-The usual, natural way in which people come to belief in God: they seek refuge from the unrelenting misery and uncertainty in the world in a Being that transcends it, hoping for relief from it in this life and an afterlife.
-The “War of Nature”: the whole realm of biological organisms is at war, competing with each other to survive.
-Humans can escape much of this war by combining to form societies, and thus protect themselves against it.
-However, once they escape it in this way, they immediately create new forms of misery.
-the misery they create with superstitious beliefs
-the misery of interpersonal conflict
-Furthermore, there are other forms of misery that the human race can’t escape:
-psychological misery: remorse, shame, fear, anxiety, etc.
-misery from mental and physical sickness and disease
-These forms of misery are constant and universal
-Furthermore, all of the goods that life has to offer combined barely make life worth living
-And the lack of any one of them makes life unhappy
-Even the best things that the world has to offer aren’t very interesting or enjoyable – at least not for any significant amount of time
-proof that everyone is miserable: when someone is asked if they would live the last twenty years of their life over again, they almost always say “No”.
-Objection: People can’t be that miserable, for if they were, they would commit suicide to escape it.
-Reply: No. They don’t commit suicide because, although they are miserable, they are more afraid of death
-Even a life of retreat from the world is miserable. For then one is confronted with the miseries of boredom, languishing, and regret.
-Thus, the misery of the world is inescapable.
-But if so, then if one were to take an honest look at the world – a world in which there is a war of nature, constant, universal, inescapable misery, and in which the good things in life provide no deep and lasting satisfaction or enjoyment -- they must admit that this isn’t the world that they would expect the God of theism to create.
-But if not, then it is improbable that such a God exists
-A better hypothesis: whoever or whatever is responsible for the world’s existence is indifferent to our welfare.
-Its only goal is the bare propagation and preservation of the species.
-For nature accomplishes no other end, such as human or animal happiness
-Even on the few occasions that it does, it appears so briefly and infrequently that it appears to be either an accidental byproduct of nature, or perhaps a begrudging allowance to ensure that the species are propagated and preserved.
We can use the logical machinery employed in the fine-tuning design argument to characterize Hume's argument here:
Data (D): A world in which there is a war of nature, constant, universal, inescapable misery, and in which the good things in life provide no deep and lasting satisfaction or enjoyment.
H1: D is due to an all-knowing, all-powerful, perfectly good God.
H2: D is due to causes that are indifferent to our welfare.
1. We'd expect D if H2 were true.
2. We wouldn't expect D if H1 were true.
3. If we'd expect D if H2 were true, but we wouldn't expect D if H1 were true, then H2 is more probable than H1.
4. Therefore, H2 is more probable than H1.
Review of Draper and Schellenberg (eds.), <I>Renewing Philosophy of Religion: Exploratory Essays</I>
Adam Green reviews the book for NDPR.
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