Schmid's Excellent New Paper on the Kalam Cosmological Argument

Schmid, Joseph C. "Benardete paradoxes, patchwork principles, and the infinite past", Synthese, forthcoming.

Abstract: Benardete paradoxes involve a beginningless set each member of which satisfies some predicate just in case no earlier member satisfies it. Such paradoxes have been wielded on behalf of arguments for the impossibility of an infinite past. These arguments often deploy patchwork principles in support of their key linking premise. Here I argue that patchwork principles fail to justify this key premise.

Happy reading!

Launonen's Nice Forthcoming Paper Critiquing the Evidential Force of Everyday Religious Experiences

Launonen, Lari. "Hearing God speak? Debunking arguments and everyday religious experiences", International Journal for the Philosophy of Religion, forthcoming.

Abstract: Against claims that cognitive science of religion undercuts belief in God, many defenders of theistic belief have invoked the Religious Reasons Reply: science cannot undercut belief in God if one has good independent reasons to believe. However, it is unclear whether this response helps salvage the god beliefs of most people. This paper considers four questions: (1) What reasons do Christians have for believing in God? (2) What kinds of beliefs about God can the reasons support? (3) Are the reasons rationalizations? (4) Can cognitive science undercut the reasons? Many Christians invoke everyday religious experiences (EREs)—such as experiences of divine presence, guidance, and communication—as reasons to believe. Unlike another popular reason to believe in God (the appearance of design and beauty in nature), EREs can support beliefs about a relational God who is present to me, who guides my life, and who speaks to me. EREs are not rationalizations since they seem to cause and sustain such beliefs. Nonetheless, EREs like experiences of hearing God speak are problematic reasons to believe. ‘Soft’ voice-hearing experiences are easily undercut. ‘Hard’ experiences of an external, audible voice are probably underpinned by similar cognitive processes as audio-verbal hallucinations.

Happy reading!

Two Important Recent Papers on Cosmological Arguments from Alexandre Billon

"Are infinite explanations self-explanatory?", Erkenntnis 88 (5): 1935-1954. 2021.

Abstract: Consider an infinite series whose items are each explained by their immediate successor. Does such an infinite explanation explain the whole series or does it leave something to be explained? Hume arguably claimed that it does fully explain the whole series. Leibniz, however, designed a very telling objection against this claim, an objection involving an infinite series of book copies. In this paper, I argue that the Humean claim can, in certain cases, be saved from the Leibnizian “infinite book copies” objection, and that this provides an interesting way to defuse some cosmological arguments for the existence of God and to give a non-theistic but complete explanation of the Universe. In the course of my argumentation, I also show that circular explanations can be “self-explanatory” as well: explaining two items by each other can explain the couple of items tout court.

"A recipe for complete non-wellfounded explanations"Dialectica, forthcoming.

Abstract:In a previous article on cosmological arguments, I have put forward a few examples of complete infinite and circular explanations, and argued that complete non-wellfounded explanations such as these might explain the present state of the world better than their well-founded theistic counterparts (Billon, 2021). Although my aim was broader, the examples I gave there implied merely causal explanations. In this article, I would like to do three things: • Specify some general informative conditions for complete and incomplete non-wellfounded causal explanations that can be used to assess candidate explanations and to generate new examples of complete non-wellfounded explanations. • Show that these conditions, which concern chains of causal explanations, easily generalize to chains of metaphysical, grounding explanations and even to chains involving other “determination relations” such as supervenience. • Apply these general conditions to the recent debates against the existence of nonwellfounded chains of grounds and show, with a couple of precise examples, that the latter can be complete, and that just like in the case of causal explanations, non-wellfoundedness can in fact be an aset rather than a liability.

Happy reading!

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 famous paradox involving a beginningless set of items each member of which satisfies some predicate just in case no earlier member satisfies it. The Grim Reaper version of this paradox has recently been employed in favor of various finitist metaphysical theses, ranging from temporal finitism to causal finitism to the discrete nature of time. Here, I examine a new challenge to these finitist arguments—namely, the challenge of implying that the future cannot be endless. In particular, I develop future-oriented Benardete paradoxes and examine their epistemic symmetry with past-oriented paradoxes.

Readers of this blog will of course know of Schmid's other excellent work in metaphysics, philosophy of religion, and philosophy of time, with special focus on issues related to persistence, infinity and infinitary paradoxes, modality, models of God, and arguments for and against God’s existence. I highly recommend all of his work. 

Tooley's New Defense of Morriston's Humean Argument from Evil

Tooley, Michael. "Wes Morriston’s ‘Skeptical Demonism’ Argument from Evil and Timothy Perrine’s Response", Sophia (forthcoming). 

