Dawkins' Central Argument

9 May 2007

As I mentioned in my review of The God Delusion, Dawkins focuses on evolution as a supposed argument against design in the universe and, consequently, God’s existence. However, evolutionary explanations only work at the biological level- they are completely impotent when it comes to explaining other design features of the universe, such as the fine-tuning of the fundamental constants. How does Dawkins explain away this fine-tuning and maintain his view that God “almost certainly does not exist?”

Well, on pages 157 and 158 of his book, Dawkins offers his ‘central’ argument against God’s existence. Here is the argument:

1. One of the greatest challenges to the human intellect has been to explain how the complex, improbable appearance of design in the universe arises.
2. The natural temptation is to attribute the appearance of design to actual design itself.
3. The temptation is a false one because the designer hypothesis immediately raises the larger problem of who designed the designer.
4. The most ingenious and powerful explanation is Darwinian evolution by natural selection.
5. We don’t have an equivalent explanation for physics.
6. We should not give up the hope of a better explanation arising in physics, something as powerful as Darwinism is for biology.

Therefore, God almost certainly does not exist.

It is important to note that this is supposedly the ‘central’ argument Dawkins offers, and so it is essential to his case for atheism. Yet, the argument seems patently false. Not only does the conclusion fail to follow from the premises, but some of the premises are highly questionable. In this brief article, I want to take a look at some of the biggest problems with Dawkins’ “central argument against God.”

Premise 3

Perhaps the most troubling premise in Dawkins’ argument is number 3. The basic idea here is that we should not infer a Designer, because then we would need to explain who designed the Designer. Dawkins thinks that God is such a complex being that we would gain absolutely no explanatory advantage by invoking Him.

The first problem with this premise is that it makes a fundamental mistake about the nature of explanation. In order to offer a good, compelling explanation of some phenomena, one does not need to offer an explanation of the explanation. If you think carefully about this, then you may notice that we could never explain anything using the Dawkins approach. Such an approach leads to an infinite regress. Any explanation you offer would need an explanation, that explanation would require an explanation, and so on forever. It would literally be impossible to have any knowledge.

Moreover, we can see that Dawkins approach is invalid with a few simple examples. For instance, if archaeologists discover a piece of pottery, they are justified in inferring that the pottery was designed by some unknown group of people. Even if they had no idea who designed it, where they came from, or how they designed it, this inference would still be justified.

Or, suppose that astronauts found complicated machines on an extra-solar planet. They would justifiably infer that some intelligent extraterrestrials designed and created the machines, even if they had absolutely no idea what such beings were like, what planet they came from, or how they designed the complicated machines. Clearly, it would be absurd for the astronauts to say, “since we don’t know anything about any possible alien designers, we cannot conclude that these machines were designed.”

A second problem with this premise lies with Dawkins’ assumption that God is complex, and therefore cannot be invoked to explain the design in the universe. Although he constantly claims throughout his book that God is extraordinarily complex, he never actually defends this assertion. In fact, many theologians and philosophers have plausibly argued that God is actually very simple. God, as an immaterial mind, is not composed of any parts. Dawkins probably assumes that God must be complex because the human brain is complex, and God, as an omniscient being, obviously has a lot more knowledge than any human. However, God is not a brain, and so we need not assume that He is extraordinarily complex.

The final problem with Dawkins’ third premise is that, in this case, we don’t need an explanation of who designed the Designer, since God is, ex hypothesi, timeless. Since He never began to exist, there is no need to explain His existence (unlike, for example, the universe, which did begin to exist). This is not special pleading either, since atheists often claim that the universe does not require an external explanation because it has existed forever. 1

Premise 6

In his sixth premise, Dawkins claims that- “We should not give up the hope of a better explanation arising in physics, something as powerful as Darwinism is for biology.” Is there anything wrong with this premise?

It actually depends on how the premise is construed. In one sense, it is true that we should not rule out the possibility of a Darwinian-type explanation accounting for the fine-tuning of the physical parameters of the universe. Unless we can deduce a logical impossibility of this type of scenario, it should remain a possibility on the table.

