Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sacrificing the fine-tuning argument to the argument from evil

The argument from evil is no stronger an argument than the fine-tuning argument. Moreover, the two are nicely paired up. Just as the fine-tuning argument seems to be seriously weakened by supposing a multiverse (since if there are infinitely many worlds, it's less surprising that some support life), so too the argument from evil is seriously weakened by supposing a multiverse of all creation-worthy worlds (since then there will presumably exist infinitely many worlds with lots of evils, as long as they are creation-worthy).

So here is a dialectical move a theist can make. Just sacrifice the fine-tuning argument to the argument from evil. Let the two cancel out! That still leaves the theist with a number of powerful arguments such as the cosmological argument, the argument from religious experience, the argument from moral epistemology, the argument from plausible miracle reports, the argument from consciousness and the argument from nomic regularity. The atheist, however, is left with little ammunition, besides some minor arguments concerning the exact formulation of divine attributes, which minor arguments can balanced off with less weighty arguments for theism, like the ontological argument or the argument from the experience of our lives as planned by another.

And so the balance of evidence, even if one does not take particular theistic arguments as apodeictic (I think one should do that in the case of the cosmological argument), strongly favors theism.

37 comments:

March Hare said...

My understanding, and certainly my use, of the argument from evil is purely to discredit, if not totally disprove, the existence of an omni-benevolent creator.

It provides zero evidence against an ambivalent creator, an absentee creator or an bad (but probably not evil) creator.

So, used this way, it doesn't cancel out MWI, in fact, MWI surely counts against an omnibenevolent creator, unless each of the worlds has an equal ratio of good vs. evil, otherwise one would be better than the other and should, via omnibenevolence, exist rather than the other.

March Hare said...

Plus, if you have the slightest bit of non-laughably weak evidence for these claimed "plausible miracle reports" can you please let me know here, then get them to the nearest scientist as he'd probably like to know the whole basis of the scientific method has been called into question.

elliottroland said...

March, as far as I'm aware, the theist would invoke the many-worlds hypothesis as such: "There are an infinite number of creation-worthy worlds in existence, so it is no surprise that we find ourselves in a world in which there is evil". Thus the theist invokes something akin to the anthropic principle with regard to evil (as opposed to fine-tuning). Presumably, Dr. Pruss takes a world as being creation-worthy only if there is sufficient moral reason for the evil in that world.

Also, it's hardly calling science into question if miracles do happen.

Second Breakfast said...

March, I'm confused, you will or won't accept evidence for miracles? You make two claims. (i) You assert skepticism that the evidence for miracles will be anything but "laughably weak." Then you seem to presume: (ii) no such evidence could exist given that such evidence would contradict the scientific method. Or am I right in interpreting that you think evidence might exist but (ii) is better represented in the following way: (ii')the evidence could never be more than "laughably weak", because it would call the scientific method into question? I suppose you might want to buffer (ii') with (iii) The scientific method is responsible of the success of science, etc. etc. (iv) Therefore, all "evidence" for miracles is best accounted for via non-miraculous explanations. If I'm off here, please let me know. First, there is no such thing as a scientific method. Second, if there were, how would that be at all related to miracles? Perhaps you are referring to the uniformity of nature? I don't know, but I'm confused as to how *that* relates to the scientific method. Rather than rebuild your argument for you, I'll just let you respond to my post.

Joshua said...

Lol, said scientist need only take a philosophy of science course to know that.

Patrick said...

The theodicy outlined below called “Theodicy from divine justice” may show that it is not necessary to sacrifice the fine-tuning argument to the argument from evil:

(1) God’s perfect justice prevents Him from relieving people with unforgiven sins from their sufferings (see Isaiah 59,1-2).
(2) Unlike God Christians are not perfectly just. Therefore, unlike God, they are in a position to help people with unforgiven sins. By doing this they may make those among them who haven’t yet accepted God’s salvation receptive of it (Matthew 5,16, 1 Peter 2,11-12, and 3,1-2), which in turn frees these persons from suffering in the afterlife.
(3) The greater God’s beneficial power due to His love, the greater God’s destructive power due to His justice (see Matthew 13,27-29). Striving to prevent as much suffering as possible God can only interfere to such a degree that the beneficial effect of the interference is not neutralized by the destructive effect of it.
(4) Someone who dies before he or she reaches the age of accountability, i.e. before he or she can distinguish between good and evil (see Genesis 2,16-17, Deuteronomy 1,39, and Isaiah 7,16) faces no punishment in the afterlife, as he or she would not have been able to commit sins. So, God may not be inclined to prevent such a person’s death.
(5) A person’s suffering in this life may have a redeeming effect (Luke 16,25) and consequently contribute to a decrease of the respective person’s suffering in the afterlife; the amount of suffering in this life is so to speak subtracted from the amount of suffering in the afterlife. So, God may not be inclined to relieve this person’s suffering.
(6) A person’s suffering in this life may make the person receptive of God’s salvation (Luke 15,11-21), which in turn frees this person from suffering in the afterlife.
(7) There are degrees of punishment in the afterlife depending on one’s moral behaviour (Matthew 16,27, 2 Corinthians 5,10), one’s knowledge of God’s will (Matthew 11,20-24, Luke 12,47-48, John 15,22-25), and, as mentioned before, one’s amount of suffering in this life (Luke 16,25).
(8) Those people who suffer more in this life than they deserve due to their way of life are compensated for it by receiving rewards in Heaven.
(9) As for animal suffering, animals will be compensated for it on the “new earth” mentioned in Isaiah 65,17-25, 2 Peter 3,13 and Revelation 21,1.

March Hare said...

@elliottroland

The problem there is that if you have an omnibenevolent creator then each of those 'creation-worthy' worlds have to be equally 'good' for its inhabitants, otherwise the creator should have created a better one instead. That is an argument that could be made, but I think people should drop the notion of omnibenevolence as it's incredibly stupid given human history and pre-history, and seems to be a modern term. Perhaps just benevolent?

@Second Breakfast,

I would not accept evidence of a miracle as a miracle, but if more and more evidence accumulated I'd start tending towards belief in them. However, there exists no such evidence that would come close to count in any scientific sense any more than evidence for fairies, horoscopes or ghosts.

@all

The scientific method presupposes repeatability, objectivity (who performs an experiment doesn't matter) and a whole host of other things that would be thrown into confusion by the discovery that all results are subject to supernatural tinkering.

If supernatural effects were consistent (e.g. if magic was real and spells worked, or if prayer had an effect) then it would also be subject to the scientific method, but if it was arbitrary then there may be no fundamental principles to pull out and all of science would be held a lot more tentatively than it is currently.

dovetheology.com said...

Dr Pruss, I think this kind of argument works as a possible solution to the problem of evil, but I don't even think we need to concede the fine tuning argument in order to use it. After all, this defence only posits a theistic multiverse, which is irrelevant to the strength of the fine tuning argument. So long as the prior probability of an *atheistic* multiverse is low, the fine tuning argument will still work.

Craig said...

I don't think I follow. Why is it plausible that any universe like ours, with its sort of evil, is creation-worthy? In a multiverse of creation-worthy universes, why not rather expect to find only endless variations of universes that lack the sort of evil we find in ours?

Alexander R Pruss said...

Well, the theistic multiverse guys (Turner and Klaas) argue that if a possible universe is on balance good, then God has reason to create it and will do so.

Maybe God could make exact duplicates of a better world, though this isn't clear--it depends on whether the identity of indiscernibles is true. But even if he could, there would be a value of diversity in not repeating himself.

dovetheology.com said...

(I should perhaps explicate my statement a little better, perhaps formally:

The evidential problem of evil wishes to affirm that P(evil|atheism) > P(evil|theism). We can leave aside considerations of what particular evils are taken as the data. So, the theistic defence here is taken to imply that P(evil|theism), while perhaps low, is not very low, since it is very plausible that a theistic multiverse obtains, given theism. This would be the claim that P(multiverse|theism) is at least moderate. But this is perfectly compatible with the claim that P(multiverse|atheism) is very low, which is what is required for the fine tuning argument to work. Thus, there is no inconsistency in using this as a solution to the problem of evil, while at the same time maintaining that the fine tuning argument has some strength.)

elliottroland said...

@March Hare

1. A world being good is not the same as the world being good for it's inhabitants. That makes it sound like the goodness of a world is determined mainly by the happiness of the creatures, but this doesn't seem to be right. It'd be better, and more natural, to say that a world is good if it is good on balance. All we need then is morally sufficient reasons for the evils in a world for it to be good.

