bookmark_borderAn F-Inductive Argument from Consciousness for Theism, Revisited

Edited on 15-Feb-20
While some theistic arguments are “God of the gaps” arguments, many, including those defended by Christian philosophers, are not “God of the gaps” arguments. Before accusing a theist of trotting out another “God-of-the-gaps” argument, atheists should first verify that the argument actually is a “God-of-the-gaps” argument.
Here is the basic structure of a “God-of-the-gaps” argument:

  1. Some odd or puzzling thing, E, occurs or exists.
  2. Science is unable to offer a plausible, God-free explanation for E.
  3. Therefore, God is the best explanation for E.
  4. Therefore, God exists.

There are many, well-known problems with such arguments. I’ve written on this topic elsewhere, so I won’t repeat those points here. Instead, I want to sketch how a theistic argument can avoid appealing to a gap in scientific knowledge. Here is the structure of an F-inductive argument from consciousness:
Let E=consciousness exists; N=naturalism; T=theism; B=background information; Pr(|H|)=the intrinsic probability of H; and Pr(x|y)=the epistemic probability of x conditional upon y

  1. E is known to be true, i.e., Pr(E) is close to 1.
  2. N is not intrinsically much more probable than T, i.e., Pr(|N|) is not much greater than Pr(|T|).
  3. Pr(E| T & B) > Pr(E | N & B).
  4. Therefore, other evidence held equal, N is probably false, i.e., Pr(T | B & E) > 0.5.

Whatever problems may exist with that argument, being a “God of the gaps” argument isn’t one of them. The present inability of science to explain consciousness plays no role whatsoever in the argument. What’s doing the work in the argument is the fact that theism, as a version of supernaturalism, entails that consciousness exists, whereas naturalism has no such entailment.
Allow me to explain. “Naturalism” is really just short-hand for “source physicalism,” which says that the physical world exists and, if the mental world exists, the physical explains why the mental exists (or, to allow for eliminative materialists, appears to exist). “Supernaturalism” is really just short-hand for “source idealism,” which says that a mental world exists and, if a physical world exists, the mental explains why the physical exists (or, to allow for eliminative idealists, appears to exist). “Theism” is a specific version of supernaturalism; it says that the mental being or entity which explains why the physical exists is a perfect supernatural person.
N.B. While theism does not entail human consciousness exists, theism does entail consciousness exists because theism entails that God exists and God is conscious, by definition. In contrast, naturalism is compatible with the non-existence of consciousness. So the existence of human consciousness, while not entailed by theism, isn’t surprising on theism in the way it is on naturalism. In that sense, human consciousness is evidence favoring theism over naturalism.
Objections to the Argument
Objection to (1): “We have no idea what ‘consciousness’, ‘mental,’ and ‘physical’ mean. Science can’t explain some E if the E is poorly defined.”
Reply: By a “mental world,” I mean the existence of a private, subjective world. By a “physical world,” I mean the existence of a public, objective world. By “consciousness,” I mean sentience.
Objection to (2): “But intrinsic probabilities don’t appeal to the propositions included in our background knowledge, and so ignore prior probabilities.”
Reply: As we say in computer science, that’s a feature, not a bug. Intrinsic probabilities come before prior probabilities. As the name implies, intrinsic probabilities are probabilities determined solely by the intrinsic properties of a proposition. Draper has argued (convincingly, in my opinion) that intrinsic probabilities are determined by scope, modesty, and nothing else. In contrast, prior probabilities are determined by the propositions in our background knowledge, such as “A physical universe exists,” “The universe is life-permitting,” “So much of the physical world is intelligible without appeal to supernatural agency,” and so forth.
Objection to (3): “The claim that Pr(E | T & B) > Pr(E | N & B) is unfounded because generic or mere theism doesn’t contain enough information to predict or demystify E. One would have to appeal to a specific kind of theism to justify something like (3), but a more specific kind of theism would have a lower intrinsic probability than mere theism.”
Reply: This is false for the reason explained above. While theism does not entail human consciousness exists, theism does entail consciousness exists because theism entails that God exists and God is conscious, by definition. In contrast, naturalism is compatible with the non-existence of consciousness. So the existence of human consciousness, while not entailed by theism, isn’t surprising on theism in the way it is on naturalism. In that sense, human consciousness is evidence favoring theism over naturalism.
Objection to (4): “But consciousness depends upon a physical brain. That’s more probable on naturalism than on theism.”
Reply: Correct. We know much more about the mental than the fact that it exists. We also know that it is dependent upon the brain, a fact which is much more likely on naturalism than on theism. So, once the evidence about consciousness is fully stated, it’s clear that there is also evidence favoring naturalism over theism. That fact, however, does nothing to refute this argument, which contains an “other evidence held equal” clause in its conclusion.
Objection to (4): “But the naturalistic evidence of mind-brain dependence outweighs the theistic evidence from consciousness.”
Reply: I am not aware of anyone having offered a successful argument for that claim. It’s not clear to me how such an argument could be adequately defended.
Objection to (4): “But the history of science contains numerous examples of naturalistic explanations replacing supernatural ones and no examples of supernatural explanations replacing naturalistic ones. That gives us reason to expect that science will eventually explain consciousness without God.”
Reply: I agree that gives us some reason to expect that science will eventually explain consciousness without appealing to God. That doesn’t change the fact, pointed out by (3), that the content of “naturalism,” as I have defined it, gives us no antecedent reason to expect consciousness to exist if naturalism is true, whereas “theism,” as I have defined it, does give us an antecedent reason to expect consciousness. This promissory naturalistic ‘atheodicy’ has no logical relevance to the argument anyway.
Objection to (4): “But (4) must be false because theism is false.”
Reply: That would follow only if one assumes that there can never be true evidence for a false proposition, but why assume that? There can be circumstantial evidence that a defendant is innocent of murder, while at the same time there could be other evidence for the defendant’s guilt, such as DNA evidence, which completely outweighs the circumstantial evidence. Similarly, a theist might say, “Suffering, imperfection, poor design, and mind-brain dependence are evidence against God’s existence, but that evidence is completely outweighed by the evidence from the finite age of the universe, the life-permitting conditions of the universe, human consciousness, etc.” Similarly, even if one believes (as I do) that it’s extremely improbable that God exists, one can consistently allow that consciousness is evidence–even strong evidence–favoring theism over naturalism, while simultaneously believing that other evidence outweighs the theistic evidence. People in general need to stop taking a binary, “all-or-nothing” approach to evidence.

