Bertrand Russell famously quipped that he didn’t believe in God for the same reason that he didn’t believe in a teapot in orbit between the earth and Mars: it is a bizarre assertion for which no evidence can be provided. Is belief in God really like belief in Russell’s teapot? Kenneth L. Pearce argues that God is no teapot. God is a real answer to the deepest question of all: why is there something rather than nothing? Graham Oppy argues that we should believe that there are none but natural causal entities with none but natural causal properties—and hence should believe that there are no gods. Beginning from this basic disagreement, the authors proceed to discuss and debate a wide range of philosophical questions, including questions about explanation, necessity, rationality, religious experience, mathematical objects, the foundations of ethics, and the methodology of philosophy. Each author first presents his own side, and then they interact through two rounds of objections and replies.Pedagogical features include standard form arguments, section summaries, bolded key terms and principles, a glossary, and annotated reading lists. In the volume foreword, Helen De Cruz calls the debate "both edifying and a joy," and sums up what’s at stake: "Here you have two carefully formulated positive proposals for worldviews that explain all that is: classical theism, or naturalistic atheism. You can follow along with the authors and deliberate: which one do you find more plausible?"Though written with beginning students in mind, this debate will be of interest to philosophers at all levels and to anyone who values careful, rational thought about the nature of reality and our place in it.
- 200 (or so) Arguments for Atheism
- Index: Assessing Theism
- Why Mainstream Scholars Think Jesus Was A Failed Apocalyptic Prophet
- What's Wrong With Plantinga's Proper Functionalism?
- Draper's Critique of Behe's Design Argument
- The Failure of Plantinga's Free Will Defense
- 100 Arguments for God Answered
- Thomistic Arguments for God Answered
- On a Common Apologetic Strategy
- On Caring About and Pursuing Truth
- A Priori Naturalism, A Priori Inerrantism, and the Bible
Hill, Scott. "Why God Allows Undeserved Horrendous Evil", Religious Studies (Online First 28 Sept. 2021). In the paper, Hill applies recent work on the non-identity problem in ethics to the problem of evil. Vince Vitale has recently written a monograph applying insights from the non-identity problem literature to the problem of evil as well. Required reading for anyone working on the problem of evil today.
Here. Happy reading!
One can run a minimal modal ontological argument for naturalism with just two simple premises:
1. Possibly, a necessarily existent natural universe exists.
2. What's necessary doesn't vary from possible world to possible world.
3. Therefore, there is a necessarily existent natural universe.
(2) follows from Axiom S5 of S5 modal logic, and most philosophers accept S5, so it's fairly uncontroversial. So the argument comes down to the plausibility of (1).
But (1) is plausible as well. For the most plausible interpretation of quantum mechanics is arguably the Everettian interpretation, and as Alastair Wilson has recently argued, one can provide a plausible naturalistic account of modality in terms of Everettian quantum mechanics, which he dubs quantum modal realism (QMR). Roughly: a possible world is a branch of the universal wave function; something is possible just in case it exists in at least one branch of the wave function; and something is necessary just in case it exists in every branch of the wave function. Finally, because the empirical evidence underdetermines whether the decohering branches of the wave function share an initial segment (the overlapping interpretation) or have qualitatively identical yet numerically distinct initial segments (the diverging interpretation), de re modality can be spelled out either in terms of transworld identity (which corresponds to the overlapping interpretation) or in terms of counterpart theory, according to which individuals are worldbound (which corresponds to the diverging interpretation). So in light of the machinery of QMR, (1) asserts that it is true within at least one branch of the wavefunction that the natural universe exists in every branch of the wave function (which is true in our branch, and of course in every branch), where the de re modal properties of the natural universe are given either an overlapping, transworld identity gloss or a diverging, worldbound/counterpart-theoretic gloss.
Furthermore, (1) seems more plausible than the theistic possibility premise in the corresponding modal ontological argument for theism. For the truth of the latter premise requires acceptance of the compossibility of a large swath of exotic properties, such as omnipotence, omniscience, moral perfection, immateriality, and the capacity for creating individuals and/or stuffs out of nothing. It also requires the possibility of personal attributes being instantiated as basic, rather than derivative, properties, which is contrary to experience and our best scientific theories. Therefore, it appears that one has more reason to accept the minimal modal ontological argument for naturalism than the standard modal ontological argument for theism.
One can run a minimal modal ontological argument for naturalism with just two simple premises:
1. Possibly, there is a necessarily existent essentially natural thing or stuff. (i.e., the two properties are compossible).
