Nicht verstehen

Right, Plantinga on Dawkins. There is one bit that’s quite funny, but there’s another that I can’t understand. It’s familiar, and I never understand it. It just seems childish, in a literal way: childishly grandiose; and that can’t be right, so I must not understand it. Help me out here.

So why think God must be improbable? According to classical theism, God is a necessary being; it is not so much as possible that there should be no such person as God; he exists in all possible worlds. But if God is a necessary being, if he exists in all possible worlds, then the probability that he exists, of course, is 1, and the probability that he does not exist is 0. Far from its being improbable that he exists, his existence is maximally probable. So if Dawkins proposes that God’s existence is improbable, he owes us an argument for the conclusion that there is no necessary being with the attributes of God—an argument that doesn’t just start from the premise that materialism is true. Neither he nor anyone else has provided even a decent argument along these lines; Dawkins doesn’t even seem to be aware that he needs an argument of that sort.

I just don’t begin to understand that. I don’t understand the ‘So’ that begins the fifth sentence. So? So? Coming after ‘his existence is maximally probable’? When the whole chain started with ‘According to classical theism’? And then said a lot of things that (as far as I can tell) are to do with logic but make nothing happen. Why does the fact that ‘God’ is X according to classical theism mean that anything else follows for people who don’t adhere to classical theism in the first place? I could understand why something would follow if the phrase went ‘according to geology’ or physics or molecular biology and then were followed by a claim about rocks or quarks or DNA that included the word ‘is’ – but classical theism? No. And then there’s that ‘if’. If God is a necessary being, then…then how do we get to So? We start from a claim from a supernaturalist field, we go on to an if, and we end up at a bizarre certainty that Dawkins owes us an explanation. I do not understand that passage. It looks nonsensical to me, and that can’t be right.

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