Abstract:
Wes Morriston has argued that given the mixture of goods and evils found in the world, the probability of God’s existence is much less than the probability of a creator who is indifferent to good and evil. One of my goals here is, first, to show how, by bringing in the concept of dispositions, Morriston’s argument can be expressed in a rigorous, step-by-step fashion, and then, second, to show how one can connect the extent to which different events are surprising to conclusions concerning the probabilities of those events. My second goal is to evaluate two important objections to Morriston’s argument advanced by Timothy Perrine in his article, ‘Skeptical Theism and Morriston’s Humean Argument from Evil.’ Perrine’s first objection involves comparing how probable the evils in the world are if God exists with the probability if there is a deity who is indifferent to good and evil, and Perrine argues that given the version of skeptical theism that he and Stephen Wykstra have defended, the probability given theism is greater than the probability given an indifferent deity. Perrine’s second objection focuses instead on the probability of the mixture of goods and evils found in the world, and here he argues that there is no way of assigning a probability to that, either given the God-hypothesis or given the indifferent deity hypothesis, and therefore no way of comparing the probabilities of those two hypotheses. I then set out arguments that show that neither of Perrine’s objections is sound.

Happy reading!

Climenhaga & Rubio's Fantastic New Paper on Molinism

Nevin Climenhaga and Daniel Rubio's new paper, "Molinism: Explaining our Freedom Away" (Mind 131 (522): 459-485. 2022) is a must read. Here's the abstract:

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.

And here's the conclusion to further whet your appetite:

"Molinists seek to reconcile a strong doctrine of providence with libertarian human freedom. We have argued that this reconciliation cannot succeed. If there are true CCFs that guide God’s providential choice of what circumstances to put us in, then that choice and those CCFs, together with any common influences on them and our actions, determine what we will do. We must give up either robust human freedom or robust divine providence: there is no middle ground."

Happy reading!

Luis Oliveira's Recent Work on Skeptical Theism

"Skeptical Theism: A Panoramic Overview, Part I", Philosophy Compass. First published: 16 August 2023. https://doi.org/10.1111/phc3.12947

"Skeptical Theism: A Panoramic Overview, Part II", Philosophy Compass. First published: 18 August 2023. https://doi.org/10.1111/phc3.12946

"God and Gratuitous Evil: Between the Rock and the Hard Place", International Journal for Philosophy of Religion. Published online 21 July 2023. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11153-023-09883-0

Three New Objections to the Fine-Tuning Argument for Theism

First objectionNothing can create concrete objects ex nihilo. So the posterior probability of the fine-tuning of the universe of concrete objects on the hypothesis that the god of classical theism both (i) designed it and (ii) ultimately created it ex nihilo is nil. But according to classical theism, for any world containing concrete objects, God ultimately created the concrete objects in W ex nihilo. Therefore, classical theism entails that God ultimately creates ex nihilo any world containing concrete objects he designs. Therefore, the posterior probability of fine-tuning on the hypothesis of classical theism is nil.

Second objection: The evidence for fine-tuning confirms both demiurgism and panentheism over theism, and in this way is good evidence against theism. This is because the intuitive and empirical evidence against creation ex nihilo creates a strong drag on theism’s prior probability not suffered by demiurgism and panentheism, and so they lap the former in terms of posterior probability. A fortiori, the posterior probability of the inclusive disjunction of demiurgism and panentheism is considerably higher than that of theism given the evidence of fine-tuning.

Third objectionThere are final causes in God's nature that are ontologically prior to his intelligent agency. For example, God's intellect and will work together to perform various functions, such as designing and creating things.  God's life is also meaningful and purposeful according to classical theism. On classical theism, therefore, final causes are built into God's nature without a prior cause. But if that's right, then classical theism entails the existence of final causes at the metaphysical ground floor that God cannot create. And if that's right, then theism entails that non-conscious teleology is a more fundamental feature of reality than teleology caused by intelligence. And if that's right, then we'd expect base-level teleology in the universe that's not caused by God on the hypothesis of theism. Therefore, absent a further reason for thinking cosmic fine-tuning isn't expected unless caused by a divine fine-tuner, cosmic fine-tuning doesn't confirm theism vis-a-vis naturalism.

New Paper on the Problem(s) of Divine Manipulation for Christian Theism

Aku, Visala. "The Problems of Divine Manipulation", Neue Zeitschrift für Systematische Theologie und Religionsphilosophie 65:2 (July 2023).

Abstract: Many Christian theologians believe in the existence of cases of divine hardening and divine election, where God either actively contributes to human evil or preordains it. God seems to act like a manipulator, who first covertly incites or determines people’s evil actions and then condemns those actions and punishes the wrongdoers. I raise three questions regarding such cases: (1) how can humans be responsible for wrongdoings that are determined by God via either direct involvement or predestination; (2) is God justified in using covert manipulation to achieve his goals; (3) how can God judge human evil, if God predestines them or actively incites humans to commit evils? The article outlines two cases of supposed divine manipulation, discusses the general nature of manipulation and then examines each question outlined above. The argument is that the problems surrounding divine manipulation present significant challenges to especially those Christian theists that subscribe to divine determinism.



Structural Evil

Rough draft: First pass.

Consider the following two lists of evils:
List A
1. The suffering and death of a fawn caused by a forest fire due to a relatively rare natural event.
2. The death of an explorer by a volcano in a remote and unoccupied region.
3. The suffering caused by an extremely rare birth defect.
4. A death from being hit by a relatively small meteor fragment.

