The God Delusion - Chapter 4

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otseng
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The God Delusion - Chapter 4

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Post by otseng »

What arguments does Dawkins present that God does not exist?
Are they valid arguments?

McCulloch's questions:
Does evolution by natural selection demonstrate that the argument from design is wrong? He suggests that a hypothetical cosmic designer would require an even greater explanation than the phenomena that they intended to explain.

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Re: The God Delusion - Chapter 4

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otseng wrote:What arguments does Dawkins present that God does not exist?
Are they valid arguments?

McCulloch's questions:
Does evolution by natural selection demonstrate that the argument from design is wrong?
I think it would be more accurate to say that it removes any large-scale teleology from the evolution of specific biological information.
He suggests that a hypothetical cosmic designer would require an even greater explanation than the phenomena that they intended to explain.
If we're curious to understand the causes of specifics, then an unexplained God will never satisfy our curiosity. The appearance of fine-tuning in our universe could be the effect of many different causes. Taking it as evidence of practically infinite wisdom with a desire to select the perfect conditions for our universe, we can only wonder how and where such wisdom and desire came to be. If God is supposed to be isomorphic to man with respect to intelligence we can do no more than look to our own biological makeup for an explanation of how such intelligence might come to be. We are lacking in any other principle to determine a source for this kind of intelligence.

This makes this particular cause seem improbable in the face of alternative selection methods that do not require intelligence for their operation -- with the exception perhaps of the intelligence that created our universe being evolved in another that was itself a product of unintelligent causes (it might seem far-fetched, but nevertheless it can't be totally discounted).

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Re: The God Delusion - Chapter 4

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Post by otseng »

He suggests that a hypothetical cosmic designer would require an even greater explanation than the phenomena that they intended to explain.
Before I start addressing this, I'd like to know if there are any other arguments Dawkins presents. As far as I can tell, this is the only argument that he presents in the book against the existence of God.

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Re: The God Delusion - Chapter 4

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Post by FinalEnigma »

otseng wrote: Before I start addressing this, I'd like to know if there are any other arguments Dawkins presents. As far as I can tell, this is the only argument that he presents in the book against the existence of God.
It's the only one I'm aware of. Though the lack of multitudes of arguments is irrelevent as it needn't, and shouldn't, be the job of people like dawkins to go around proving the non-existence of God, so much as disproving the multitude of fallacious 'proofs' that some christians throw out there to try to convert people. The burden of actually proving anything in on the christian side.

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Re: The God Delusion - Chapter 4

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Post by QED »

otseng wrote:
He suggests that a hypothetical cosmic designer would require an even greater explanation than the phenomena that they intended to explain.
Before I start addressing this, I'd like to know if there are any other arguments Dawkins presents. As far as I can tell, this is the only argument that he presents in the book against the existence of God.
As we know, proving the non-existence of entities is an unrealistic endeavour. However, things like "ultimate 747's" and "evolution by natural selection " present arguments against specific beliefs about God. In other words our concept of God must be constrained byour positive knowledge of other things.

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Post #6

Post by otseng »

FinalEnigma wrote: Though the lack of multitudes of arguments is irrelevent as it needn't, and shouldn't, be the job of people like dawkins to go around proving the non-existence of God, so much as disproving the multitude of fallacious 'proofs' that some christians throw out there to try to convert people.
Isn't this the entire purpose of the book? To try to convince people to be atheists? If he can't disprove God's existence, then how can he convince someone to be an atheist?
The burden of actually proving anything in on the christian side.
Yes, it is. But the burden of disproving it is on the atheist side.
QED wrote:As we know, proving the non-existence of entities is an unrealistic endeavour.
I do not think Dawkins shares this view.

On page 50, he states, "God's existence or non-existence is a scientific fact about the universe, discoverable in principle if not in practice." Nowhere does he state, or even imply, that demonstrating the non-existence of God is an unrealistic endeavor. Further, by him simply presenting one argument for the non-existence of God shows that he believes it is a realistic endeavor.