2. What's necessary doesn't vary from possible world to possible world.
3. Therefore, there is a necessarily existent essentially natural thing or stuff.
(2) follows from Axiom S5 of S5 modal logic, and most philosophers accept S5, so it's fairly uncontroversial. So the argument comes down to the plausibility of (1). But (1) just says that being necessarily existent and being an essentially natural thing or stuff are compossible properties, which seems more plausible than the theistic possibility premise in the corresponding modal ontological argument for theism. For the truth of the latter premise requires acceptance of the compossibility of a large swath of exotic properties, such as omnipotence, omniscience, moral perfection, immateriality, and the capacity for creating individuals and/or stuffs out of nothing. It also requires the possibility of personal attributes being instantiated as basic, rather than derivative, properties, which is contrary to experience and our best scientific theories. Therefore, it appears that one has more reason to accept the minimal modal ontological argument for naturalism than the standard modal ontological argument for theism.
 Or whatever ultimately composes natural things: quantum fields; wavefunction stuff (whether in ordinary 3-space or a massively higher-dimensional Hilbert space); physical forces; symmetries or invariances; the strings of string theory; the entities of causal set theory or loop quantum gravity, etc. Henceforth assume this qualification when left unstated.
Here's another argument to add to the list:
Consider the following argument for a version of Spinozistic naturalism:
1. It's possible that there is a being who has all perfections essentially.
2. Infinite thought, infinite extension, and necessary existence are perfections.
3. Therefore, it's possible that there is a being who has necessary existence, infinite thought, and infinite extension essentially.
4. What's possible doesn't vary from possible world to possible world.
5. Therefore, a being who has infinite thought and infinite extension essentially actually exists.
This argument is better than the standard modal ontological argument for theism, since the theistic God lacks extension, and Spinoza seems to be correct in thinking that infinite extension is a perfection. At the very least, infinite extension seems to have at least as much going for it as the attributes of the god of theism. Therefore, at the very least, one has at least as much reason to accept the above argument for Spinozistic naturalism as the standard modal ontological argument for theism.
John Pittard's new paper points to another argument against theism: the problem of divine achievement. In rough terms, the argument is that being worthy of agential praise requires achieving something that is creditworthy. But achieving something that is creditworthy requires doing something that one finds difficult. But if classical theism is true, then none of God's actions are difficult for God. And if not, then none of God's actions are creditworthy, in which case none of God's actions are worthy of agential praise. (Pittard argues that the problem can be avoided, but he admits that it can't be done without incurring some costs.) It seems to me that the problem of divine achievement is another significant problem for classical theism. The list keeps growing.
At the end of his excellent book, The Nature of Contingency: Quantum Physics as Modal Realism, Alastair Wilson offers a game-changing undercutting defeater for fine-tuning arguments for theism. It's a real advance in the literature, as it offers a persuasive reply to Roger White's celebrated "this universe" objection. The basic idea is that Everettian quantum mechanics implies the existence of a multiverse, and if you (rightly, in my view) accept the Everettian interpretation of quantum mechanics as abductively best, and if you antecedently come to the data of fine-tuning with a low credence in theism, then you thereby have good reason to think the diversity of universes to be of the right sort to explain the fine-tuning of our universe. Highly recommended.
Rdzak, Brandon. "The Principle of Sufficient Reason and Libertarianism: A Reply to Pruss", Philosophia (2021), https://doi.org/10.1007/s11406-021-00364-0.
Abstract: Alexander Pruss’s Principle of Sufficient Reason states that every contingent true proposition has an explanation. Pruss thinks that he can plausibly maintain both his PSR and his account of libertarian free will. This is because his libertarianism has it that contingent true propositions reporting free choices are self-explanatory. But I don’t think Pruss can plausibly maintain both his PSR and libertarianism without a rift occurring in one or the other. Similar to the old luck/randomness objection, I contend that Pruss’s libertarianism is susceptible to what I call “the inexplicability objection”, which attempts to show that agents’ free choices involve contingent brute facts. Pruss may be able to partially explain a proposition such that Jones freely chose A for reason R, but he cannot adequately explain a contrastive proposition such as that Jones freely chose A for R rather than B for R*. The result is that either PSR is too explanatorily permissive for libertarianism, or libertarianism is too explanatorily impermissive to satisfy PSR. After considering what I take to be Pruss’s best response to the inexplicability objection, I conclude that his attempt to reconcile PSR and libertarianism is unsuccessful.
Here's yet another argument to add to the list. A commitment to the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR) is commonly thought to go hand in hand with a commitment to traditional theism. However, as Michael Della Rocca has recently argued, PSR entails monism. Therefore, to the extent that one has reason to accept PSR, one has reason to reject theism.
Climenhaga, Nevin and Rubio, Daniel. "Molinism: Explaining Our Freedom Away", Mind (forthcoming).
