The God Delusion - Chapter 3

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The God Delusion - Chapter 3

Post #1

Post by otseng »

Dawkins presents several arguments used to argue for God's existence:

- The Unmoved Mover
- The Uncaused Cause
- The Cosmological Argument
- The Argument from Degree
- The Argument from Design (Teleological Argument)
- The Ontological Argument
- The Argument from Beauty
- The Argument from Personal Experience
- The Argument from Scripture
- The Argument from Admired Religious Scientists
- Pascal's Wager
- Bayesian Arguments

Does Dawkins adequately refute the arguments for God's existence in this chapter?

I'll also repost McCulloch's questions:
  • Does God provide a natural terminator to the infinite regresses?
  • Is there any validity to Anselm's Ontological Argument?
  • Is the Argument from Beauty valid?
  • Is the Argument from Personal Experience valid? Is it being used or is this Dawkins' strawman?
  • Is the Argument from Scripture valid? Is this another strawman?
  • Does anyone use the Argument from Admired Religious Scientists?
  • Let's not re-do Pascal's Wager
  • Is there any validity to Bayesian Arguments promoted by people such as Stephen Unwin?
  • Did Dawkins leave out or misrepresent any major argument for God's existence?

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Re: The God Delusion - Chapter 3

Post #31

Post by otseng »

McCulloch wrote:
otseng wrote:I haven't seen many professionals use any of these to argue for God's existence.
Google "does god exist".
I guess that demonstrates that I don't visit these sites too often. O:)

BTW, 50 tokens to you for the time in putting in the research.

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Re: The God Delusion - Chapter 3

Post #32

Post by Cathar1950 »

McCulloch wrote:
otseng wrote:I haven't seen many professionals use any of these to argue for God's existence.
Google "does god exist".
First page of results
  1. Does God Exist? .org
    Argues from Design and First Cause.
  2. Is there a God?
    Six Points
    1. Design
    2. Design
    3. Design
    4. Argument from Popularity
    5. Argument from Personal Experience
    6. Argument from Revelation
  3. Existence of God
    1. The Ontological Argument
    2. The First Cause Argument
    3. Design
    4. The Moral Argument
    5. Lord, Liar, Or Lunatic?
    6. The Meaning of Life
  4. Does God Exist Scientifically?
    Mainly Design
  5. Does God Exist? - The Question
    1. The Cosmological argument
    2. The Teleological Argument
    3. The Moral Argument
    4. Design
    5. Jesus' Resurrection
  6. Answers in Genesis
    1. Argument from the Bible.
    2. Design
    3. Teleological Argument
  7. Does God exist? Is there evidence for the existence of God?
    1. argumentum ad populum
    2. the argument from belief
    3. ontological argument.
    4. teleological argument
    5. cosmological argument
    6. moral argument
  8. Atheist Foundation
  9. Does God Exist?: The Debate Between Theists & Atheists at Amazon
  10. THE CRAIG-WASHINGTON DEBATE: DOES GOD EXIST? 1995
    1. The Argument from Abstract Objects
    2. The Cosmological Argument
    3. The Teleological Argument
    4. The Moral Argument
    5. The Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth
    6. The Experience of God
It seems as if professional apologists for God still get mileage out of these tired old arguments.
Most of the arguments seem to have been covered over and over.
There are still arguments about arguments.
I have seen many use arguments as if they didn't have any problems.
They are getting where they are almost academic. :)

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Re: What's the point?

Post #33

Post by QED »

Cathar1950 wrote:Most of the arguments seem to have been covered over and over. There are still arguments about arguments.
It seems as though nothing really new has been developed in the way of argument for/against God's existence since Aristotelian times. Barrow and Tippler in their book the "Cosmological Anthropic Principle" trace Anthropic arguments back as far as the ancient Greek philosophers.
FinalEnigma wrote:Well, you missed 2 important ones.
7. God is probable;
8. God is improbable;
These are important becuase they are exactly what dawkins is talking about. He doesnt set out to prove God's non-existence; he sets out to prove that God is very improbable; which is actually a reasonable goal to set, unlike trying to prove that God does not exist.
Perhaps it's time to move on to Chapter 4 "Why there almost certainly is
no God" where Dawkins introduces us to "The Ultimate Boeing 747".