I would consider this to be the key chapter in the entire book. Here is his chance to show "why there almost certainly is no God". The rest of the book is just a prelude and postlude to this central idea. And given the importance of this chapter, I find it quite peculiar that in it he only presents one argument for God's non-existence.

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Post #7

Post by FinalEnigma »

otseng wrote:
FinalEnigma wrote: Though the lack of multitudes of arguments is irrelevent as it needn't, and shouldn't, be the job of people like dawkins to go around proving the non-existence of God, so much as disproving the multitude of fallacious 'proofs' that some christians throw out there to try to convert people.
Isn't this the entire purpose of the book? To try to convince people to be atheists? If he can't disprove God's existence, then how can he convince someone to be an atheist?
Yes, it is the purpose. But trying to prove God doesnt exist isn't the way to go about it. You can't. The way to go aobut it(in my opinion) is to disprove as many theist arguments as you can, and hopefully you will disprove the one(s) your readers happen to believe in, and make them realize that maybe there isn't a God.
The burden of actually proving anything in on the christian side.
Yes, it is. But the burden of disproving it is on the atheist side.
I quite agree.
QED wrote:As we know, proving the non-existence of entities is an unrealistic endeavour.
I do not think Dawkins shares this view.

On page 50, he states, "God's existence or non-existence is a scientific fact about the universe, discoverable in principle if not in practice." Nowhere does he state, or even imply, that demonstrating the non-existence of God is an unrealistic endeavor. Further, by him simply presenting one argument for the non-existence of God shows that he believes it is a realistic endeavor.

I would consider this to be the key chapter in the entire book. Here is his chance to show "why there almost certainly is no God". The rest of the book is just a prelude and postlude to this central idea. And given the importance of this chapter, I find it quite peculiar that in it he only presents one argument for God's non-existence.
Just look at the title of the chapter. Disproving something with 100% certainty is impossible, or at least nearly so. I think dawkins realizes this, which is why the chapter isnt called "Why there is no God"
Even his argument against God isnt so much an argument against God as an argument for a reasonable alternative. There isn't a multitude of arguments even possible to present against God. All you can really do in all honesty in argue against theist's argument for God. Which I think he does quite well. Now, I will freely admit that he doesnt really display a whole lot of artistic sense in some of his chapters, or perhaps even terribly good organization thereof; He almost seems to set up certain things for your expectations, then drop the ball when it comes time to really give the knock out punch. In other words, his book doesn't quite have the punch it should in the disproving-God direction, though that statement is based upon the setup of the book rather than what I would consider honestly neccessary.

This book is a defensive book. He's more defending atheism with this book than attacking theism, which is more what I would have expected from a book with this title and hype.

In any case, I'm impatiently awaiting your refutation of his improbability argument. It's going to have to be good, but then, your arguments usually are.

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Post #8

Post by jjg »

He doesn't present a single atheist argument, the only atheist argument being the problem of evil.

All of his arguments are agnostic. He then rips into the agnostics which is self-defeating.

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Post #9

Post by Cathar1950 »

I am reminded of the song “Both Sides Now”.
It is the illusions we recall even after living with the believing in the ups and living the downs.
The name of his book may be a misnomer.
A number of you on both sides seem to agree.
It would seem if he is going to name it the “God Delusion” he should be working on delusions not hypotheses. If he is going to deal with the argument for god the he should have called it the critic of the argument for god.
I am always leery of any argument for or against. But they are certainly important topics for questions, definition and debate. I have not been convinced either way and can see problem with both sides. I would think the atheist might have the better deal as it is not necessary to defend a lack of belief as in convincing explanations for there being no God.
It is a positive claim and ass up to go either outside our experiences, depend on mysteries and show universal applicability and acceptance of even the terms. A Christian God is not the same as the Hebrew God or the Platonic God even if Jesus is being described with both categories.
If we are going to talk about God delusions we need to understand them in the context and well as their content that would be better served to look towards psychology, history, anthropology, neurology, sociology, and mythology instead of going over safe well trod arguments or proofs of God where information from other field always fail to be represented.
I have yet to see a flawless proof of God that didn’t have many problems that have been continually addressed and refuted on both sides of the fence. But only having two sides might be itself a flaw.
Maybe the God complex would be a better description that should account for both psychological and anthropological/sociological connections that force their influence on the proofs. It is the illusions that we not only recall but also move our quests forward.

