This article will serve as a hub for organizing past and future responses to my evidential argument from the Holocaust against theism.
1: Logical Form of the Argument
The first five steps are a cumulative case based on independent facts about the badness of the Holocaust. Step 1 is an application of Draper's argument from pain and pleasure to the Holocaust; it is defended in the original article.
(1) Naturalism has much more predictive power than Theism does with respect to the biologically gratuitous physical pain experienced by many, if not most, Holocaust victims, i.e.,
Pr(E1 | N) >! Pr(E1 |T).
The next step appeals to the horrendous nature of the Holocaust. I think horrendous evils are much more probable on naturalism than on theism, but that is not the claim I am making here. Because I am making a cumulative case argument, I have to show that each additional item of evidence is more probable on naturalism than on theism, while in effect adding the previous item(s) of evidence into the background information. In probability notation, I need to show Pr(E2 | E1 & N) >! Pr(E2 | E1 & T), not Pr(E2 | N) >! Pr(E2 | T). I defend the former inequality in the original article.
(2) Naturalism has much more predictive power than Theism does with respect to Holocaust victims who experienced and/or witnessed events so horrific that the events constituted prima facie reasons for each victim to doubt whether the victim's life (given their inclusion in the Holocaust) was a great good to the victim on the whole, i.e.,Pr(E2 | E1 & N) >! Pr(E2 | E1 & T).
The third step appeals to a specific aspect of the problem of divine hiddenness, the problem of divine silence during suffering, as it relates to Holocaust victims who experienced biologically gratuitous suffering and horrendous evil. Again, I defend the premise in the original article, but it may be restated in plain English as follows.
(3) Naturalism has much more predictive power than Theism does with respect to the fact that so many victims of the Holocaust did not report feeling God's comforting presence, i.e.,
Pr(E3 | E1 & E2 & N) > Pr(E3 | E1 & E2 & T).
The fourth step appeals to another aspect of the problem of divine hiddenness, this time focusing on what John Schellenberg calls "former believers" and applying it to Holocaust survivors. Again, I defend the premise in the original article, but it may be restated in plain English as follows.
(4) Naturalism has much more predictive power than Theism does with respect to the fact that so many devout Jewish survivors of the Holocaust became nonbelievers, i.e.,Pr(E3 | E1 & E2 & E3 & N) > Pr(E3 | E1 & E2 & E3& T).
(5) Naturalism has much more predictive power than Theism does with respect to the Holocaust, i.e., Pr(E | N) >! Pr(E | T).
The next step of the argument is based upon Paul Draper's theory of intrinsic probability, which says that intrinsic probability is determined by modesty, coherence, and nothing else. Because naturalism is both more modest and more coherent than theism, it follows that the intrinsic probability of naturalism is greater than the intrinsic probability of theism. This premise is not defended in my article, but instead may be found in Draper's defense of the second premise in what he calls the "low priors argument."
Using the word "simplicity" as a more concise way to say "has greater intrinsic probability," we get:
(6) Naturalism is much simpler than Theism.
The next step of the argument is designed to preempt objections that other items of evidence (such as the finite age of the universe, the life-permitting conditions of the universe, the contingency of the universe, objective moral values, etc.) favor theism and such items of evidence outweigh the evidence represented by E1-E4. The basic strategy is to show that known facts about good and evil, such as E1-E4, decisively outweigh the theistic evidence. This premise is not defended in my article, but instead may be found in Draper's defense of what he calls the "decisive evidence argument." So the seventh step of the argument is:
(7) Any epistemic advantages that Theism has over Naturalism (i.e., any factors that raise the ratio of the probability of Theism to the probability of Naturalism) do not, even when combined, suffice to offset the epistemic advantages that Naturalism has over Theism if premises 5 and 6 are true.
From steps 5-7, it follows from Bayes' Theorem that:
(8) Theism is probably false.The two inferences in this argument--the first from 1-4 to 5 and the second from 5-7 to 8--are deductively correct. Therefore, if there is something wrong with this argument, then there must be something with at least if not more of the six premises (1-4, 6-7).
2.1: Dismissive Replies
- "Why bad thing happen if God real?"
2.2: Confused Replies
- "You don't really have an argument. You made a statement. Actually just a subjective inference."
- "No. It's merely evidence."
2.2: Irrelevant Replies
2.2.1. The Concept of "God"
- Objection: "All this can show is an inconsistency between a particular concept of “God” and that “God” creating the world as you have conceived it."
- Objection: "The argument is presupposed on a false attribution error, i.e., that God's existence is dependent on the absence of suffering. This premise presupposes that God is contingent, rather than necessary; therefore, God is not actually God; because, necessary (i.e., self caused) is an attribute of God. The absence of this attribute, reduces God to the caused, rather than the uncaused causer. Therefore, the argument does not refute the existence of God; instead, it refutes a subjective idea of God predicated on a different set of attributes to those present in God Himself. Argument rejected on the grounds of false attribution error."
2.2.2. Other Replies
- "If God didn’t exist we wouldn’t know the difference between good and evil."
- "Why single out the Holocaust? The "holocaust" could also describe the 10 million murdered under Stalin, or the 170 million murdered under Mao Tse-tung. Nazism was just one of the atrocities of man against man."