2. If we assume that an omnibenevolent being needs to create a maximal world (I'm not saying "best", because there might be more than one maximal world), then it seems very plausible that a number of different worlds could have equal value, and so he is morally justified in creating any (or all) of them. Nevertheless, it seems even more reasonable to deny that there is such a thing as a best or maximal world, in which case an omnibenevolent being wouldn't need to create such a world (since it doesn't exist). All he would need to do is create a good world. In which case the number of options is even greater.

3. With regard your concerns about the scientific method: miracles not being subject to the scientific method, as you've defined it, doesn't do anything to undermine it. After all, the evolution of humans and the big bang are not repeatable and so not subject to the method yet we don't think this is a problem. Furthermore, any outside intervention by humans (such as me stopping an apple from falling to the ground) also prevents the scientific method from being applicable, but this doesn't undermine it.

4. As far as I know, scientific laws are taken to be generalisations that hold, all things being equal. But when there's outside intervention (human or divine) then we're not "breaking" these laws since not all things are equal.

March Hare said...
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elliottroland said...
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Alexander R Pruss said...

With regrets I've had to delete two comments. (I then had to delete a comment of mine replying to one of the comments, as it was unfair to reply to a comment that in hindsight I had to delete.)

Each comment made substantive philosophical points, which is why I regret deleting it. However, both also contained some material whose tone and/or content (e.g., sarcastic invective in one of the cases) was not conducive to intellectual discussion.

I will be happy to accept comments containing the same philosophical points made in a more scholarly tone.

elliottroland said...

My apologies. Since my comment was in response to March Hare's, I shall wait for him to repost, lest I inadvertently misrepresent him.

March Hare said...

Okay, with more patience... and altered to hopefully clarify a couple of follow up points that the original had left unclear.

@elliottroland

1. If a world being 'good' doesn't depend on the well-being (nb. not necessarily happiness) of its inhabitants then where does "good on balance" come from? I assume the well-being of the omnibenevolent creator which leads us to...

2. If world A is in any way superior to world B then an omnibenevolent creator would refrain from creating world B and re-create world A, otherwise it ain't omnibenevolent. More worryingly though, adding your statement in 2 to the idea that variety/creator's glory is good for the creator we end up in the situation where a world that is slightly bad for the inhabitants would be created because the additional variety creates a good for the creator that is slightly more than the bad for the inhabitants. I think that bad and good are not on the same scale so can't be simply cancelled out in this way... However, it appears we both agree that omnibenevolence is a modern contrivance that is not logically necessary and should be dropped forthwith.

3. The evidence for evolution etc. is available to all and the tests run on it are repeatable. When one encounters a crime scene the murder isn't repeatable, but the evidence is available to all (in principle) and DNA, fingerprints, angle of wound entry etc. are all objective and reproducible to anyone who sees the same evidence. History does use the scientific method quite a lot, philosophy notsomuch... However, anything that makes claims on the real world is subject to the scientific method from miracles to evolution to economics. The reason science would be undermined is that in a universe with miracles each experiment run would be subject to the whims of supernatural entities and so would be much less likely to be accepted.

4. Humans are subject to the same laws. External entities (god, devil, angels, etc.) are not. To answer your question, every experiment ever run has failed to show even the faintest sign of libertarian free will. If you wish to pursue the intuitive angle I'll point you towards continuity of vision, solidity of objects, consistency of time and other incredibly strong but incredibly wrong intuitions.

elliottroland said...

Ah yes, I misunderstood what you meant by "good for inhabitants". I agree with you that creatures' well-being is one of the factors that goes to determining the goodness of a world, however I'm not entirely sure if it is the main factor. The main factor could be how much God is glorified.

How I understand "good on balance" is as follows: for any evil if there is morally sufficient reason for allowing it (perhaps a greater good came of it) then that evil is not counted against the goodness of that world.

Now when it comes to deciding which worlds to actualise, it seems to me to be very plausible to deny that there is in fact a single "best possible world". This leaves us with two options: either there are a (probably large) number of maximal worlds, each of which is different but equal in goodness or there are no maximal worlds either. In the former case the being could simply actualise a subset of the maximal worlds as the multiverse. In the latter case, it happens to be that whatever world we pick there will always be a better world (similar to how there is no greatest integer). In this case an omnibenevolent being wouldn't be required to create the best possible world or a maximal possible world since those worlds don't exist. All it would be required to do is to create a good (on balance) world. But in this case the multiverse could be made up of a collection of these good worlds.