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Re: The God Delusion - Chapter 3

Post #34

Post by Greenbeard »

QED wrote: Perhaps it's time to move on to Chapter 4 "Why there almost certainly is
no God" where Dawkins introduces us to "The Ultimate Boeing 747".
Well, OK, but we've left the bulk of questions by Otseng, McCulloch and myself unaddressed. In particular, I would like to mention another fallacy from the chapter intro.
otseng wrote:Dawkins presents several arguments used to argue for God's existence:
- The Unmoved Mover...
...Does Dawkins adequately refute the arguments for God's existence in this chapter?
This is misplaced burden of proof. At the outset Dawkins, being a non-believer, has no reason to accept any of these ideas. He brings them up so that we can examine them and try to determine if any of them adequately defend themselves! Does anybody here still think that any of this collection, including the additional concepts mentioned my McCulloch, survives examination?

Matt

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Post #35

Post by jjg »

To understand why physics is out of its context when dealing with these First Cause arguments, the following sound principles of philosophy should be recalled:

There is a hierarchy of sciences or a subordination of the various disciplines of the mind. The divisions of the sciences into ranks is not based soley upon the different objects which the sciences study, but is principally justified by their intellectual dependance, one on another, and presumptions of one another.

Biology is dependant in part on chemistry and chemistry in part on physics. This extends beyond mere data; music assumes mathematics and mathematics assumes metaphysics.

The basis of the differences of the sciences is the degree of abstraction involved. Admidst the flux of sensible things, the mind is presented with, it may limit itself to the consideration of material things and their properties, which are experimentally observable. This is physics.

The mind can also abstract so it can concern itself with quantity and extent which is apart from sensible manifestations in material things which is the science of mathematics.

The mind can also deal with things not inasmuch as they are quantitative, but inasmuch as they are or have being. The qualitative aspect of knowledge.

There are certain objects of knowledge that we can not only conceive without matter, but which can also exist without matter such as truth.

This third science is metaphysics.

The basis for judging a heirarchy of science is the universality of the science.

All the science disciplines are concerned with being, for that is the common element in which all knowledge bathes. Every particular science adds something to being. Biology adds organism to being. Anthropology adds human origin to being and physics adds matter or energy to being.

The one supreme science whose object is not limited to being of a particular category, but being as being, is metaphysics.

Because the sciences are differentiated by the degree of abstractions in which a particular aspect of being is studied, the methods used in each science is different.

Sciences that are more restricted in their study of being cannot have their methods applied to more universal sciences.

Math can be applied to physics but not vice versa.

:lol: This is why physics cannot apply its methods to the most supreme science of metaphysics. :lol:

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Post #36

Post by Cathar1950 »

Math can be applied to physics but not vice versa.
Calculators?
Computers?

I tend to think of God as a concept.
Much like the unified theory of physics it is still being sought.
We are still searching making larger electron accelerators so i guess if we don't have a God accelerator it might take some time. They are looking for the god particle. :P
At best arguments for God seem like arguments for the possibility of God.
All revelation seems to be limited to experience and culture.

It might be a product of our evolution that comes with language, art and the things we call human.
I was reading an article on evolution and the brain.
We might not be finished.

http://www.uchospitals.edu/news/2005/20 ... brain.html
University of Chicago researchers find human brain still evolving
September 8, 2005

Human evolution, University of Chicago researchers report, is still under way in what has become our most important organ: the brain. In two related papers, published in the September 9, 2005, issue of Science, they show that two genes linked to brain size are rapidly evolving in humans.

"Our studies indicate that the trend that is the defining characteristic of human evolution--the growth of brain size and complexity--is likely still going on," said lead researcher for both papers Bruce Lahn, PhD, assistant professor of human genetics at the University of Chicago and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. "Meanwhile, our environment and the skills we need to survive in it are changing faster then we ever imagined. I would expect the human brain, which has done well by us so far, will continue to adapt to those changes."

Evolution, Lahn said, doesn't occur at the species level. Rather, some individuals first acquire a specific genetic mutation; and because that variant confers on those who bear it a greater likelihood of survival, it then spreads in the population. "We're seeing two examples of such a spread in progress," he said. "In each case, it's a spread of a new genetic variant in a gene that controls brain size. This variant is clearly favored by natural selection."

