chapter  6
14 Pages

Inference to the Best Explanation

Let me begin this, the penultimate chapter of my enquiry, by summarising the conclusions I have reached. I began by identifying a number of objections to proposed religious explanations. The fi rst is that theistic explanations exclude no possible state of affairs; the second is that the actions of an agent who can work miracles would be unpredictable; the third maintains that the very concept of God is incoherent; the fourth suggests that the will of God cannot be a cause and hence cannot be invoked in an explanation. I did, in a footnote, allude to a fi fth objection.1 It is the idea, based on Hume’s principle of proportioning cause to effect,2 that we would never be warranted in positing a being of infi nite power in order to explain a fi nite effect.3 I have not dwelt on this objection since at least some of its force is captured by my optimality condition (5.3.3). As the reader will recall, this suggests that if you posit a being of infi nite power and goodness, the explanandum may not correspond to how we would expect him to act.