chapter  3
26 Pages

What are Theistic Explanations?

Throughout this study, I shall be working with a particular understanding of what constitutes a theistic explanation. A theistic explanation, I shall assume, is one that posits the existence and action of God, in an attempt to account for some fact about the world. There are three features of such proposed explanations that will shape my discussion. First of all, theistic explanations are theoretical explanations, in the sense that they posit an agent whose existence cannot be directly verifi ed by observation. If the existence of this agent is to be demonstrated, it will need to be by an inference from what can be observed. Secondly, theistic explanations are intentional explanations: the agent whose existence and activity they posit is one who has beliefs and desires (or at least mental states analogous to human beliefs and desires). Thirdly, such explanations can be defended as instances of abductive reasoning, one form of which is inference to the best explanation (IBE). The positing of an unobservable agent could be defended by arguing that this represents the best available explanation, not merely of the particular fact under consideration (the explanandum), but of a range of phenomena.