However, this weak interpretation of the premise cannot be what Dawkins is getting at here. The meager claim that we should not rule out a Darwinian-type explanation hardly furnishes any sort of reason for thinking that such an explanation is probably true, and it certainly doesn’t allow us to reject the hypothesis that God designed the universe. Thus, I think that Dawkins is actually claiming that it is irrational for us to conclude that God has designed the universe given the possibility that a Darwinian-type explanation might one day emerge. This is the only interpretation of the premise that has a chance of actually connecting the premises and the conclusion (although, as we shall see, there is still a fatal error in the conclusion Dawkins draws).

Why on earth, however, should we actually think that this is the case? The mere possibility of a Darwinian-type explanation is no reason to reject the God hypothesis. It seems that the reason Dawkins thinks that we should reject the God explanation is that the God explanation has been offered and rejected in the past (concerning biology), and so we can conclude (apparently using inductive reasoning) that it will be rejected in the case of physics as well.

So, Dawkins’ argument is essentially this:

At first, it seemed that God was responsible for the design of biological organisms. This explanation was superseded by Darwinian evolution. Currently, it seems that God is responsible for the design of the physical constants that govern the universe. This explanation will probably be superseded by a Darwinian-type explanation in the future. Thus, it is irrational to believe that God is responsible for the design of the physical constants. Therefore, God almost certainly does not exist.

So, premise 6 in his argument is really relying on induction from a past case. Given that a Darwinian-type explanation overcame a Design explanation concerning biology, the same thing will probably happen with physics. What should we think of this inference?

It seems to me patently obvious that this is simply inadequate to furnish any sort of reasonable inductive case. Think about the leap of logic here. Dawkins is saying that, based on the single case of evolution overcoming a design explanation, we should assume that the fine-tuning of physics will overcome a design explanation in the near future. But it gets worse, because Dawkins is actually claiming that it is unreasonable to think that the fine-tuning of physics won’t ultimately have a Darwinian-type explanation! And this extraordinary conclusion is based off of one single example.

This would be like seeing one cat, noticing that the cat is black, and concluding that, therefore, all cats are probably black. Actually, it would be more like concluding, after seeing one cat, that it is unreasonable for anyone to believe that there are non-black cats. Such a bold conclusion simply cannot be reached on the basis of one example.

One Small Step for Dawkins, One Giant Leap for Logical Argumentation

Based on the six premises, apparently, Dawkins wants to establish the strong conclusion: Therefore, God almost certainly does not exist.

Based on the premises offered, this conclusion is frankly weird. At absolute best, Dawkins’ argument shows that we should not infer God’s existence on the basis of the fine-tuning of physics. But this conclusion does not demonstrate that God does not exist, nor does it demonstrate that it is irrational to believe in God’s existence. Wholly apart from the fine-tuning argument, one might rationally believe in God’s existence on the basis of the Cosmological Argument, Moral Argument, Ontological Argument, or Argument from Mind, to give a few examples. Theists have offered a variety of different arguments for God’s existence, and the case does not necessarily rise or fall with the success or failure of the design argument from fine-tuning.

Even aside from arguments given by natural theology, a theist might plausibly believe in the existence of God based on revelation. For instance, a believer could base her case for belief in God on the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ or on the basis of fulfilled prophecy in the Bible. Beyond this, a believer might rationally believe in the existence of God on the basis of personal experience or answered prayer.

So far, I have been discussing justified belief in God’s existence. However, it is also entirely possible that God exists even if belief in Him is not necessarily justified. Dawkins’ argument can only show that we are not justified in believing that God exists- it says nothing about whether or not He actually does. Thus, Dawkins’ conclusion overstates any inference that could be made from his premises, even if we assume that all the premises are true.

Conclusion

Considering that this is the ‘central’ argument Dawkins gives to support his strong atheism, it is critical for his overall case. We have seen that the conclusion completely oversteps the bounds of the argument, at best showing that the Design Argument from fine-tuning is not a good justification for belief in God. Moreover, his article relies on the dubious idea that all explanations require explanations before they can be accepted. Additionally, Dawkins bases his entire case on an inductive inference from a single example, which is clearly insufficient. If Dawkins wants to demonstrate that God is a delusion, better arguments will be required.

NOTES:

1. There is currently overwhelming scientific evidence that the universe has not existed forever, so many atheists have abandoned this line of thinking. Yet, even today, many simply deny that the universe had a beginning by clinging to old theories like the oscillating model or putting their hope in new theories which purport to imply an infinitely old multiverse. Both of these approaches are, I think, complete failures, but that is besides the point for the current discussion. The point is that, if the universe has existed forever, then it does not require an explanation. But if this applies to the universe, then it likewise applies to God as well.