List B
5. The suffering caused by the mechanisms of pleasure and pain to condition the behavior of sentient creatures.
6. Suffering caused by predation.
7. The suffering caused by innate mechanisms in the cognitive architecture of humans that naturally and reliably cause out-group hostility and genocide.
8. The suffering caused by sickness and death due to microbes in many natural bodies of water.
The traditional distinction between moral and natural evil treats all instances of evil on both lists as roughly the same, viz., as just a bunch of instances of natural evil. This is bad. For intuitively, the evils on List B are relevantly different from those on List A, and in a way that is significant. In particular, natural evils on List A seem like one-offs in the normal course of things, while those on List B are a constitutive part of the normal course of things. To put it in terms of a popular idiom: List-A evils are bugs in the system of nature, while List-B evils are features. I therefore propose that we mark the distinction between the two types of evil with some labels. Call evils of the sort on List B structural evils, and call evils List A non-structural evils.

As a first approximation, structural evils are characterized by at least the following three features:
1. They are a species of natural evil.
2. They are caused by structural features of the universe or a specific portion thereof.
3. If left to run their course, such features either (a) reliably produce suffering/harm in human or non-human creatures or (b) significantly raise the probability of suffering/harm.
The structural/non-structural evil distinction holds out the promise of an advance in the problem of evil debate. For discussion of the problem of evil not infrequently focuses on  non-structural  evils. But these can seem like one-off evils, in which case one might naturally infer that they are foreseen but unintended evils in a universe that generally runs in a way that supports the well-being of its creatures. By contrast, it's intuitive that structural evils are such that, if God exists, then they are foreseen and intended, thereby eliciting a natural presumption of depraved indifference or actual malice. As such, they seem to be a much more formidable category of evil to account for on the hypothesis of theism. 

Alter's New Book Defending Russellian Monism

Torin Alter's new book, The Matter of Consciousness: From the Knowledge Argument to Russellian Monism (Oxford University Press, 2023) is now out. For an overview, listen to this nice podcast interview with Alter (by Carrie Figdor) on New Books in Philosophy.

Cawdron on Theism and Dissociative Identity Disorder

 Cawdron, Harvey. "Divided Minds and Divine Judgement", TheoLogica 7:1 (2023).

Abstract: In this paper, I shall argue that Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), a disorder in which seemingly independent identities (alters) arise within the same individual, can have considerable consequences in Christian theology. I shall focus on traditional Christian understandings of the afterlife. I shall begin by outlining DID, and shall argue that in some DID cases, alters appear to be different persons according to some definitions of personhood in Christian theology. I shall then illustrate the difficulty this raises for two influential ideas in the Christian tradition: the heaven and hell understanding of the afterlife, and the idea of the resurrection of the body. Finally, I shall consider some objections to the problem, and shall highlight which responses are the most plausible.

Happy reading!

Cawdron's New Paper on Agentive Cosmopsychism and the Problem of Evil

 Cawdron, Harvey. "Cosmopsychism and the Problem of Evil", Sophia (2023).

Abstract: Cosmopsychism, the idea that the universe is conscious, is experiencing something of a revival as an explanation of consciousness in philosophy of mind and is also making inroads into philosophy of religion. In the latter field, it has been used to formulate models of certain forms of theism, such as pantheism and panentheism, and has also been proposed as a rival to the classical theism of the Abrahamic faiths. It has been claimed by Philip Goff that a certain form of cosmopsychism, namely agentive cosmopsychism, poses a threat to classical theism because it can explain features of the universe like fine-tuning without having to deal with the problem of evil. This is because, unlike the classical theist, the cosmopsychist can deny at least one of the divine attributes motivating the problem of evil, namely omniscience, omnipotence, and omnibenevolence. In this paper, I shall consider which of the divine attributes the cosmopsychist should focus on when responding to the problem of evil and shall conclude that the rejection of omnibenevolence is the most satisfactory option.

Yet another nice example of a rival hypothesis with greater explanatory power than theism. (For what it's worth, I defend a non-agentive version of cosmopsychism as a rival hypothesis to theism here.) Happy reading!

New Paper on Fine-Tuning as Evidence for Other Universes

Saad, Bradford. "Fine-Tuning Should Make Us More Confident That Other Universes Exist", American Philosophical Quarterly (forthcoming).

Abstract: This paper defends the view that discovering that our universe is fine-tuned should make us more confident that other universes exist. My defense exploits a distinction between ideal and non-ideal evidential support. I use that distinction in concert with a simple model to disarm the most influential objection—the this-universe objection—to the view that fine-tuning supports the existence of other universes. However, the simple model fails to capture some important features of our epistemic situation with respect to fine-tuning. To capture these features, I introduce a more sophisticated model. I then use the more sophisticated model to show that, even once those complicating factors are taken into account, fine-tuning should boost our confidence in the existence of other universes.

Happy Reading!

Constitutive Luck: A New Problem for God's Nature

Rusavuk, Andre Leo. "The Luckiest of All Possible Beings: Divine Perfections and Constitutive Luck", Sophia (2023).