bookmark_borderAn Experiment in ‘Steelmanning’: Let’s Try to Formulate a Good Argument from Cosmology Against Naturalism

In the spirit of my last post, I think it would be interesting to engage in some inquiry about whether the kalam cosmological argument is onto something. Rather than try to repair the kalam cosmological argument as it stands, I think it would be interesting to channel Richard Swinburne or Paul Draper and see if there is a good F-inductive argument against naturalism based on known facts in cosmology.
Here’s a quick refresher on notation:
Pr(x): the epistemic probability of any proposition x
Pr(x | y): the epistemic probability of any proposition x conditional upon y
Pr(|x|): the intrinsic probability of any proposition x
“>!”: “is much more probable than”
“>!!”: “is much, much more probable than”
B: background information
T: theism
N: naturalism
E: The expansion of our universe had a beginning.
Here is the relevant background information:
B1. Our universe exists.
B2. Our universe is expanding.
And here is the F-inductive argument:
1. E is known to be true, i.e., Pr(E) is close to 1.
2. N is not intrinsically much more probable than T, i.e., Pr(|N|) is not much greater than Pr(|T|).
3. Pr(E | T & B) >! Pr(E | N & B).
4. Other evidence held equal, N is very probably false, i.e., Pr(N | B & E) !< 0.5.
Notice that this arguments includes in the background information (B1) the fact that our universe exists. By itself, B1 is evidence favoring naturalism over theism. This argument–and premise (3) in particular–says, “Given that our universe exists and is expanding, the fact that its expansion had a beginning is more favorable on theism than on naturalism.” So this argument starts with the general fact which is the topic of the argument from physicality (our universe exists), and attempts to argue that, given the general fact, a more specific fact about cosmology favors theism over naturalism.
Let’s assume that (1) and (2) are true. Can anyone come up with a good reason or reasons to believe (3)?
Please discuss in the combox.

bookmark_borderPlantinga Calls This A Good Argument for God’s Existence?

