Tag Archives: theism

Alan Hájek

[T]here is a connection between the supervaluational approach to vague probability […] and Pascal’s own argument. For Pascal was doing something analogous to supervaluating: the conclusion that one should believe that God exists is supposed to come out true for every probability function (except of course the strict atheistic ones that assign zero to God’s existence) It is presumably in the spirit of Pascal to think of these as different sharp probability functions belonging to different people; but we might equally think of them as different precisifications of the vague opinion of a single person. And just as the strict atheistic probability functions pose a problem for Pascal, so too do the strict atheistic precisifications of a vague opinion concerning God.

Alan Hájek, ‘Objecting Vaguely to Pascal’s Wager’, Philosophical Studies, vol. 98, no. 1 (March, 2000), p. 12

John Post

[B]elief in a “God-of-the-gaps” is vulnerable to scientific advances that close the gaps. Among the gaps on which theists once relied, and on which many still rely, is the presumed inability of the sciences to explain the origin of the human species or of life or the Earth or our solar system. These gaps have not been largely closed. The ultimate gap, for many theists, concerns the origin of the universe; even if the other gaps are closed, that one can never be. But we have just been seeing how it too might be closed.

John Post, Metaphysics: A Contemporary Introduction, New York, 1991, p. 90

Charles Darwin

[A] source of conviction in the existence of God, connected with the reason and not with the feelings, impresses me as having much more weight. This follows from the extreme difficulty or rather impossibility of conceiving this immense and wonderful universe, including man with his capacity of looking far backwards and far into futurity, as the result of blind chance or necessity. When thus reflecting I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man; and I deserve to be called a Theist.

This conclusion was strong in my mind about the time, as far as I can remember, when I wrote the Origin of Species; and it is since that time that it has very gradually with many fluctuations become weaker.

But then arises the doubt—can the mind of man, which has, as I fully believe, been developed from a mind as low as that possessed by the lowest animal, be trusted when it draws such grand conclusions? May not these be the result of the connection between cause and effect which strikes us as a necessary one, but probably depends merely on inherited experience? Nor must we overlook the probability of the constant inculcation in a belief in God on the minds of children producing so strong and perhaps an inherited effect on their brains not yet fully developed, that it would be as difficult for them to throw off their belief in God, as for a monkey to throw off its instinctive fear and hatred of a snake. I cannot pretend to throw the least light on such abstruse problems. The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble by us; and I for one must be content to remain an Agnostic.

Charles Darwin, The Autobiography of Charles Darwin 1809-1882: with the Original Omissions Restored, London, 1958, pp. 92-94

Stephen Grover

The evidentialist objection to belief in God cannot be sidestepped through any analogy with beliefs that we hold in the absence of evidence, but which it is clearly rational for us to believe. The beliefs about matters of fact and existence that we do hold without evidence in their support—beliefs like Plantinga’s strictly and loosely basic beliefs or Kenny’s fundamental beliefs—are related to sense-experience or to our trust in procedures of belief-formation on the basis of sense-experience in ways quite different from the ways in which religious beliefs are related to that experience and those procedures. Not can religious beliefs which arise directly out of experience other than ordinary perceptual experience be directly evident, for they manifest few of the signs of reliability which ordinary perceptual claims manifest and show signs of unreliability as well. If we regard the belief that God exists as an unjustified and unjustifiable presupposition of the theist’s world picture then we either relinquish any claim to rationality for that belief, or attain the required rationality only at the cost of abandoning the claim to objectivity which genuinely theistic belief cannot go without.

Stephen Grover, God and the Absence of Evidence, D.Phil. thesis, University of Oxford, 1987, p. 185

Quentin Smith

Not long ago I was sleeping in a cabin in the woods and was awoken in the middle of the night by the sounds of a struggle between two animals. Cries of terror and extreme agony rent the night, intermingled with the sounds of jaws snapping bones and flesh being torn from limbs. One animal was being savagely attacked, killed and then devoured by another. […] [I]it seems to me that the horror I experienced on that dark night in the woods was a veridical insight. What I experienced was a brief and terrifying glimpse into the ultimately evil dimension of a godless world.

Quentin Smith, ‘An Atheological Argument from Evil Natural Laws’, International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, vol. 29, no. 3 (June, 1991), pp. 159, 173