The God Delusion - Chapter 4

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The God Delusion - Chapter 4

Post #1

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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Post #41

Post by Confused »

otseng wrote:
FinalEnigma wrote:actually he is saying even if the odds were a billion to one life would still arise on a billion planets. He is starting with 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 planets. his probability of life arising, if the chance is one in a billion is one billion/1. and while i have heard many estimates of the probability of life arising on a given random planet, i have never heard it placed as lower than 1,000,000,000,000,000,000(10^-18)(whetever number that even is)
No, he is not saying this. Is there a second from anybody else here that thinks Dawkins is trying to say this?
Confused wrote:I don't think he is trying to deceive as you seem to think so. I think he is trying to take very technical physics concepts/formulas and put them into hypothetical form so that the average person with some exposure to physics but without a PhD can understand. He give hypotheticals to simplify his points so that they are easier to comprehend.
I would think that if a creationist did this, it would immediately be called a foul. And rightly so too. To use arbitary numbers to justify one's position is not science. Not even popular science. There is no indication here that Dawkins is simplifying findings in order to make concepts more understandable since his numbers are purely speculative. I can also say with equal validity that there are 0 Earth-like planets out there. Therefore there is a 0% chance of any complex life out there.
If one immediately called foul they would be just as guilty then. I don't know that I would agree that he is using it to justify his position rather than try to explain it in the most simplistic terms. So perhaps he is guilty of oversimplifying it, but in general, I don't think that it is so bad when your audience isn't all PhD's.
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Post #42

Post by Confused »

otseng wrote:
Confused wrote:Actually, I have yet to see an option to edit a post in this forum. Usually it is up in the right hand corner next to quote, right? I have never seen it in the book debates forum. Not even in Natures Destiny.
Sorry about that. Does it show up now?
That would be a negative ghost rider :lol: .
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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Post #43

Post by Confused »

otseng wrote:
FinalEnigma wrote:actually he is saying even if the odds were a billion to one life would still arise on a billion planets. He is starting with 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 planets. his probability of life arising, if the chance is one in a billion is one billion/1. and while i have heard many estimates of the probability of life arising on a given random planet, i have never heard it placed as lower than 1,000,000,000,000,000,000(10^-18)(whetever number that even is)
No, he is not saying this. Is there a second from anybody else here that thinks Dawkins is trying to say this?
Confused wrote:I don't think he is trying to deceive as you seem to think so. I think he is trying to take very technical physics concepts/formulas and put them into hypothetical form so that the average person with some exposure to physics but without a PhD can understand. He give hypotheticals to simplify his points so that they are easier to comprehend.
I would think that if a creationist did this, it would immediately be called a foul. And rightly so too. To use arbitary numbers to justify one's position is not science. Not even popular science. There is no indication here that Dawkins is simplifying findings in order to make concepts more understandable since his numbers are purely speculative. I can also say with equal validity that there are 0 Earth-like planets out there. Therefore there is a 0% chance of any complex life out there.
I interpreted the first paragraph the same as FinalEnigma, but since it is based on probability, not certainty, the term would may be incorrect. However, the implications are still the same in terms of probability.
What we do for ourselves dies with us,
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and is immortal.

-Albert Pine
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-Harvey Fierstein

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Post #44

Post by otseng »

Confused wrote:
otseng wrote:
Confused wrote:Actually, I have yet to see an option to edit a post in this forum. Usually it is up in the right hand corner next to quote, right? I have never seen it in the book debates forum. Not even in Natures Destiny.
Sorry about that. Does it show up now?
That would be a negative ghost rider :lol: .
OK, one more time.

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Post #45

Post by Confused »

After completing the chapter, I think I am grasping what Dawkins is trying get across. Essentially, by putting the concept of God in a scientific inquiry, it is subject to the same standards of evaluation as any other scientific inquiry. Science hates complex. Physic equations are usually evaluated by the complexity of them. The longer the equation, the more complex it becomes and the more probability for error or alternative equations. Science likes the most simple explanation that answers the question. In the case of God, I think Dawkins spends the last of the chapter applying God to these same standards. First off, if God created the universe etc.... then we haven't answered any question, we just raised more questions: who created God, who created the creator, etc.... We raise more questions than we answer. This is unsatisfactory by scientific standards. In the same arena, if we consider God as the creator, then we can't consider God to be a simple entity because the constants required by what Dawkins refers to as the Goldilocks arena are complex and the odds of something simple creating something more complex than the something is is highly improbable. This means God has to be complex in order to control every single variable to make this universe work. The more complex something is, the less probable it is correct by scientific standards. By apply God here, we are saying that the more complex He becomes, the more opportunities exist for alternative explanations. I think this is why Dawkins continually uses the term "highly statistically improbable" for Gods existence. Logically, has he proved this chapter, no. Scientifically, I think so. But I am sure to get shredded by many poster here so let me brace for the slaughter.
Last edited by Confused on Sun May 20, 2007 5:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
What we do for ourselves dies with us,
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and is immortal.