McCulloch's questions:
Does evolution by natural selection demonstrate that the argument from design is wrong? He suggests that a hypothetical cosmic designer would require an even greater explanation than the phenomena that they intended to explain.
I tend to agree but also feel the even the one requiring less explanations need to look at process and history of how and why the myth were created and believed. What needs does it meet?
But I have enjoyed the last dozen posts or so.




Artist: Joni Mitchell Lyrics
Song: Both Sides Now Lyrics

Bows and flows of angel hair and ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere, i've looked at cloud that way.
But now they only block the sun, they rain and snow on everyone.
So many things i would have done but clouds got in my way.

I've looked at clouds from both sides now,
From up and down, and still somehow
It's cloud illusions i recall.
I really don't know clouds at all.

Moons and junes and ferris wheels, the dizzy dancing way you feel
As every fairy tale comes real; i've looked at love that way.
But now it's just another show. you leave 'em laughing when you go
And if you care, don't let them know, don't give yourself away.

I've looked at love from both sides now,
From give and take, and still somehow
It's love's illusions i recall.
I really don't know love at all.

Tears and fears and feeling proud to say "i love you" right out loud,
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds, i've looked at life that way.
But now old friends are acting strange, they shake their heads, they say
I've changed.
Something's lost but something's gained in living every day.

I've looked at life from both sides now,
From win and lose, and still somehow
It's life's illusions i recall.
I really don't know life at all.

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Post #10

Post by QED »

otseng wrote: Isn't this the entire purpose of the book? To try to convince people to be atheists? If he can't disprove God's existence, then how can he convince someone to be an atheist?
Isn't it more directed towards casting doubt on the various religious interpretations of the physical evidence for creation as well as in our acceptance of ancient human documents that record revelations to man from God?

He doesn't set out to refute pantheism for example.
The burden of actually proving anything in on the christian side.
Yes, it is. But the burden of disproving it is on the atheist side.
OK, substitute Bertrand Russell's celestial teapot for Christianity as a whole and look at the problem facing the doubter: he can only really resort to ridicule. The civil inroads have to be in demonstrating problems with vital components of the belief.
otseng wrote:
QED wrote:As we know, proving the non-existence of entities is an unrealistic endeavour.
I do not think Dawkins shares this view.
Do you still think this after I put some more emphasis on "proving"? Proof typically means 100% certainty. Titling this chapter "Why there almost certainly is no God" is, I think, a reflection of the fact that Dawkins is aware of the problem facing all reactions to existentual claims.
otseng wrote: On page 50, he states, "God's existence or non-existence is a scientific fact about the universe, discoverable in principle if not in practice." Nowhere does he state, or even imply, that demonstrating the non-existence of God is an unrealistic endeavor. Further, by him simply presenting one argument for the non-existence of God shows that he believes it is a realistic endeavor.
Like the teapot we can eliminate its existence in a finite region, and I take it that that is what Dawkins is doing for God.

Perhaps it might help to think of the multiverse concept for a moment: If it can be demonstrated that our universe is but one of many and the appearance of fine-tuning is a self-selection effect from a pool of infinite possibility, then we still haven't eliminated God from the picture, but we are forced to revise many of our preconceptions about God and his intentions etc.
otseng wrote: I would consider this to be the key chapter in the entire book. Here is his chance to show "why there almost certainly is no God". The rest of the book is just a prelude and postlude to this central idea. And given the importance of this chapter, I find it quite peculiar that in it he only presents one argument for God's non-existence.
The setting out of his ideas aren't quite that organised. But I think he's entitled to focus sharply on this one question as it turns an old ID argument neatly on its head.

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