I'm not really sure how you distinguish between omnibenevolent and benevolent. I take omnibenevolent to be all-good, ie. having all and only good moral properties (compassion, love, mercy, justice, etc.) Given this definition I have no problem thinking that God is omnibenevolent.

Now while I agree that history uses something similar to the scientific method, there doesn't seem to be any repeatability in the evidence: either we have the artifacts (maunscripts, tablets, etc.) or we don't. It's not like we can perform some experiement on them to test our hypothesis or anything. I don't see what stops the evidence for a miracle (in principle) being like any evidence we'd have in a courtroom (eye-witness testimony, medical/scientific considerations, video footage, etc.)

I'm curious how we expect to be able to show any signs of libertarian free will with an experiment? I understand libertarianism to hold to two theses: the principle of contrary choice and the principle of self-determination. Now the first principle *can't* be shown using experiments because it involves truths relevant to possible worlds other than the actual world, but surely experiments can only inform us about the actual world? Similarly I have no idea how an experiment would be set up to test for self-determination.

Have you considered arguments along the lines that if we are causally determined by scientific laws then can't be rational (since we don't decide anything for a reason, but rather because of prior conditions and laws), meaning we undercut the rationality of our very belief in this determinism?

Finally it seems to me that we should trust our (defeasible) intuititions in situations until we're given some reason not to. In fact, it seems that our starting points for any field of study (axioms, if you will) can only be based on what we think is most intuitive (or self-evident). As for your examples: (1) isn't vision analogue and therefore continuous? (I'm genuinely curious) (2) just because our understanding of how objects have solidity has changed doesn't mean our intuition that they are solid has been shown wrong and (3) yes I guess this is a case where our intuitions were wrong (along with the whole of quantum mechanics too) :)

In general, with regard to science and miracles I suggest reading Dr. Pruss' other posts (http://alexanderpruss.blogspot.com/search/label/miracles) or Dr. Craig's work (http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-problem-of-miracles-a-historical-and-philosophical-perspective)

Alexander said...

One problem with this sort of view (that the fine-tuning argument and the argument from evil are both strong but roughly balance out) is that it should be surprising that there be distinct arguments/pieces of evidence strongly pointing in opposite directions.

If fine-tuning really is very strong evidence for God, fine-tuning would have to be very unlikely given ~God. If evil really is very strong evidence for ~God, it would have to be very unlikely given God. So whether or not God exists, something very surprising is happening.

An alternative explanation would be that at least one of the two arguments is not nearly as strong as is commonly supposed.

Alexander R Pruss said...

The world is full of surprises. :-)

March Hare said...

[Good is] "how much God is glorified"
That could cover an awful lot of things that I, and most people, would consider rather horrific.

I think we can skip the whole omnibenevolent issue since it's not one you're pushing hard and not one I'm particularly interested in.

You misunderstand what I mean by how miracles would rock science. Miracles would be testable and discoverable by the scientific method, but that method would itself not be (as) reliable as any (in)consistency of results could be angels, demons, fairies, leprechauns, god messing with us. It would still be the best way to try and understand the world and its laws, but nothing could be taken for granted. Whereas we currently assume results are the result of purely natural processes. If any strange results are seen then they are investigated and may ultimately yield a supernatural answer, but none yet have.

Tests for free will? Here's a generally accepted view of it:
http://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/free-will
And here's wiki's take on it:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroscience_of_free_will

[History] "there doesn't seem to be any repeatability in the evidence"
It's not about repeatability of the event, but about the repeatability of tests run on the available evidence. (Also the agreement of tests on different pieces of evidence.)

Yes, I've considered what you asked, and it has some validity, but we get better at things through learning, practice and experience which means we get more confidence in our judgements and they become more reliable.

"Finally it seems to me that we should trust our (defeasible) intuititions in situations until we're given some reason not to. "
Agreed, but tentatively. The thing is there is lots of evidence available and so we can, if not abandon our instincts, at least put them in their place.

Vision, I point you towards Sam Harris who also argues against libertarian free will:
http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/free-will-and-free-will

Unknown said...

March Hare:

By mentioning Sam Harris (in a positive light) on free will you have just jumped the shark.

http://agencyandresponsibility.typepad.com/

I struggle to think of one person who both does influential work on free will and moral responsibility and also takes Harris seriously.

March Hare said...

Just because someone is wrong on topic A does not mean they are wrong on topic B.

It should be pointed out that I was referencing his point about visual continuity where, as a neuroscientist, I assume his opinion is worth more than yours or mine.