The title of my post might come across as snarky, so I want to begin my making it clear that is not my intent. In fact, I want to go on record as saying I have great respect for Plantinga’s skill as a philosopher. Among other things, I think he succeeded in his attempt to refute Mackie’s version of the argument from evil.
Perhaps because I have to come hold Plantinga’s work to such a high standard, I continue to be surprised whenever I read Plantinga’s version of the so-called argument from beauty. In his famous lecture, “Two Dozen or So Theistic Arguments,” Alvin Plantinga sketches what he calls the “Mozart Argument.”

On a naturalistic anthropology, our alleged grasp and appreciation of (alleged) beauty is to be explained in terms of evolution: somehow arose in the course of evolution, and something about its early manifestations had survival value. But miserable and disgusting cacophony (heavy metal rock?) could as well have been what we took to be beautiful. On the theistic view, God recognizes beauty; indeed, it is deeply involved in his very nature. To grasp the beauty of a Mozart’s D Minor piano concerto is to grasp something that is objectively there; it is to appreciate what is objectively worthy of appreciation.

Plantinga doesn’t say how he rates the strength of the individual arguments; it’s possible that he views this argument as providing just a teeny-tiny bit of evidence that is just barely more probable on theism than on naturalism. Of course, it’s also possible that he views this argument as a “killer refutation” of a naturalism. Or, perhaps more likely, maybe he views it somewhere in between.
Let’s evaluate this argument the same way Plantinga evaluates arguments from evil against theism. How do we do that? By trying to clarify the claim the argument makes about the relationship between the evidence to be explained (in this case, objective beauty) and the rival explanatory hypotheses (e.g., theism and naturalism). Nothing in the passage above suggests that Plantinga claims that objective beauty is logically inconsistent with naturalism. Rather, Plantinga seems to be suggesting that objective beauty is less probable on naturalism than on theism.
I’m going to attempt to “steel man” Plantinga’s argument. The most charitable interpretation of Plantinga is that he’s offering the following argument:
(1) Objective beauty exists.
(2) Naturalism is not intrinsically much more probable than theism. [See Plantinga’s argument L]
(3) The existence of objective beauty is more probable on theism than on naturalism, i.e., Pr(beauty|theism) > Pr(beauty|naturalism).
(4) Therefore, everything else held equal, naturalism is probably false, i.e., Pr(naturalism) < 1/2.
I find this argument unconvincing; indeed, I find it so unconvincing I confess I find it hard to understand why Plantinga would endorse it.
First, I think the truth of (1) is far from certain. It’s far from obvious to me that such a thing as objective beauty exists; I don’t even have the intuition that it exists. And Plantinga offers no reason to think that it does. If it doesn’t exist, then there is nothing to explain and this argument cannot even get off the ground.
Second, I think (2) is false. Purdue University philosopher Paul Draper has convinced me that intrinsic probability is determined by modesty, coherence, and nothing else. Again, the only thing I could find in Plantinga’s lecture is a reference to Swinburne’s work on intrinsic probability. Swinburne argues that simplicity determines intrinsic probability. To be sure, there is a correlation between modesty, coherence, and simplicity. But correlation is as far as it goes. And if Draper is correct that intrinsic probability is determined by modesty and coherence, then naturalism is intrinsically much more probable than theism for the simple fact that naturalism (a/k/a “source physicalism”) is much more modest than theism, just as supernaturalism (a/k/a “source idealism”) is much more modest than theism.
Third, let’s assume, but only for the sake of argument, that (1) is true. There really is such a thing as “objective beauty.” What might be the metaphysical or ontological grounding for it? One option is Platonism, i.e., abstract objects. In other words, facts about objective beauty would be nothing more or less than necessary truths about beauty. And since Draperian naturalism (or “source physicalism”) says nothing about whether abstract objects exist, this metaphysical grounding is available not just to theists, but also to naturalists. And Plantinga offers no reason to reject this naturalistic explanation.
Instead, Plantinga considers an evolutionary explanation. Perhaps, he suggests,

our alleged grasp and appreciation of (alleged) beauty is to be explained in terms of evolution: [it] somehow arose in the course of evolution.