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  1. It’s funny how you think that better arguments are required for Dawkins to demonstrate that God is a delusion, while on the flip side, just saying that God exists is enough of an argument for you to believe in it’s existence.

    As for me, i believe that God does exist … specifically as a mental crutch for the weak-minded.


    captain obvious    May 10, 08:50 AM    #
  2. Let me get this straight. You put “skeptical” in your name”—but you’re a Christian. You’ve taken a claim for which all the ‘evidence’ is anecdotal (i.e., not actually evidence) and chosen to believe in anyways.

    But you say you’re a skeptic.

    You’re a hypocrit.


    Aerik    May 10, 10:26 AM    #
  3. I think you bring up some valid points against Dawkins’ arguments. Perhaps it should be noted, however, that each person will read a book with their own prejudices. One could call oneself a skeptical atheist, read books by Christian apologetics, and still come to the conclusion that God does not exist. It doesn’t make THEM a hypocrite, does it?

    There will never be proof one way or the other, I can guarantee that.

    And by the way, I am a Christian, and one could go so far as to say I’m a skeptical Christian.


    CeCe AKA The Cricket    May 18, 02:48 AM    #
  4. the problem with Dawkins’ central argument is the fact that he borrows from a premise that Hume assumed in the 18th century. The false premise is the fact they are trying to quantify an infinite, absolute, and eternal being (God) into something within our finite grasp.


    geoff    May 26, 07:51 PM    #
  5. All arguments for God’s existence do not mean that Christianity is correct. It could just as easily imply that Brahma created the world.

    All religions claim that they alone have the true path to god. All of my and your knowledge about god is removed by at least one person- God, the writer of a particular scripture in any religious book, and us unfortunate souls who must decide which one is really the truth. As god has not bothered to come tell me personally which religion is the correct one, or even that he exists, one must wonder if he really cares about being known at all…


    — Yurp    May 31, 04:50 PM    #
  6. Excellent deconstruction of Dawkins. I noticed some of the same errors in his though process as you did, but wasn’t able to put them into words as easily as this article.

    It was my opinion after reading the God Delusion that Dawkins screwed up mightily in this book, and your article confirmed that for me.

    Thanks


    Alex    Jun 8, 09:16 AM    #
  7. Great article. I’ve never understood how atheists give so much credence to Dawkins’ arguments, when they’re so clearly logically flawed. It’s like they decide the laws of rhetoric get thrown out the window for him, because, well, he’s right dangit!

    I also find it comical that the first two commenters in this thread displayed the same illogical tendencies by, rather than attacking your argument, deciding they would just insult you. Indeed, just who is the weak-minded hypocrite here?


    Joel    Jun 16, 04:45 AM    #
  8. You are doing the same thing that christians have been doing for centuries: disputing everything science comes up with or a statement that contradicts your beliefs. Note, however, that the church eventually back-tracks and except the facts. The christians then either re-translate the bible, do not talk about the disproved part in the bible or become ID people.

    The church has always had to rethink their position when science advances, I do not know of one instance where science/evolution had to back off. Except by force as in the previous dark ages.


    Gerry    Jun 16, 11:46 AM    #
  9. The word “except” above should read accept.


    Gerry    Jun 16, 12:08 PM    #
  10. Gerry,

    Would you mind giving some examples of when this has happened? Especially the re-translation part.

    Yours sincerely,

    Robin


    Robin    Jun 19, 08:42 AM    #
  11. I am an atheist, but I don’t consider Dawkins a great theologist. He makes a major leap from “there is no evidence of God” to “there is no God” without really working through the arguments from subjective probability that can make that sort of claim work.

    However, the rebuttal above targets a straw-man.

    Dawkins does not claim that every explanation must itself be explained, and explained again at a higher level, and so on, before it can even be proposed. That does not even follow from his logic.

    What he DOES claim is that the Design Argument leads to such a regress. The Design Argument states, simply, that designed features are evidence of design, and evidence of design is evidence of a designer.

    In this form alone, there’s nothing wrong with the Argument from Design – it applies to the alien machine case nicely. But the problem arises when one tries to come up with criteria for design of life or the universe.

    The key feature of an intelligently designed feature is that it could not arise without intervention. IDers usually cite the “irreducible complexity” of life as evidence of design. THIS is the claim that collapses under regress.

