Here’s an interesting idea I haven’t seen formalised or analysed before – the ‘common consent argument‘ for the existence of God.
At its core, it is the claim that:
the fact that the majority of the world are theists is evidence for the existence of God.
This raises three questions for me:
1) Given that this is evidence, can this evidence be debunked (fully or only to some extent?) by an evolutionary account of our cognitive development?
2) More generally, is a putative naturalistic explanation of a claim that is supposed to support theism enough to obliterate the evidential support, or does it only weaken it?
The situation dialectically when the claim is introduced is: (P is probability, C is ‘the claim is true’, T is theism, N is naturalism)
P(C|T) is higher than P(C|N) – this therefore constitutes some evidence for T over N.
The naturalist then gives a naturalistic explanation of C, represented as ‘X’. What follows? Well, for one, it’s not necessarily the case that now P(C|N&X) > P(C|T), or that P(C|N&X) = P(C|T). It’s going to depend on whether the explanation is a good one – I think, specifically, on whether it is true, equivalent to something like asking whether P(X|N&B) is high, where ‘B’ is our background knowledge, but I’m not sure. Hopefully I’ll get to read more about probability sometime soonish.
3) Is there such a thing as a ‘generic’ belief in God, which isn’t specific to particular religions? And, is this something that is shared by, say, Muslims and Christians? I’m strongly inclined to think the answer is yes (based on my interpretation of Romans 1 in particular, along with what I’ve read in the cognitive psychology of religion). Perhaps I’ll do some more work on it in future.