The God Delusion - Chapter 2

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The God Delusion - Chapter 2

Post #1

Post by otseng »

Not a whole lot of action in chapter 1 so far. So, I'll go ahead and start up chapter 2. Discussions can still continue in chapter 1, but hopefully by starting chapter 2 more people will want to get involved.

I'll repost McCulloch's proposed questions:
- Is the God Hypothesis ("there exists a super-human, supernatural intelligence who deliberately designed and created the universe and everything in it, including us") "a scientific hypothesis like any other", one that should be treated with as much skepticism as any other hypothesis?
- Is Stephen Jay Gould’s concept of non-overlapping magisteria valid?
- Does the inability to disprove the existence of God provide a positive reason to believe?

I'll also throw in some other questions:
- Is agnosticism impoverished?
- What exactly does Dawkins have against Michael Ruse?

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Re: The God Delusion - Chapter 2

Post #2

Post by Cogitoergosum »

otseng wrote:Not a whole lot of action in chapter 1 so far. So, I'll go ahead and start up chapter 2. Discussions can still continue in chapter 1, but hopefully by starting chapter 2 more people will want to get involved.

I'll repost McCulloch's proposed questions:
- Is the God Hypothesis ("there exists a super-human, supernatural intelligence who deliberately designed and created the universe and everything in it, including us") "a scientific hypothesis like any other", one that should be treated with as much skepticism as any other hypothesis?
- Is Stephen Jay Gould’s concept of non-overlapping magisteria valid?
- Does the inability to disprove the existence of God provide a positive reason to believe?

I'll also throw in some other questions:
- Is agnosticism impoverished?
- What exactly does Dawkins have against Michael Ruse?
1/ the God hypothesis could be called a scientific one if we want to be generous, definetly it is not any better than any other theory. This hypothesis, is just too simplistic, too primitve, and lacking too much evidence. It should be treated with skepticism like any other theory. If anybody should claim that this is how the universe came to be, they HAVE to provide evidence for that. Evidence that could be evaluated and verified and unequivocal. None of the design arguments BS.

2/ i do not think that science and religion are non overlaping magisteria. Religion does make a lot of claims that could be tested scientifically regarding origin of the universe, creationism, origin of different languages... What credentials do priests or clergymen have? When a priest counsels you about your relationship does he have a counseling major? do they have couple's therapy majors ?(catholic church requires you attend couple's counseling with the priest prior to getting married).
What makes them so knowledgeable about afterlife, what will happen to your soul, what is good for you or what is not. I'm an educated man, what makes their interpretation of the bible any better than mine? we read the same document, but somehow they have appointed themselves as references on the subject or a higher authority on the subject why?

3/ If the inability to prove god's existence is reason enough to believe in god, then the same should apply to fairy tales, trolls, goblins, a pink unicorn, the spaghetti monster...Why do we not believe in the latter?
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Re: The God Delusion - Chapter 2

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Post by FinalEnigma »

- Is the God Hypothesis ("there exists a super-human, supernatural intelligence who deliberately designed and created the universe and everything in it, including us") "a scientific hypothesis like any other", one that should be treated with as much skepticism as any other hypothesis?
The god hypothesis, as defined in The God Delusion, is neccesarily a scientific hypothesis, becuase it attempts to explain some aspect of the natural laws of the universe. The implication to the realm of science would be absolutely massive were a God to exist. It would provice a whole new system of rules that govern the universe. To claim that science cannot comment on theism is like to claiming that a sociology cannot comment on the existence of human society
- Is Stephen Jay Gould’s concept of non-overlapping magisteria valid?
I would have to say no. When science and religion make contradictory statements...they obviously are overlapping. YEC, for example, claims that the earth is 6000 years old. Science claims it is billions of years old. How can these be said not to overlap?
- Does the inability to disprove the existence of God provide a positive reason to believe?
obviously not. If you take the commonly understood definition of God, that is-
A being conceived as the perfect, omnipotent, omniscient originator and ruler of the universe, the principal object of faith and worship in monotheistic religions.
then it becomes literally impossible to diprove his/her existence. Not only is he omnpitotent and capable of altering any test results you could possibly dream up, but even non-omnipotent things can be very hard to prove the non-existence of. For example, prove that there are no spotted Ameobas in africa.

