothesis—will be considered. While Johnson does not attempt to rank them all from worst to best, he reveals how and why the legend hypothesis is unquestionably the best explanation, while the resurrection hypothesis is undeniably the worst. Consequently, not only is Craig and Davis' conclusion mistaken, but belief in the literal resurrection of Jesus is irrational. In presenting this argument, Johnson does intent to break new ground, as Robert Cavin and Carlos Colombetti have already presented a Bayesian refutation of Craig and Davis' arguments. But he does take himself to be presenting an argument that the average person (and philosopher) can follow. The average person (and philosopher) should be able to clearly understand how and why the hypothesis "God supernaturally raised Jesus from the dead" fails utterly as an explanation of the evidence that Christian apologist cite for Jesus' resurrection.
In this article David Kyle Johnson argues that both the diversity of religious experiences and natural explanations for them entail that religious experiences cannot provide justification for religious beliefs. Johnson first considers the supposed role of religious experiences in justifying religious belief, then shows how the diversity of religious experiences raises an inductive problem that negates the ability of religious experience to justify religious belief. Finally, he shows that available natural explanations for religious experiences have the same end result by providing better explanations of religious experiences than religious explanations of them.
C. S. Lewis' argument from reason is perhaps his most famous argument because of the legendary debate that it inspired. In a response to it at Oxford University's Socratic Club, G. E. M. Anscombe reputedly demolished the argument, causing Lewis to withdraw from contributing to apologetics ever again. Many disagree that Anscombe actually demolished Lewis' central point, but grant that the encounter destroyed Lewis' confidence as a philosopher. In this paper (originally presented as a talk) David Kyle Johnson argues that Lewis' encounter with Anscombe should have reduced his confidence as an apologist because his argument rests on an embarrassing fundamental misunderstanding. In particular, after outlining the exchange between Lewis and Anscombe, Johnson aims to show that Lewis severely misunderstood both naturalism and evolution, and that this misunderstanding permeated Lewis' argument from reason.
[ Modern Library ]