Abstract: Many theists conceive of God as a perfect being, i.e., as that than which none greater is metaphysically possible. On this grand view of God, it seems plausible to think that such a supreme and maximally great being would not be subject to luck of any sort. Given the divine perfections, God is completely insulated from luck. However, I argue that the opposite is true: precisely because God is perfect, he is subject to a kind of luck called constitutive luck. In this paper, first I provide an analysis of luck and then explain the concept of constitutive luck. I proceed to defend constitutive luck from charges of incoherence and examine a different approach to make sense of this luck. Furthermore, I distinguish between two kinds of constitutive luck and argue that even if God isn’t subject to one kind, evading the second kind is unsuccessful. I offer two ways that God is constitutively lucky and reach a surprising conclusion: a perfect being is the luckiest of all possible beings.

Happy reading!


Luke Tucker's New Defense of the Moral Paralysis Objection to Skeptical Theism

Tucker, Luke. "Reconsidering the alien doctor analogy: A challenge to skeptical theism", International Journal for Philosophy of Religion (forthcoming).

Abstract: The claim that skeptical theism induces moral paralysis or aporia (known as the moral paralysis objection) has been extensively discussed. In this context, Stephen Maitzen has introduced the Alien Doctor Analogy, an intriguing case that he employs to advance the moral paralysis objection. Michael Rea, however, has criticized the analogy for portraying the skeptical theist uncharitably. In this essay, I argue that Maitzen and Rea are both incorrect: the Alien Doctor Analogy is flawed indeed, but because it portrays the skeptical theist too charitably. I modify the analogy to remedy this flaw. I then use the analogy to advance an original version of the moral paralysis objection. Specifically, I contend that skeptical theists, whenever they encounter apparently gratuitous evil that they could prevent, should be convinced by what I call the “God-Knows-Best Argument,” which always concludes that they should refrain from intervening. Thus, skeptical theism does induce moral paralysis.
Happy reading!

Tooley's Reply to Miller on the Problem of Evil

Tooley, Michael. "Calum Miller's attempted refutation of Michael Tooley's evidential argument from evil", Religious Studies (A "FirstView" article) (2022). 1-18.

Abstract: In his article, ‘What's Wrong with Tooley's Argument from Evil?’, Calum Miller's goal was to show that the evidential argument from evil that I have advanced is unsound, and in support of that claim, Miller set out three main objections. First, he argued that I had failed to recognize that the actual occurrence of an event can by itself, at least in principle, constitute good evidence that it was not morally wrong for God to allow events of the kind in question. Miller's second objection was then that, in attempting to show that it is unlikely that God exists, I had failed to consider either positive arguments in support of the existence of God or possible theodicies, and thus that I was unjustified in drawing any conclusions concerning the probability that theism is true in the light of the total evidence available. Miller's third and final objection was that one of the approaches to logical probability that I employed – namely, that based upon a structure-description equiprobability principle, rather than a state-description equiprobability principle – was unsound since it has clearly unacceptable implications. In response, I argue that all three of Miller's objections are unsound. The third objection, however, is nevertheless important since it shows that my type of argument from evil cannot be based merely on the evils found in the world. One must also consider good states of affairs, and their relations to bad ones. I show, however, that that deficiency can be addressed in a completely satisfactory manner.

Happy reading!

Bryan Frances' New Problem of Evil

In this new paper, Bryan Frances raises a new form of the problem of evil, which he dubs the Problem of Absurd Evil. Here's the abstract:

Isn’t there something like an amount and density of horrific suffering whose discovery would make it irrational to think God exists? Use your imagination to think of worlds that are much, much, much worse than you think Earth is when it comes to horrific suffering. Isn’t there some conceivable scenario which, if you were in it, would make you say “Ok, ok. God doesn’t exist, at least in the way we thought God was. We were wrong about that”? Pursuing this question leads to what I call the Problem of Absurd Evil.

Happy reading!

Goff's Forthcoming Book Defending an Alternative to Both Theism and Atheism

Details here. Yet another alternative to theism that rivals or exceeds theism's explanatory power, and yet another sign of health in philosophy of religion, as it continues to unmoor itself from theism.

Here's the blurb to whet your appetite:

Why are we here? What's the point of existence? Most of us have wondered about these questions. For some, God represents an answer. For those who are unsatisfied by traditional religion, and also by the lack of an answer to these questions in atheism, Philip Goff offers a way between the two. Through an exploration of contemporary cosmology, as well as cutting-edge philosophical research on the nature of consciousness, he argues for cosmic purpose: the idea that the universe is directed towards certain goals, such as the emergence of intelligent life.

In contrast to religious thinkers, Goff argues that the traditional God is a bad explanation of cosmic purpose. He explores a range of alternative possibilities for accounting for cosmic purpose: perhaps our universe was created by an evil or morally indifferent designer, or a designer with limited abilities. Perhaps we live in a computer simulation. Maybe cosmic purpose is rooted not in a conscious mind but in natural tendencies towards the good, or laws of nature with purposes built into them. Or maybe the universe is itself a conscious mind which directs itself towards certain goals. Goff scrutinizes these options with analytic rigour, opening up a new avenue of philosophical enquiry into the middle ground between God and atheism. The final chapter outlines a way of living in hope that cosmic purpose is still unfolding, involving political engagement and a non-literalist interpretation of traditional religion.

