The Existence of God

This week’s guest lecture will be given by Professor Richard Swinburne. He will be discussing The Existence of God.

Abstract: There are four criteria used by scientists and historians for assessing whether evidence of observation E makes a purported causal explanation H probable. These are (1) it is probable that E, given H; (2) it is not probable that E, given not-H; (3) H is simple; and (4) H fits with background evidence. These same criteria are at work in assessing the probability of the existence of God on the most general observable phenomena. These phenomena (E) are that there is a physical universe, it is governed by simple laws of nature, these laws are fine-tuned to produce humans, and humans are conscious. If there is a God of the traditional kind it is probable that he will bring about these phenomena, because it is probable that he will bring about humans and these phenomena are necessary conditions for there being humans. It is not probable that these phenomena will occur if there is no God. The hypothesis of the existence of God is a very simple hypothesis, because it postulates the existence of only one entity of a very simple kind. Since the hypothesis purports to explain almost everything, there is no ‘background evidence’. Therefore the most general observable phenomena make it probable that there is a God.