But this isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison. Plantinga isn’t comparing a naturalistic explanation of objective beauty to a theistic explanation of objective beauty. On the naturalistic side of the equation, he’s not considering the explanatory power of naturalism to account for objective beauty; rather, he’s considering the explanatory power of naturalism conjoined with an auxiliary hypothesis (about evolution) to account for our grasp and appreciation of alleged beauty. Similarly, on the theistic side of the equation, he’s not considering the explanatory power of theism to account for objective beauty; rather, he’s considering the explanatory power of theism conjoined with an auxiliary hypothesis (about God’s nature) to account for … what, precisely? Our grasp and appreciation of real, not just merely alleged, beauty? God’s causation of objectively beautiful features of the natural world? Something else? Plantinga never says.
The problem isn’t that he invokes auxiliary hypotheses; the problem is that doing so raises a whole bunch of questions which Plantinga doesn’t even ask, much less answer. For example, what’s the antecedent probability of his proffered evolutionary explanation, conditional upon the truth of naturalism? Likewise, what’s the antecedent probability of his auxiliary hypothesis to theism, that facts about objective beauty are somehow related to God’s nature, conditional upon the truth of theism? (And how does that compare to an alternative auxiliary hypothesis about theism, namely, that facts about objectively beauty are grounded in an autonomous realm of abstract objects?) Since Plantinga doesn’t answer these questions, his defense of his Mozart argument is far from complete.
Fourth, let’s assume, but only for the sake of argument, that premise (3) is true. The fact, if it is (were?) a fact, that objective beauty exists hardly exhausts what we (would?) know about “beauty.” As Draper points out, while the universe is saturated with visual beauty, it is not saturated with auditory, tactile, or other sensory beauty. Given that beauty “exists” at all, facts about the kinds and distribution of beauty favor naturalism over theism. So, once the evidence about beauty is fully stated, it’s far from obvious that it favors theism over naturalism.
In fairness to Plantinga, I want to remind readers that Plantinga was merely sketching his Mozart argument in the context of a speech about two dozen or so arguments; he wasn’t trying to give a sustained or even a precise defense of the argument. Nevertheless, I think the above objections pose significant obstacles to such an argument. Even when the argument is steel manned, as I have tried to do here, I cannot see how the argument can overcome these objections.

bookmark_borderIn Defense of an Evidential Argument from Evil: A Reply to William Lane Craig

Abstract: In a popular article about general arguments from evil against the existence of an all-powerful, all-knowing, and perfectly good God, William Lane Craig raises objections to such arguments that are consistent with those he earlier raised against Paul Draper’s evidential pain-and-pleasure argument from evil in an oral debate with Draper in 1998. In this article Jeffery Jay Lowder considers whether Craig’s points have any force in rebutting Draper’s writings on his pain-and-pleasure argument, ultimately concluding that they leave Draper’s argument unscathed.
LINK

bookmark_borderThe VICTIMs of Christian Apologetics

My latest video, “The VICTIMs of Christian Apologetics: The Things Apologists Falsely Say Depend on God, But, if God Exists, God Depends on Them,” is now available on YouTube. It is a narration of some of the many hundreds of PowerPoint slides I created in preparation for my recent debate with Frank Turek on naturalism vs. theism.

This video presentation is a (roughly) 2 hour 30 minute critique of Frank Turek’s latest book, Stealing from God: Why Atheists Need God to Make Their Case. Turek accuses atheists of stealing from God in order to argue against God. How do atheists steal from God when arguing against God’s existence? According to Turek, this is summed up by the acrostic CRIMES (Causality, Reason, Information and Intentionality, Morality, Evil, and Science). So his argument is that atheists must assume each of those things, but each of those things in turn presuppose God’s existence.
For each letter in CRIMES, atheism can steal these concepts from God if and only if: (a) atheism is logically incompatible with the concept represented by that letter; and (b) positing an all-powerful God explains that concept, not just assumes it. But as I will explain, each letter in CRIMES fails one or both conditions.
Now, since repeatedly accusing an innocent person of a crime harms the accused, I’m going to frame my response as an acrostic of my own: VICTIM (Value, Induction, Causality, Time, Information and Intentionality, and Morality). Instead of talking about crimes, what we instead need to talk about are the VICTIMs of Christian apologetics. The VICTIMs of Christian apologetics are things which Christian apologists falsely claim depend on God, but the truth is that God depends on them.
Since the video is quite long and detailed, the following serves as a handy index:
Counter Apologist went through the effort to list the topics covered and give time-stamps/links for each topic which you can find below:

