The Argument from the Disunity of the Self Against Theism

On a reasonable interpretation of the scientific evidence, there is no deep synchronic unity of the the self, and there is no real diachronic identity of the self. But if not, then, prima facie, humans lack the sort of unity and persistence conditions required for moral accountability or personal immortality. This data is surprising on traditional theism, since that hypothesis entails both moral accountability and personal immortality. By contrast, such data isn't surprising on naturalism, since on that sort of hypothesis, there is no antecedent reason to expect the conditions required for either moral accountability or personal identity. Therefore, the data regarding the disunity of the self provide at least some evidence for naturalism vis-a-vis traditional theism.

The Argument from Hard Incompatibilism Against Theism

There is a good case for the view that, whether or not causal determinism is true, no one is free or morally responsible for anything. This view is known as hard incompatibilism. But hard incompatibilism is surprising on orthodox theism, since on that hypothesis, we are held responsible for our actions, whether in this life or an afterlife. By contrast, hard incompatibilism isn't surprising on naturalism, since on that hypothesis, there is no expectation that we are free and responsible for our actions. Therefore, the data in support of hard incompatibilism provides at least some evidence in favor of naturalism vis-a-vis theism.

On the Compatiblity of Determinism and Libertarian Freedom: A Quick Sketch

Call the following view Everettian libertarianism: Everything's determined by the initial conditions of the universe plus the Schrodinger equation to play out as it does, but you perform different actions (and thus have alternative possibilities open to you) in different branches of the wave function. In fact, you bring about every possible alternative action in some branch or other of the wave function. So: (i) everything is determined, and yet (ii) all alternative possibilities are open to you. So libertarian freedom and determinism are compatible after all.

Objection: That's not you in other branches of the wave function; those are just counterparts of you.

Reply:  On a perfectly reasonable interpretation of the current scientific evidence, human beings are not single, numerically identical selves in a even a single world, whether at a given time or over time. So if the objection is based on some assumed requirement of numerical synchronic or diachronic personal identity for free will, then that assumption will equally undermine free will even if you only exist in one branch of the wave function. On the other hand, on a more relaxed account of personal identity (say, causal continuity or continuity of memory or personality), then all of your "counterparts" in various branches of the wave function are "you".

Aikin and Talisse Revisit the Problem of Worship


Sarah Adams New Paradox of Omnipotence

 Adams, Sarah. "A New Paradox of Omnipotence", Philosophia 43 (2015): 759-785.

Abstract: In this paper, I argue that the supposition of divine omnipotence entails a contradiction: omnipotence both must and must not be intrinsic to God. Hence, traditional theism must be rejected. To begin, I separate out some theoretical distinctions needed to inform the discussion. I then advance two different arguments for the conclusion that omnipotence must be intrinsic to God; these utilise the notions of essence and aseity. Next, I argue that some necessary conditions on being omnipotent are extrinsic, and that this means omnipotence cannot be intrinsic to God. I consider three different ways of resolving this conflict, but contend that each is unsuccessful. Before concluding, I explain why the type of strategy used to resolve the traditional paradoxes of omnipotence cannot be successfully employed against the paradox presented here.

Two Recent Papers from Sarah Adams and John Robson

"Does Absence Make Atheism Grow Stronger?", International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 79:1 (2016), 49-68.
Abstract: Discussion of the role which religious experience can play in warranting theistic belief has received a great deal of attention within contemporary philosophy of religion. By contrast, the relationship between experience and atheistic belief has received relatively little focus. Our aim in this paper is to begin to remedy that neglect. In particular, we focus on the hitherto under-discussed question of whether experiences of God’s absence can provide positive epistemic status for a belief in God’s nonexistence. We argue that there is good reason to accept an epistemic parity between experiences of God’s presence and experiences of God’s absence

"Analyzing Aseity", Canadian Journal of Philosophy (forthcoming), 1-17.
Abstract: The doctrine of divine aseity has played a significant role in the development of classical theism. However, very little attention has been paid in recent years to the question of how precisely aseity should be characterized. We argue that this neglect is unwarranted since extant characterizations of this central divine attribute quickly encounter difficulties. In particular, we present a new argument to show that the most widely accepted contemporary account of aseity is inconsistent. We then consider the prospects for developing a new account of aseity which avoids the pitfalls we have highlighted.

Quentin Smith Has Passed

Yet more sad news. It has come to my attention that Quentin Smith died last month. An obituary can be found here

Yet Another Version of the Problem of Creation Ex Nihilo

There is both strong intuitive and abductive empirical support for the principle that all made things and stuffs are made from other things or stuffs. Given this, any comprehensive metaphysical theory will incur a strong theoretical cost by including a thesis that falls crosswise of the principle, such as the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo. In particular, the cost will significantly reduce such a theory's prior probability, putting it at a severe disadvantage to comprehensive metaphysical theories that can explain all the same data, and yet don't include the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo. Examples of theories of the latter sort include panentheism and demiurgism. Given that (for example) panentheism and demiurgism can explain roughly all the same data as theism, prima facie, theism can never catch up to panentheism and demiurgism with  respect to posterior probability, given the strong drag on its prior probability incurred by its inclusion of the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo. Therefore, theism is a significantly less probable comprehensive metaphysical theory than either panentheism or demiurgism.

A Quick and Dirty Refutation of Fine-Tuning Arguments for Theism

Since creation ex nihilo is prima facie metaphysically impossible, the posterior probability of the god of theism creating a fine-tuned universe ex nihilo is zero. But if so, then the fine-tuning of the universe is best explained in terms of something that involved the use of pre-existing matter-energy (or whatever matter-energy is ultimately made of). The simplest, most conservative type of explanation of fine-tuning is therefore some sort of natural cause.

Schmid's Fantastic New Paper on the Grim Reaper Paradox

Schmid, Joseph C. " The End is Near: Grim Reapers and Endless Futures ", Mind (forthcoming). Abstract: José Benardete developed a...