Quick Sketch of a Case Against Classical Theism

First Argument: The Argument from Horrors, Hiddenness, Revulsion, and Inhospitable Environment

1. We’d expect horrors, hiddenness, revulsion, and an inhospitable environment if naturalism were true.
2. We wouldn’t expect horrors, hiddenness, revulsion, and an inhospitable environment if theism were true.
3. If we’d expect this data if naturalism were true, but we wouldn’t if theism were true, then the data confirms naturalism vis-à-vis theism.
4. Therefore, horrors, hiddenness, revulsion, and an inhospitable environment confirms naturalism vis-à-vis theism. (1-3)

Why we’d expect this data on naturalism, but not on theism:
o Horror: Some people suffer to the point where their life is prima facie ruined (e.g., being raped, tortured, dismembered, and driven permanently insane). If God exists, we’d expect that God would allow a person to suffer horrifically only if doing so is required for their deepest good (viz., endless intimate fellowship, giving ever-increasing knowledge of God). But prima facie, God's allowing horrific suffering isn’t required for this deepest good. By contrast, we’d expect horrific suffering if naturalism is true. For on such a view, the universe is indifferent to our welfare. (cf. Schellenberg)

o Hiddenness: If God exists, then we’d expect that God would meet all the prerequisites for all those who would want a voluntary relationship with him. One of the prerequisites is to let others know (or reasonably believe), if they wish, that he exists. But this condition hasn’t been met: there are non-resistant non-believers. One might resist or reject this line of reasoning on the grounds that God might have some outweighing reasons for allowing non-resistant non-belief -- e.g., moral, spiritual, or intellectual development. However, none of these grounds explains the massively uneven distribution of theists and non-theists in the world. For we’d expect the causes of non-resistant non-belief to lead to a fairly even distribution of theists and non-theists. But this isn’t what we find. By contrast, we would expect to find such an uneven distribution if theism were false. (Cf. Schellenberg, Maitzen)

o Revulsion: If theism is true, then we’d expect our cognitive and affective faculties to be reliable, and thus to track the truth about aesthetic properties of the world. Now if theism is true, then God made the world, and it is good. Furthermore, given epistemic reliability, my aesthetic judgments about the repulsiveness of parts of the natural world are prima facie justified, in which case parts of the creation are prima facie repulsive (See this post for examples). But this conflicts with the hypothesis that it is good (at least aesthetically). By contrast, repulsive features of the world aren’t at all surprising on naturalism, since we wouldn’t expect it to aim at aesthetic goodness. (Me)

o Inhospitable environment: The Earth is filled with harmful and lethal flora and fauna. Such flora and fauna are often either undetectable, or look harmless upon first inspection. Theism makes this surprising, as the Earth is supposed to be our home, and not a Hunger Games scenario. By contrast, such a human-inhospitable environment is expected if naturalism is true and life’s history is governed by evolutionary factors. (Me)

Second Argument: The Argument from Material Causality (Me. A draft of the long version can be found here. Comments on the draft are welcome!)

  • Concrete object denotes at least the sorts of entities classically individuated by the category of Substance, and distinguishes them from those of other categories (e.g., property, relation, event, trope, etc.). Examples: atoms, stars, rocks, planets, trees, animals, and people. They are distinguished from concrete entities in other categories (shapes, surfaces, events, ideas, etc.) and abstract objects (propositions, numbers, sets, etc.) 
  • Material cause denotes the things or stuff out of which a new thing is made (e.g., the material cause of a penny is a sheet of copper). 
  • Classical theism denotes the view that there is a personal god who is omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect. 
  • The classical view of creation denotes the view that consists of the following three theses: (i) God is wholly distinct from the natural world: the world isn’t identical to God or made from the stuff of God’s being. Nor is it an idea in the mind of God or a mere feature or mode of God’s being. Rather, it’s a concrete object that exists in its own right (or an aggregate of such); (ii) God is the originating or sustaining cause of the natural world; and (iii) God created the natural world ex nihilo.
  • Call  classical theismcvc  any version of classical theism that includes the classical view of creation. 
The Argument:

1. All concrete objects that have an originating or sustaining cause have a material cause of their existence.
2. If classical theismcvc is true, then the universe is a concrete object that has an originating or sustaining cause without a material cause of its existence.
3. Therefore, classical theismcvc is false.

· Support for premise 1: (a) rational intuition; (b) the relationship between what is actual and what is possible; and (c) inference to the best explanation.

· Support for premise (2): It’s a conceptual truth. It follows from the definition of ‘classical theismcvc’.

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Important Recent Work on Theodicy

Hill, Scott. " Why God Allows Undeserved Horrendous Evil ", Religious Studies (Online First 28 Sept. 2021). In the paper, Hill ap...