HT: Counter-Apologist for creating the index

bookmark_borderAn Evidential Argument from Evil: Natural Inequality

I want to quickly sketch an evidential (aka “explanatory” aka “abductive” aka “F-Inductive“) argument from evil, one which focuses exclusively on natural inequality.  The argument is not mine; it belongs to Moti Mizrahi.
The key point of Mizrahi’s argument, which he credits to an insight of John Rawls, is this:

natural endowments are undeserved.Now, if natural endowments are undeserved, then the fact that one person is more innately endowed than another is arbitrary from a moral point of view. In that case, if one person has more natural talents or is more talented than another person, then that is an unequal distribution of natural talents. From a moral point of view, it is not fair that one person is taller, healthier, faster, thinner, more intelligent, more beautiful, more agile, and otherwise more naturally endowed than another person. Both did not deserve their shares of natural talents (or lack of natural talents, for that matter). The talented do not deserve to be talented just as the untalented do not deserve to be untalented. More generally, the haves do not deserve to have just the have-nots do not deserve not to have. (p. 6)

Using this insight enables to Mizrahi to frame the natural inequality version of the problem of evil as follows:

Now, since moral arbitrariness in the distribution of natural endowments gives rise to unequal distributions, which are unfair because they are undeserved, as when some (e.g., Albert Einstein) get all the cognitive goods, whereas others (e.g., microcephalics) get nothing, the problem is to say how could God—who is supposed to be omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent—allow for this sort of natural inequality. In other words, if God is morally perfect, why is the distribution of natural endowments so unequal? How could an all-good God be so unfair in distributing natural endowments? This is the problem of natural inequality, which is a new evidential (not logical or incompatibility) problem of evil, or so I argue. (pp. 6-7)

I find Mizrahi’s paper very convincing, but I think it is also incomplete, since it never actually states the logical form of his evidential argument. But this problem is easily solved. Using the generic structure for F-inductive arguments, this passage (and the paper as a whole) inspire the following F-inductive version of the problem of natural inequality.
Let E = a statement about known facts about natural inequality: the unequal distribution of natural endowments (such as height, health, speed, weight, intelligence, beauty, agility, and so forth).
(1) E is known to be true.
(2) Theism is not much more probable intrinsically than naturalism, i.e., Pr(|T|) is not >! Pr(|N|).
(3) E is much more likely on the assumption that naturalism is true than on the assumption that theism is true, i.e., Pr(E | N) >! Pr(E | T).
So, (4) Other evidence held equal, theism is probably false, i.e., Pr(T | E) < 0.5.
Assessment
Premise (1) is beyond reasonable doubt.
Premise (2) is eminently plausible, for reasons which I have discussed on this blog many times before. (See the recent guest post by Paul Draper for a primer.)
This leaves premise (3). The justification for (3) may be summed up as follows:
On naturalism, E is just what we would expect. If naturalism is true, all animals are the byproducts of unguided evolution by natural selection, which is both indifferent to the distribution of natural endowments and incapable of distributing them fairly. Everything else held equal, on naturalism, we would expect natural endowments to be distributed randomly (such as in the shape of a bell curve).
But if theism is true, God is neither indifferent nor incapable of distributing natural endowments evenly. God is capable of distributing natural endowments evenly because God is by definition all-powerful. God is interested in the distribution of natural endowments because God is both loving and morally perfect. God’s love for his creatures, as well as his moral perfection, entails that God allows a state of affairs to obtain only if he has a good moral justification for doing so. But, as noted by both Rawls and Mizrahi, natural endowments are not morally justified. For example, there is nothing Michael Phelps did to deserve to be born with the kind of physiology which made his athletic achievements possible, just as there is nothing Nick Vujicic did to deserve to be born with no limbs.
Furthermore, as Mizrahi notes, the lack or minimal presence of natural endowments relating to intellectual ability, such as microcephaly, can prevent people from responding to God appropriately. So the distribution of natural endowments, in some cases, also causes important restrictions on people’s ability to have a relationship with God. Again, blind nature is both indifferent to (and incapable of) taking such factors into account while conducting what Rawls calls the “natural lottery,” but God has no such limitations.
This leaves (4), which is the inference drawn from (1)-(3). 4 follows deductively from (1)-(3) as a natural consequence of Bayes’ Theorem.
I conclude that the problem of natural inequality, especially as manifested in individuals with microcephaly or other severe intellectual disabilities which prevent a relationship with God, is strong, prima facie evidence against God’s existence.

bookmark_borderWhen are Theistic Arguments “God-of-the-Gaps” Arguments?

