Simplicity and Theology

Religious Studies 32 (2):259 - 270 (1996)
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Abstract

Richard Swinburne has given a defense of arguments for the existence of God (and in particular of teleological arguments) in his book "The Existence of God" (1979/1991). This paper argues that such theistic arguments fail, and poses some general problems for theistic arguments. Swinburne's use of a principle of simplicity is not given adequate justification and, if justified, works against theism. There are adequate rebuttals to Swinburne's arguments that depend upon there being few particles of basic physics, universal laws of nature, cogent cosmological argument, and temporal order in the universe. Theistic arguments falter on malleability, on going well beyond evidence, on anthropomorphism, on treating consistency as if it were evidence or explanation, on selective and inconsistent use of principles, and on a lack of any serious attempt to disprove hypotheses. All of this serves to support the conclusion suggested by Hume's posthumous theological writings that theistic arguments are so malleable, profligate, overreaching, equivocal, anthropomorphic, selective, inconsistent, and uncritical as to be inept.

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References found in this work

The existence of God.Richard Swinburne - 1979 - New York: Oxford University Press.
The Coherence of Theism (revised edition).Richard Swinburne - 1977 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
The miracle of theism: arguments for and against the existence of God.J. L. Mackie - 1982 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Bernard Williams.

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