Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism, Vol 25, No 1 (2017)

The (Overwhelming) Improbability of Classical (and Christian) Theism

Raphael Lataster
Issued Date: 4 May 2017


In the analytic Philosophy of Religion, much ink has been spilt on the existence of some sort of supernatural reality. Such work is usually done by theists; those that find classical theism to be probably true. It is my contention that theism (and especially Christian theism) is unjustly privileged by many in the field (including non-theists), even when supernaturalism has been – competently or incompetently – argued for. As such, I present a series of challenges for the theist, finding them to be insuperable at present. The first such challenge concerns the challenge of polytheism. Polytheism is often very casually overlooked on the basis that monotheism is ‘simpler’. Recognising that such simplicity is not necessarily truth-conducive, I argue that polytheism, as a catch-all hypothesis, ought to be preferred. The second challenge proceeds from an assumption not only of supernaturalism, but also of monotheism. There are infinitely many monotheistic alternatives to theism, which can be conceived by simply tweaking the typical attributes of God. Again, simplicity is typically appealed to, and again found to be unhelpful. Furthermore, there are the deistic alternatives to consider also, many of which are seemingly more probable than theism. Finally, I consider the pantheistic god models, deciding that pantheisms are generally more robust and make fewer ad hoc assumptions about the world. As an aside, I concisely discuss the difficulties in moving from theism to Christian theism, which includes an argument against miracles, and a brief explanation of the increasing trend of questioning Jesus’ historical existence.

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DOI: 10.1558/eph.32240


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