The Predictive Power of Theism

Herman Philipse

in God in the Age of Science?

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199697533
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738470 | DOI:
The Predictive Power of Theism

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Theism can be a theory or existential hypothesis to be confirmed by empirical evidence only if it has some predictive power. Theists should (and do) prefer a purely logical definition of predictive power, according to which a hypothesis h has predictive power with regard to evidence e iff the relevance condition P(e|h&k)〉P(e|k) is met. But theism can have predictive power in this sense with regard to existing evidence only if one can non-arbitrarily attribute creative intentions to God. The auxiliary hypotheses attributing these intentions should be independently justified. It is argued that Richard Swinburne’s solution to this problem of theism’s predictive power on the basis of his moral objectivism (or moral realism) fails, and that his attributions of creative intentions to God are anthropomorphic projections.

Keywords: Dilemma of God-of-the-gaps; Pseudo-theory; Immunization; Design arguments; Newton; Pierre Simon Laplace; William Paley; Henry Drummond; Primary causes; Secondary causes; Too odd or too big for science to explain; Miracles; Christ’s bodily resurrection; David Hume; Testimony; Gospels; Paul; Mark; Empty tomb; Incarnation; Atonement; Koran; Cognitive dissonance; Leon Festinger; Collaborative storytelling; Source amnesia; Principle of collective causality; Big Bang theory; Fine-tuning arguments

Chapter.  12894 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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