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I love the ambition here, but I think this explains far too much: under it, everything that looks deliberately arranged is evidence for theism in general, while everything that isn't is evidence for the make-the-world-look-indifferent theistic goal.

Sometimes science flips whether things look deliberately arranged: for instance Darwiniism makes the evidence for biological fine-tuning much weaker, or how calculation of the cosmological constant makes physics fine-tuning more plausible. It probably shouldn't be the case that both versions of each would serve as evidence for "shy theism!"

This isn't to say there might not be some theistic goal that represents the pattern here. I think you're on the right track that if there's theistic design, particular evils are probably downstream of locally indifferent laws, but in turn I would expect local indifference to be a function of divine aesthetic considerations, or cosmic warfare (morally imperfect angels running simulations or whatever), or multiworld theodicy subject to some kind of simplicity constraint. Re: aesthetic value it *seems* right to me that a mechanically consistent universe is more beautiful than a relatively arbitrary one, but also that a psychophysically harmonious universe is more beautiful than a disharmonious one, etc. Aesthetic value is different from moral value, but if it would be simple for an agent to have a particular set of aesthetic values, that might point towards a relatively high probability hypothesis for a van Inwangenian simple creator with aesthetic goals. (I'm skeptical of aesthetic realism but if it can do that kind of explanatory work, so much the worse for my skepticism.)

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I'm not saying everything that looks designed is evidence for theism. The claim is that theism + the theodicy predicts a broadly indifferent universe with all the stuff required for agents. Perhaps, and this isn't required for the theodicy, there would be a few small features that point towards the transcendent, like a little bit of light streaming through the window of a prison, hinting at what's outside. From this one would expect a world that broadly doesn't care about us and no divine intervention but the necessary ingredients for conscious agents that can act. But that's what we see. If theism makes no predictions inconsistent with the hypothesis of indifference beyond that there would be conscious agents, then it's a very good theory. The bit about brief experiences of transcendence can be naturalistically explained away if you find including those in the hypothesis too invasive.

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Feb 6Liked by Bentham's Bulldog

Like you, I’ve never found the purported proofs of the internal inconsistency of theism persuasive. At best, they show that a particular analysis of some attribute or set of attributes is inconsistent, but it’s never clear to me why a theist has to be committed to the particular target analysis. But I do wonder if those kinds of arguments might raise problems for the idea that theism is a simple hypothesis with all the logical or probabilistic consequences we’d like it to have. If it’s so hard to give a satisfactory analysis of omnipotence, etc., can it really be true that all the properties we want to attribute to God—along with everything else we want theism to explain—just fall naturally out of the supposedly simple hypothesis that there is a perfect being?

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Feb 6Liked by Bentham's Bulldog

You’re so real for this.

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I'm not sure I understand how a Theistic Theory "explains" things. There's a sense in which "God did it" is an explanation, but I'm not sure I see how it's better than "that's just the way it is." To me, a good explanation unifies and simplifies a bunch on observations - like gravity explains observations of the motion of the planets - and / or makes predictions about things we don't know. I don't see how Theism achieves that.

For example - I don't know why God would create the universe, or create humans, or prefer minds to no minds or an ordered world to chaos, or moral laws to no moral laws Is it just that there seems to be intent/design behind the world? Is that what seems to have some non-trivial likelihood?

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> It’s wildly implausible that each terrible thing—cancer, rape, malaria, earthquakes—about the world ends up, in the end, being for the best.

Why? They keep the population down. Otherwise we get too many people and then all starve to death. These are good for us the same way foxes are good for rabbits.

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>> There are lots of evils (natural evils, teleological evils, bizarre absence of goods, gratuitous suffering in the psychophysical laws, and many more).

> This is explained by this theistic hypothesis just as well as atheism. Both explain it through the hypothesis of indifference.

No it's not, c'mon, man.

If theism is true, we would expect the "hypothesis of indifference" to not occur in at least some theistic universes. We might imagine a universe where God repeats his commandments in a person's native tongue on repeat every night, but is otherwise identical to this one, for example. There are many such universes, and without any strong evidence from this universe, I'd expect such universes to be quite likely in the condition that an all-powerful, all-loving God is real.

If naturalism is true, we would expect the "hypothesis of indifference" to occur in the overwhelming, crushing majority of universes. Any apparent design or influence would only occur as a freak accident like a Boltzmann brain.

So, p(indifferent universe|no god) ~= 1. On the other hand, p(indifferent universe|god) < 1. So atheism does a better job of explaining the presence of evil. In general this applies to all your points ignoring the evidence in favor of atheism, but this is the most striking one.

(Additionally, of course, the most likely reason I can imagine a loving God making an "indifferent universe" is that He wants people living in that universe to believe it is indifferent. Thus, it would actually be going against God's will to suppose His existence in such a universe.)

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I think you need to go through all the arguments here and reevaluate them with the law of conservation of expected evidence in mind, because the majority of pro-theism argument that you mention here keep contradicting it.

The most blatant example is claiming that both miracles and laws of the universe are somehow benefiting theism compared to naturalism. Either the existence of miracles works in theism favor or the abscence of miracles, but not both.

All the naturalistic universes have to be lawful, behaving in a "clockwork" manner, while universes created by a God can just work on a divine will which is beyong comprehension. Therefore, the appearance of lawful universe is evidence in favor of naturalism compared to theism. Theism, in this regard, doesn't get as much penalty as, say, solipsism but still it loses quite some probability.