God, Purpose, and Reality

 ...is the title of John Bishop and Ken Perszyk's new book defending a new, non-personal rival to classical theism, viz., euteleological theism. We therefore have yet another new view of ultimate reality that aims to have equal or greater explanatory power than classical theism.

The Argument from Necessitarian Accounts of Laws of Nature

Necessitarianism about the laws of nature is a fairly popular view in contemporary analytic philosophy (Cf. Shoemaker, Swoyer, Bird, Fales, Ellis, Bigelow et al.). According to such accounts, the laws of nature are metaphysically necessary. One popular type of account of necessitarianism about the laws of nature is dispositional essentialism. According to this sort of account, physical individuals and stuffs have their dispositional properties essentially, so that (for example) salt (or at the very least, least salt-in-alpha, i.e., the stuff that plays the salt role in the actual world) is essentially and thus necessarily such that it dissolves in water.  Similarly, matter-energy (or at the very least, matter-in-alpha) is essentially and thus necessarily such that the conservation laws hold. But if so, then it appears that God can't violate the laws of nature, which puts constraints on God's relation to the physical world. For example, it implies that he can't intervene in the world in such a way as to violate the laws of physics, or that (if some of the conservation laws are properly spelled out in terms of conserved quantities of matter-energy), can't create or sustain the universe. But such claims are incompatible with orthodox monotheism. Therefore, to the extent that one is persuaded by necessitarianism about the laws of nature, one thereby has reason to think orthodox monotheism is false.

Today, White Evangelical Protestants comprise Only 13.6% of Americans

From the Washington Post. Source with details here. Note also that twice as many Americans (26.8%) are religiously unaffiliated.

Koons' Nice Paper on Why Theists Should Oppose Criminalizing Sin

Koons, Jeremy. "Theism and the criminalization of sin", European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 10:1 (2018).

Abstract: The free will theodicy places significant value on free will: free will is of such substantial value, that God’s gift of free will to humans was justified, even though this gift foreseeably results in the most monstrous of evils. I will argue that when a state criminalizes sin, it can restrict or eliminate citizens’ exercise of metaphysical free will with respect to choosing to partake in or refrain from these activities. Given the value placed on free will in the free will theodicy, theists who endorse this theodicy should thus oppose the criminalization of what I will call Millian sins —that is, actions which are immoral, but which do not directly harm another person. In other words, such theists should oppose legal moralism.

Happy reading!


The Argument from the Autonomy of Normative Ethics

The history of Western normative ethics has produced a wide range of plausible normative ethical theories that make no essential reference to God. Prominent examples include virtue ethics, consequentialism, social contract theory, Kantian ethics, Scanlonian contractualism, and care ethics. By contrast, the main theistic accounts -- divine command theory and theistic natural law theory -- have had a much harder time of it. The majority of ethicists therefore find divine command theory and theistic natural law theory among the most implausible. There are thus strong prima facie grounds for thinking normative ethics is autonomous, and thus independent of God. This is surprising on the hypothesis of orthodox monotheism, as the latter has naturally suggested to perhaps most theists that God is the ultimate ground of moral principles (which seems to be a straightforward implication of the widely-held aseity-sovereignty doctrine according to which (i) God is an absolutely independent being, dependent upon/derivative of nothing and (ii) everything distinct from God depends upon her for their existence). By contrast, the autonomy of normative ethics is not surprising on naturalism, for on the latter hypothesis, there is no such person as God, and thus there is no expectation that God is the ultimate ground of moral principles. The autonomy of ethics thus provides at least some evidence for naturalism vis-a-vis theism.

The Argument from Causal Nihilism/Eliminativism

Bertrand Russell famously argued that the notion of cause is an obsolete notion, on the grounds that the equations expressing the fundamental laws of physics make no appeal to causation, in which case causes can be dispensed with. This view is known as causal eliminativism (also sometimes referred to as causal nihilism). There are strong defenses of causal eliminativism to this day. But according to orthodox theism, God is the cause of at least the universe (and indeed very many standard arguments for theism rely on the reality of causation). Therefore, to the extent that one is persuaded by arguments for causal eliminativism, one thereby has at least some reason to think theism is false. 

The Argument from Counterexamples to the "Laws" of Logic Against Theism

At least since Augustine, and arguably in the book of Proverbs and the Gospel of John, theists have thought it a natural to expect that if God exists, then we'd expect there to be exceptionless laws of logic that are necessary truths, which in turn are grounded in the mind of God. This expectation also seems to be a straightforward implication of the widely-held aseity-sovereignty doctrine, according to which (i) God is an absolutely independent being, dependent upon/derivative of nothing and (ii) everything distinct from God depends upon her for their existence.  However, there are counterexamples to basic logical laws of deductive inference, such as modus ponens and modus tollens. Therefore, to the extent that laws of logic would provide at least some confirming evidence for theism, evidence against such laws is thereby at least some disconfirming evidence against theism.

