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- Studies in Philosophy of Religion
"... Does evolutionary theory have implications about the existence of supernatural entities? This question concerns the logical relationships that hold between the theory of evolution and different bits of metaphysics. There is a distinct question that I also want to address; it is epistemological in ch ..."
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Does evolutionary theory have implications about the existence of supernatural entities? This question concerns the logical relationships that hold between the theory of evolution and different bits of metaphysics. There is a distinct question that I also want to address; it is epistemological in character. Does the evidence we have for evolutionary theory also provide evidence concerning the existence of supernatural entities? An affirmative answer to the logical question would entail an affirmative answer to the epistemological question if the principle in confirmation theory that Hempel (1965, p. 31) called the special consequence condition were true: The special consequence condition: If an observation report confirms a hypothesis H, then it also confirms every consequence of H. According to this principle, if evolutionary theory has metaphysical implications, then whatever confirms evolutionary theory also must confirm those metaphysical implications. But the special consequence is false. Here‟s a simple example that illustrates why. You are playing poker and would dearly like to know whether the card you are about to be dealt will be the Jack of Hearts. The dealer is a bit careless and so you catch a glimpse of the card on top of the deck before it is dealt to you. You see that it is red. The fact that it is red confirms the hypothesis that the card is the Jack of Hearts, and the hypothesis that it is the Jack of Hearts entails that the card will be a Jack. However, the fact that the card is red does not confirm the hypothesis that the card will be a Jack. 2 Bayesians gloss these facts by understanding confirmation in terms of probability raising: The Bayesian theory of confirmation: O confirms H if and only if Pr(H│O)> Pr(H). The general reason why Bayesianism is incompatible with the special consequence