Posted: Dec 18, 2011 7:25 pm
by purplerat
jlowder wrote:
purplerat wrote:
jlowder wrote:
To summarize, my position is:

1. Not all supernatural hypotheses have equal intrinsic or prior probability.
2. Classical theism has a higher prior probability than other supernatural alternatives such as deism, Santa Claus, leprechauns, pastafarianism (flying spaghetti monster), invisible pink unicorns, etc., based on scope and simplicity.
3. Metaphysical naturalism, which entails a denial of supernaturalism, has an even higher prior probability than theism.
4. There are several interpretations of probability. I am a pluralist about those, but unless otherwise specified, assume that I am using the epistemic interpretation of probability.

I'm just going to simplify this a whole lot and request that you please explain #2. How is a supernatural FSM less plausible than supernatural "classical theism"?


I think I forgot to respond to this request; sorry for the delay. I'm going to respond as if we don't already know that the FSM 'hypothesis' is satire and not a sincerely held belief.

According to the original letter which introduced the FSM, the FSM "built the world to make us think the earth is older than it really is." This entails that FSM hypothesis asserts more than classical theism and thus hence has greater scope than classical theism. Pastafarianism is very specific--as Paul Draper asks, "why spaghetti instead of linguine or rigatoni or lasagna or macaroni?" Because the FSM hypothesis has greater scope than classical theism, everything else held equal, it has a lower intrinsic or prior probability.

Here is an quotation of philosopher Paul Draper on this issue:

"So-called 'new atheists' or 'brights' like Richard Dawkins like to compare believing in God to believing in flying spaghetti monsters or invisible pink unicorns But I reject these comparisons. Pastafarianism and unicornism are not even forms of supernaturalism and more generally do no important metaphysical work at all. Not to mention that pastafarianism is very specific and thus very immodest--why spaghetti instead of linguine or rigatoni or lasagna or macaroni? And unicornism is maximally incoherent--even ignoring the fact that there is significant tension between being pink and being invisible, unicorns are by definition imaginary creatures and so no existing thing could count as a unicorn. The intrinsic probability of unicornism, not to mention fairyism and leprechaunism, is zero."


I also claimed that classical theism has a higher intrinsic probability than deism. Why? Classical theism usually entails the implicit belief that the mental, as opposed to the material, is ontologically fundamental. Again, quoting Draper:

"Since multiplicity requires variety, it is more coherent (and hence more plausible) to suppose that a single mind is involved than multiple minds, and it is also more coherent to suppose that this mind will exhibit uniformity in its powers and capacities than to suppose it will exhibit variety. Thus, it is more probable intrinsically that it has no non-logical limits to its power and knowledge, and only rational desires, than that it can create some creatable things and not others, or that it knows the truth value of some knowable propositions but not others, or that it has non-rational desires that could influence it to act in a way that it knows to be bad."

Why should I think that these things apply to that which is defined as supernatural? Scope may be useful in determining relative plausibility within the natural world but why should we assume that the same follows for the supernatural? The same for simplicity or any other mechanism you are trying to apply to determine plausibility. You are taking things from the natural word and just asserting that they should also apply to the supernatural despite the fact that by definition of there's no reason to think what applies to one should apply to the other.