Argument I

There is no logical space for theism. According to D. Z. Phillips, theism can be faulted for its positing a reality that is independent of the structure of the world. He not only proposes that it makes no sense to think about what is beyond the world but also proposes theism can be faulted for its advancing what might be called a theory of everything. Phillips writes:

What kind of theory is a theory about the structure of the world? If by "the world" one wants to mean "everything", there is no such theory. Certainly, science has no such theory, nor could it have. "Everything" is not the name of one big thing or topic, and, therefore, there can be no theory concerning a thing or topic of this kind. To speak of a thing is to acknowledge the existence of many things, since one can always be asked which thing one is referring to. Science is concerned with specific states of affairs, no matter how wide the scope of its questions may be. Whatever explanations it offers, further questions can be asked about them. It makes no sense to speak of a last answer in science, one that does not admit of any further questions. Science is not concerned with "the structure of the world", and there are no scientific investigations which have this as their subject." (Phillips 2005, pp. xv-xvi)

Phillips's critique of theories of everything may also be seen as cutting against naturalism insofar as it advances a theory covering all of reality. Physicalist forms of naturalism would seem to fit that description, for example, as physicalists hold that everything is physical. However, insofar as naturalism involves a negative thesis (there is no God not identical with the cosmos), Phillips's reasoning is very much in keeping with a naturalistic perspective.

For another representation of the no logical space for theism argument, consider Kai Nielsen's challenge:

What does or could "transcendent to the universe" mean? Perhaps being "beyond the universe"? But how would that be other than just more universe? Alternatively, if you do not want to say that, try - thinking carefully about the sense of "beyond" - to get a handle on "going beyond the universe." Is not language idling here? (Nielsen 2004, p. 474)

If successful, this objection rules out any evidential case for theism in the offing from natural theology. Kai Nielsen counsels us to set aside the search for theistic evidence, even if such ostensible evidence were something fantastic like the claim "GOD EXISTS" appearing in the heavens.

We are no better off with the stars in the heavens spelling out GOD EXISTS than with their spelling out PROCRASTINATION DRINKS MELANCHOLY. We know that something has shaken our world [if "GOD EXISTS" appeared in the heavens], but we know not what; we know - or think we know, how could we tell which it was in such a circumstance? - that we heard a voice coming out of the sky and we know - or again think that we know - that the stars rearranged themselves right before our eyes and on several occasions to spell out GOD EXISTS. But are we wiser by observing this about what "God" refers to or what a pure disembodied spirit transcendent to the universe is or could be? At most we might think that maybe those religious people have something - something we know not what - going for them. But we also might think it was some kind of big trick or some mass delusion. The point is that we wouldn't know what to think. (Nielsen 2004, p. 279)

Was this article helpful?

0 0
The Clockwork Course

The Clockwork Course

Soar Your Productivity Today! Master These Ultimate Productivity Techniques From The World’s Most Successful People And Watch Your Results Soar Sky High In A Fraction Of The Time These Hidden Techniques Will Literally Elevate You Up The Ladder Of Success By Helping You Achieve Much More In Less Time!

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment