Collins, Robin

Robin is professor of philosophy at Messiah College. Trained in physics (Washington State and the University of Texas at Austin) and in philosophy (Notre Dame), he is a leading advocate for using the fine-tuning of the universe—how the laws and constants of nature are perfectly aligned within extremely tight tolerances to permit (or enable) the emergence of life—as evidence consistent with the existence of an intelligent cause for the universe. As such, based on state-of-the-art physics and cosmology, he develops a sophisticated contemporary argument from design. In addition, he has written on theological matters such as atonement and the problem of evil. Here Robin discusses perhaps the most fundamental question, the origins of physical law: “Many philosophers have claimed that the law-like behavior of the world that does not require any explanation by God or any other entity transcending this world. Among those who reject an explicitly theistic account of the laws of nature, there are two major camps: the regularists, who roughly hold that the laws of nature merely express universal regularities in the world, and the necessitarians, who hold that the laws of nature are grounded in some sort of underlying necessity, the two main accounts of this necessity being relations among universals and underlying causal powers in nature. Among other things, necessitarians typically claim that if the regularity theory is correct, then the regularities in the world would be one grand cosmic coincidence, and further that regularists cannot adequately ground induction. I argue that, contrary to what they claim, when it comes to so-called ‘functional laws,’ the necessitarian accounts neither solve the purported problem of cosmic coincidence nor the problem of induction, whereas theism provides a natural, non-ad hoc solution to these problems. The argument that I present for theism is only a good argument for those who hold these necessitarian intuitions regarding the problems of cosmic coincidence and induction, which are very powerful for those who have them. Specifically, I argue that when we look at functional laws, the real issue that is driving the intuitions regarding cosmic coincidence and induction is the simplicity of the laws, something that cannot be accounted for by necessitarian accounts but which can be accounted for by a theistic or related account….One major objection is that hypothesizing the existence of God simply transfers the problem up one level to that of the order in God’s mind. If the theistic hypothesis does simply transfer the problem up one level, then theism will not solve the problem. At best, the theist could simply claim that hypothesizing God does not make the problem worse. Consequently, the main strategy I use in addressing this objection is to first argue that we have independent reasons, based on the experience of the unity of consciousness and the simplicity of the soul, for thinking that in general minds do not involve a high degree of complex internal order. Of course, this strategy commits us to the view that the mind is a simple substance, a view typically associated with substance dualism….Finally, one might object that the theistic explanation introduces new conceptual puzzles along with other problems such as the problem of evil that are just as bad or worse than the one it attempts to solve. Regardless of whether this is true, it is still a significant merit of theism and other axiarchic explanations that they solve the problems of cosmic coincidence and induction. (As an added bonus, they also explain the fine-tuning of the laws of nature and initial conditions of the universe for embodied, conscious life.)… One could, of course, claim that the order of the world does not need an explanation. But, I suspect many philosophers would find this unbelievable. In the words of David Armstrong, ‘if you believe that, I say, you will believe anything.’”


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Can Religion Be Explained Without God?

Most people believe that God exists and religion is God’™s revelation. But some claim that religion needs nothing supernatural; that religion, without God, can flourish because personal psychology and group sociology drive religion.

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