Lahn previously showed that there was accelerated evolution in humans among numerous genes, including microcephalin and abnormal spindle-like microcephaly-associated (ASPM). Both of these genes regulate brain size, and therefore "were good candidates to look for signatures of selection. We indeed found such signatures when we compared humans to other species," he said. "As a natural extension of that, we asked, could it be that selection on these genes is still ongoing in humans?"

In the two Science papers, the researchers looked at variations of microcephalin and ASPM within modern humans. They found evidence that the two genes have continued to evolve. For each gene, one class of variants has arisen recently and has been spreading rapidly because it is favored by selection. For microcephalin, the new variant class emerged about 37,000 years ago and now shows up in about 70 percent of present-day humans. For ASPM, the new variant class arose about 5,800 years ago and now shows up in approximately 30 percent of today's humans. These time windows are extraordinarily short in evolutionary terms, indicating that the new variants were subject to very intense selection pressure that drove up their frequencies in a very brief period of time--both well after the emergence of modern humans about 200,000 years ago.

Each variant emerged around the same time as the advent of "cultural" behaviors. The microcephalin variant appears along with the emergence of such traits as art and music, religious practices, and sophisticated tool-making techniques--which date back to about 50,000 years ago. The ASPM variant coincides with the oldest-known civilization, Mesopotamia, which dates back to 7000 BC. "Microcephalin," the authors wrote in one of the papers, "has continued its trend of adaptive evolution beyond the emergence of anatomically modern humans. If selection indeed acted on a brain-related phenotype, there could be several possibilities, including brain size, cognition, personality, motor control or susceptibility to neurological/psychiatric diseases."

"The next step is to find out what biological difference imparted by this genetic difference causes selection to favor that variation over the others," Lahn said.
Both microcephalin and ASPM have numerous genetic variations. The authors show that certain variants are subject to very strong positive selection over others.

To determine the variation frequency of the two genes, the researchers surveyed more than 1,000 individuals representing 59 ethnic populations worldwide. For each gene, the scientists identified a large number of haplotypes, or variant copies. They found that one class of haplotypes, called haplogroup D, shows two distinct characteristics. First, they are very young. Because not enough evolutionary time has passed since the first copy of these variants appeared for them to diversify, all the haplogroup D variants are nearly identical. Second, despite recent emergence they have spread rapidly. "In a very short period of time, this class of variants arose from a single copy to many copies. That implies that this must have happened because of positive selection," Lahn said, pointing out that it's statistically unlikely for a haplogroup this young to have such high frequency due merely to random genetic drift.

The team also observed geographic differences. For haplogroup D of ASPM, they found that it occurs more frequently in Europeans and surrounding populations including, North Africans, Middle Easterners, and South Asians, and at a lower incidence in East Asians, New World Indians and sub-Saharan Africans. For microcephalin, the researchers found that haplogroup D is more abundant in populations outside of sub-Saharan Africa.
The biochemical functions of these two genes are not fully understood. There is, however, some information as to what they do. Mutations that render either gene completely nonfunctional in humans cause microcephaly, a medical condition in which the brain is much smaller than normal. In many cases there are often no other abnormalities, which indicates that these two genes play an important role in brain size.

A series of studies suggest that there is some correlation between brain size and intelligence, but with some exceptions. Although, on average, a man's brain is 3 to 4 percent larger than a woman's, both sexes score similarly on IQ tests. Lahn also points out that "brain size is very heritable. Bad nutrition is typically not a factor; the brain is very privileged within the body." The researchers emphasize that very little is known about the impact of these variants. They may not have anything to do with cognition or intelligence. "Just because these genes are still evolving, doesn't necessarily mean they make you any smarter," Lahn said. "We've evolved genes for selfishness, violence, cruelty--all of which are in place because they may make survival easier. But in today's society, they're certainly not condoned."