Molinists hold that there are contingently true counterfactuals about what agents would do if put in specific circumstances, that God knows these prior to creation, and that God uses this knowledge in choosing how to create. In this essay we critique Molinism, arguing that if these theses were true, agents would not be free. Consider Eve’s sinning upon being tempted by a serpent. We argue that if Molinism is true, then there is some set of facts that fully explains both Eve’s action and everything else Eve does that influences that action; and that if this is the case, Eve does not act freely. The first premise of this argument follows from the explanatory relations the Molinist is committed to, and the second premise follows from libertarian intuitions about free will.
Malpass, Alex. 2021. "All the Time in the World", Mind. https://doi.org/10.1093/mind/fzaa086.
Morriston, Wes. 2021. "Infinity, Time, and Successive Addition", Australasian Philosophical Quarterly. DOI: 10.1080/00048402.2020.1865426
Malpass, Alex and Morriston Wes. 2020. "Endless and Infinite", The Philosophical Quarterly 70(281): 830-849.
Ever since the 2000 publication of Ted Lockhart's Moral Uncertainty and its Consequences, philosophers have become increasingly concerned about the problem of reasoning under moral uncertainty. Even after a long period of deep study and reflection, many people are uncertain about which moral theory is correct, and even about when one moral principle is weightier than another. Many people are also uncertain, even after a long period of deep study and reflection, about the moral status of at least non-human animals and insects. However, there are many ordinary moral contexts where the moral rightness or wrongness, or goodness or badness, of an action depends on which moral theory is correct, which moral principle is weightier than another, or whether non-human animals and/or insects have moral standing. Furthermore, often the choice between acting on one moral theory (or principle, or view about the moral standing of non-human animals and/or insects) is such that if we make the wrong choice, we've done something horrendously bad or wrong. Here's a simple intuitive example from Carr (2020):
Go Vegan? Sally is uncertain about whether non-human animals have moral standing. She is certain that, if animals don’t have moral standing, it’s a little better for her to eat meat, eggs, and dairy occasionally for gustatory and social reasons. She’s also certain that, if animals do have moral standing, it’s badly morally wrong for her to eat non-vegan foods.
The phenomena of moral uncertainty of this sort and others is highly surprising on theism, since it is widely held that on that hypothesis, one major purpose for humans in this world is that of exercising our moral freedom to make serious moral choices and to develop our character. In any case, at the very least, it's surprising on theism to find the world to be one of moral Russian roulette. By contrast, the phenomena of reasoning under moral uncertainty is not surprising on the hypothesis of naturalism, since on that hypothesis, there is no personal god who has made the world to be an arena for exercising moral freedom and character development. The phenomena of reasoning under moral uncertainty therefore constitutes at least some evidence for naturalism vis-a-vis theism.
Da Vee, Dean. "Why truthmaker theory cannot save divine simplicity", International Journal for Philosophy of Religion (2021).
Although the doctrine of divine simplicity has faced substantial criticism in recent years, Jeffrey Brower has recently offered a novel defense of the view by appealing to contemporary truthmaker theory. In this paper, I will argue that Brower’s defense of divine simplicity requires an implausible account of how truthmaking works for essential intrinsic predications. I will first argue that, unless Brower is willing to make an ad hoc exception for how truthmaking works in God’s case, he is committed to saying that essential intrinsic predications about any object are made true by that object alone, not by its having essential properties. I will then argue that reflecting on cases where distinct essential intrinsic predications about an object have different causal explanations behind them shows that this general view of truthmaking is implausible.
Baker, Derek. "Deliberators Must Be Imperfect", PPR 93(2): 321-347. The aim of the paper is to critique theories that explain practical reason in terms of perfectly rational omniscient agents, but of course the point is of interest to philosophers of religion as well. Here's the abstract:
This paper argues that, with certain provisos, predicting one's future actions is incompatible with rationally deliberating about whether to perform those actions. It follows that fully rational omniscient agents are impossible, since an omniscient being could never rationally deliberate about what to do (omniscient beings, the paper argues, will always meet the relevant provisos). Consequently, theories that explain practical reasons in terms of the choices of a perfectly rational omniscient agent must fail. The paper considers several ways of defending the possibility of an omniscient agent, and concludes that while some of these may work, they are inconsistent with the aim of explaining practical normativity by appeal to such an agent.