-Albert Pine
Never be bullied into silence.
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-Harvey Fierstein

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Post #46

Post by Confused »

otseng wrote:
Confused wrote:
otseng wrote:
Confused wrote:Actually, I have yet to see an option to edit a post in this forum. Usually it is up in the right hand corner next to quote, right? I have never seen it in the book debates forum. Not even in Natures Destiny.
Sorry about that. Does it show up now?
That would be a negative ghost rider :lol: .
OK, one more time.
BINGO. Thanks.
What we do for ourselves dies with us,
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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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Post #47

Post by otseng »

You guys are right, I misread the number of planets. I looked through the section again and I see now where he mentions the billion billion planets. On page 137 he says, "a billion billion is a conservative estimate of the number of available planets in the universe". But I still fail to see where he got the estimate for the probability of life. One page 138, he has a footnote to 69, which is a reference to his book, The Blind Watchmaker. There is no page number referenced so I don't know exactly what he is referencing.
Confused wrote:So perhaps he is guilty of oversimplifying it, but in general, I don't think that it is so bad when your audience isn't all PhD's.
I have no problems with simplifying things. But there is a difference between simplification and making things up. If there is no basis for his estimate of life arising in one in a billion then it's not a case of simplification.

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Post #48

Post by otseng »

Confused wrote:But I am sure to get shredded by many poster here so let me brace for the slaughter.
I think you have correctly outlined Dawkins line of thinking. So, your analysis I believe is correct. But, what does need to go to the glue factory is Dawkins approach.
We raise more questions than we answer. This is unsatisfactory by scientific standards.
I'm not so sure that raising more questions is unsatisfactory by scientific standards. I would think that many scientific discoveries leads to generating many more questions.
This means God has to be complex in order to control every single variable to make this universe work.
Whether it was God or some naturalistic means, variables had to be twiddled with to make this universe work.
The more complex something is, the less probable it is correct by scientific standards.
The theory of relativity is complex, but that doesn't mean it is improbable.
I think this is why Dawkins continually uses the term "highly statistically improbable" for Gods existence.
Complexity and improbability only arises when randomness is at play. It does not arise when intelligence is involved. If Einstein produced the theory of relativity by randomly typing on a keyboard, then it would be a highly improbable event. If he thought through it, then probability would not be at play.

So his argument is based on the assumption that some naturalistic mechanism produced God. Well, no theist claims that God was created, or even evolved. It is only atheists that claim this. So, it is a strawman argument. But, even if God had a cause, it could've just been another intelligent designer, so the probability would be made moot.
Scientifically, I think so.
Wouldn't at least some empirical data be necessary for it to be considered scientific?

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Post #49

Post by Confused »

otseng wrote:
Confused wrote:We raise more questions than we answer. This is unsatisfactory by scientific standards.
I'm not so sure that raising more questions is unsatisfactory by scientific standards. I would think that many scientific discoveries leads to generating many more questions.
The issue is that by invoking God, we haven't really answered the question have we? We just generate more. This, by scientific standards, is considered horrible. On page 147 Dawkins sums it up by saying: "how do they (religious physicists) cope with the argument that any God capable of designing a universe, carefully and foresightfully tuned to lead to our evolution, must be a supremely complex and improbable entity who needs and even bigger explanation than the one He is suppose to provide". Now I will admit, the improbable context need not have been inserted here, and by doing so, it diminished the impact of the statement. But the statement is still quite relevant.
otseng wrote:
Confused wrote:This means God has to be complex in order to control every single variable to make this universe work.
Whether it was God or some naturalistic means, variables had to be twiddled with to make this universe work.
True, but the probability of it being God based on scientific standards diminishes the more complex we make Him. On page 148 Dawkins states "how can Swinburne maintain his hypothesis of God keeping a gazillion fingers on wayward electrons as a simply hypothesis". He does so by invoking the concept of God being only a "single substance". More on this in next reply down.
otseng wrote:
Confused wrote:]The more complex something is, the less probable it is correct by scientific standards.
The theory of relativity is complex, but that doesn't mean it is improbable.
The formula for the theory of relativity is actually very elegant and neat. It is short and simple. Hence allows for less margins of error. Susskind sums it up nicely in some of his books in which he addresses that the theory itself may be complex, but the forumula that makes it work is short and simple. Dawkins addresses it on page 149 when he states that God as a single substance cannot be simple if He is capable of continuously monitoring and controlling the individual status of every particle in the universe.
otseng wrote:
Confused wrote:I think this is why Dawkins continually uses the term "highly statistically improbable" for Gods existence.
Complexity and improbability only arises when randomness is at play. It does not arise when intelligence is involved. If Einstein produced the theory of relativity by randomly typing on a keyboard, then it would be a highly improbable event. If he thought through it, then probability would not be at play.

So his argument is based on the assumption that some naturalistic mechanism produced God. Well, no theist claims that God was created, or even evolved. It is only atheists that claim this. So, it is a strawman argument. But, even if God had a cause, it could've just been another intelligent designer, so the probability would be made moot.
I will have to think about this for a while and respond later.
otseng wrote:
Confused wrote:Scientifically, I think so.
Wouldn't at least some empirical data be necessary for it to be considered scientific?
Is theoretical physics not science? Is experimental physics not science? Have we any empirical data for the Higgs particle yet?
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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Post #50

Post by jjg »

Confused, you are confusing metaphysics with physics. To see the difference, I've explained it in the Chapter 3 posts.

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