Lahn and colleagues stress these studies only examine two genes, and that the genetic variations within a population are often almost as great as the differences between groups. "If we look at multiple genes, the ethnic variations--such as the ones we found--are likely to be counterbalanced by other differences," Lahn said. "It just happens that we looked at two genes for which the variants favored by selection have a higher frequency in some populations, such as Europeans. It might be that for the next two brain size genes we find, the variants favored by selection will have a higher frequency in Asians or Africans." Scientists know of about a half dozen other genes that are primarily linked to brain size and several others that may also play a role in regulating brain size. According to Lahn, these are all primary candidates for learning more about human evolution.
HHMI funded both of these studies. First author for the ASPM paper is Nitzan Mekel-Bobrov, and first author for the microcephalin paper is Patrick Evans, both of whom are graduate students in Lahn's lab.
http://health.dailynewscentral.com/content/view/1606/63
Evolution of the Human Brain Still Underway
09 September, 2005 15:31 GMT


Could you use more brainpower? Nature apparently thinks you can, according to two University of Chicago studies providing the first scientific evidence that the human brain is still evolving, a process that may ultimately increase people's capacity to grow smarter.
Two key brain-building genes, which underwent dramatic changes in the past that coincided with huge leaps in human intellectual development, are still undergoing rapid mutations, evolution's way of selecting for new beneficial traits, Bruce Lahn and his University of Chicago colleagues reported in Friday's issue of the journal Science.

The researchers found that not everyone has these genes, but that evolutionary pressures are causing them to increase in the population at an unprecedented rate. Lahn's group is also trying to determine just how smart these genes may have made humans.

'We're Not Played Out as a Species'

One of the mutated genes, called microcephalin, began its swift spread among human ancestors about 37,000 years ago, a period marked by a creative explosion in music, art, religious expression and tool-making.

The other gene, ASPM (abnormal spindle-like microcephaly-associated), arose only about 5,800 years ago, right around the time of writing and the first civilization in Mesopotamia, which dates to 7000 BC.

"People have this sense that as 21st century humans we've gotten as high as we're going to go,"' said Greg Wray, director of Duke University's center for evolutionary genomics. "But we're not played out as a species. We're still evolving and these studies are a pretty good example of that."

Just as major environmental changes in the past, such as dramatic shifts in the climate, food supply or geography, favored the selection of genetic traits that increased survival skills, the pressures on gene selection today come from an increasingly complex and technologically oriented society, said Lahn, a professor of human genetics and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.


"Our studies indicate that the trend that is the defining characteristic of human evolution -- the growth of brain size and complexity -- is likely still going on," he said.

"Meanwhile, our environment and the skills we need to survive in it are changing faster then we ever imagined," Lahn said. "I would expect the human brain, which has done well by us so far, will continue to adapt to those changes."

Evolutionary changes occur when a member of a species experiences a mutation in a gene that gives him a new skill, like running faster, seeing farther or thinking better. The genetic mutation increases his likelihood of survival and having more children, thereby allowing the new mutation to spread quickly through the population.

That's what happened to the microcephalin mutation, which now occurs in 70 percent of all people, and the ASPM gene mutation, which so far has spread to 30 percent of the world's people.

How a Brain Gets Wired

Other experts called the Chicago studies "stunning" but said that while the two genes appear to make people smarter by helping to engineer bigger brains, there are many more genes involved in brain building and human intelligence and cognition.

"It's very exciting but it's really just the beginning of a whole new phase of research," Wray said. "These aren't going to be the only genes and these aren't going to be the only changes. We don't even really know exactly what these changes mean, but it's a glimpse into the future of our understanding of how the human brain came to be and function the way it does."


Probing the genes of intelligence has been controversial in the past and is likely to be so now because of fears the knowledge could be misused to grade people's intelligence based on their genes.

But intelligence is a complex issue that is greatly influenced not only by the genes people inherit, but also by their early learning experiences.

Researchers have learned over the last two decades that genes and the environment work together -- genes provide for a range of possible outcomes and the environment determines which specific outcome is likely to occur.

Most of the brain, for instance, gets built after birth when learning experiences determine the way in which brain cells connect to each other. How a brain gets wired directly affects its computing power.

"There are genetic differences that make each of us unique," Wray said. "But there's no way for you to look at a single gene and say 'Ok, you've got this mutation, you're smarter than someone else.' Maybe at some point we will know that but not with these genes."