200 (or so) Arguments for Atheism

A popular view in contemporary analytic philosophy of religion is that while there are many arguments[1] for theism -- cosmological, ontological, and teleological arguments; moral arguments; arguments from consciousness; etc. (by Plantinga's lights, two dozen or so), there are only two arguments for atheism[2], viz., the problem of evil and (more recently) the problem of divine hiddenness. Indeed, some argue that the problem of divine hiddenness reduces to a version of the problem of evil, and thus that there is only one argument -- or at most, one category of argument -- for atheism.

This is a misconception. Here are over 200 arguments for atheism, spanning 28 categories:

I. Cosmological-Type Arguments
1. Epicurean cosmological arguments for naturalism 
2. The argument from metaphysical infinitism/coherentism

II. Ontological-Type Arguments
17. A minimal modal ontological argument for naturalism
18. Quantum modal realist ontological argument for naturalism

IV. Dysteleological Arguments
29. The argument from suboptimal design

V. Arguments from Religion/Religious Experience
34. The argument from idolatry

VIII. Arguments from Consciousness and Personhood
72. The argument from substance dualism to non-theism

X. Arguments from Reason

XI. Arguments from Logic


XIII. Arguments from the Nature of Causation
XIV. Nomological Arguments

XV. Arguments from General Ontology, Metaphysics, and Metametaphysics (that Don't Fit Neatly Into other Categories)

XVI. Epistemological Arguments
104. The argument from theism to radical skepticism
109, 110. The problem(s) of religious luck
111. The argument from Mandevillian intelligence
112. The argument from secondary qualities against the reliability of perception
113. The argument from Bayesian theories of perception (esp. prediction error minimization theories)
114. The argument from wave function realism against the reliability of perception
115. The problem of theistic evidentialist philosophers

XVII. Arguments from Aesthetics
116. The argument from ugliness
117. The argument from revulsion

XVIII. Normative Arguments (Apart from problems of evil)
118. The argument from the impropriety of worship
119. The argument from autonomy 

XIX. Arguments from Divine Hiddenness and Non-Belief
122. Deductive arguments from divine hiddenness
123. Probabilistic arguments from divine hiddenness
125. Drange's argument from non-belief

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)
126. Omnipotence (see also)
127. Omniscience (see also)
129. Beauty
130. Omnipresence
132. Eternity

XXI. Arguments from Lower Comparative Prior Probability

XXII. Arguments from Explanatory Inferiority 

XXIII. Arguments from Rival Supernaturalisms and/or Worldviews with Equal or Greater Explanatory Power and Related Matters
160. The problem of classical deism
178. The problem of the inclusive disjunction of rival supernaturalisms/worldviews

XXIV. Arguments from the Success of Naturalistic Explanations

XXV. Arguments from Private Evidence
180. Bartolome's argument from private evidence

XXVI. Arguments from Evil 
(See also these collections on problems of evil) 

XXVII. Pragmatic/Prudential Arguments
XVIII. Cumulative case/Combinatorial Arguments
233. Oppy’s abductive cumulative case argument for naturalism
237. Various cumulative IBE arguments from large conjunctive disjuncts of 1-229.

Some things worthy of note. First, there are very many more arguments for atheism than commonly supposed. Second, while categorization is inevitably somewhat arbitrary, there are clearly very many more types of atheistic arguments than commonly supposed -- on my reckoning, 27 other types of atheistic argument besides the problem of evil. Third, the list doesn't include arguments specifically against orthodox Christianity. If it did, the list would be considerably longer. Fourth, roughly 75-80% of atheistic arguments have nothing to do with the problem of evil -- problems of evil are in the minority. 

Fifth, the evidence against theism appears to be systemic -- it provides non-trivial grounds for thinking the data from virtually every major aspect of reality (e.g.: the origin, existence, and structure of the universe; consciousness; agency; morality and moral psychology; reason; logic; abstract objects; the nature of causation; the laws of nature; epistemology; religions, religious practices, and religious experience; aesthetics; the meaning of life; general ontology, metaphysics, and meta-metaphysics; and yes, suffering and hiddenness, too) points away from theism and towards some form of naturalism. One can cull very large subsets of compatible arguments from the list above to generate a variety of large abductive cumulative case arguments. Prima facie, there is very strong promise that when this is done, naturalism will embody the theoretical virtues (e.g., simplicity, scope, conservatism, etc.) better than orthodox theism. I would argue that this remains so even after throwing in all the viable data points standardly appealed to in the case for theism, in which case the relevant data renders a form of naturalism more probable than orthodox theism.  (A similar point applies to taking all these data points to run a comprehensive Bayesian argument for naturalism.)

Sixth, the previous points constitute non-trivial grounds for thinking the case for atheism doesn't essentially depend on the success of the problem of evil and hiddenness, in which case theists have much more work to do besides addressing those arguments. 

