Daily Archives: May 20, 2008

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Creation and explanation, again

I’m coming back to this one last time, because in the course of preparing a talk on a related topic, I stumbled across a clearer way of expressing myself.

Here’s a quick creation questionnaire for you:

  1. Do you believe in God, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen?
  2. Do you believe that the claim that God is the maker of heaven and earth, if true, provides a good explanation of the existence, or some of the characteristics, of the world in which we find ourselves?
  3. Do you believe that this claim provides an explanation of matters that would otherwise be inexplicable – such that this explanatory power constitutes a good reason for believing the claim?
  4. Do you believe that this claim stands or falls by its explanatory power – such that if it is shown not to have such explanatory power, it follows that it should be rejected?
  5. Do you believe that the meaning of the claim is constituted by its explanatory power, such that ‘God’ essentially means only what is needed to provide this explanatory power, and anything that follows from it?

I claim that

  • these questions are semi-independent (in the sense that each question only arises if the previous question has been answered with a ‘Yes’, but that answering ‘Yes’ to the previous question does not determine the answer to the next question);
  • Dawkins’ presentation of his argument is directed against those who give a ‘Yes’ answer to all five questions, though his argument only really relies on a ‘Yes’ to the first four.

I also claim that

  • Any remotely orthodox Christian theology must answer ‘Yes’ to the first question
  • There are orthodox Christian theologies that answer ‘No’ to both question 2 and question 3, some that answer ‘Yes’ to 2 and ‘No’ to 3, and some that answer ‘Yes’ to both.
  • Any remotely orthodox Christian theology must answer ‘No’ to the fourth and fifth questions