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Criteria of Success in Science and Theology

Robert O’Connor
S & CB 10 (1)
April 1998


In this paper I asses the merits of the strategy by which theologians explicitly borrow criteria from the sciences for justification of religious belief-systems. In particular, I examine the standards according to which scientists affirm the reality of those unobservable, explanatory components of their best theories . A survey of the most promising arguments for scientific realism reveals those standards: a parallel survey of explanatory theology provides an analysis of the claim that relevantly similar considerations support the belief that God actually exists. Of particular interest is the claim that explanatory theology fails because it lacks the predictive resources to support a realist interpretation. In the end, I offer a favourable assessment of the prospects for an argument for the existence of God based on the explanatory adequacy of specifically Christian beliefs.

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