Natural Selection

Ever since the human line diverged from other primates between 6 million and 8 million years ago the human brain grew steadily bigger as a result of selective genetic mutations. Chimps, our closest primate relative, on the other hand, stayed pretty much the same.


Some 200,000 years ago, the anatomically modern human emerged with a brain three times the size of that of a chimp. As humans got smarter, Lahn said, selection pressure for smartness became intensified.

The microcephalin and ASPM genes played a big role in expanding the size of the brain. People born with defects in these genes develop brains that look normal but are only one-third the size of a full-grown human brain. As a result, their mental capacity is sharply reduced and they cannot live on their own.

"With a bigger brain you have more connections and more opportunity for things like language and symbolic representation, all the things that make us special as human beings," Wray said.

To show that brain evolution is an ongoing process, Lahn's team studied the genes of more than 1,000 people representing 59 ethnic populations worldwide. Their genes were compared to those of the chimpanzee to provide an historical marker as to what the genes looked like before they diverged.

Both the microcephalin and ASPM genes come in a number of different varieties. They all do the important job of building the brain but with slightly different variations that occur among specific population groups. At this point scientists are trying to precisely understand what extra benefits seem to be conferred by the variations.

The new variations in the microcephalin and ASPM genes occurred at a frequency far higher than that expected by chance, indicating that natural selection was driving their spread in the population.

The U of C researchers found that one variety of the ASPM gene identified as haplogroup D occurs more frequently in Europeans and surrounding populations, including North Africans, Middle Easterners and South Asians. It has a lower rate of occurrence in East Asians, New World Indians and sub-Saharan Africans. A specific variety of the microcephalin gene, also called haplogroup D, was most abundant in populations outside of sub-Saharan Africa.

"What we're seeing is that there is genetic variation in the human population that selection cares about," Wray said. "It means that evolution is still happening."
I don't see how we can doubt that there is an evolution of religion and god in the collection of writings in the bible.
It is possible that some have slowed or stopped the development of our religious evolution of many ideas due to their insistence that the bible is the "word" of God.
Today God seems to have stopped revelation 2 or 3 thousand years ago when a group decided to make a canon 1800 to 500 years ago. They still argue over what should and should not be included and with the recent discoveries of other writing previously lost it might have been premature.
The writing seems to be selected because they wee useful not because they were true or correct.

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Post #37

Post by jjg »

"Calculators? Computers?"

Cathar, do you have any serious arguments besides meaningless, endless cut paste polka quotes that have nothing to do with the debate at hand?

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Post #38

Post by Cathar1950 »

jjg wrote:"Calculators? Computers?"

Cathar, do you have any serious arguments besides meaningless, endless cut paste polka quotes that have nothing to do with the debate at hand?
Well I see you don't.
I just copied the articles. We were talking abut the concept of god. It might be a product of our evolution that has not finished playing out its hand.
Math can be applied to physics but not vice versa.

This is why physics cannot apply its methods to the most supreme science of metaphysics.
The soundness of a good metaphysics is its ability to explain the real world and out experiences of and in it.
The supreme science of metaphysics is worthless unless they is some correspondence between it and our language and experience.
Is that better or do you want to give us another useless lecture on math, physics and metaphysics?
If Music assumes math can you still carry a tune?

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Post #39

Post by Cathar1950 »

Cathar1950 wrote:
jjg wrote:"Calculators? Computers?"

Cathar, do you have any serious arguments besides meaningless, endless cut paste polka quotes that have nothing to do with the debate at hand?
Well I see you don't.
I just copied the articles. We were talking abut the concept of god. It might be a product of our evolution that has not finished playing out its hand.
Math can be applied to physics but not vice versa.

This is why physics cannot apply its methods to the most supreme science of metaphysics.
The soundness of a good metaphysics is its ability to explain the real world and our experiences of and in it.
The "supreme science of metaphysics" is worthless unless they is some correspondence between it and our language and experience.
Is that better or do you want to give us another useless lecture on math, physics and metaphysics?
If Music assumes math can you still carry a tune?

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Post #40

Post by jjg »

Cathar, I am willing debate any legitimate arguments. If your going to toss redundant comments around like that last post I'll just assume you have no point to debate.

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