An Agnostic Defends God: How Science and Philosophy Support Agnosticism

Palgrave-Macmillan (2021)
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This book contains a unique perspective: that of a scientifically and philosophically educated agnostic who thinks there is impressive—if maddeningly hidden—evidence for the existence of God. Science and philosophy may have revealed the poverty of the familiar sources of evidence, but they generate their own partial defense of theism. Bryan Frances, a philosopher with a graduate degree in physics, judges the standard evidence for God’s existence to be awful. And yet, like many others with similar scientific and philosophical backgrounds, he argues that the usual reasons for atheism, such as the existence of suffering and success of science, are weak. In this book you will learn why so many people with scientific and philosophical credentials are agnostics despite judging all the usual evidence for theism to be fatally flawed.



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Introduction: A Peculiar Defense of God

Why would a scientifically and philosophically educated agnostic—who has a dim opinion of the evidence for and the evidence against the existence of God—take on the task of defending God? In brief, investigation suggests but doesn’t prove that there is impressive evidence for theism. The evidence is... see more

Rational Belief in God

Many highly educated people think religious belief is irrational or naïve. This chapter shows the opposite: how religious belief can be, and often is, completely reasonable. I will list the main factors that make a great deal of religious belief rational.In the next chapter, however, we will visit t... see more

Irrational Belief in God

In Chap. 2 we saw how religious belief can, and often is, completely reasonable. I listed the main factors that make a great deal of religious belief rational.In this chapter we take a look at nine factors that can, and often do, make much religious belief irrational. In the rest of the book we will... see more

Intractable Religious Disagreement

Any theist who has reflected much knows that there are an enormous number of very intelligent, sincere, rational people who reject his or her religious beliefs. Furthermore, this disagreement isn’t going to go away with more investigation: it has been around for centuries and is virtually immune to ... see more

The Problem of Suffering

Anyone who has ever taken seriously the idea that God really exists, is good, knows what is happening with us, and is supremely powerful has wondered how he could permit such colossal amounts of apparently needless and undeserved suffering.Many intellectuals have often thought that this was good evi... see more

Why Advanced Science and Philosophy Support Humility

It’s common for scientifically informed people to insist that science goes against theism. To a certain extent this is true: we know that the earth is billions of years old, living species evolved over millions of years, and the world did not flood a few thousand years ago.It’s also true that we hav... see more

The Design of Life and the Laws of Nature

For many centuries people have looked at nature and had the thought that it could not possibly have come about without someone carefully designing it.Evolutionary biology showed that their argument was fatally flawed.However, new advances in physics suggest that the laws of nature, such as E = mc2, ... see more

The Origin of the Universe

In Chap. 4 we saw impressive reasons for thinking that recent advances in physics fail to supply good reason to think that there had to have been some supernatural intelligence that designed the universe.However, for many centuries people have looked to cosmology for evidence of God: something must ... see more

Two Troubles with Agnosticism

Many people are smug agnostics: they look down on the theists and atheists as overconfident fools, people who just don’t have the intellectual courage to admit that the evidence for their view is pretty weak. These agnostics typically think that their position is more or less guaranteed to remain th... see more

The Experience Argument for God

As we have noted, there is testimonial evidence for the existence of God. However, does that body of evidence really show very much? Isn’t it undermined by the fact that there is no real evidence supporting, or undergirding, the testimonial evidence?My answer: the testimonial evidence is not entirel... see more

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