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Post #4

Post by Furrowed Brow »

- Is the God Hypothesis ("there exists a super-human, supernatural intelligence who deliberately designed and created the universe and everything in it, including us") "a scientific hypothesis like any other", one that should be treated with as much scepticism as any other hypothesis?
No it is not an hypothesis. As I keep whining on about in the various design debates positing a designer requires seeing life as “special” - and that is a value judgment - not a scientific hypothesis. So I think the semantic terrain gets all in a pickle when one starts trying to introduce design arguments into science. So I think Dawkins is guilty of a conceptual mistake.

Similarly I think Rees’ non overlapping magisteria is another conceptual blooper. Whilst science is the final authority on empirical matters. Rees’ demarcation of labour makes its seem that religion has the final authority over morals and meaning. Some may want to disagree with that hegemony. But I’d go further. Morals and meaning are not a realm of knowledge at all. Unlike Kant I say there is not a metaphysics of morality. Morality and meaning is in this sense drawn from what the later Wittgenstein called the rough ground of language. Morality and values gather meaning from the way we behave and talk, and not from some metaphysical/supernatural nether world.

Dawkins does not seem to realise he is walking over some very deep semantic water.

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Post #5

Post by Confused »

I am formally requesting that we hold off on this chapter until Chapter one is complete. Otseng: you may feel as if Chapter one has nothing left to offer, but I think it sets the foundation for the entire book and there remain many many many issues to be addressed as I have already posted in the other thread for Chapter one.
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and is immortal.

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Post #6

Post by Confused »

Furrowed Brow wrote:
- Is the God Hypothesis ("there exists a super-human, supernatural intelligence who deliberately designed and created the universe and everything in it, including us") "a scientific hypothesis like any other", one that should be treated with as much scepticism as any other hypothesis?
No it is not an hypothesis. As I keep whining on about in the various design debates positing a designer requires seeing life as “special” - and that is a value judgment - not a scientific hypothesis. So I think the semantic terrain gets all in a pickle when one starts trying to introduce design arguments into science. So I think Dawkins is guilty of a conceptual mistake.

Similarly I think Rees’ non overlapping magisteria is another conceptual blooper. Whilst science is the final authority on empirical matters. Rees’ demarcation of labour makes its seem that religion has the final authority over morals and meaning. Some may want to disagree with that hegemony. But I’d go further. Morals and meaning are not a realm of knowledge at all. Unlike Kant I say there is not a metaphysics of morality. Morality and meaning is in this sense drawn from what the later Wittgenstein called the rough ground of language. Morality and values gather meaning from the way we behave and talk, and not from some metaphysical/supernatural nether world.

Dawkins does not seem to realise he is walking over some very deep semantic water.
I think you are still on the surface here. Dawkins presentation of this as a hypothesis is on the basis that at some point science may in fact be able to prove or disprove the hypothesis. Lets review:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_hypothesis
A scientific hypothesis is a hypothesis (a testable conjecture) which is used as a tentative explanation of an observation, but which has not yet been fully tested by the prediction validation process for a scientific theory.[1][2] A hypothesis is used in the scientific method to predict the results of further experiments, which will be either used to confirm or disprove it. A well-tested hypothesis achieves the status of a scientific theory.[3]

It is a tentative explaination of an observation. The universe exists, how? We can explore this by the standard theological hypothesis: God created it. Why can't we turn around and apply it to the scientific standard? Dawkins is in no way saying that we can currently test the observations etc...... to lead to a theory. He is saying: "Why should we assume that at some point science can't?" Page 54 He is very specific here: "That you cannot prove God's non-existence is accepted and trivial, if only in the sense that we can never absolutely prove the non-existence of anything (re: his example of the teapot). What matters is not whether God is disprovable (He isn't), but whether His existence is PROBABLE. That is another matter...... There is no reason to regard God as immune from consideration along the spectrum of probabilities. And there is certainly no reason to suppose that, just because God can neither be proved nor disproved, his probability of existence is 50%". We use the laws of probability in science quite often. In fact, it is the probability of the outcome of a hypothesis that formulates many hypotheses. Your hypothesis about an observation is going to be in favor of which is the most likely outcome (highest probability) of the experiment. In other words, I think my sons autism is genetically linked. My hypothesis would be related to how high a probability I considered my belief to be true. If I didn't believe it was genetics, I would have a completely different hypothesis stating that "I don't think autism is caused by genetics".

