Objecting to God

— Colin Howson

A Bayesian evaluation of the evidence, old and new, for the existence of a God of the sort the Abrahamic religions postulate reveals that there really isn't any: on the contrary, such evidence as can be found is very strongly against such a being. In my new book Objecting to God (Cambridge, 2011) I employ Bayesian probability to counter many 'pro-God' arguments in the recent literature, particularly those bits of it discussing the alleged extreme improbability of fine-tuning and the development of complex life-forms. In particular, the "Anthropic Argument" for the existence of a God is no more compelling than its underlying "Anthropic Principle", which I show to be fallacious.

Not only do the Abrahamic religions lack any credible evidential foundation, but their influence is largely malign, embodying codes of ethics both primitive and repressive. In my book I argue on the contrary for a humanitarian ethics based on a more modern version of Aristotle's notion of eudaimonia. Another novel feature of my book is its drawing a parallel between the logico-mathematical paradoxes of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and the ancient theological paradoxes arising from the notion of an omniscient, omnipotent, perfectly good deity. I show how Tarski's celebrated theorem(s) on the indefinability of truth refutes the postulate of omniscience. I also present a critical discussion of Richard Dawkins's well-known attempt to prove that the hypothesis of God is itself extremely improbable.


Colin Howson is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto and Emeritus Professor in the Philosophy Department at the London School of Economics. For a more detailed and careful presentation of these ideas read his book Objecting to God (Cambridge University Press, 2011).