Paul Draper and the Problem of Evil: A Response

William Lane Craig writes,

 

Paul Draper has argued that naturalism is more probable than theism relative to the evolution of biological organisms and the distribution of pain/pleasure in the world. But Draper’s argument hinges on three probability estimates which seem dubious in light of our discussion. First, he assumes that naturalism and theism are equally probable with respect to our general background knowledge (Pr (N) = Pr (T)), which we have seen reason to dispute. Second, he believes that the probability of the distribution of pain/pleasure in the world is greater on naturalism and evolution than it is on theism and evolution (Pr (P/E&N) > Pr(P/E&T)). But we have seen reason to question whether we are in an epistemic position to make justifiably this sort of probability judgement. Finally, he argues that the probability of evolution on naturalism is greater than the probability of evolution on theism (Pr(E/N) > Pr(E/T)). For if naturalism is true, evoution is the only game in town; but if theism is true, God had more alternatives. But this assessment is confused. What Draper’s argument supports is the assessment that evolution is more probable relative to naturalism and the existence of biological organisms than to theism and the existence of biological organisms (Pr(E/N&B) > Pr(E/T&B)). But we have seen from our discussion of the teleological argument (chapter 23) that the existence of biological organisms (and, hence, their evolution) is virtually impossible relative to naturalism alone and that we should therefore expect a lifeless world given naturalism, which cannot be said of theism. Without his three crucial probability estimates Draper’s evidential argument from evil founders.

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