Dawkins points out on page 58 " The God Hypothesis suggests that the reality we inhabit also contains a supernatural agent who designed the universe and- at least in many versions of the hypothesis (monotheism, polytheism, agnosticism)- maintains it and even intervenes in it with miracles, which are temporary violations to His own otherwise grandly immutable laws".

He addresses the breakdown on page 59. Is there scientific evidence of any of the following:
Jesus have a non-human father
His mother a virgin at the time of His birth
Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead
The resurrection.

We use scientific methods as well as deductive logic and laws or probability to answer these. We use the convergence of evidence to address these. All these methods are acceptable forms of coming to a theory from a hypothesis. Dawkins isn't presenting a theory though. Merely a hypothesis that can be evaluated with current scientific methods, convergence of evidence, etc... but not completely determined as a theory YET. The key word. YET.
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Re: The God Delusion - Chapter 2

Post #7

Post by Confused »

otseng wrote: I'll repost McCulloch's proposed questions:
- Is the God Hypothesis ("there exists a super-human, supernatural intelligence who deliberately designed and created the universe and everything in it, including us") "a scientific hypothesis like any other", one that should be treated with as much skepticism as any other hypothesis?
- Is Stephen Jay Gould’s concept of non-overlapping magisteria valid?
- Does the inability to disprove the existence of God provide a positive reason to believe?

I'll also throw in some other questions:
- Is agnosticism impoverished?
- What exactly does Dawkins have against Michael Ruse?
1) As stated in a post I just wrote to Furrowed, it can be considered a limited hypothesis. But I think the main point Dawkins is pushing here is that there is no reason why science cannot explore this, why it should be strictly theological. To avoid redundant posting, you can review the post I just did to Furrowed for more explanation. Should it be treated with skepticism. Yes. All hypotheses are until they are found to be robust enough to become a theory.

2) NOMA: I agree with Dawkins here. Why exactly is it that it is perfectly ok for theologians to comment on scientific things, yet science can't comment on theological things? Theology adapts their statements based on science all the time. Perfect example, as we moved away from creationism with the convergence of evidence for Darwins evolution, adaptation, etc.... theology changed to ID, now creationism is more antiquated. Evolution is a fact, sure, but it is by Gods gentle hand and "fine tuning" that allows evolution to occur. Why is it wrong to turn the table around? ID attacked science, now it says science has no business commenting on theology. Dawkins illustrates a good point on page 59: " If scientific evidence were to turn up in favor of a God, NOMA would be thrown out the window in a heartbeat" (paraphrase for length).

3) Agnosticism: I have to be cautious here as many of those I respect are this. But I have to agree with some points of Dawkins here. How can one believe that God created all, that we cannot possibly know the mind of God, that He just created it and then disappeared or sat back and watched with no evidence of such? Dawkins is appropriate on pg 46 when he says "it is the reasonable position". I hate his terminology of TAP and PAP, but I think he is valid about those who he would categorize as TAP as being reasonable in saying that the evidence just isn't available yet, but that doesn't mean it won't become available at some point. PAP I think I would consider weak and impoverished. It is believing that evidence will never exist to tip the balance. I love his use of the philosophical walnut: do you see red as I see red. PAP says we can never answer this, TAP says it is possible we will, we just can't now. I think that Agnostics is a good temporary stance, but I agree with Dawkins on page 48 where he says that the existence of God belongs firmly in the TAP category.