Finally, most people who care about arguments for and against theism are adherents of some form of orthodox religious monotheism or other. Among such groups, it's typically thought that the case for their faith must be persuasive, such that no (or almost no) mature, rational, properly functioning human being who appraised the relevant evidence could non-culpably fail to believe after assessing it (on the grounds that (i) God holds people morally responsible for their belief, and (ii) God would be less than perfectly good if he held people morally responsible for their belief if the evidence were less than persuasive). Thus, consider some rational, mature, properly functioning adult agnostic, Joewho has strongly grasped, internalized, and carefully appraised the above arguments, as well as all the arguments for theism on the other side of the ledger. Suppose further that after long and careful reflection, Joe finds the grounds for atheism to be either stronger than those for theism, or at least, counterbalanced with them. Finally, suppose that Joe thereby either disbelieves or suspends judgement about theism. According to the group of theists specified just above, there can be no one like Joe: The evidence for orthodox monotheism is so good that for any person S, if is a rational, mature, properly functioning agent, and (after careful reflection and deliberation) fails to find the evidence to support theism over atheism, or if S merely finds the evidence to be counterbalanced -- or indeed, if S finds themself unable to tell, with any confidence, which way the evidence points -- then S is morally culpable for failing to believe in the relevant version of orthodox monotheism. In light of the case for atheism expressed in the arguments listed above, this looks to be implausible, if not ridiculous. 

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Notes:
[1] Here and henceforth, I use the notion of an argument broadly, so as to include deductive, inductive, and abductive arguments. I also follow Richard Swinburne in recognizing the distinction between what he calls C-inductive arguments (which are arguments that raise the probabilities of their conclusions at least to some degree, although not necessarily rendering their conclusions more probable than not) and P-inductive arguments (which are arguments that raise the probabilities of their conclusions above 1/2), and include both C-inductive and P-inductive arguments to count as arguments for theism and for atheism.

[2] Here and henceforth, I follow Jeanine Diller and Paul Draper in distinguishing between global atheism (the denial of all gods) and local atheism (denial of a specific god or type of god). I'm taking the arguments in the list below to be arguments for local atheism with respect to the god of orthodox monotheism (although many arguments on the list provide at least some grounds for rejecting at least some other types of gods).

Oppy's Argument from Freedom and Responsibility for the Moral Repugnance of Theism

 Here's an intriguing little argument sketched by Graham Oppy:

The only kind of freedom that it is possible to have is compatibilist freedom. But it is impossible to have compatibilist freedom if there is a causally upstream agent who selects one’s beliefs and desires. So it is impossible for you to be free if you are one of God’s creatures. But freedom is a highly significant moral good. So God’s non-existence is morally desirable: God’s non- existence is necessary for our freedom and the goods that our freedom makes possible—e.g., moral responsibility.

Oppy, "Arguments for Atheism", in Oppy Graham (ed.). The Oxford Handbook of Atheism (OUP, 2013), p. 59.

Elbert's New Atheistic Argument from Blameless Moral Ignorance

Elbert, F., (2022) “God and the Problem of Blameless Moral Ignorance”, Ergo 8: 32. doi: https://doi.org/10.3998/ergo.2233.

Here's the abstract:

A morally perfect God necessarily desires that all rational agents behave morally. An omnipotent and omniscient God has the power and knowledge to ensure that all rational agents have sufficient moral knowledge to do what morality requires. So, if God exists, there are no rational moral agents who lack sufficient moral knowledge to act morally. However, there has been a wide range of moral agents who, without blame, have lacked the moral knowledge to behave morally. Therefore, God does not exist. The preceding argument from non-blameable moral ignorance of our fundamental moral obligations is resistant to some of the standard theistic responses to the problem of evil and divine hiddenness. Moreover, some of the standard theistic responses to the traditional arguments for God’s non-existence lend support to the argument from blameless moral ignorance.

Happy reading!

Standard Responses to the Naturalistic Fallacy Argument (Moore) and the Is/Ought Gap Argument (Hume)

Rough Draft: First Pass.

Standard responses to the naturalistic fallacy argument in the literature:

1. Some analytic truths aren’t obvious, and truths about the nature of moral normativity are likely among such truths (cf. many mathematical truths).

2. Related to (2): Falsely assumes there are no interesting analyses, when in fact there are many (e.g., knowledge as JTB or truth-tracking theories; dispositional analyses of color, etc.). (Smith)

3. Frankena’s objection: the open question argument begs the question against analytical moral naturalism. 

4. The goodness-fixing kinds response (Geach, Thomson): Moore's argument presupposes that there is such a property as goodness full-stop, but this is false; there is only goodness relative to a kind (e.g., a good knife, a good toaster, good person, etc.), and the standards of goodness are relative to the kind of thing something is. Whether a thing is good depends upon whether it performs the function of its kind well (as with functional kinds) or otherwise meets its kind's standards of correctness. 

5. The argument doesn’t apply to a posteriori moral naturalism.

6. The argument's conclusion is unproblematic for non-theistic non-naturalist moral realism.

Standard responses to the is/ought gap argument in the literature:

1. Thick ethical concepts (e.g., 'cruel', 'generous', 'selfish', etc.) have inextricable components that straddle the normative/descriptive divide (cf. Foot, Williams et al.), in which case there is no sharp is/ought divide. But since Hume’s is/ought gap argument requires a sharp is/ought divide, his argument fails to show that moral normativity is problematic.

