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 #61

Post by otseng »

Confused wrote:I don't think it is necessary to apply a specific value to determine the probability or improbability.
At least a range of values would suffice.
The evidence that he is providing is weighing heavier towards the improbability side simply by scientific standards.
What evidence does he provide?
Because by sheer probability, the odds that one singular simple substance can possibly do all that the theist God is being credited with doing, is statistically improbable.
I'll grant that a "single simple substance" is not able to create the universe. But that would only show that a single simple substance is ruled out, not God.
By puting his evaluation in the scientific standards, it need only apply to the naturalistic sciences.
Interestingly, Dawkins never argues that God is outside of science. Prior to this book, I would have predicted that Dawkins would claim that God is outside of scientific reach. And as a surprise to me, he even states that demonstrating the existence of God would be in the realm of science. So, Dawkins never argues that we should dismiss God simply because it is unscientific.
I don't know where the "God is caused" assumption comes from.
"As ever, the theist's answer is deeply unsatisfying, because it leaves the existence of God unexplained." (page 143)

"must be a supremely complex and improbable entity who needs an even bigger explanation than the one he is supposed to provide" (page 147)
But his isn't addressing how God is derived.
From what I can tell, his entire argument is that God's derivation must be extremely complex, so it must be extremely improbable.

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Post #62

Post by Confused »

otseng wrote:
Confused wrote:I don't think it is necessary to apply a specific value to determine the probability or improbability.
At least a range of values would suffice.
The evidence that he is providing is weighing heavier towards the improbability side simply by scientific standards.
What evidence does he provide?
Because by sheer probability, the odds that one singular simple substance can possibly do all that the theist God is being credited with doing, is statistically improbable.
I'll grant that a "single simple substance" is not able to create the universe. But that would only show that a single simple substance is ruled out, not God.
By puting his evaluation in the scientific standards, it need only apply to the naturalistic sciences.
Interestingly, Dawkins never argues that God is outside of science. Prior to this book, I would have predicted that Dawkins would claim that God is outside of scientific reach. And as a surprise to me, he even states that demonstrating the existence of God would be in the realm of science. So, Dawkins never argues that we should dismiss God simply because it is unscientific.
I don't know where the "God is caused" assumption comes from.
"As ever, the theist's answer is deeply unsatisfying, because it leaves the existence of God unexplained." (page 143)

"must be a supremely complex and improbable entity who needs an even bigger explanation than the one he is supposed to provide" (page 147)
But his isn't addressing how God is derived.
From what I can tell, his entire argument is that God's derivation must be extremely complex, so it must be extremely improbable.
Ok, let me try this again. Lost the last 2 posts.

I am not sure he provides "evidence" so much as the lack of "evidence" and uses this to support his claim. He uses the improbability in the scientific term to justify it. He seems to favor the physics discipline in this chapter. In doing so, he looks at the criteria that would be required of a creator in order for Him to not only create this universe but to maintain it as well. Then bases the probability of any one single entity to do this. By staying with mostly theistic physicists, he evaluates their claims as to how they suggest He is able to so so. By keeping to the simplistic principle that physics loves, he can effectively show how improbable it is that God exists. So he can support his claim in terms of logic and science. However, it isn't really supported in reality. He stays very broad, at the level of planetary or universe, in his approach. In doing so, he doesn't have to support his assertion in terms of individual religion. This is a very different approach. It is why it appears his level of probability is based on the lack of "evidence". He looks to physicists to define the universe, then to theistic physicists to justify how they can define the universe, define what a creator would require to create and sustain the universe, then uses their own simplistic principle against them to show they are illogical.

I still don't see the connection between God is caused, and the 2 quotes you give. I see it as showing why God isn't a satisfactory answer. Because not only does it not answer the question, but it raises even more. He backs this by using the theistic physicists explanation. He quotes how God must be a simple singular substance by one physicist, then shows how He cannot be. I don't know where he is attempting to show that God is caused. Maybe I am misinterpreting it.

Overall, I think he supports a very narrow minded view as to why their is almost certainly no God, but he does it only on a very broad spectrum analysis. Does his assertion make sense in a real world sense? No. You would be correct when you said earlier that he should have empirical evidence. However, his approach is the back door, not the front.
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Post #63

Post by otseng »

Confused wrote:I still don't see the connection between God is caused, and the 2 quotes you give.
He names his argument the "Ultimate Boeing 747 gambit". This is in reference to Hoyle's argument that a Boeing 747 cannot arise from a whirlwind going through a junkyard. It is an argument about the cause of a Boeing 747. Dawkins is using the same argument but with God. So, he must then assume that God was caused. If God was not caused, his argument would make no sense.

Here is another quote demonstrating his assumption that God was caused. "His existence is going to need a mammoth explanation in its own right." (page 149)
Does his assertion make sense in a real world sense? No. You would be correct when you said earlier that he should have empirical evidence. However, his approach is the back door, not the front.
I think then I'm about ready to rest my case in this chapter. Just need to close the back door as I leave.

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Post #64

Post by Confused »

otseng wrote:
Confused wrote:I still don't see the connection between God is caused, and the 2 quotes you give.
He names his argument the "Ultimate Boeing 747 gambit". This is in reference to Hoyle's argument that a Boeing 747 cannot arise from a whirlwind going through a junkyard. It is an argument about the cause of a Boeing 747. Dawkins is using the same argument but with God. So, he must then assume that God was caused. If God was not caused, his argument would make no sense.

