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God in the Age of Science?A Critique of Religious Reason$
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Herman Philipse

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199697533

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199697533.001.0001

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The Immunization of Theism

The Immunization of Theism

(p.161) 10 The Immunization of Theism
God in the Age of Science?

Herman Philipse

Oxford University Press

Natural theologians who aim at confirming the theistic hypothesis by adducing empirical evidence are confronted by the dilemma of God-of-the-gaps. Either theism predicts no specific phenomena at all, or these phenomena may be accounted for in the future by superior scientific explanations, so that theism will be disconfirmed. A pessimistic induction concerning the history of science and natural theology will convince sophisticated natural theologians that they should avoid this risk of God-of-the-gaps. Richard Swinburne uses the following immunizing strategy: theism should purport to explain only phenomena that are either ‘too big’ or ‘too odd’ for science to explain. But this strategy fails with regard to miracles (too odd), as is argued by a detailed examination of the case of Christ’s bodily resurrection, and it is problematic with regard to instances of ‘too big’, such as fine-tuning, or the explanation of the universe as a whole.

Keywords:   Dilemma of God-of-the-gaps, Pseudo-theory, Immunization, Design arguments, Newton, Pierre Simon Laplace, William Paley, Henry Drummond, Primary causes, Secondary causes, Too odd or too big for science to explain, Miracles, Christ’s bodily resurrection, David Hume, Testimony, Gospels, Paul, Mark, Empty tomb, Incarnation, Atonement, Koran, Cognitive dissonance, Leon Festinger, Collaborative storytelling, Source amnesia, Principle of collective causality, Big Bang theory, Fine-tuning arguments

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