    If the Design Argument from Complexity is raised against evolution, then the Design Argument from Complexity can also be raised against God, if God is complex. Simply stating that God is outside of time, and therefore needn’t be caused helps address this, but the uncaused emergence of a complicated entity is quite a bullet to bite – possibly worse than any physical claim could ever be. To state “God needs no cause and is complicated” is far worse than stating that “a very simple early universe needed no cause.” (But how we define a ‘simple’ universe is a tougher question.)

    Declaring God to be simple is a reasonable way of escaping this objection. But it really does raise difficulties. If we hold that God is omniscient, then God must somehow have all knowledge. This means that either God is complicated, all knowledge is really very simple. or God has access to all knowledge without in any way storing that knowledge. This is workable, but, again, a major bullet to bite.

    Compare to the alien machine case. The evidence that the alien machine was designed, not evolved, is not that it’s complicated – it’s that it looks like a machine! In other words, we’d only assume it was a machine if it looked unnatural in the first place. If we found complicated life on another planet, we would suspect that it had evolved. Thus, even the hypothetical examples used to justify the Argument from Design rely implicitly on our own understanding of what looks designed and what doesn’t; they are basically circular.

    As for Dawkins’ rejection of the Cosmological Argument… well, he’s not a theologist, and he’s not a philosopher. He offers good reasons to be SUSPICIOUS of the Cosmological Argument, but nothing that can make faith inherently unreasonable.


    Paul    Jul 2, 08:23 PM    #
  12. And once again Paul you avoid the whole uncaused first cause argument by referring to the “emergence” of a complex being. Whether God is simple or complex is irrelevant because the theist points out that time and hence temporal succession is only extant within our universe.

    God does not begin to exist, he does not emerge, he just is.

    If you find a simple universe let me know. This one isn’t.

    As for your insistence that life looks like it evolved. Stephen Gould said that if the clock was rewound and evolution was able to run again then the outcome would be entirely different. If he was correct then there is no way that anything can look like it “evolved” because there is no consistent outcome of which we can say “that evolved”.

    Irreducible complexity may be defeated by showing that a minimally complex system can arise ex novo from a simpler system with another function. The attempt to link flagellum and TTSS fails because it is clear from the evidence that the flagellum is the more complex precursor.


    Jason    Nov 15, 11:30 AM    #
  13. I believe it’s time to define our terms. Are we referring to the Old Testament god? The theistic, homicidally jealous, prayer answering, thought reading, yet still somehow “simple” god of the fundamentalist Christian Purist? Or are we referring to the comparatively benign Deistic god of Albert Einstein and Thomas Jefferson? A God so broad in definition that he exists in everything yet cannot be pointed to.

    I’m finding it hard to believe that you people could have missed the point of this book so badly. Dawkins was very clear that he was dealing in probabilities. All he said was that God was highly improbable. He said this repeatedly, rather eloquently and at great length.

    He also explained that as a scientist he deals in observable evidence, and the evidence points to natural law as the designer of life and the universe. And before you start seeing Gods in the physical laws that govern the universe, let me paraphrase Carl Sagan and say, “This God is very emotionally unsatisfying. It makes no sense to pray to the law of gravity.”

    The only thing I’ve seen in any argument on this page is that God is the default position when a phenomenon cannot be explained. This is the very definition of ‘Gap Theology’ and is no better an argument than the Flying Teapot. “Just because YOU can’t see doesn’t mean it’s not there”

    Every case of so-called irreducible complexity has been explained away ad-nauseum. Including Behe’s humiliation in a court of law. I believe judge John E Jones III summed up his efforts to introduce ID into the science curriculum in Pa as ‘Breathtaking Inanity’. And his own department at Lehigh University had this to say about his efforts: “While we respect Prof. Behe’s right to express his views, they are his alone and are in no way endorsed by the department. It is our collective position that intelligent design has no basis in science…”

    So, I wouldn’t pin my hopes on Behe and his ID philosophy.

    To sum up, all Dawkins was saying was that God is highly improbable. More so even than the hurricane in a junkyard assembling a 747 that I hear so much about from people who are ignorant about natural selection. Also, any God who can set in motion all the laws that govern the universe and control every particle in it while simultaneously reading our thoughts, concerning himself with the actions and fortunes of humans and answer our prayers might be many things, but he is most definitely not simple. And that any explanation of the universe that invokes God begs more questions than it answers.


