The God hypothesis is simpler than the atheist hypothesis

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Parent debateThis argument is used in the debate Does God exist?.
Argument forThis argument is a “pro” argument in the debate Does God exist?.
Keywords: God[ edit ].



“Thus, three rival theses put forward an ultimate explanation for all observable phenomena. They must be examined using the four criteria for evaluating explanatory scenarios analyzed in Chapter II. [...] Applying the four criteria boils down to this: the theory of ultimate explanation that is most likely to be true is the simplest theory that predicts observable phenomena, whereas without this theory, we would not expect these phenomena. The thesis developed here is that theism provides by far the simplest explanation of all phenomena. Materialism, as I shall show, is not a simple hypothesis, and there is a category of phenomena that, most probably, it will never be able to explain. And humanism [the mixed theory that "the existence and functioning of the factors involved in explanation in terms of persons cannot be fully explained in terms of inanimate objects", and vice versa] is an even less simple hypothesis than materialism. [...] the great complexity of materialism comes from the postulate that any complete explanation of the behavior of things is given by the properties and dispositions of an immense (and perhaps infinite) number of material objects. Each of these is made up of atoms; atoms are made up of fundamental particles, such as electrons and protons; some, in turn, are made up of quarks and, as far as we know at present, quarks are made up of sub-quarks. [Theism asserts that a single substance, God, causes and sustains the existence of all other existing objects. It also asserts that every property possessed by every other substance is due to the fact that God is its cause or enables it to exist. The hallmark of a simple explanation is that it postulates a small number of causes. In this respect, there can be no simpler explanation than one that postulates a single cause. Theism is simpler than polytheism. Moreover, to this single cause, which is a person, theism attributes the properties that are essential to persons with an infinite degree [...]. The hypothesis of an infinitely powerful, infinitely knowing and infinitely free person is the hypothesis of a person whose capacity for action, knowledge and freedom are without limit (except those of logic). Scientists have always considered it simpler to assume that a quantity has an infinite degree than to assume an extremely large finite degree, and have always done so when this assumption made no difference to the prediction of observations.”

Richard Swinburne, Is there a God?, p.46-48, Ithaca, Paris, 2009.


Arguments forJustifications

Arguments againstObjections

  • Argument againstThe very existence of God is anything but simple

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