After his extensive discussion of the scientific view of coherentism and non-absolute truth, Carroll takes on the question of God. He begins by noting the variable understanding of the word God by different theists and religious traditions making any empirical analysis difficult at best. He then concedes that theism and atheism are about equally likely from the standpoint of mere logic as the existence of God is “explanatory” while the non-existence of God is “simpler.” To address the question he asks us to imagine how changes to reality would support or discount each theory, in effect, applying Bayesian probability to God’s existence.
For example, the absence of evil would be strong evidence for God but would dissuade atheism as a purely natural reality would be expected to entail varying impulses and circumstances including evil ones. In a world full of miracles, God would be more likely while in world without miracles, atheism would be more reasonable. In a world with demonstrable souls and afterlife, God would be more likely while the absence of evidence of them would argue for atheism. A world of religious texts consistently revealing scientific truths and with consistency between unrelated religions would be supportive of God while one with neither would diminish that likelihood. Given the world we live in, these points make atheism more credible.
On the other side, in a world where no one believed in or suggested the existence of God, the divine would be less likely. A world like ours but without life or consciousness would be more likely to support atheism. Other points such as the immensity of the cosmos or the emotional support and value of belief in God are for some supportive of the theory of God while for others, billions of galaxies are more natural in a spontaneous universe and divine oversight is unsettling, even alarming. At the end of the day, we must try to eliminate as much bias as possible and examine and understand the universe to the utmost in order to make sense empirically regarding the question of God’s existence which informs his subsequent chapters.
(fourth continuation next post)