Thursday, June 09, 2011

God in the Age of Science? A Critique of Religious Reason

Herman Philipse (Utrecht, The Netherlands) has a book coming out (God in the Age of Science? A Critique of Religious Reason, Oxford University Press) that looks to be in the vein of Gregory Dawes' Theism and Explanation. The main difference in approach appears to be that while Dawes evaluated the theistic hypothesis qua inference to the best explanation, Philipse evaluates the theistic hypothesis via Bayes' Theorem. Toward that end, the book will involve a sustained critique of Richard Swinburne's Bayesian case for theism. Here's the blurb:

*A powerful response to philosophical attempts to justify religious belief
*Engages head-on with Richard Swinburne and other leading philosophers of religion
*Original and elegant arguments; written in a clear and accessible style

God in the Age of Science? is a critical examination of strategies for the philosophical defence of religious belief. The main options may be presented as the end nodes of a decision tree for religious believers. The faithful can interpret a creedal statement (e.g. 'God exists') either as a truth claim, or otherwise. If it is a truth claim, they can either be warranted to endorse it without evidence, or not. Finally, if evidence is needed, should its evidential support be assessed by the same logical criteria that we use in evaluating evidence in science, or not? Each of these options has been defended by prominent analytic philosophers of religion.

In part I Herman Philipse assesses these options and argues that the most promising for believers who want to be justified in accepting their creed in our scientific age is the Bayesian cumulative case strategy developed by Richard Swinburne. Parts II and III are devoted to an in-depth analysis of this case for theism. Using a 'strategy of subsidiary arguments', Philipse concludes (1) that theism cannot be stated meaningfully; (2) that if theism were meaningful, it would have no predictive power concerning existing evidence, so that Bayesian arguments cannot get started; and (3) that if the Bayesian cumulative case strategy did work, one should conclude that atheism is more probable than theism. Philipse provides a careful, rigorous, and original critique of theism in the world today.

And here's the table of contents:

Part I. Natural Theology
1: The Priority of Natural Theology
2: The Rise, Fall, and Resurrection of Natural Theology
3: The Reformed Objection to Natural Theology
4: Refutation of the Reformed Objection
5: The Rationality of Natural Theology
6: A Grand Strategy
Part II. Theism as a Theory
7: Analogy, Metaphor, and Coherence
8: God's Necessity
9: The Predictive Power of Theism
10: The Immunization of Theism
Part III. The Probability of Theism
11: Ultimate Explanation and Prior Probability
12: Cosmological Arguments
13: Arguments from Order to Design
14: Other Inductive Arguments
15: Religious Experience and the Burden of Proof


el ninio said...

Very interesting. Thanks for sharing this. I look forward to reading the book.
BTW do you know if there are any links for downloading the recent debate between Swinburne and Philipse?

exapologist said...

Hi El Ninio,

I haven't really looked. I'd be happy to hear from others on this.

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