    Dave    Dec 19, 06:42 PM    #
  14. Amen, Dave. It’s one thing to debate the existence of a generic creative intelligence. It is quite another to conclude that (once convinced of its existence) this creative intelligence is actually the very same God portrayed in the Bible and worshiped by Christians and Jews. Even if I were convinced of a creator, I’d still be pretty darn sure that the God of the Bible is a myth.


    — Stutz    Dec 21, 01:15 AM    #
  15. Dave, you are completely amazing. It amazes me HOW MUCH you missed the entire point of this article. This article is NOT about ID, or creationism, or evolution or the teapots in outspace. The article was not making an argument for God, it was making an argument that Dawkins argument against God was illogical. That doesn’t mean it proves God, it only points out that “We can’t prove that there isn’t a naturalistic explanation for physics” doesn’t mean “there isn’t a God”. What you are talking about, and what this article are about are two different thing. Oh and to the first two posters, relying on ad hominem fallacies are for the weak minded.


    — David    Dec 26, 07:44 PM    #
  16. If Dawkins is dealing in probability and his conclusions are arrived at through inductive reasoning, I question his data set. After all, human history is thus far a blip in the life of the Universe. Science is constantly asserting facts based on inductive reasoning and reviews its position regularly upon encountering Black Swans. Why cannot Religon review it’s position on God as regularly does science? Why, like the evolution of humanity and its sciences, can religion not be seen as an organic thing that is in flux? In my view, science & religion are two wings of the same bird and both are required for flight.


    — Ed    Apr 4, 07:12 AM    #
  17. It is now May 2008 so I doubt anybody will read this. It is disappointing how many people read your article and then missed the point. You wee not trying to prove God’s existence and your conclusion about Dawkin’s argument is definitely correct. You said his arguments at best show that the Design Argument from fine-tuning is not a good justification for belief in God. I am a Christian and I believe that too. I do not believe that any of the “arguments” are very good reason for belief in God.

    As always people on both sides of the argument want to “prove” what cannot be proven. Belief and disbelief are both faith positions even though there is legitimate rationale for each.


    Larry Meza    May 14, 02:26 PM    #
  18. Yeah, this was kind of an interesting article to read I guess. I dunno. You were obviously very biased when you read the book and you’re probably very biased now. I’ve only read parts of The God Delusion. I liked what I read.

    And I mean, can you really blame Dawkins for saying that the designer hypothesis presents the problem of who designed the designer? I think that the sufficiency of an explanation depends on the recipient’s personal intelligence and/or degree of inquiry.

    From the article: “In order to offer a good, compelling explanation of some phenomena, one does not need to offer an explanation of the explanation.”

    You’re right, this is completely true in some cases. Like back in the 15-1600’s there was the question of “what is the center of the universe?”. People seemed to find the explanation of geocentrism to be good and quite compelling. Did it make it right? Certainly not. Not until Copernicus and Galileo came along and decided to put biblical logic aside and figure things out through the process of actual scientific observation was humanity pulled out of that rut. And that wasn’t until years afterwards.

    And I don’t really like your astronaut example. Supposing we had the technology to travel to extrasolar planets, attributing the construction of “complicated machines” we find to extraterrestrials would just be stupid. I would hope that astronauts would reasonably assume that the machines were made by humans and put there at some other time for an unknown purpose. As far as space programs go, not all countries are aware of what other countries are up to.

    Also… I’m a little confused here:

    From the article: “Although he constantly claims throughout his book that God is extraordinarily complex, he never actually defends this assertion. In fact, many theologians and philosophers have plausibly argued that God is actually very simple. God, as an immaterial mind, is not composed of any parts. Dawkins probably assumes that God must be complex because the human brain is complex, and God, as an omniscient being, obviously has a lot more knowledge than any human. However, God is not a brain, and so we need not assume that He is extraordinarily complex.”

    o.O There’s an awful lot of definitive statments there, don’t you think? Especially since your entire argument is based off of a personal assumption… I don’t think that you know what God (assuming there is one)IS and ISN’T. So I wouldn’t really count that as a “valid” argument against Dawkins’ premise.

    Oh… and yeah. Your complaints about premise 6.

    From the article: “So, premise 6 in [Dawkins’] argument is really relying on induction from a past case. Given that a Darwinian-type explanation overcame a Design explanation concerning biology, the same thing will probably happen with physics. What should we think of this inference?”