Unknown said...

Right. Except, that isn't particularly relevant in the Harris case. It's not that he's wrong (whatever view is... he is pretty muddled), but rather he's just very confused (if rather annoying) in reasoning about free will. So, a more apt principle you would want would be something like: thinking poorly about A does not imply thinking poorly about B. But, that seems rather implausible.

Unknown said...

As long as we restrict the principle enough. Obviously being bad at math does not imply being bad at english. However, if you sound rather crazy on matters outside of your discipline, then is it not reasonable to cast doubt (to some degree) on your ability within the discipline? All things being equal, I would much prefer an expert from area X who hasn't made inane comments about other areas.

Alexander R Pruss said...

Research supports the idea that reasoning skills are area-specific. For instance, people are rather better in detecting the same formal fallacies when they concern material familiar to them.

There are even philosophers who are good in one field but when they try to work outside that field, they aren't any good.

Alexander R Pruss said...

The Psychology Today claim is "If we have free will, we can consciously make decisions that are not determined by the physics and biology of our brains." That's a contentious claim rejected by the majority of contemporary philosophers. In fact, it's rejected by the 59% of contemporary philosophers who think freedom is compatible with determinism.

Now, I happen to think the Psychology Today claim is correct. I even grant what they say next: "It's a philosophical and religious concept that has found no support in science". But to conclude that it's an illusion, as they seem to, they'd have to move from "FW is not supported by science" to "The denial of FW is supported by science", and that's unjustified.

There also seems to be a prevalent assumption in neuroscience that free will would have to involve conscious decision. Why think that? (Rhetorical question: On the authority of Descartes?!)

Alexander R Pruss said...

All that said, please, let us keep the conversation on substantive issues rather than on who thinks what and is competent in what.

March Hare said...

Alex, I think you're (intentionally?) conflating terms.

Free will, as described by compatibalists, is entirely different from libertarian free will, whatever you try to claim on your Leibnizian Cosmological Arguments paper.

Compatibalists are also entirely mistaken if they think going round the loop one more time makes for free will that isn't deterministic.

The problem is people like Dennett (who is wrong on a lot) makes the claim that an entity that can rationally assess outcomes before making a decision is both deterministic in making that assessment but also 'free' - free from what, Dennett? Free from the necessity of making the same decision other similar creatures might make? Big deal - no-one claimed that they couldn't.

If people ain't happy with Harris, then here's the first one google threw up: http://aegean.psychology.uiowa.edu/labs/iapl/iAPL_people/cathleen_moore/pdfs/enns_et_al_in_press_chapter.pdf

The key point here is that some people jump all over a link to Harris when it isn't even Harris' work I'm talking about and it's a side issue on the also side point of our intuitions being completely out of sync with reality in a lot of cases, even one as basic as vision. But no, citing Harris mentioning someone else's work is 'jumping the shark'. Unknown, you appear to have enough knowledge to rise above such things.

Alexander R Pruss said...

Compatibilists and incompatibilists tend to disagree on what the nature of free will is. But a disagreement on what the nature of X is is not a disagreement on whether X exists. Thus, we can imagine Cavendish and some other chemist disagreeing on whether water is made up of hydrogen and oxygen. That would not be a disagreement on whether there is water.

See this nice paper by van Inwagen (you can also google for: van Inwagen how to think about free will, and get a free preprint off his website) which forcefully makes the point in the case of free will.

In any case, the comments have strayed too far off-topic and I will now be somewhat ruthless in deleting comments in this thread that don't relate more tightly to the point of the original post.

Dagmara Lizlovs said...

Alex:

Here is another take on the argument from evil. While not quite like yours, I think it runs parallel or approaches evil from a different angle. The article is found at the Catholic Educator's Resource Center. It's title is "Narcissism and the Dynamics of Evil" by Douglas McManaman. Here is the link:


http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/religion/re0933.htm

Corny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cornell Anthony said...

Richard Swinburne has a new book coming out in March of 2013 that will go heavily into this subject.

Alex are you going to get this book when it comes out?

http://www.amazon.com/Mind-Brain-Free-Richard-Swinburne/dp/0199662576/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1348944764&sr=8-10&keywords=Richard+swinburne

Cornell Anthony said...

"Compatibilists and incompatibilists tend to disagree on what the nature of free will is. But a disagreement on what the nature of X is is not a disagreement on whether X exists. Thus, we can imagine Cavendish and some other chemist disagreeing on whether water is made up of hydrogen and oxygen. That would not be a disagreement on whether there is water."

