Paul Draper’s moral argument for the existence of God

Paul Draper is an atheist philosopher. But despite the fact that he’s an atheist, he still thinks there is some evidence for God. In particular, he has come up with a moral argument for God’s existence (i.e. an inductive argument).

The argument runs as follows:

1. There are moral agents in the world, i.e., us. By “moral agents,” Draper means that humans have a code of morality and can freely make moral choices.

2. A naturalistic theory of our origins is less likely to explain our status as moral agents than is the existence of God, who made us moral agents.

3. Moral agency requires moral responsibility.

4. To be morally responsible, one must have libertarian free will, that is, at any time one must be able to choose between moral actions and immoral or neutral ones.

5. Such libertarian free will is much more likely to exist under theism than under naturalism.

6. Therefore, moral agency is a strong argument for God.

So, what should we think about this argument? Well, to start, we can look at premise 4 which emphasizes libertarian free will. It’s far from obvious that we have such free will. Most professional philosophers who have studied this issue do not think we have such free will. Perhaps, it’s logically possible that libertarian free will exists, but that’s not the issue; rather, the issue is whether it is even plausible that such free will exists. The upshot it is not clear that libertarian free will is a piece of data in the world; it is not known to be true. Moreover, a lot of Christian theists don’t think we have libertarian free will, instead, they sign up to compatibilism.

But even if we do have libertarian free will, it is arguable that Draper’s moral argument ignores crucial counter-evidence. Take the fact that there seem to be opportunities where we aren’t able to exercise our free will to help others because of ignorance (e.g. someone is stuck in a car trunk but nobody is around to help). If God exists, this is at least somewhat surprising. Thus, even if libertarian free will counts as evidence of God in a general sense, there are more specific facts about libertarian free will in our actual world that count as evidence against God (assuming that such freedom exists in the first place).

In addition, non-humans animals in our actual world (surely) don’t have libertarian free will. Is it somehow logically impossible for God to create animals with libertarian free will? Granted, such animals would be different from animals in our world, but that’s not the issue. The issue is whether it is logically possible. If it’s so surprising that libertarian free will exists on naturalism, then a fortiori, it is surprising that animals would have libertarian free on naturalism. Therefore, on the hypothesis that naturalism is true, it would not be surprising to find that animals don’t have such free will; that’s exactly what we see in our world.

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