Likewise, suppose that life *did not* go through the many steps required to get intricate and complex creatures like us . Suppose that there was no plausible causal story, explaining why such complex creatures as us exist. Would you then think that theism is *less likely* than naturalism? I can't imagine why would anyone think that. Therefore, the fact that we have a plausible causal history explaining our existence, reducing to imperfect replication of patterns is a huge evidence in favor of naturalism.

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Both miracles and laws can favor theism! The fact that the laws exists favors theism, relative to a world where there are no laws and particles just sit there, and the fact that they're sometimes violated in miraculous ways also favors theism.

I agree that following simple laws favors naturalism. But the fact that there are laws at all massively favors theism--by far the simplest ways would be for there to be no laws and for the stuff to just sit there doing nothing.

If there was no plausible causal story of how you get us, that would be even worse news for atheism. What would be good news for atheism is if either: a) we didn't exist or b) us existing was very likely.

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> Both miracles and laws can favor theism!

No, they literally can't.

If you have two mutually exclusive hypothesises: theism and naturalism. And two mutually exclusive observations: there are simple laws in the universe that are never contradicted and there are no uncontradictable laws and things can just "miracliously happen". Both of the observations can't favor the same hypothesis.

> If there was no plausible causal story of how you get us, that would be even worse news for atheism.

Then the fact that there is a plausible causal story favors atheism compared to theism. You may claim that theism is still more likely because it's just so much more probable on priors, but you can't argue regarding the direction of the update, without discarding conservation of expected evidence.

> us existing was very likely.

The discovery of evolution made our existence appear much more likely! Previously we had all this complexity and purpose in every living creature to explain and now we know how to reduce it to the simple and almost tautological fact that imperfect replicators are imperfectly replicating. Most of appeared improbability is resolved.

Does the fact that this universe allow the existence of imperfect replicators still generally surprising? To a degree. But it's not clear whether the specific kind of theism you are talking about is less surprised about it it or more than materialism. After all any imperfection in the universe created by perfectly good God are very hard to explain - it's not just about the problem of evil. I currently estimate that we are talking about infinite complexity penalty - I don't see any way to go from infinite to finite values without infinite steps.

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Of course they can. Two mutually exclusive options can both favor some hypothesis if they're not jointly exhaustive. For example, the probability that I won my game of poker goes up if I get either a strait or a 4 of a kind, even though those are exclusive.

//Then the fact that there is a plausible causal story favors atheism compared to theism.//

It favors it relative to their being no plausible causal story but not relative to actually predicting a universe without needing a series of assumptions.

I agree evolution is bad news for theism! But that's because the situation in terms of life before evolution looked really bad for atheism and now it looks less bad!

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By including a thodicy of indifference you're essentially including the competing theory in your theory. It's the equivelant of my including in my naturalism the claim that we live in a simulation and that the simulaters want us to believe there is a God. In this way virtually all possible evidence for Theism is accounted for just like your theodicy of indifference account for all evidence favoring the hypothesis of indiference.

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Well then theism still predicts the things required for conscious agents and the existence of every conscious agent. So then it captures what's explanatorily virtuous about both theories.

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You should read “The Man Who Was Thursday.” An excellent Chesterton book.

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What do you think are the consequences of Transhumanism for this view? I think it's somewhat likely that we'll be able enhance our experience this century to limit our suffering, increase longevity, experience better virtual worlds, etc. Wouldn't this sort of thing cast doubt on the idea that our universe is specifically set up for us to become closer to God? If we're suffering so that we'd more freely accept God, for example, it'd be weird if we could solve our suffering. Surely that'd make us think "Sorry pal, don't need you!"

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But I don't think the particular features of the world--death, suffering, etc--are ideal for a relationship with God. What's ideal is being in a broadly indifferent universe.

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Right, but on point 5 of your theodicy list, you mention the idea that an indifferent world would make us see horrors, which in turn help us more freely accept God. But if we were to solve suffering, we'd strip the indifferent world of it's instrumental value (at least in that respect). Would Transhumanism not have consequences for that theodicy? Same for the idea that hardship has instrumental value. If a kid is born post Singularity, even if the universe seems indifferent, their soul would surely mature less because they endure less hardship - and it'd be odd for God to allow that if that's why we're here

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I think this is just downstream of an awkward result of most (not all) theodicies: if some apparently bad thing x is actually good, our choosing to correct it is actually bad. If God allows you do to some prima facie bad thing y because it brings about greater good z, then you have "moral insurance" to try to do y because you'll only succeed at it iff it would be for the best.

If per OP though God has some reason for allowing a mechanically indifferent universe, though, and any of the evils are downstream of that, then I think the perverse moral effects aren't there: we should just go about making our universe as good as possible. And certainly making ourselves more knowledgeable, powerful, and moral could be a form of "growing closer to God," perhaps the point of the whole thing.

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I’m not a fan of Huemer’s model of infinity, but wouldn’t it make omnibenevolence impossible, because good’s a pretty intensive concept as far as I can tell

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Why would it? Being omnibenevolent just means being disposed to always do the best thing, except in cases where there is no best thing, and then doing one of the best kinds of things.

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Hrmm. I was taking omnibenevolence as being a gradation of goodness.

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