    Sorry to disappoint you… but that IS basically the core definition of a logical line of thinking :/. Unless some evidence exists to contradict past events/experiments there’s no reason to give more legitimacy to other theories that have no evidence to back them up. Or… simply put… the score is still: Darwin: 1, God: 0.

    But yeah, one thing I do agree with you on is that Darwins’ conclusion doesn’t demonstrate that God doesn’t exist. I do, however, think that it does demonstrate that there is reasonable cause to doubt God’s existence.

    And I definitely have a question.

    From the article: “Even aside from arguments given by natural theology, a theist might plausibly believe in the existence of God based on revelation. For instance, a believer could base her case for belief in God on the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ or on the basis of fulfilled prophecy in the Bible. Beyond this, a believer might rationally believe in the existence of God on the basis of personal experience or answered prayer.”

    There are so many things wrong with that paragraph that it almost literally hurts my soul o.O. But I digress.. what is this evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ that you speak of? If you could e-mail me your sources I would be very interested to learn more.


    Aiyana    Jun 23, 02:52 PM    #
  19. “In order to offer a good, compelling explanation of some phenomena, one does not need to offer an explanation of the explanation.”

    Perhaps that is true, yet if it is, one would not need to explain the origin of the universe.

    “For instance, if archaeologists discover a piece of pottery, they are justified in inferring that the pottery was designed by some unknown group of people. Even if they had no idea who designed it, where they came from, or how they designed it, this inference would still be justified.”

    Yes, but we still see potters make pottery today. We do NOT see God making universes today. It is a perfectly valid postulation, yet sooner or later we will have to stop with the “skyhook” explanations and look for a “crane”.

    “A second problem with this premise lies with Dawkins’ assumption that God is complex, and therefore cannot be invoked to explain the design in the universe.”

    He does defend it. God is allegedly able to design the universe to support life. This would make him the physicist to end all physicists. A god capable of creating a life supporting universe from nothing must be more intelligent than 10 Einsteins combined!! By the way, I want to know the specific arguments for God’s simplicity.

    “The final problem with Dawkins’ third premise is that, in this case, we don’t need an explanation of who designed the Designer, since God is, ex hypothesi, timeless.”

    This is true, yet there are models of the universe that allow for something eternal. For instance, the Stein-Turkhardt model. I do not buy into this model however, I think that before the universe began there simply was no time. For more on this, see:

    http://www.godriddance.com

    -Ryan


    Ryan    Jun 27, 07:55 PM    #
  20. Even if there were adequate reason to believe in a monotheistic God, Christianity would still be a leap of faith.


    — Thomas    Jul 22, 09:31 PM    #
  21. There is a huge difference between design by a sentenient species and the design as advovated by ID/creationists.

    The actions of sentenient beings are open for knowledge (we can in principle find them and know more about them), yet about the designer in ID/creationism, the problem is that it does not exist in the objective sense (for instance, not existing in space/time, etc.).

    The ID/creationists never made a real scientific theory that could be investigated.


    Rob    Jul 24, 08:15 AM    #
  22. >>Even if there were adequate reason to believe in a monotheistic God, Christianity would still be a leap of faith.

    By George he got it!

    That’s exactly right.

    -A Christian


    heart versus mind    Sep 20, 07:23 PM    #
  23. sorry, I mean dawkin.
    Also, if anyone wants to know what comes first, the chicken or the egg, the answer is obviously chicken.
    If a baby came before the adult, who would take care of the baby? I think that there must be some sort of advanced creator to create the less advanced.


    alexis hayward    Dec 9, 10:31 PM    #
  24. I don’t know why anyone gives Dawkins any credibility at all. I heard him say on TV “We know 95% of how evolution works…” The man is a fool.


    Michael    Dec 12, 11:53 AM    #
  25. A chicken-like animal probably came first and through evolutionary natural selection the FINAL product we know and love to eat would be a chicken,ipso facto, presto changeo, EGG, not magic. But, since we’re back in junior high.

    I can not, nor do I want to prove that god does not exsist. Just Prove to me that Thor, my favorite norse God, does not exsist. And dont tell me because your god said so.


    edward    Feb 25, 10:59 PM    #
  26. What do you think of this argument. It seems to me that Dawkins syllogism could be matched by this one.