Here is another quote demonstrating his assumption that God was caused. "His existence is going to need a mammoth explanation in its own right." (page 149)
Does his assertion make sense in a real world sense? No. You would be correct when you said earlier that he should have empirical evidence. However, his approach is the back door, not the front.
I think then I'm about ready to rest my case in this chapter. Just need to close the back door as I leave.
Now I get it. :blink: . I agree in regards to the finality of this chapter. I would sum it up as saying overall, he didn't support his assertion by means of empirical science. I am beginning to rethink the possibility of his assertion to be supported in the scientific realm. I went back and read over Natures Destiny, found my own severe biased in this area. I think he made some good points in the chapter, but I don't see the strength in arguing this in the scientific realm at this time. Perhaps the remaining chapters will yield more?
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and is immortal.

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Never be bullied into silence.
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Accept no one persons definition of your life; define yourself.

-Harvey Fierstein

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Post #65

Post by otseng »

(Closing the back door) Let's proceed to the other chapters...

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Post #66

Post by QED »

Please forgive my recent inattention, but I'm a little perplexed by the way this seems to be wrapping-up. The "cause" in the assumption that God is "caused" represents a very broad range of things - not just the transition from no God to God. It contains things like "how did God get to be so smart, so powerful, to have the urge to create etc. Writing-off everything coming under the umbrella of "cause" by proposing that God was not caused may sound like a small step, but it's letting in a colossal amount of illogic by the back door. This isn't the back door that's being referred to here is it?

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Post #67

Post by bunyip »

> "he didn't support his assertion by means of empirical science"

Excuse me, but are you reading this chapter backwards?? The relevance of "empirical evidence".is that there isn't any to support the notion of a deity. Empirical evidence to verify what isn't there isn't how research works.

There have been comments here and elsewhere about "evolution doesn't deny a deity". Perhaps not, but if you can find a trace of the supernatural in Nature, i'd certainly be thrilled to learn of it. For centuries we've been told that "life, the universe, and everything" is due to a deity. That's clearly not so. People will plug in a deity to cover off what they don't understand, but that's exactly Richard's point about "declaring" there's a deity without evidence.

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Dawkins says it is a scientific question

Post #68

Post by otseng »

bunyip wrote:Excuse me, but are you reading this chapter backwards?? The relevance of "empirical evidence".is that there isn't any to support the notion of a deity.
I'm simply holding Dawkins to his own standard.

He states:

"Either he exists or he doesn't. It is a scientific question" (page 48)

"God's existence or non-existence is a scientific fact about the universe, discoverable in principle if not in practice." (page 50)

So, how has he scientifically demonstrated that God does not exist?
Empirical evidence to verify what isn't there isn't how research works.
I'd disagree. Empirical evidence can be provided to demonstrate if something is there or not there. For example, the Michelson-Morley Experiment demonstrated that ether does not exist.

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Re: Dawkins says it is a scientific question

Post #69

Post by QED »

otseng wrote: I'm simply holding Dawkins to his own standard.

He states:

"Either he exists or he doesn't. It is a scientific question" (page 48)

"God's existence or non-existence is a scientific fact about the universe, discoverable in principle if not in practice." (page 50)

So, how has he scientifically demonstrated that God does not exist?
I think you have to appreciate that by "God" Dawkins means the popular "Creator God of Genesis" -- the intelligence behind the design of living things. Bundled-up with this assumption of an intelligent designer are many other concepts like purpose and meaning -- all of which are eliminated if the design of living things is the product of Natural Selection. Dawkins life's work has been the study of this "modern" alternative to creation. I think he's entitled to talk about the non-existence of God in this respect.

I know it's sometimes fashionable to shift the Goal-posts and talk of God in far more general terms -- but, unless I am mistaken, I don't think you personally sign-up for pantheism.
otseng wrote:
Empirical evidence to verify what isn't there isn't how research works.
I'd disagree. Empirical evidence can be provided to demonstrate if something is there or not there. For example, the Michelson-Morley Experiment demonstrated that ether does not exist.
Is that really true? I rather think Michelson and Morley ultimately demonstrated that the ether is not needed. We simply can't make certain concepts go away -- if they are neutral w.r.t. all other observations there is simply no point in discussing them. However, if we think they are playing an essential role, then we can in principle devise tests to confirm this.

I think it's fair to say that science has never conducted any positive test for a non-pantheistic God, which is to say that God plays no known essential role in the workings of the world.

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Post #70

Post by otseng »

QED wrote:I think you have to appreciate that by "God" Dawkins means the popular "Creator God of Genesis" -- the intelligence behind the design of living things.
I agree.
Bundled-up with this assumption of an intelligent designer are many other concepts like purpose and meaning -- all of which are eliminated if the design of living things is the product of Natural Selection.
I would not totally agree. There are many devout believers that subscribe to evolution and do not subscribe to creationism. Therefore it is possible to believe in natural selection and also in purpose and meaning to life.
Dawkins life's work has been the study of this "modern" alternative to creation. I think he's entitled to talk about the non-existence of God in this respect.
I wouldn't really classify evolution as an "alternative" to creation. Creationism is much more broad than simply addressing evolution. For one thing, evolution only deals with biological life. Creation deals with life and non-life. Further, creationists do not totally reject evolution. Rather the main issue is the inadequate support for common descent.
I think it's fair to say that science has never conducted any positive test for a non-pantheistic God, which is to say that God plays no known essential role in the workings of the world.
I'm not sure about "positive tests", but there are positive indications. And in the past several decades, science have been rapidly discovering such indications. And I predict that there will be many more such discoveries in the future.

The discoveries have even been such as to knock several well known people out of their atheism. These people realize that a natural cause is insufficient to explain certain observations that we see in the world. Though they haven't all moved to full blown theism, some could be classified to at least moved to deism.

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