In a recent post, Victor Reppert asks:

Is there any theistic argument [from/in natural theology] that can’t be accused of being a god-of-the-gaps argument? Is this an all-purpose reply to all natural theology?

My answers are “yes” to the first question and “no” to the second question.
I think it would helpful if everyone would agree upon or stipulate what it means for an argument to be a “God-of-the-gaps” argument.
Here’s my proposal: “God-of-the-gaps” arguments have the following logical form.

(1) There is some puzzling phenomenon P which science cannot at present explain.
(2) Theism does explain P.
(3) Therefore, P is more likely on the assumption that God exists than on the assumption God does not exist.

The key feature of this argument–and what makes it a “God-of-the-gaps” argument–is premise (1). The focus is on science’s present inability to explain P.
For example, here’s a God-of-the-gaps argument from consciousness.

(1) Science cannot explain consciousness.
(2) Theism does explain consciousness.
(3) Therefore, consciousness is more likely on the assumption that God exists than on the assumption God does not exist.

But not all arguments in/from natural theology need have this logical structure. For example, they could be presented as what I have called “F-inductive arguments.” If we let B be our background information, E be the evidence to be explained, and H1 and H2 be rival explanatory hypotheses, then F-inductive arguments have the following structure.

1. E is known to be true, i.e., Pr(E) is close to 1.
2. H1 is not intrinsically much more probable than H2, i.e., Pr(|H1|) is not much greater than Pr(|H2|).
3. Pr(E | H2 & B) > Pr(E | H1 & B).
4. Other evidence held equal, H1 is probably false, i.e., Pr(H1 | B & E) < 0.5.

The key feature of this argument is premise 2, which does not make reference to science’s inability to explain P.
To make this more concrete, here’s a non-God-of-the-gaps, F-inductive version of the argument from consciousness. E is the existence of human consciousness; T is theism; and N is naturalism.

1. E is known to be true, i.e., Pr(E) is close to 1.
2. N is not intrinsically much more probable than T, i.e., Pr(|N|) is not much greater than Pr(|T|).
3. Pr(E | T & B) =1 > Pr(E | N & B).
4. Other evidence held equal, N is probably false, i.e., Pr(N | B & E) < 1/2.

Whatever problems may exist with that argument, being a God-of-the-gaps argument clearly isn’t one of them.

bookmark_borderAn F-Inductive Moral Argument for Theism

Here is an F-inductive argument for theism based on ontologically objective moral values. Note that this argument assumes that such things exist. If you don’t think they exist, then you may want to skip reading this post.
As usual, let B be our background information; E be the evidence to be explained (in this case, the existence of ontologically objective moral values); T be theism; and N be naturalism. Here is the explanatory argument.
1. E is known to be true, i.e., Pr(E) is close to 1. [assumption]
2. N is not intrinsically much more probable than T, i.e., Pr(|N|) is not much greater than Pr(|T|).
3. Pr(E | T) =1 > Pr(E | N).
4. Other evidence held equal, N is probably false, i.e., Pr(N | B & E) < 1/2.
Theism logically entails that moral values such as goodness, badness, and the like are ontologically objective in the sense that their truthmakers are not in any way dependent upon the subjective states of human beings or even intersubjective agreement among all human beings. In other words, if theism is true, it is impossible for metaethical views like nihilism, subjectivism, error theory, and so forth to be true. In contrast, metaphysical naturalism does not entail that moral values are ontologically objective.
Here is another way to make the point. Assume for a moment that the only thing you know is that theism is true. If that were the case, you wouldn’t need to know anything else to deduce that ontologically objective moral values exist because their existence is built into the definition of theism. Now pretend that the only thing you know is that metaphysical naturalism is true. If that were the case, you would have literally no idea if ontologically objective moral values exist. Maybe they do and maybe they don’t, but you’re not going to find out from the truth of metaphysical naturalism. This is because metaphysical naturalism says nothing about metaethics except that theistic theories of metaethics are false.
Is this a good F-inductive moral argument for theism and against naturalism?
There are many possible objections; I will mention just one. It goes like this.

