8/14/2019 On Dawkins's Atheism - A Response.pdf http://slidepdf.com/reader/full/on-dawkinss-atheism-a-responsepdf 1/20 On Dawkins’s Atheism: A Response By GARY GUTTING The Stone is a forum for contemporary philosophers on issues both timely and timeless. Tags: atheism, Philosophy , religion, Richard Dawkins My August 1 essay, “Philosophy and Faith,” was primarily addressed to religious believers. It argued that faith should go hand-in-hand with rational reflection, even though such reflection might well require serious questioning of their faith. I very much appreciated the many and diverse comments and the honesty and passion with which so many expressed their views. Interestingly, many of the most passionate responses came from non- believers who objected to my claim that popular atheistic arguments (like popular theistic arguments) do not establish their conclusions. There was particular dismay over my passing comment that the atheistic arguments of Richard Dawkins are “demonstrably faulty.” This follow-up provides support for my negative assessment. I will focus on Dawkins’ arguments in his 2006 book, “The God Delusion.” ‘The God Delusion’ does not meet the standards of rationality that a topic as important as religion requires. Dawkins’s writing gives the impression of clarity, but his readable style can cover over major conceptual confusions. For example, the core of his case against God’s existence, as he summarizes it on pages 188-189, seems to go like this: 1. There is need for an explanation of the apparent design of the universe. 2. The universe is highly complex. 3. An intelligent designer of the universe would be even more highly complex. 4. A complex designer would itself require an explanation. 5. Therefore, an intelligent designer will not provide an explanation of the universe’s complexity. 6. On the other hand, the (individually) simple processes of natural selection can explain the apparent design of the universe. 7. Therefore, an intelligent designer (God) almost certainly does not exist. (Here I’ve formulated Dawkins’ argument a bit more schematically than he does and omitted his comments on parallels in physics to the explanations natural selection provides for apparent design in biology.) As formulated, this argument is an obvious non-sequitur. The premises (1-6), if true, show only that God cannot be posited as the explanation for the apparent design of the universe, which can rather be explained by natural selection. They do nothing to show that “God almost certainly does not exist” (189). But the ideas behind premises 3 and 4 suggest a more cogent line of argument, which Dawkins seems to have in mind in other passages: 1. If God exists, he must be both the intelligent designer of the universe and a being that explains the universe but is not itself in need of explanation. Page 2 of 21 On Dawkins's Atheism: A Response - NYTimes.com 10/4/2010 http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/11/on-dawkinss-atheism-a-response/
The Stone is a forum for contemporary philosophers on issues both timely and timeless.
atheism, Philosophy, religion, Richard Dawkins
My August 1 essay, “Philosophy and Faith,” was primarily addressed to religious believers. It argued that faithshould go hand-in-hand with rational reflection, even though such reflection might well require seriousquestioning of their faith. I very much appreciated the many and diverse comments and the honesty and passionwith which so many expressed their views. Interestingly, many of the most passionate responses came from non-
believers who objected to my claim that popular atheistic arguments (like popular theistic arguments) do notestablish their conclusions. There was particular dismay over my passing comment that the atheistic arguments ofRichard Dawkins are “demonstrably faulty.” This follow-up provides support for my negative assessment. I will
focus on Dawkins’ arguments in his 2006 book, “The God Delusion.”
‘The God Delusion’ does not meet the standards of rationality that a topic as important as religionrequires.
Dawkins’s writing gives the impression of clarity, but his readable style can cover over major conceptualconfusions. For example, the core of his case against God’s existence, as he summarizes it on pages 188-189,seems to go like this:
1. There is need for an explanation of the apparent design of the universe.
2. The universe is highly complex.
3. An intelligent designer of the universe would be even more highly complex.
4. A complex designer would itself require an explanation.
5. Therefore, an intelligent designer will not provide an explanation of the universe’s complexity.
6. On the other hand, the (individually) simple processes of natural selection can explain the apparent design ofthe universe.
7. Therefore, an intelligent designer (God) almost certainly does not exist.
(Here I’ve formulated Dawkins’ argument a bit more schematically than he does and omitted his comments on parallels in physics to the explanations natural selection provides for apparent design in biology.)
As formulated, this argument is an obvious non-sequitur. The premises (1-6), if true, show only that God cannot be posited as the explanation for the apparent design of the universe, which can rather be explained by naturalselection. They do nothing to show that “God almost certainly does not exist” (189).
But the ideas behind premises 3 and 4 suggest a more cogent line of argument, which Dawkins seems to have inmind in other passages:
1. If God exists, he must be both the intelligent designer of the universe and a being that explains the universe butis not itself in need of explanation.
Page 2 of 21On Dawkins's Atheism: A Response - NYTimes.com
2. An intelligent designer of the universe would be a highly complex being.
3. A highly complex being would itself require explanation.
4. Therefore, God cannot be both the intelligent designer of the universe and the ultimate explanation of theuniverse.
5. Therefore, God does not exist.
Here the premises do support the conclusion, but premise 2, at least, is problematic. In what sense does Dawkinsthink God is complex and why does this complexity require an explanation? He does not discuss this in anydetail, but his basic idea seems to be that the enormous knowledge and power God would have to possess wouldrequire a very complex being and such complexity of itself requires explanation. He says for example: “A Godcapable of continuously monitoring and controlling the individual status of every particle in the universe cannot
be simple” (p. 178). And, a bit more fully, “a God who is capable of sending intelligible signals to millions of people simultaneously, and of receiving messages from all of them simultaneously, cannot be . . . simple. Such bandwidth! . . . If [God] has the powers attributed to him he must have something far more elaborately andrandomly constructed than the largest brain or the largest computer we know” (p. 184).
Dawkins ignores the possibility that God is a very different sort of being than brains and computers.
Here Dawkins ignores the possibility that God is a very different sort of being than brains and computers. Hisargument for God’s complexity either assumes that God is material or, at least, that God is complex in the samegeneral way that material things are (having many parts related in complicated ways to one another). Thetraditional religious view, however, is that God is neither material nor composed of immaterial parts (whateverthat might mean). Rather, he is said to be simple, a unity of attributes that we may have to think of as separate butthat in God are united in a single reality of pure perfection.
Obviously, there are great difficulties in understanding how God could be simple in this way. But philosophersfrom Thomas Aquinas through contemporary thinkers have offered detailed discussions of the question that
provide intelligent suggestions about how to think coherently about a simple substance that has the power andknowledge attributed to God. Apart from a few superficial swipes at Richard Swinburne’s treatment in “Is Therea God?”, Dawkins ignores these discussions. (see Swinburne’s response to Dawkins, paragraph 3.) Making
Dawkins’ case in any convincing way would require detailed engagement not only with Swinburne but also withother treatments by recent philosophers such as Christopher Hughes’ “A Complex Theory of a Simple God.” (Fora survey of recent work on the topic, see William Vallicella’s article, “Divine Simplicity,” in the StanfordEncyclopedia of Philosophy).
Further, Dawkins’ argument ignores the possibility that God is a necessary being (that is, a being that, by its verynature, must exist, no matter what). On this traditional view, God’s existence would be, so to speak, self-explanatory and so need no explanation, contrary to Dawkins’ premise 3. His ignoring this point also undermineshis effort at a quick refutation of the cosmological argument for God as the cause of the existence of allcontingent beings (that is, all beings that, given different conditions, would not have existed). Dawkins might,like some philosophers, argue that the idea of a necessary being is incoherent, but to make this case, he wouldhave to engage with the formidable complexities of recent philosophical treatments of the question (see, forexample, Timothy O’Connor’s “Theism and Ultimate Explanation” and Bruce Reichenbach’s article in the
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Religious believers often accuse argumentative atheists such as Dawkins of being excessively rationalistic,demanding standards of logical and evidential rigor that aren’t appropriate in matters of faith. My criticism is justthe opposite. Dawkins does not meet the standards of rationality that a topic as important as religion requires.
The basic problem is that meeting such standards requires coming to terms with the best available analyses andarguments. This need not mean being capable of contributing to the cutting-edge discussions of contemporary
philosophers, but it does require following these discussions and applying them to one’s own intellectual problems. Dawkins simply does not do this. He rightly criticizes religious critics of evolution for not being
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adequately informed about the science they are calling into question. But the same criticism applies to his owntreatment of philosophical issues.
There are sensible people who report having had some kind of direct awareness of a divine being,and there are competent philosophers who endorse arguments for God’s existence.
Friends of Dawkins might object: “Why pay attention to what philosophers have to say when, notoriously, theycontinue to disagree regarding the ‘big questions’, particularly, the existence of God?” Because, successful or not,
philosophers offer the best rational thinking about such questions. Believers who think religion begins wherereason falters may be able to make a case for the irrelevance of high-level philosophical treatments of religion —although, as I argued in “Philosophy and Faith,” this move itself raises unavoidable philosophical questions thatchallenge religious faith. But those, like Dawkins, committed to believing only what they can rationally justify,have no alternative to engaging with the most rigorous rational discussions available. Dawkins’ distinctly amateur
philosophizing simply isn’t enough.
Of course, philosophical discussions have not resolved the question of God’s existence. Even the best theistic andatheistic arguments remain controversial. Given this, atheists may appeal (as many of the comments on my blogdid) to what we might call the “no-arguments argument.” To say that the universe was created by a good and
powerful being who cares about us is an extraordinary claim, so improbable to begin with that we surely shoulddeny it unless there are decisive arguments for it (arguments showing that it is highly probable). Even if
Dawkins’ arguments against theism are faulty, can’t he cite the inconclusiveness of even the most well-worked-out theistic arguments as grounds for denying God’s existence?
He can if he has good reason to think that, apart from specific theistic arguments, God’s existence is highlyunlikely. Besides what we can prove from arguments, how probable is it that God exists? Here Dawkins refers toBertrand Russell’s example of the orbiting teapot. We would require very strong evidence before agreeing thatthere was a teapot in orbit around the sun, and lacking such evidence would deny and not remain merely agnosticabout such a claim. This is because there is nothing in our experience suggesting that the claim might be true; ithas no significant intrinsic probability.
But suppose that several astronauts reported seeing something that looked very much like a teapot and, later, anumber of reputable space scientists interpreted certain satellite data as showing the presence of a teapot-shapedobject, even though other space scientists questioned this interpretation. Then it would be gratuitous to reject the
hypothesis out of hand, even without decisive proof that it was true. We should just remain agnostic about it.
The claim that God exists is much closer to this second case. There are sensible people who report having hadsome kind of direct awareness of a divine being, and there are competent philosophers who endorse argumentsfor God’s existence. Therefore, an agnostic stance seems preferable atheism.
To this, Dawkins might respond that there are other reasons that make the idea of God’s existence so improbablethat nothing short of decisive arguments can override a denial of that existence. It’s as if, they might say, we hadstrong scientific evidence that nothing shaped like a teapot could remain in an orbit around the sun. We couldthen rightly deny the existence of an orbiting teapot, despite eye-witness reports and scientific argumentssupporting its existence.
What could be a reason for thinking that God’s existence is, of itself, highly improbable? There is, of course,
Dawkins’ claim that God is highly complex, but, as we’ve seen, this is an assumption he has not justified.Another reason, which seems implicit in many of Dawkins’ comments, is that materialism (the view thateverything is material) is highly probable. If so, the existence of an immaterial being such as God would behighly improbable.
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But what is the evidence for materialism? Presumably, that scientific investigation reveals the existence ofnothing except material things. But religious believers will plausibly reply that science is suited to discover onlywhat is material (indeed, the best definition of “material” may be just “the sort of thing that science candiscover”). They will also cite our experiences of our own conscious life (thoughts, feelings, desires, etc.) asexcellent evidence for the existence of immaterial realities that cannot be fully understood by science.
At this point, the dispute between theists and atheists morphs into one of the most lively (and difficult) of current philosophical debates—that between those who think consciousness is somehow reducible to material brain-statesand those who think it is not. This debate is far from settled and at least shows that materialism is not somethingatheists can simply assert as an established fact. It follows that they have no good basis for treating the existenceof God as so improbable that it should be denied unless there is decisive proof for it. This in turn shows thatatheists are at best entitled to be agnostics, seriously doubting but not denying the existence of God.
I find Dawkins’ “The God Delusion” stimulating, informative, and often right on target. But it does not make astrong case for atheism. His case is weak because it does not take adequate account of the philosophicaldiscussions that have raised the level of reflection about God’s existence far above that at which he operates. Itmay be possible to make a decisive case against theism through a penetrating philosophical treatment ofnecessity, complexity, explanation, and other relevant concepts. Because his arguments fail to do this, Dawkins
falls far short of establishing his claim.
Gary Gutting teaches philosophy at the University of Notre Dame and co-edits Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews , an on-line book review journal. His most recent book is “What Philosophers Know: Case Studies in Recent Analytic Philosophy.”
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Page 5 of 21On Dawkins's Atheism: A Response - NYTimes.com
"as excellent evidence for the existence of immaterial realities that cannot be fully understood by science. "
don't you think this is appeal to ignorance? how can anyone claim to know what the limits of science is?
finally, i don't think agnosticism and atheism are exclusive. agnostic in its original definition is someone whodoes not claim that his or her beliefs about the supernatural are definite. Thus one can easily be an agnosticatheist, and that is what Dawkins claims to be, referring to his scale of theism.Recommend Recommended by 177 ReadersReport as Inappropriate 2.Desert DaveMy Cranium
August 12th, 20105:25 pmThe whole argument is too inchoate to be worth much. To have shared meaning, we would first have to agree onwhat we mean, very specifically, by the word 'god'. This has never been done on any scale. If we did so agree, wecould examine the idea using reason, and perhaps then come to a set of possible explanations for the commonfeeling that there is a god, and what it might mean for the future. But this seems so unlikely that the argument
becomes boring, and driven by emotion. It would not matter at all, except that the idea of god is used by so manydifferent people to explain so many different phenomena, always unsuccessfully, of course, because without agood idea of what the word means, nothing can be so explained. When one says, "God did this," one is merelysaying, "I have no idea how this happened but I have at least labeled the unknown with a word". Deus exmachina, anyone?
Page 6 of 21On Dawkins's Atheism: A Response - NYTimes.com
Recommend Recommended by 370 ReadersReport as Inappropriate 3.salgadoce
North AmericaAugust 12th, 20105:25 pmLadies, gentlemen (and atheists): start your engines!
And let the intellectual food fight begin!
In all seriousness, the most cogent position is agnosticism, of course. But the reason I object to it, personally, isthat it's just so boring and uninteresting. I'd rather go out on a limb - intellectually, philosophically,epistemologically, phenomenologically, spiritually.
I'd much rather step outside my comfort zone, take a position which feels right or true or important to me, and tryto come up with reasons or rationalizations for it; and if it turns out that I'm completely, hopelessly andimpossibly wrong? Then, so be it.
I will simply walk the crazy-talk back, and just take a step - or leap - in a different direction.
The important part, when it comes to one's quest for truth, is to be moving; always be moving.Recommend Recommended by 94 ReadersReport as Inappropriate 4.
Nick HusherVermontAugust 12th, 20105:25 pm"But suppose that several astronauts reported seeing something that looked very much like a teapot and, later, anumber of reputable space scientists interpreted certain satellite data as showing the presence of a teapot-shapedobject, even though other space scientists questioned this interpretation. Then it would be gratuitous to reject thehypothesis out of hand, even without decisive proof that it was true. We should just remain agnostic about it.
The claim that God exists is much closer to this second case. There are sensible people who report having hadsome kind of direct awareness of a divine being, and there are competent philosophers who endorse argumentsfor God’s existence. Therefore, an agnostic stance seems preferable atheism."
I don't think the two examples are equivalent enough to be useful for discussion. There is no equivalent to"certain satellite data... showing the presence of a teapot-shaped object" with a divine being. That measurabledata would have to--at the very least--inconclusively indicate that there are phenomena that can only be described
by supernatural forces. Instantaneous communication between two arbitrary points in space without priorinteraction would be a great example. In other words, violating relativity in such a way to induce a potential
The argument that a divine being must be more complex than the universe is based off of a very practicalobservation, and one that, in my opinion, requires more than a rebuttal of "but what if God is simple?"
A simple deity--perhaps one defined by some set of interacting rules that might constitute less information thanthat which is contained in the universe--would fail the "maximality' tests that define a perfect being: such a beingwould have limits, in other words, simply by having rules at all. It would be prevented from thinking or doinganything at any time.
* Before anyone says, 'but what about quantum mech..." let me cut you off and point you here:http://en.wikipedia.org...
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Recommend Recommended by 107 ReadersReport as Inappropriate 5.dmgPrinceton, NJAugust 12th, 20105:25 pmYou write:
"Friends of Dawkins might object: Why pay attention to what philosophers have to say when, notoriously, theycontinue to disagree regarding the big questions, particularly, the existence of God? Because, successful or not,
philosophers offer the best rational thinking about such questions."
Oh, come on. This is one of the most self-serving statements I've seen in a long time. "Best rational thinking?"According to whom? The most telling phrase in your "answer" is "..successful or not.." A much more accuratesubstitute phrase here would be "... although completely unsuccessful to date..."Of course the key concept here is the term "success", which implies some sort of grounding in objective reality.Does the "best rational thinking" on the existence of God by you and your colleagues have any observableconsequences which are in any meaningful way capable of being either verified or falsified?I think not. But perhaps this is asking too much. Maybe we can just talk about logical consistency? Oops,
this doesn't work either:You assert the existence of an all-knowing, all-powerful compassionate God. I give a counterexample: childhoodleukemia. How can such a God, either through action or inaction, bring a baby into His worldthat does nothing but suffer horribly for some period of time and then dies? Ah, you say, this only appears to be acounterexample, for God Works in Mysterious Ways, and we cannot begin to understand His True Purposes.Right. So since arguments for the existence of God are incapable of being either verified, falsified, or logicallycontradicted, I would argue that the only real point of such arguments is to help believers, especially intelligentones such as yourself, to cope with their inherently irrational, yet very powerfulneed to believe.Recommend Recommended by 650 ReadersReport as Inappropriate 6.GemliBostonAugust 12th, 20105:26 pmYou seem to be saying that having a feeling that God exists is enough to require that one remain at least agnosticabout the God question. But depth of feeling does not make something so. No one could have more feeling abouttheir faith than people who blow themselves up in a crowded square, certain they will get their 72 virgins inHeaven. “Having a feeling” is not an argument, and does not belong on the table.
But what of the teapot? If there are reliable sightings of an orbiting teapot, then I will likely believe in the teapot.If only one religious sect can see the teapot, and can offer no tangible proof other than anecdotal reports whichconflict with other observers, then I might assume that one group may have something to gain by reporting theteapot. Must I tithe to build a temple to the sect of the holy teapot? This is not evidence.
Believers admit that their God exists somewhere outside the material universe, and is difficult to apprehend. Weknow of Him through a glass darkly. There is a vagueness that will always deny us a clear view. And as the Bardsays, there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy.
But it seems that believers know a lot about God. They know precisely what He wants, and specifically what wemust do to give it to Him. It seems that the only thing we can’t know is whether He exists or not. Believers knowGod beyond a shadow of a doubt and make a virtue of Faith, while non-believers, to be polite, must be content toremain agnostic.
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There may indeed be more things in this world than are dreamt of in my philosophy, but if I can’t even dreamabout them, how can I form a meaningful philosophy based on their terrifying and certain presence?
Where do these specifics come from? It seems that biblical stories and ancient myths, due to their imperfecthuman origins, can’t be trusted. If the origins are flawed, why would repeating these stories down through theages maintain, or even gain, credibility? It would seem like a child’s game of Telephone, with the messagecoming out, having passed through hundreds of generations, bearing little relation to the message going in.
I know how I first heard about religion. When I was 7 years old I went to Catholic school. There, the nuns, powerful, trusted adults, taught me about religion, and told me I had to believe it or else. There was noequivocation, no option, no doubts allowed. It was not presented to me through a glass darkly. It was stark andspecific and clear as crystal. Of course at that age my critical thinking skills were not functioning, and I had no
basis on which to judge or complain. My religious education was not accompanied by logical loop-de-loops andsubtle and complex rationalizations. Commit a mortal sin, and bang, you went to Hell. Most of my classmatesseemed more susceptible to their indoctrination than I was, and emerged from school clinging to these beliefs in a
peculiarly childish fashion. Many seemed unable to so much as talk about doubt, or did so in obvious fear. Forthese kids, the early exposure had imprinted on their forming brains, and was lodged behind emotional barricadesthat logic and reason could not breach. It’s no wonder that otherwise intelligent adults look for ways to justifythese deeply implanted emotions.
The reasons I do not believe that there is a God are simple. If you look at the way the world works, there is noneed to postulate a God. As Dawkins says, a universe with a God is a very different place than a universe withoutone. The model we have of the universe works extraordinarily well without a God in the equations.
If people could somehow “pick up” emanations from a vague nether world (hardly the “direct awareness” yourefer to), emanations would somehow have to interact with our brains and create a thought. There is nomechanism for this in the brain. Brain cells, and the operation of these cells which produce thought, do not havemagical connections to a mystical world.
Human beings evolved as social animals, with an innate understanding of hierarchical leadership in the form ofthe Alpha Male. But once we evolved the ability to think abstractly, we did what abstract thinkers do, and createdan idealized concept from imperfect examples. The abstract idea of an ideal Alpha Male is one who hasunassailable authority, perfect knowledge, and meets out all rewards and punishments. It’s not hard to imaginewhere the concept of God comes from. He’s not “out there,” but inside every one of us, and He has very earthlyorigins.Recommend Recommended by 607 ReadersReport as Inappropriate 7.Til BoernerBerlin, GermanyAugust 12th, 20105:26 pmThe elaborate point Mr. Gutting makes about God's complexity and substance is moot, I think. Once you positGod's existence, you claim that she must have *some* complexity and *some* substance, material or not - bothof which would *of course* require an explanation; and a better one than "it's necessary" at that.
What's more, necessity in this sense is not at all "self-explanatory", but simply a fallacy: God is necessary because he must have created the universe, because it exists, because God created it. Oh yeah? I can single-handedly claim the necessity of all kinds of things you have never heard of and will be hard-pressed to prove non-existant.
If this is your argument, I'm wondering what these "cutting-edge discussions of contemporary philosophers" areall about.
Also, the comparison of God with a probable teapot-sighting smells fishy to me. Is it a Christian or Muslim
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Not Impressed.Recommend Recommended by 200 ReadersReport as Inappropriate 8.JCBoston, MAAugust 12th, 20105:26 pmDawkins says that he is an agnostic, but he is also an agnostic in regard to the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny.On a 1 (absolutely sure there is a God) to 7 (absolutely sure there is no God), Dawkins calls himself a 6. He is anatheist in practice - he lives his life as though there is no God, but an agnostic in theory - he admits that he cannotshow without doubt that there is no God.
I don't think he'd disagree with your main premise.Recommend Recommended by 104 ReadersReport as Inappropriate 9.Ex-patient
Los AngelesAugust 12th, 20105:47 pmPhilosophy teaches us this:Assume we can define God, and pick your definition: cause of the universe, Ground of Being, caring parent,Being with all possible perfections, Being described in the holy writings of your religion of choice, or whateverelse you choose. What then?You can't prove there is NO God without starting from some sort of premises, and since those premises mustsomehow contain the conclusion, they are just as arguable as the conclusion.Similarly, you can't prove that there IS a God (or gods) without starting from some (arguable) set of premises, bethey those of Spinoza or those of some organized religion.So believe, and support your belief with arguments that seem plausible to you. Or disbelieve, supporting yourdisbelief in the same way.Just stop condemning those who make a different choice than you do. As Pascal says, you know nothing about it.Recommend Recommended by 72 ReadersReport as Inappropriate 10.Bob AzPhoenix, ArizonaAugust 12th, 20105:59 pmSarah Silverman has the answer to the complexity issue: "Jesus is Magic" and therefore can explain anything.Recommend Recommended by 54 ReadersReport as Inappropriate 11.
lnelson8new york August 12th, 20105:59 pm
No one knows. Every argument, on every side, is at best, just a guess. Now go do something useful.Recommend Recommended by 151 ReadersReport as Inappropriate 12.Voice of ReasonSan Francisco
Page 10 of 21On Dawkins's Atheism: A Response - NYTimes.com
The most likely answer is that we are not special to the universe in any way and are just the artifact of evolutionof a solar system, our earth, and our species. The philosophical debate about whether there is a "God" cannot beanswered. But, there is precious little evidence that some caring being created all this for us.
JamboRecommend Recommended by 159 ReadersReport as Inappropriate 17.Scorpio69er HonoluluAugust 13th, 20109:09 amChrist clearly told us that God is not material and, as such, can never be comprehended scientifically or logically.He always separated the material world from that of the spirit.
Recommend Recommended by 19 Readers
Report as Inappropriate 18.Dwight GingrichQueens, NYAugust 13th, 20109:09 amOn the question of evidence for God, I posit the following (fully aware I am not a philosopher and also that I aminviting reflexive derision): The resurrection of Jesus.
It may be worth your while to carefully examine the evidence and then weigh the various available explanatoryhypotheses. See William Lane Craig's books and articles for one good place to begin the exploration.
I agree with the underlying insistence that reason and faith must not be at odds.Recommend Recommended by 12 ReadersReport as Inappropriate 19.MantonatDenver August 13th, 20109:09 amReligious belief requires that we accept not only the existence of a god, but of many other equally unlikelyconcepts. In order to truly buy into the entire concept of Christianity, we must believe that we have an eternalsoul that can exist separate from our corporeal self, that god not only exists but demands our fealty, that to ignorehis demand is to put in jeopardy the continued wellbeing of our incorporeal self, and that there are separaterealms of existence that encompass goodness or evil, depending on your choice during this all-too-brief corporeal
existence. Even if their is a rational path that leads to the likelihood of a creator, what further rational paths have been drawn toward the other conclusions? Christians (or any like religion) would like all of their beliefs to be true based on the truth of their being a divine creator, but I would argue that the existence of a divine creator is stillcompletely irrelevant to my life. There is nothing inherent in the concept of a creator that ultimately requiresdevotion or worship. What would be a better use of philosophy or rational argument (from a Christian standpoint)would be to convince others that eternity is a measurable concept by the non-corporeal self and that suffering is amore likely result of lack of belief than is oblivion.Recommend Recommended by 28 ReadersReport as Inappropriate 20.
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sammick123seattle,waAugust 13th, 20109:09 amReligion is a personal thing---and it should be kept personal---and the lack of a belief in a supreme being
is also a personal thing---so intellectualize all you want---it's still a personal thing.Recommend Recommended by 8 ReadersReport as Inappropriate 21.aattlee BostonAugust 13th, 20109:09 amThe major problem here is a sleight of hand where the "cosmological god" is
posited and argued for by the "believer" as a means to a quite different end (beginning) viz.:the wrathful "historical god". We may be agnostic about the cosmological god,
but we can maintain with certainty that the "historical god" is a non-entity.Recommend Recommended by 31 ReadersReport as Inappropriate
22.schqcMoline, ILAugust 13th, 20109:09 amTwo things: One, there are corners around which, it appears, science will never be able to see. A scientificinstrument would have trouble leaving the "universe" and relaying back an "image" or any real information. Nomatter how advanced science gets we'll hit some sort of wall.
Two: The universe is, strangely, perfect. Evolution itself is an odd rejoinder against "God". Why is thereevolution? Why is there a kind of perfect imperfectionism that allows us to struggle and attempt to overcome? Ifthe world were perfect it would be boring beyond belief, and quite useless. (This is why I am wary of thestandard, American, Christian notion of heaven). God holds back the infinite darkness. If we knew of death, say,our lives would be well nigh meaningless. If we knew the experience of eternal nothingness, we might be everhopeless. Instead our knowledge is quite well bounded by mystery. Mystery that makes life ultimately rich. Lifewhere we may debate the existence of God.Recommend Recommended by 21 ReadersReport as Inappropriate 23.JamesCambridgeAugust 13th, 20109:10 amsalgadoce: you apparently do not understand the meaning of the term "agnostic."
to the author: Regarding this particular logical grogan: "Rather, he is said to be simple, a unity of attributes thatwe may have to think of as separate but that in God are united in a single reality of pure perfection." When in ahole, stop digging. Only fools and theology majors would fail to miss this obvious bit of linguistic ledgerdemainin which you attempt to redefine the word 'complex.'Recommend Recommended by 28 ReadersReport as Inappropriate 24.Rob
New York August 13th, 2010
Page 13 of 21On Dawkins's Atheism: A Response - NYTimes.com
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9:10 amThis is a waste of time. We cold be arguing about elves here and come to the same lack of conclusion.Recommend Recommended by 85 ReadersReport as Inappropriate 25.AlephAlephMAAugust 13th, 20109:10 amI expected a better argument from a person who studies and teaches philosophy for a living.
The normal rules of logic imply that we don't posit objects for things we don't have evidence for. Just because Idon't know what Mars is made of doesn't mean I can say that its made of green cheese or that it was created by agiant rat.
The usual rational arguments for God's existence are indirect - the assumption is that some entity must beresponsible for designing/creating the Universe or us or for the moral rules we follow. Just because today wedon't know how this happens does not mean that someday we may not. Most Buddhist sects have it right sincethey don't care (and most are atheistic) about how the Universe originated since it is not important to man's
Of course if one believes in miracles thats a different matter - but thats not a rational argument. And ifone believes as the learned Professor argues that " God’s existence would be, so to speak, self-explanatory " thereis again no rational argument that would convince such a person.Recommend Recommended by 78 ReadersReport as Inappropriate
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Page 14 of 21On Dawkins's Atheism: A Response - NYTimes.com