My comment up above was referring to the discussion about free-will, sorry.

Dagmara Lizlovs said...

I'm going to stick to the KISS principle - Keep it Simple Sailor. I know I risk coming across as a rivalist tent preacher; however, I believe that this is very important for anyone anywhere to keep in mind at all times. And I really do mean that "at all times part". That is totally crucial. Here is a very practical and easy to apply rule of thumb. Evil in order to exist needs Good. Evil cannot parasitize an absolute perfect Good because there is no imperfection by which to enter. Evil exists by parasitizing a lesser good because there is an imperfection by which to gain a toehold. Wherever good exists there will always be some form of evil. It will be like this until the Second Coming. Wherever there seems to be some possitive force for good at work, you can be sure of one thing, evil is not too far behind and it's hiding somewhere in the background. When you experience a great spiritual growth phase such as a deeper level of conversion or an increased freedom in your spirit, do not be surprised if suddenly you find yourself hit by all manner of temptations and troubles. It is naive and dangerous to think that this won't happen. This is an attack by the devil. If you are aware of this, you will not be easily caught off guard.

The best line of defense against this is to love God above all things. You must love God more than anyone else, any person, any creature. This includes family and your closest friends. Because if you love God (absolute perfect Good) above all other persons and creatures (lesser goods), you then have a powerful resistance to evil because you will be giving it no foothold.

Second Breakfast said...

@March Hare

"I would not accept evidence of a miracle as a miracle, but if more and more evidence accumulated I'd start tending towards belief in them. However, there exists no such evidence that would come close to count in any scientific sense any more than evidence for fairies, horoscopes or ghosts."

1) Just to reiterate, because I think you're working with some bad assumptions. There is no easily distinguishable thing that we should call a scientific method. As a previous poster said, a general philosophy of science course would address this. Your argument's reliance on a conflict between scientific method and miracles is confused because of your assumption that there is an easily distinguishable scientific method. You then alluded to observability and testability as necessary conditions for science. As one poster already mentioned, there are many scientific claims that are neither directly observable nor testable. Even if I grant that effects of historical phenomenon could be tested (which I don't as evolution and cosmology are simply untestable in the way that you are using the word), you've just opened up your seemingly tight constraints on what the scientific method is. You've just allowed for historical hypotheses confirmed by arguments based on what you can observe now. Besides having just borrowed from philosophy (or principles of theoretical justification) you also sound more like a historian than your view of a scientist. On that view, if a miracle occurred in history but is not now also occurring, why think that historical evidence for such a claim doesn't count? That's odd and inconsistent. The bottom line is that science cannot be defined by necessary and sufficient conditions. Much of science is outside your rigid constraints. Once opened up to allow for paradigmatic examples of science (things we consider unquestionably to be scientific theories) that go outside the boundaries of observability and testability you find that things not usually considered science can survive the challenge for evidence.
2) But much more importantly, why think that miracles need to be scientifically verifiable at all? I take it that evidence for the truth value of some claims exists that is not scientific. There are statements or states of affairs that we all can agree on whose truth values are not determined by science. "I love my wife" is not scientifically verifiable. "In 1989 my brother and I stopped talking to one another for 3 days straight" also isn't. Either these statements are (i) something that science can confirm because you've allowed more than observability and testability (namely, historical evidence from the testimony of other individuals) -or- (ii) historically verifiable but not scientifically verifiable. Either way, the claim that anything worth knowing comes from science looks pretty bleak. I would just reiterate what elliott said; please so some reading on miracles. If you're up to it, see Craig Keener's work linked here - http://www.amazon.com/Miracles-Credibility-Testament-Accounts-Volume/dp/0801039525. It's a philosophical defense of historical and modern day miracles, based on both testimony and argument.

Dan S said...

"even if one does not take particular theistic arguments as apodeictic (I think one should do that in the case of the cosmological argument)"

Alex- I've seen elsewhere that you endorse the B-Theory of time. It has always seemed to me that in order for the cosmological argument to be apodeictic one must adopt an A-Theory of time. On this view, I do find the cosmological argument quite convincing, however I fail to see how given the B-Theory the argument is sound much less certain. Maybe I'm missing something big, but I've always thought that the universe must have a beginning because one cannot traverse an actual past infinite, however on the tenseless theory of time such an observation is irrelevant. Thoughts?