While it’s true that metaphysical naturalism doesn’t entail that ontologically objective moral values exist, it may be the case that ontologically objective moral values exist necessarily. If that is the case, then this would seem to be a fatal objection to this argument, since it would then be the case that Pr(E | T ) = Pr(E | N) = 1.

In order to fully assess this argument, then, one will need to answer this question: on the assumption that ontologically objective moral values exist, do they exist necessarily?
Related Posts:
https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2012/12/an-explanatory-argument-from-moral-ontology-against-metaphysical-naturalism-v2-0/

bookmark_borderA Good F-Inductive Argument for Theism based on Consciousness

I was waiting for someone to bring this up in the combox on my recent post on Swinburne’s cosmological argument, but no one did. The argument from consciousness (to theism) is a parallel argument to the cosmological argument against theism.
In the cosmological argument against theism, I pointed out that naturalism entails a physical universe whereas theism does not. Since a physical universe exists, it follows that the universe is evidence favoring naturalism over theism.
The parallel argument based on consciousness goes like this. Theism entails that consciousness exists whereas naturalism does not. Since consciousness does exist, it follows that consciousness is evidence favoring theism over naturalism.
We formalize this as follows. Let B be our background information; E be the existence of human consciousness; T be theism; and N be naturalism. Here is the explanatory argument.
1. E is known to be true, i.e., Pr(E) is close to 1.
2. N is not intrinsically much more probable than T, i.e., Pr(|N|) is not much greater than Pr(|T|).
3. Pr(E | T) =1 > Pr(E | N).
4. Other evidence held equal, N is probably false, i.e., Pr(N | B & E) < 1/2.
So far as I can tell, this is a good F-inductive argument. Just as everyone except eliminative idealists should admit that the universe is evidence favoring naturalism over theism, everyone except eliminative materialists should admit that consciousness is evidence favoring theism over naturalism.
Thoughts?
Related Posts:
The Best Argument for God’s Existence: The Argument from Moral Agency
The Evidential Argument from Moral Agency Revisited

bookmark_borderF-Inductive Arguments: A New Type of Inductive Argument

In his extensive writings, the prestigious philosopher Richard Swinburne makes a useful distinction between two types of inductive arguments. Let B be our background information or evidence; E be the evidence to be explained; and H be an explanatory hypothesis.
“C-inductive argument”: an argument in which the premisses confirm  or add to the probability of the conclusion, i.e., P(H | E & B) > P(H | B).
“P-inductive argument”: an argument in which the premisses make the conclusion probable, i.e., P(H | E & B) > 1/2.
It seems to me that there is a third type of inductive argument which should go between C-inductive and P-inductive arguments. I’m going to dub it the “F-inductive argument.”
“F-inductive argument”: an argument in which the evidence to be explained favors one explanatory hypothesis over one or more of its rivals, i.e., P(E | H1 & B) > P(E | H2 & B). Explanatory arguments are F-inductive arguments and have the following structure.
1. E is known to be true, i.e., Pr(E) is close to 1.
2. H1 is not intrinsically much more probable than H2, i.e., Pr(|H1|) is not much greater than Pr(|H2|).
3. Pr(E | H2 & B) > Pr(E | H1 & B).
4. Other evidence held equal, H1 is probably false, i.e., Pr(H1 | B & E) < 0.5.
Good F-inductive arguments show that E is prima facie evidence — that is why (4) begins with the phrase, “Other evidence held equal.” They leave open the possibility that there may be other evidence which favors H1 over H2; indeed, they are compatible with the situation where the total evidence favors H1 over H2.
F-inductive arguments are “stronger” than C-inductive arguments insofar as they show E not only adds to the probability of H2, but that E is more probable on the assumption that H2 is true than on the assumption that H1 is true. They are weaker than P-inductive arguments, however, because they don’t show that E is ultima facie evidence — they don’t show that E makes H2 probable.
One final point. Although I believe I am the first to give F-inductive argument a name and place within Swinburne’s taxonomy of inductive arguments, the structure for such arguments is not mine. Paul Draper deserves the credit for that.