    1. The 2nd law of thermodynamics prevents the simple from becoming more complex
    2. Complexity now exists in the universe
    3. Since complexity cannot run uphill the university could not have started as a simple, disorganized phenomenon
    4. Stellar evolution cannot explain present complexity
    5. Therefore evolution is dismissed as a possibility
    6. God almost certainly does exist


    Lardo the Great    Mar 15, 06:16 PM    #
  27. Regardless of whether dawkins theory of evolutionary biology is correct, it will not stop the spread of islam throughout the world.


    — Gareth    Jul 15, 02:36 PM    #
  28. “The first problem with this premise is that it makes a fundamental mistake about the nature of explanation. In order to offer a good, compelling explanation of some phenomena, one does not need to offer an explanation of the explanation. If you think carefully about this, then you may notice that we could never explain anything using the Dawkins approach. Such an approach leads to an infinite regress. Any explanation you offer would need an explanation, that explanation would require an explanation, and so on forever. It would literally be impossible to have any knowledge.

    Moreover, we can see that Dawkins approach is invalid with a few simple examples. For instance, if archaeologists discover a piece of pottery, they are justified in inferring that the pottery was designed by some unknown group of people. Even if they had no idea who designed it, where they came from, or how they designed it, this inference would still be justified.

    Or, suppose that astronauts found complicated machines on an extra-solar planet. They would justifiably infer that some intelligent extraterrestrials designed and created the machines, even if they had absolutely no idea what such beings were like, what planet they came from, or how they designed the complicated machines. Clearly, it would be absurd for the astronauts to say, ‘since we don’t know anything about any possible alien designers, we cannot conclude that these machines were designed.’”

    See these for a thorough refutation:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGYQyWKCeDs&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JbgtqWC-bM&feature=related


    Midas Vuik    Aug 1, 05:23 PM    #
  29. Dawkins statement “We should not give up the hope of a better explanation arising in physics, something as powerful as Darwinism is for biology.” is the most gaping flaw in his attempted argument, I could write all day on the half-dozen different logical errors in this presumption. First is it isn’t Science or scientific, it has no evidence to support it and no reason to reach its conclusion. It isn’t even meta-science and as philosophy it’s horribly deficient. It’s just “hope for something better”. For Dawkins and his arguments, that is. But there’s still no reason to believe in it.

    Secondly, it isn’t Reason or reasonable, it isn’t even a rational “hope”. Science doesn’t have a “direction” and no one, not even Dawkins can prophesy the course of what discoveries science will make tomorrow, especially not ones that would be in contradiction to what Science currently knows, understands and accepts today. It would be one thing for Newton to have said that “I have hope that someday Science will be able to explain Mercury’s orbit”. But it would be quite another thing for him to have said that he had hope that Science would produce a specific explanation that would justify his beliefs. But that is just what Dawkins is saying, because Science already has an explanation, every bit as powerful as Darwinism, for the improbability of our life-sustaining Universe: it was random, but we got lucky. The problem is that this explanation does not support Dawkins atheistic beliefs and does lend support to those who believe in a Creator (though it is far from proof). So he chooses to disbelieve it and instead “have hope” that someday Science will vindicate him.

    And this is the biggest flaw of all in his argument because at it’s core it is pure hypocrisy. After all, what is it when we “have hope for something better” in the future, in defiance of what Science and Reason tell us? What’s the word for that? Oh yeah, it’s “FAITH”. But that’s exactly what Dawkins has been arguing against and for the implied notion that athiesm is somehow more rational or more logical and does not rely on Faith. And yet, Dawkins himself clearly does, rely on Faith.


    RBYoung    Sep 8, 03:16 PM    #
  30. With the exception of one, all the atheist replies on here are pathetic. They either start attacking your theism based on completely different arguments or simply accuse you of being prejudiced or biased, blinding themselves to the fact that you are actually making logical responses.

    Dawkins’ argument is indeed a failure. He creates the problem of infinite regress completely by himself (as you have pointed out in step 3). What is worth mentioning, also, is Dawkins’ use of the Crane and Skyhook models. Dawkins objects to a Skyhook explanation (i.e. design from higher complexity) by asking “who designed the designer” but completely neglects to apply this objection to the Crane. A Crane (i.e. an explanation built on gradualistic evolution) needs to assume the existence of an environment which drives its process (in the case of evolution: life forms, random mutations and a life-permitting universe). This forms, we could say, the “ground” for the Crane.

