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The Body Argument, the Problem of Evil, and Panentheism

Here’s a version of the “bodily autonomy” argument for abortion.

1. The fetus is a part of a woman’s body.
2. A woman has the right to do whatever she wants with any part of her body.
3. Therefore, a woman has the right to do whatever she wants with the fetus.

This argument is crass, but it’s fairly accurate to how we see many people arguing for abortion. For example, see this video

Another interesting fact about this argument is that it’s probably the most widely endorsed argument for abortion among internet atheists. For example, PZ Meyers endorses it here. Atheist Matt Dillahunty also uses this argument in his debates on abortion (see e.g., here). As these atheists understand the argument, it doesn’t matter whether the fetus is a human person or not, bodily autonomy trumps whatever rights the child might have. This is the strongest version of the argument, and it’s the one I’ll assume in this post. (more…)

Modality and Probability

On p. 51 of Where the Conflict Really Lies, Plantinga says: “[T]he probability of a contingent proposition on a necessary falsehood is 1.”

So, where C = a contingent proposition and F = a necessary falsehood, Plantinga is saying P(C|F)=1.

This seems false. How are we getting our values? If we understand conditional probability to be defined as:


and we grant that a necessary falsehood has the probability of 0, then P(C|F) ≠ 1, rather, it is undefined. Shoenberg, “If P(A) = 0, then P(B|A) is undefined, just as division by zero is undefined in arithmetic. This makes sense, since if event A never happens, then it does not make much sense to discuss the frequency with which event B happens given that A also happens” (Introduction to Probability with Texas Hold’em Examples, Chapman and Hall, 2011, p.40). After some further investigation, I noticed that Tyler Wunder gives a similar objection here.

However, the above is too quick.

From Skeptical Theism to Skeptical IBEism

Skeptical theism is, roughly, a strategy that employs would-be facts about our cognitive limitations and applies them to various atheological arguments from evil against the existence of God.

Inference to the best explanation (IBE hereafter) is, roughly, the type of inference in which one derives the conclusion that explains the available evidence best.

Skepticism about IBE, is, roughly, the view that the above type of inference is not trustworthy to lead us to truth.

I wonder if accepting skeptical theism puts any pressure on the one who accepts it to also accept skepticism about IBE. That is, should the skeptical theist become a skeptical IBEist? In this blog I’ll try to sketch some flat-footed reasons for thinking so. The literature on both topics is large and complicated, and so I’m really wondering if the below argument warrants further inspection, that is, whether there is even a prima facie push for the skeptical theist to become a skeptical IBEist. Of course, some have argued that skeptical theism implies something like Cartesian skepticism. If that’s true, then skepticism about IBE follows quickly enough. But that’s a strong claim, I’m going for something far more modest—though, as I will suggest, if my worry is real, there will be unpleasant enough consequences, at least for some Skeptical theists. (more…)