2. The argument from metaphysical infinitism/coherentism
7. Smith's Kalam cosmological argument for atheism
10. The Spinozistic argument from negative PSR to naturalism
17. A minimal modal ontological argument for naturalism
18. Quantum modal realist ontological argument for naturalism
20. Maitzen’s ontological argument for atheism
21. Inductive arguments against Anselmianism
22. Another ontological disproof of theism
III. Arguments from Order
23. Wilson's Everettian conditional argument from fine-tuning
25. Atheistic teleological arguments (see also)
IV. Dysteleological Arguments
28. The argument from suboptimal design
V. Arguments from Religion/Religious Experience
33. The argument from idolatry
41. The argument from anti-religious experience and properly basic atheistic belief
44. The argument from the ineffectiveness of prayer
45. The argument from theistic demographics
46. The common core/diversity dilemma
VI. Arguments from Morality and Moral Psychology
49. The argument from the autonomy of normative ethics
50. The argument from the autonomy of metaethics
51. The argument from normative uncertainty
53. The argument from moral psychology
54. The argument from lack of character
55. The argument from lack of extensive empathy
56. The argument from ordinary morality
57. The argument from moral epistemology
58. The argument from meager moral fruits
61. Sartrean arguments for gravely diminished meaning in a theistic universe
65. The argument from excessive "anti-matter", or anti-meaning, in a theistic universe (see also)
71. The argument from substance dualism to non-theism
75. The argument from the mind’s dependence on the brain
76. The argument from quantum mechanics against theistic accounts of personal identity, related issues
84. The argument from the uncreatability/metaphysical independence of abstracta
85. The argument from abstracta as God’s metaphysical parts
86. The argument from God’s existence as a derivative being that supervenes upon platonic modal space
87. The Benacerraf argument against God’s knowledge of abstracta
88. The argument from one-category ontology
97. The argument from neo-Carnapian metametaphysics
98. The argument from modal normativism
99. The argument from necessitarianism
103. The argument from theism to radical skepticism
105. The argument from epistemic permissivism
106. The argument from pragmatic encroachment
107. The argument from peer religious disagreement
110. The argument from Mandevillian intelligence
111. The argument from secondary qualities against the reliability of perception
112. The argument from Bayesian theories of perception (esp. prediction error minimization theories)
113. The argument from wave function realism against the reliability of perception
114. The problem of theistic evidentialist philosophers
XVII. Arguments from Aesthetics
115. The argument from ugliness
116. The argument from revulsion
XVIII. Normative Arguments (Apart from problems of evil)
117. The argument from the impropriety of worship
118. The argument from autonomy
121. Deductive arguments from divine hiddenness
122. Probabilistic arguments from divine hiddenness
XX. Arguments from Incoherence Within/Among the Divine Attributes and Related Matters (Incomplete. These just scratch the surface. For more, see e.g. Oppy's Describing Gods)
125. Omnipotence (see also)
126. Omniscience (see also)
136. Divine consciousness
137. A new paradox of omnipotence
138. The aloneness argument
179. Bartolome's argument from private evidence
XXVI. Arguments from Evil
190. The argument from flourishing/languishing
191. The Darwinian problem of evil
192. Schellenberg's new logical problem of evil
196. The argument from religious evil
197. The argument from divine evil
198. The argument from hell
199. The argument from the requirement of divine interference (see also)
201. The argument from inhospitable environment
202. The argument from teleological evil
204. The argument from natural inequalities
205. The argument from social evil
206. The argument from insect suffering
207. The argument from tragic moral dilemmas
208. Sterba's new deductive argument from evil
209. The argument from unfairness
210. The problem of the death of most humans before the age of accountability
211. The argument from the harm of coming into existence
212. The argument from physiological horrors
213. The argument from heaven
231. Oppy’s abductive cumulative case argument for naturalism
233. Draper’s Bayesian cumulative case argument against theism
Metaethical expressivism is a powerful and popular theory of the nature of moral statements. However, the theory entails that there are no moral facts. This is surprising on theism, since on that view, there are moral facts, and God has moral attributes that seem to entail the existence of moral facts about his/her nature. By contrast, the non-existence of moral facts isn't surprising on naturalism, since it seems to make no predictions about the existence of moral facts. Therefore, those who accept metaethical expressivism thereby have at least some grounds for naturalism vis-a-vis theism.
There are several secular ethical theories (e.g., contractarian theories, consequentialist theories, deontological theories, sentimentalist theories, etc.) that explain our moral intuitions better than religious accounts, such as divine command theory. This is surprising on standard forms of theism, since on those hypotheses, morality is not independent of the existence, nature, and/or commands of God. Therefore, the phenomenon of the autonomy of ethics is one piece of data in an inference to the best explanation for naturalism vis-a-vis theism.
Schmid, Joseph C. " The End is Near: Grim Reapers and Endless Futures ", Mind (forthcoming). Abstract: José Benardete developed a...