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Title: Can our prior theistic convictions restrain the sceptical force of inscrutable evil?
Author: Hunt, William George
ISNI:       0000 0001 3584 6231
Awarding Body: Heythrop College (University of London)
Current Institution: Heythrop College (University of London)
Date of Award: 2007
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In this thesis, I intend to pioneer a probabilistic methodology that can be applied to theistic argument for and against the existence of God. To explicate this process, I will utilize William Rowe's argument from inscrutable evil: a contemporary and contentious argument within the philosophy of religion. Indeed, the title of my thesis is a question that characterises this argument. Having established my probabilistic methodology, I shall employ it to answer this question. In so doing, I will provide a clarifying instantiation of Bayesian confirmation theory in a particular domain of the philosophy of religion; the evidential problem of evil. Bayesian confirmation theory is an evidential analysis and demands that we should account for all known relevant evidence; I turn to the doyen of this speciality Richard Swinburne to define this evidential domain. Indeed, Swinburne in his The Existence of God (1979; 1991; 2004) attempts to account for all the relevant evidence and the only addition I make to his evidential set is a consensus gentium argument. However, Swinburne adopts a logical theory of probability, which I argue against. Instead, I present an argument in support of the subjective theory of probability, i.e. the Ramsey/DeFinetti theory. Notwithstanding, Swinburne's evidential analysis is thorough, and provides a systematic account of the confirmatory force of relevant evidence upon the theistic hypothesis. Further, The Existence ofGod is the landmark text for the application of Bayes' theorem in the philosophy of religion and I provide a full analysis of it with an adjustment to account for the subjective rather than logical view. Moreover, I adapt Swinburne's cumulative argument to, what I believe is, a sounder cumulative methodology. Through this process, I believe I will promote the application of Bayesianism in the philosophy of religion, answer the question posed in the title and expose some apparent fallacies in Rowe's atheistic argument from the evidential problem of evil.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available