Paul Draper’s Argument from Suffering

  1. E
  2. Pr (HI)= Pr (T)
  3. Pr (E|HI)> Pr (E|T)
  4. Therefore, all things being equal, Pr (T)<.50

E=The distribution of pain and pleasure in biological organisms by means of Darwinism.

HI=The Hypothesis of Indifference. The distribution of pain and pleasure in the world is best explained by the result of purely natural processes or finite supernatural beings

T=Theism. The belief in a God who is Omnipotent and Omnibenevolent

The crucial step is 3. Is the distribution of suffering more expected on naturalism than theism?

One piece of evidence that Draper uses in support of premise 3 is the idea of simplicity. Naturalism has to add less assumptions given E than Theism. Why is that? Because Theism adds on at least one more assumption:”God has morally sufficient reasons for allowing the distribution of pain and pleasure, but we are in the dark about what those reasons are”.

Also given theism, it’s surprising that some creatures experience non-useful pain while others do not. For on the hypothesis that theism is true, God cares for all his creatures, specifically all animals.

It’s possible that God has a good reason for allowing E but it’s also possible that God has reasons to prevent E.

On the flip-side E isn’t surprising at all given the hypothesis of naturalism because E is almost certainly true for it’s the only plausible game in town. (E entails Darwinism).


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