Theodore M. Drange
[ Author Bio ]
The Argument from the Bible (1996)
"Almost all evangelical Christians believe that the writing of the Bible was divinely inspired and represents God's main revelation to humanity. They also believe that the Bible contains special features which constitute evidence of its divine inspiration. This would be a use of the Bible to prove God's existence within natural theology rather than within revealed theology, since the book's features are supposed to be evident even to (open-minded) skeptics. Furthermore, since a divinely inspired work must be true, those features are thereby also evidence of the Bible's truth, and thus can be used in support of Christianity as the one true religion. When expressed that way, the reasoning can be construed as an argument both for God's existence and for the truth of the gospel message from the alleged special features of the Bible. We may refer to it as 'the Argument from the Bible.'"
Ted Drange develops two arguments for the nonexistence of the God of evangelical Christianity, an all-powerful and loving being greatly concerned about the fate of human beings and desiring a personal relationship with them. According to his argument from confusion (AC), widespread confusion between Christians over matters of ultimate importance entails that the God of evangelical Christianity probably does not exist. In particular, the rampant diversification of Christian sects on such matters entails that, even if any one of those sects is correct, large numbers of Christians must hold false beliefs about issues of ultimate importance--contrary to what one would predict if the God of evangelical Christianity existed. The argument from biblical defects (ABD) contends that if the God of evangelical Christianity existed, then the Bible would probably be perfectly clear and authoritative and without marks of solely human authorship; but since the Bible does not meet either of these criteria, the God of evangelical Christianity probably does not exist.
"When God is conceived of as an all-powerful and all-loving deity, many arguments for his nonexistence can be raised. Two of the main ones are the Argument from Evil (hereafter abbreviated AE) and the Argument from Nonbelief (hereafter abbreviated ANB). In what follows, I shall provide precise formulations of those two arguments, make some comments about them, and then try to refute the main defenses (of God's existence) that might be put forward against ANB, which I consider the stronger of the two. I take ANB to be a sound argument establishing the proposition that God (conceived of in a certain way) does not exist."
Drange argues that people who believe the sentence, "God exists," does not express a proposition are noncognitivists. Those who believe it expresses a true proposition are theists; those who believe it expresses a false proposition are atheists; and those who believe the evidence is insufficient to determine the truth of the proposition are agnostics.
Theistic creationism cannot be scientific; on the other hand, naturalistic creationism could be a scientific theory. However, "that is a moot point and has no application to public policy. There are excellent reasons (of both a scientific and pedagogical sort) for teachers not to present or discuss the theory in any science class."
The Drange-Wilson Debate (1999)
The topic for this debate is, "The Arguments from Nonbelief and Confusion for the Nonexistence of God vs. The Transcendental Argument for God's Existence."
The Fine-Tuning Argument (1998)
Currently, a very popular theistic argument is the so-called "fine-tuning argument," the argument that God is the best explanation for the combination of physical constants which allow life. Drange argues that (1) God is a poor explanation, and that (2) there are better explanations than God for the combination of physical constants.
Professor Drange provides an improved formulation of the theistic fine-tuning argument, but then demonstrates that it still contains many flaws.
Ten atheological arguments are presented (and briefly discussed) in each of which there is an apparently incompatible pair of divine attributes.
Nonbelief as Support for Atheism (1998) (Off Site)
Drange presents some objections to Schellenberg's Argument from Reasonable Nonbelief and then suggests an improved version of the argument, which he calls the Argument from Nonbelief.
Here are two atheological arguments, called the "Lack-of-evidence Argument" (LEA) and "the Argument from Nonbelief" (ANB). LEA: Probably, if God were to exist then there would be good objective evidence for that. But there is no good objective evidence for God's existence. Therefore, probably God does not exist. ANB: Probably, if God were to exist then there would not be many nonbelievers in the world. But there are many nonbelievers in the world. Therefore, probably God does not exist. Reasons are given for saying that although LEA is not totally implausible, ANB is a stronger atheological argument than it is.
On Defending Atheism (2005)
Drange explains why atheists should defend their atheism.
Pascal's Wager Refuted (2000)
The author schematizes the infamous argument for belief called "Pascal's Wager," after the seventeenth century French philosopher who first posed it. This argument is then critically analyzed.
Jordan Howard Sobel's Logic and Theism is long, abstruse, and technical, but valuable for those who have an interest in its topics. Those looking for arguments based on empirical phenomena said to be best explained by the God hypothesis should look elsewhere. Sobel's focus is, rather, issues of definition and logical structure. He addresses everything from the ontological argument to the fine-tuning argument, demolishing all of the main arguments for God's existence. Moreover, he argues that the kind of omnipotence and omniscience that theists ascribe to God is incoherent, and defends both evidential and logical arguments from evil against the existence of God. Finally, he turns to a discussion of practical reasons for belief in God, such as those invoked by Pascal's wager. No cutting-edge research on these topics should omit Sobel's work.
Science and Miracles (1998)
Using the simplified definition of a "miracle" as an event which violates a law of nature, Drange investigates the relation between science and miracles. He argues that scientists, as scientists, can't believe that such events ever occur, but leaves open whether they could consistently believe in miracles apart from their scientific work. If they do, it would only be in virtue of having compartmentalized minds.
Why Be Moral? (1998)
The reasons for being moral depend on what it means "to be moral." On some possible definitions, the question, "Why be moral?" is meaningless. But in the case of the other definitions, it is possible to understand the question and even to answer it. Moreover, on the definitions which make the question meaningful, the atheist can answer the question just as well as the theist. Indeed, with respect to specific moral questions (e.g., "Why should people not rape?"), the atheist can provide a better answer than theists who accept the Bible as God's Word.
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