Cumulative Arguments

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info.gif Cumulative Case Arguments: "Arguments for the existence of God (or some other complex claim) that do not consist of a single decisive argument but rather try to show that God's existence makes more sense than any alternative hypothesis in light of all the available evidence. Richard Swinburne, for example, presented a large number of arguments, none of which has decisive force. But since each argument has some evidential force, the cumulative case is alleged to make the existence of God probable."

Evans, C. (2002) Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

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    Evans, C. Stephen

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    The Mystery of Persons and Belief in God

    “I conclude there are good reasons for believing in God, even though it seems plausible that a person may be reasonable in believing without such reasons. The reasons can be seen in the pervasive clues or signals that God has provided in human experience. These clues can be presented to form a weighty cumulative case for theism, and that case can be a part of a cumulative case for Christianity."
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    Meyer, Stephen C.

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    The Return of the God Hypothesis

    "This essay explores recent evidence from cosmology, physics, and biology, which provides epistemological support, though not proof, for belief in God as conceived by a theistic worldview. It develops a notion of epistemological support based upon explanatory power, rather than just deductive entailment. It also evaluates the explanatory power of theism and its main metaphysical competitors with respect to several classes of scientific evidence. The conclusion follows that theism explains a wide ensemble of metaphysically-significant evidences more adequately and comprehensively than other major worldviews or metaphysical systems."
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    Plantinga, Alvin

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    Two Dozen (Or So) Theistic Arguments

    "I've been arguing that theistic belief does not (in general) need argument either for deontological justification, or for positive epistemic status, (or for Foley rationality or Alstonian justification); belief in God is properly basic. But it doesn't follow, of course that there aren't any good arguments. Are there some? At least a couple of dozen or so...These arguments are not coercive in the sense that every person is obliged to accept their premises on pain of irrationality. Maybe just that some or many sensible people do accept their premises."
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    Swinburne, Richard

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    The Justification of Theism

    "The case for the existence of God is a cumulative one. I claim that the existence and continued operation of God (normally through the laws of nature, but sometimes setting them aside) can explain the whole pattern of science and history, and also men's most intimate religious experiences."
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    Swinburne, Richard

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    The Existence of God

    "the three arguments which I have considered - from the existence of the Universe, from its conformity to natural laws, and from the existence humans and animals, to the hypothesis of the existence of God, are all arguments which satisfy well the three criteria given earlier for inductive arguments to an explanation. The phenomena cited by the premisses are not ordinarily to be expected, they are to expected if the cause postulated in the conclusion exists, and the hypothesis of the existence of that cause is simple. Indeed I suggest that not merely are these good arguments for the existence of God, but they are very strong ones. The postulated divine person is a very simple one, and it is vastly improbable that the phenomena cited should occur by chance – e.g. that there should exist such an enormous number of atoms in the Universe, all of which behave in exactly the same human-life producing way."
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    Willard, Dallas

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    Language, Being, God, and the Three Stages of Theistic Evidence

    "...[T]he structure of evidence outlined—in spite of its far too simple discussions of the nature of the physical, causation, order, etc.—indicates that the basic doctrine of God present in the historically developed theisms of the major world religions is most likely true and is certainly capable of being rationally accepted."
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    Williams, Peter S.

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    An Apologetic Sketch

    "This essay presents a two-step apologetic for the truth of Christianity. The first step presents a cumulative argument for the existence of a God. The second step argues that God has revealed himself in Jesus. I call this an apologetic sketch because it stands in relation to the overall evidence for Christianity as a sketch stands in relation to the finished work of an artistic genius."
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    Williams, Peter S.

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    Arguments for the existence of God

    "It is now received wisdom that arguments for God are cumulative, or, at least, are best approached cumulatively; that is, the weight of evidence for God accumulates as one adds arguments to an overall case that doesn’t rest on any one argument...Another good way to describe the procedure is the court analogy. Isolated pieces of evidence may be insufficient on their own to warrant convicting someone ‘beyond reasonable doubt’, but taken together the evidence does warrant conviction. Likewise with the case for God. The cosmological argument does not prove the existence of God. Nor do individual design arguments. But put all those arguments together, and the court may have to decide that God exists."