Sunday, April 11, 2010

An Internet Infidels' Review of Dawes' Theism and Explanation

Concerning an issue that I find very interesting.


Gordon Knight said...

What would a naturalistic explanation of the existence of the natural world be like?

It seems like any such explanation would of necessity be part of the thing to be explained.

You can take physics only so far.. eventually you get to... METAPHYSICS (theistic or otherwise)

Doctor Logic said...

Gordon, you're right. Assuming there's no infinite regress of explanations, you'll end up at some ultimate laws that don't have an explanation.

However, if you drop the requirement of lawfulness, you lose all explanatory power. You end up with arbitrariness instead. There's no explanation if you are reduced to "it just is that way."

IMO, natural = lawful. Physics is natural because it's lawful. If God is lawful, then God can have explanatory power, but then he has the same ultimate problem as the physical world. On the other hand, if God is not lawful, then he does stuff for no reason.

Aside: If something is lawful, then at least its probability distribution is lawful, even if the ultimate outcome is a random pick from that distribution (e.g., neutron decay). If God's choices (or our own choices) are governed by a probability distribution, then everything remaining is an ontologically random pick.

Theism could be explanatory in principle, just as Dawes says. But showing that it is explanatory requires a model for the probability distribution that does better than no explanation at all.