4) Michael Ruse: I am somewhat neutral here. The quote he gives on page 67 in regards to Ruse stating we spend so much time attacking would be enemies is a gross misinterpretation in my opinion. Ruse claims atheists attack Christians rather than attack creationism. Now, first off, I see little of this here. Second off, it is BS. He says evolutionists, esp secular, spend so much time attacking would be allies: and then gives example of the Pope confirming Darwinism, then attacks Dawkins for calling the Pope a hypocrite. Well, lets see. How long did evolutionists have to fight to prove it? Now all the sudden, faced with absolute proof, the pope all the sudden agrees. What else would one call this but hypocritical. When faced with all the evidence, you turn scripture to mean something else. Creationism is now wrong, evolution is right, but only because of "fine tuning", ID, Gods gentle hand, etc..... I think overall, what I think here is that science didn't attack religion. Religion attacked science. Science responded (amicus curiae) and now religion is turning about face and saying yep, your right, however, it is still by Gods gentle hand. Ruse turns around and says it is evolutionists attacking. NO. We didn't start this fight, but we sure are handing it to them on a silver platter. The in your face evidence is causing them to reform their views and we should now say "its ok, we just understand God better than you". Now that is insulting to both sides.
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Post #8

Post by otseng »

Confused wrote:I am formally requesting that we hold off on this chapter until Chapter one is complete. Otseng: you may feel as if Chapter one has nothing left to offer, but I think it sets the foundation for the entire book and there remain many many many issues to be addressed as I have already posted in the other thread for Chapter one.
No, I didn't say that chapter 1 has nothing left to offer. I started chapter 2 cause we have 25 people registered to debate the book, yet relatively few have participated in chapter 1. By opening up the next chapter, I was hoping more would participate.

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Post #9

Post by Confused »

otseng wrote:
Confused wrote:I am formally requesting that we hold off on this chapter until Chapter one is complete. Otseng: you may feel as if Chapter one has nothing left to offer, but I think it sets the foundation for the entire book and there remain many many many issues to be addressed as I have already posted in the other thread for Chapter one.
No, I didn't say that chapter 1 has nothing left to offer. I started chapter 2 cause we have 25 people registered to debate the book, yet relatively few have participated in chapter 1. By opening up the next chapter, I was hoping more would participate.
Yes, I think I acknowledged this in the other section with the "coolio". I posted it here before I posted it there and learned you reasoning. My apologies.
What we do for ourselves dies with us,
What we do for others and the world remains
and is immortal.

-Albert Pine
Never be bullied into silence.
Never allow yourself to be made a victim.
Accept no one persons definition of your life; define yourself.

-Harvey Fierstein

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Re: The God Delusion - Chapter 2

Post #10

Post by Confused »

otseng wrote:Does the inability to disprove the existence of God provide a positive reason to believe?
Not in my opinion. I think the inability to disprove the existence of God is a challenge, not a scapegoat to believe. But I don't think it is impossible to prove or disprove the God of current religions. All one must do is use the same criteria to determine the probability of His existence based on what is known about Him. In the case of Christianity, we evaluate the bible. Since it is suppose to represent what is known as God, then by using convergence of evidence, we can test many of the events that are claimed to have occurred in the bible. This is where I think I was wrong when I said in an earlier post that I was neutral about Ruse. I think he completely misrepresents what most are doing. Because he claims atheists are attacking theists rather then creationism. He is dead wrong. What we challenge is what is known of God. We challenge the bible and the subsequent beliefs based on it, that includes creationism and now ID. However, I will have to say that I am basing this opinion based on what Dawkins presents. To really take a stand on Ruse, I would have to go further and ensure he wasn't taken out of context. Not something I really want to do. So my comments are limited on what is included in this book.
Back to topic. Simply because one cannot disprove something currently isn't a reason to believe in it. Think of our judicial system. Innocent until proven guilty. Based on probability, evaluation of biblical scripture, and watching those who believe in God not practice what is taught by Christ, my overall conclusion at this time is that there is more evidence not to believe than to believe. But I can't take a firm enough stand on this to be what Dawkins calls a "strong atheist'. I am more Defacto atheist but still have many shortcomings, especially in terms of afterlife. Though in future chapters this is addressed.
What we do for ourselves dies with us,
What we do for others and the world remains
and is immortal.

-Albert Pine
Never be bullied into silence.
Never allow yourself to be made a victim.
Accept no one persons definition of your life; define yourself.

-Harvey Fierstein

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