Response to Jeffrey Jay Lowder on God and Consciousness

Lowder has written a post on the argument from consciousness for the existence of God. His argument, if sound, would establish consciousness as being a piece of evidence that lowers the probability of naturalism; however, it would not show that theism gets a boost in probability because theism and naturalism are not the only hypotheses available. 

Lowder looks at objections to his argument, such as the following:


“Objection to (4): ‘But the naturalistic evidence of mind-brain dependence outweighs the theistic evidence from consciousness’.”

Reply (by Lowder): I am not aware of anyone having offered a successful argument for that claim. It’s not clear to me how such an argument could be adequately defended.


I’m not sure if anyone has offered an argument for that claim either, at least if you mean offered an argument ‘directly’ (or an argument that specifically targets the topic at hand). Indirectly though, we can see how such an argument would be proposed if we get into Bayesian Epistemology and Bayesian Confirmation Theory. As a reminder, many Philosophers think that surprising data gives a hypothesis more confirmation. Clearly, it was not always known that the mind is dependent on the brain. The upshot is the mind-brain dependence was/is surprising data, but that data would not be surprising if we knew that naturalism were true.

Now when it comes to Bayesian confirmation theory, Lowder might have the same view as Paul Draper; Paul Draper’s view is that the surprising data doesn’t give a hypothesis any more confirmation. But even if Lowder does have that view, it’s not like any Philosophers haven’t defended the view of confirmation I briefly sketched.

(To be clear, Draper-and probably Lowder as well- would agree that surprising evidence is important and fruitful in natural science; they’re both also non-theists.)


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