2. You can derive an ought from an is (Prior, Searle, Maitzen et al.). Here’s Maitzen’s example from his paper, “Closing the Is/Ought Gap”, Canadian Journal of Philosophy (1998): 

(Bl) Some ethical sentences, standardly construed, are true. 

(B2) Either no ethical sentence, standardly construed, is true, or torturing babies just for fun is morally wrong. 

Therefore: 

(B3) Torturing babies just for fun is morally wrong. 

3. Neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics, non-theistic natural law theory, and non-theistic proper functionalist moral realism (Aristotle, Foot, Hursthouse,  Nussbaum, Thomson, Lott et al.): You can get an ought from an is via natural biological functions, and you can get natural biological functions without an intelligent designer.

4. Related to (3): The value-first buck-passing response (Foot, Hursthouse Lott et al.): reduce moral normativity to goodness, and analyze goodness in terms of flourishing or proper function or health or… Since flourishing (or proper function or health or…) is a natural property, normativity reduces to the natural.

5. The reasons-first buck-passing response (Scanlon, Schroeder et al.): Moral normativity is reducible to the normativity of reasons. Humean vs. Kantian accounts. Humean accounts (see, esp. Schroeder) say that S has a reason to phi just in case phi satisfies one of S’s desires. Since desire-satisfaction is a natural property, the normative reduces to the natural. (Relatedly: reduce moral oughts to practical or instrumental oughts: Railton, Williams. See 7 below)

6. (Non-constructivist) constitutivism  (Thomson, Smith): You get moral normativity from descriptive facts through goodness-fixing kinds.

7. Moral oughts reduce to instrumental/practical oughts, and instrumental oughts are naturalistically unproblematic (Williams, Railton et al.). Example: Morality is reducible to instrumental rationality from the social point of view (Railton). Relatedly: Reforming-definitions of morality (Brandt, Foot, Railton et al.): Morality is usually, but not always or necessarily, action-guiding. The contrary view was part of our intuitive, public conception of morality, but it’s a defective part. We should therefore reform our conception of morality accordingly to make it reflect the moral facts more accurately. Reject morality as a system of categorical imperatives; take morality as a system of hypothetical imperatives. 

8. Constructivism, whether Kantian (Rawls, Korsgaard et al.) or Humean (Street et al.). Moral norms are mind-dependent, yet necessarily constructed, by persons.

9. Analytical functionalism/network analyses (Jackson, Pettit): Normative moral properties strongly supervene on natural properties -- there are no two possible scenarios with identical descriptive properties that differ in their normative properties. This is a strong reason to think normative moral properties are identical to descriptive properties. One can assemble our normative moral platitudes, functionalize them and represent them via a purely descriptive Ramsey sentence, and then identify our normative moral properties with the descriptive properties upon which they strongly supervene, thereby reducing the normative to the descriptive (cf. D. Lewis).

10.  A posteriori moral naturalism/Cornell Realism (Boyd, Brink, Sturgeon et al.): Kripke and Putnam showed that there are a posteriori necessities, since there can be two or more concepts for the same property, and (the narrow content of) neither concept entails the other. The normative facts either strongly supervene upon or are identical to certain natural facts, but these are necessities that are only knowable a posteriori. Moral truths strongly supervene upon natural truths. So by IBE, the best explanation is that those natural truths ground or constitute or are identical to the moral truths.

11. Response-dependence/projectivist accounts (e.g., Hume, Wright et al.): Moral properties are like secondary qualities. They are mind-dependent, yet generated by all normal human minds under normal conditions.

12. Non-theistic moral non-naturalism (e.g., Moore, Ross, Wielenberg, Huemer): Oughts exist at the metaphysical ground floor, and so there is no need to derive an ought from an is.[1]

13. Expressivism (Gibbard et al.): There are no moral norms. However, facts about a given agent's practical/instrumental reasoning/planning play the role of supposed moral norms, and statements about morality can be replaced with statements about our plans/planning.

14. Fictionalism, in either its hermeneutical or revolutionary forms (Kalderon, Nolan, Restall & West, Joyce et al.): Moral norms aren't real, but we have outweighing practical reasons to act as if they are. These fictions suffice to play the role of objective moral norms.


For further reading: 

Standard primers and related points of entry into the relevant metaethics literature include:

Kirchin, Simon. Metaethics. Palgrave MacMillan, 2012.

McPherson, Tristan and Plunkett, David. The Routledge handbook of metaethics. Routledge, 2018.

Miller, Alexander. Contemporary metaethics: An introduction, 2nd, edition. Polity, 2013.

Van Roojen, Mark. Metaethics: A contemporary introduction. Routledge, 2015.

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Notes

[1] It’s perhaps natural to think this approach is broadly Platonist, but Aristotelian accounts can take normativity to be at the ground floor as well, and to see objects generally as teleologically and thus normatively structured.

Resto Quiñones's New Argument Against Perfect Being Theism

Resto Quiñones, Jashiel. " Incompatible And Incomparable Perfections: A New Argument Against Perfect Being Theism ", International...