Argument from Evolution
Many conservative Christians and lay atheists alike claim that if biological evolution is true, then God does not exist. Ironically, while many conservative Christians have attacked evolution because it supposedly entails atheism, no contemporary atheist philosopher has used evolution as evidence for atheism. Indeed, the only philosopher who has formulated an argument for the claim that evolution is evidence against theism and for metaphysical naturalism is agnostic philosopher Paul Draper.
Draper defends an evidential argument from evolution for metaphysical naturalism, a hypothesis that entails atheism. Specifically, he grants that evolution is logically compatible with the existence of God. However, he argues that, all other things held equal, known facts about the origin of complex life are prima facie evidence against theism.
Draper's sophisticated defense of this argument can be summarized in two points. First, he observes that the falsity of special creationism is much more probable given naturalism than given theism. If naturalism is true, then by definition special creationism is false. If, however, theism is true, special creationism is at least as likely to be true as it is likely to be false.
Second, assuming special creationism is false, evolution is much more probable given naturalism than given theism. Given that complex life exists, what makes evolution so likely given naturalism is the lack of plausible naturalistic alternatives to evolution. Given theism, however, alternatives to evolution are somewhat more likely, simply because there is less reason to assume the complex must arise from the simple.
Draper concludes, accordingly, that evolution is antecedently much more probable on naturalism than on theism.
Gerkin takes the classic theistic Argument to Design from William Paley's Natural Theology, "the watchmaker analogy," argues that it is logically flawed as an argument for theism, then turns it on its head and reformulates it as an argument for atheism, incorporating an atheological argument from biological evolution.
Campbell reviews Michael Ruse's Darwin and Design, which considers whether biological evolution has any purpose or direction. Ruse concludes that despite the attempts of theistic evolutionists to reconcile evolution and traditional monotheism, "Darwinism is a major challenge to religious belief" because evolutionary processes seem to leave no room for divine purpose. Campbell describes the book as "a thoughtful and quite detailed discussion of the design question in evolution" which "is particularly good on the background of the people who figure in [Ruse's historical] narrative of events."
In this chapter, Paul Draper appeals to natural selection in order to show that the failure of many humans and animals to flourish is strong evidence against the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect God. Treating theism and naturalism as hypotheses that aim to explain certain features of our world, Draper sets out to test each hypothesis against various known facts, including facts about human and animal suffering. After demonstrating that, prior to such testing, naturalism is more probable than theism in virtue of its smaller scope and greater simplicity, Draper goes on to argue that naturalism has far greater "predictive power" than theism, concluding that this provides strong grounds for rejecting theism.
In this explanation of why he is not a Christian, Richard Carrier outlines the top four reasons why he rejects Christianity: God's silence, God's inactivity, lack of evidence, and the overt conflict between discovered reality and Christian theory. Though a lay exposition geared at a general audience, the essay appeals to a variety of atheistic arguments, including the argument from religious confusion, an evidential argument from evil, divine hiddenness, the argument from biological evolution, and the argument from physical minds. In an interesting twist on the argument from design, Carrier turns the fine-tuning argument on its head, noting that several features of our universe--features predicted by naturalism--are highly improbable if Christian theism is true.
Jeffery Jay Lowder maintains this page.
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