    The problem is, one could also ask where this grounding for the Crane came from, and the answer would be… ANOTHER CRANE! So the infinite regress can still go on and on even with this model, with the question always being “from what simplicity did this originate?”. When faced with the question of the beginning of the universe, the Crane completely fails. So Dawkins cannot even argue that the Crane is a solution to infinite regress, even if we treat this as a problem!

    As for the complexity of God, Dawkins has ignored the classical arguments for his simplicity and merely asserted that God would have to conform to a naturalistic measure of complexity, which is simply begging the question, as if assuming that consciousness cannot exist spiritually or timelessly. Since the whole point of Dawkins’ book is to argue that such things can’t exist, he can’t merely assume this measure. Why is there no attempt to argue the falseness of dualism, for example, or a refutation of the Kalam Cosmological argument? Interestingly, all Dawkins vaguely mentions about this argument is that he isn’t very bothered by it because it merely gives us deism (as if such a belief isn’t contrary to atheism in itself)!

    Dawkins’ argument is well and truly a laughable, layman’s attempt to disprove God, and it’s a pity that such a bad argument should come from such an eminent scientist.


    Birdieupom    Oct 4, 10:01 AM    #
  31. I found this article very interesting as I am currently studying A level R.S. However, I am a Christian and do go to church. I was just like to make my oint very clear; during a lesson we watched a Dawkins DVD and it was all very good, apart from some of his aruments were not backed up!For example he talks on how the laws of physics regulatethe universe (ok good so far) But where the hell did these laws come form?!
    They can’t come out of the blue. thus , I find Dawkins arguments very dissatisfactory. He makes a claim but doen’t always back it up. God was wasn’t made, and for those who are trying to get answers and saying he doesn’t exist will be finding they are in infinite regress. In which case you will be no closer to the an answer; so you shouldn’t go about attacking religion saying there answer is wrong! ( untill you can 100% disprove it otherwise) when you have all the answers, such as that of the big bang and other mysteries, such do Humans have a sole and cna here be life after death; I will be happy to hear them.


    — Anonymous    Oct 4, 10:57 PM    #
  32. i know this is incredibly immature and stuff, but comments? TL;DNR


    Sarah    Nov 23, 07:31 PM    #
  33. I like your website and your thoughts on believing. I am a Christian and look at the bible through Calvinistic eyes.

    God has made foolish the wisdom of the world as is clearly illustrated by most of these comments.

    I am of the same mind that to believe in God is no leap of faith and the bible says so as well. God says through His word that there is enough natural revelation (viz nature) for everyone to believe in God.

    Dawkins is only trying to make noise with no substance or real thinking behind what he is saying. I regard him as a child in a sandbox when it comes to discussing things of God.

    And to all out there who try to bring up “other” religions as a point, please realize that Christians do not believe or care about other religions. They all mimic Christianity, although I know you will say the opposite. Christianity is the only one true religion. All Christians believe this ipso facto or they can not be Christians. Jesus is the only way to the Father.


    — Andre    Dec 15, 12:06 PM    #
  34. Read this its really good


    Adam    Feb 23, 07:28 PM    #
  35. I am infinitely fascinated by Dawkins arguments concerning the existence of God. I am a Christian, but also a scientist and I cringe at the notion that one cannot be both. As an ophthalmologist, surgeon, and medical practitioner with a Masters degree from the LSHTM, I believe it will be difficult to say I am not a scientist. And yet, I see God clearly in Nature, when others chose to see Darwinian evolution. Evolutionists argue that life started with a ‘simple’ cell which evolved on its own de-novo. But there is no such thing as a ‘simple cell’. Any cell is infinitely complex, with organelles, nucleotides and thousands of enzymes. Saying a ‘protocell’ evolved ‘naturally’ is like saying a jigsaw puzzle with trillions of pieces formed a perfect picture because a wind blew through it. Beyond evolution, I am happy that Dawkins is waiting for a “Darwin type” explanation for the laws of physics. He waits in vain.
    I am working on a book titled “The best show unearthed”, a direct riposte to Dawkin’s latest effort titled “The greatest show on earth”. In it I will refute blow by blow, most of his central postulations.
    Remain blessed, one and all.


    Bablo Unity    Jul 14, 08:58 AM    #
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