On first appearance, Richard Swinburne’s The Existence of God offers a highly structured, coherent, and rigorous argument for God’s existence grounded in Bayes’ theorem, inductive reasoning, confirmation theory, the intrinsic probability of simple hypotheses, substance dualism, and moral realism. But Gabe Czobel questions both the rigor of Swinburne’s overall argument, and whether it really yields the conclusion that Swinburne expects the reader to reach. An unsympathetic reader would have difficulty overlooking its major structural flaws, particularly where the argument does not live up to its promise of being grounded in premises undisputed by all. Moreover, it only promises a threadbare deity who is almost robotic in nature, and who offers little assurance of benefit to his adherents in this life or any other.
The anthropic principle or the associated anthropic coincidences have been used by philosophers such as John Leslie (1989), William Lane Craig (1988) and Richard Swinburne (1990) to support the thesis that God exists. In this paper I shall examine Swinburne’s argument from the anthropic coincidences. I will show that Swinburne’s premises, coupled with his principle of credulity and the failure of his theodicy in The Existence of God, disconfirms theism and confirms instead the hypothesis that there exists a malevolent creator of the universe.
In an essay derived from his longer work “Mind-Brain Dependence as Twofold Support for Atheism,” Conifer employs both rigorous informal argumentation and formal logic so as to thoroughly debunk the popular theistic argument that human consciousness entails God’s existence. The essay includes a critical appraisal of the version of the argument put forward by the theistic philosopher Richard Swinburne.
Quentin Smith argues that the natural law that animals must savagely kill and devour each other in order to survive is an evil natural law and that the obtaining of this law is sufficient evidence that God does not exist.
Richard Swinburne has argued that the hypothesis of theism (h1) is a very simple hypothesis. Because of its simplicity Swinburne maintains that h1 has a higher prior probability than rival hypotheses. This alleged higher prior probability is used by Swinburne in combination with other considerations to argue that h1 has a higher a posteriori probability than its rivals. One rival hypothesis to h1 that is not explicitly considered by Swinburne is that there is an omniscient, omnipotent, free and perfectly evil Being. Consequently, his probabilistic argument for the existence of God must be reconsidered since his probabilistic argument implicitly assumes that The Absolute Evil One is impossible.
Flew argues that we do not survive death.
In this contribution to an American Philosophical Association symposium on “God, Death, and the Meaning of Life,” Evan Fales considers three responses to loss of faith in the Christian God: despair, optimism, and rebellion. Western culture is permeated by belief in an afterlife on religious grounds, shaping these responses in particularly anxious ways. Fales considers both how atheists can respond to the question of the meaning of life, and, in what is surely a surprising direction for some, whether Christianity even has the resources to provide meaning through doctrines as problematic as requiring another to pay for your own sins.
Tattersall defends a version of the evidential argument from evil that is based upon the probable existence of gratuitous evil. The argument includes a premise that gratuitous evils are logically incompatible with the God of theism. The argument is evidential, however, since it is not known with certainty that gratuitous evil exists. Thus, the other premise of Tattersall’s argument is that gratuitous evil probably exists. Various theistic objections to this argument are refuted.
Oppy argues that the traditional philosophical conception of God requires a commitment to moral realism, and thus that if moral realism is false, then its falsehood is a metaethical fact incompatible with God’s existence.
In these slides for his opening statement in his debate with Michael Licona on July 1, 2012 at Antioch Temecula Church in Temecula, California, Robert Greg Cavin presents one of the strongest cases against the resurrection of Jesus ever presented, decisively refuting arguments for the Resurrection by prominent Christian apologists Timothy McGrew, Lydia McGrew, Richard Swinburne, William Lane Craig, Stephen T. Davis, Gary Habermas, Michael Licona, Norman Geisler, Josh McDowell, and Lee Strobel. Cavin makes three main contentions: (1) the prior probability of a supernatural resurrection of Jesus by God is so astronomically low that it has virtually no plausibility; (2) theorizing such a resurrection to explain the empty tomb and postmortem appearances of Jesus is ad hoc and devoid of nearly any explanatory power and scope; and (3) a far superior alternative theory can account for the empty tomb and postmortem appearances. In defending these three contentions, Cavin refutes sixteen myths perpetuated by Christians apologists about critics’ objections to the Resurrection.
Citing both philosophical considerations and modern day physics, Smith argues that “it is nomologically necessary that a beginningless universe has an internal causal explanation (be it deterministic or probabilistic) but no external causal explanation.”
Conifer presents a pair of parallel (evidential) atheological arguments whose basic premise appeals to the empirical and conceptual implausibility of disembodied consciousness. He critically examines and refutes numerous objections to his two arguments. Accordingly, he concludes that both of them constitute potent demonstrations of God’s nonexistence.
In The Evolution of the Soul Richard Swinburne makes a courageous attempt to defend (Cartesian) substance dualism—the thesis that the mind (or soul) is distinct from the body, yet interacts with it. Nagasawa’s review critically analyzes two of Swinburne’s arguments: (i) that one’s conscious existence entails the existence of one’s soul; and (ii) that a dualist has no obligation to explain how interaction is possible between ontologically distinct minds and bodies. At the very least, Nagasawa concludes, Swinburne has an obligation to explain why such interaction is inexplicable—and without invoking the existence of God.
Science, Confirmation, and the Theistic Hypothesis (1986) [ Index ] by Keith M. Parsons
This thesis examines various attempts to construe theism as an explanatory hypothesis and to defend it with arguments similar to those employed in the confirmation of scientific hypotheses. It is the aim of this work to show that such a construal fails to confirm theism and in actuality leads to its disconfirmation.
In Chapter Four of Science, Confirmation, and the Theistic Hypothesis, Keith Parsons defends the dictum that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence as part of a general critique of miracle claims which aims to defend naturalism as a rational operating philosophy against potential defeaters. In this defense of miracle claims Don McIntosh argues, first, that for any unknown the burden of proof falls equally upon naturalists and supernaturalists; second, to repudiate all miracle claims in one fell swoop with a mere presumption of naturalism renders naturalism unfalsifiable and unscientific; and third, estimating the prior probability of miracles introduces an element of subjectivity that makes any general probabilistic argument against them suspect. These points leave open the possibility of confirming specific miracle claims on the basis of historical evidence and eyewitness testimony.
Richard Swinburne defends substance dualism—the idea that mind and body are two radically different things—throughout his various works, including The Coherence of Theism, Is There A God?, The Evolution of the Soul, and Personal Identity. Nicholas Everitt’s critique focuses on the latter two books, as Swinburne appears to believe that the argument from the possibility of disembodied consciousness he develops there is his most persuasive argument. After much philosophical reflection, Everitt concludes that Swinburne’s primary argument for dualism has no force because it simply assumes what it is trying to prove.
“Of all [Richard Swinburne’s] many important contributions to philosophy, the one for which he is most likely to achieve lasting fame is his empirical argument for the existence of God in The Existence of God, a book that will become classic in my opinion. As a result of this work, a return visit from Hume’s Philo is needed, but he had better come loaded for bear, because the weapons that he used so effectively to stop poor Cleanthes in his tracks will be of no avail.”
Smith reviews Swinburne’s book, Is There a God?