Dawkins Straw God Arguments part 2


The problem stems from the basic tendency of Dawkins to try and turn God into a biological organism and make him subject to physical law. I think he does this because the kind of naturalistic that Dawkins is can't think creatively. Be that as it may, I have a word about design before I get into the issue of complexity and God. The using of organized complexity as an argument for the existence of God must be done very sparingly and very carefully. This is because the design argument is not a good argument. I have found some specialized uses for aspect of the design argument, and I say must be done carefully,but by and large I don't use the design argument because it's based upon a fallacy. It first of all treats God like a big man, a big city planner in the sky. The problem with "planning' is it's a human thing. It's also a problem because you can't base belief upon the appearance of the word, since we do  not have a designed world (or one that we know is either way) to compare it to. So we don't know what a  designed world would look like or an undersigned one. We have no control planet to compare.

This is also a big problem for atheists they just need to be made aware of it. Atheists are always trying to extrapolate form the look of the world to the nature of God--there's evil in the world, there can't be a loving God. The world is a big mess, there can't be  a God who cares ect ect. They are doing the same thing the design argument does, reasoning from the nature of the world to the existence or non existence of a creator.


This  part 2 of the previous post. I was considering an argument that Dawkins  makes to the effect that evolution doesn't leave God anything to do.  The idea that evolution is a counter to God belief is so sophomoric it's  hardly worth arguing against, but the fact that Dawkins is willing to  argue it seroiusly is very telling. The "new atheists" or "Dawkies" as I  call them (Dawkamentalits) take the same tact mocking and ridiculing  real, serious, advanced and sophisticated liberal theology. But he  augments the simplistic contradiction between God and evolution by  trying to turn it into a basis for probabilistic analysis ruling out the  probability of God.

Wouldn't we  be tempted to fall on our knees and worship them, as a medieval peasant  might if suddenly confronted with such miracles as a Boeing 747, a  mobile telephone or Google Earth? But, however god-like the aliens might  seem, they would not be gods, and for one very important reason. They  did not create the universe; it created them, just as it created us.  Making the universe is the one thing no intelligence, however  superhuman, could do, because an intelligence is complex—statistically  improbable —and therefore had to emerge, by gradual degrees, from  simpler beginnings: from a lifeless universe—the miracle-free zone that  is physics.

So he uses this notion to create an  opposition then leverages out the God concept on the basis that it's  primitive and superstitious. The lever is the probability analysis.  Evolution is the competing er zots creator. He then asserts the  astounding concept that a mind can't create evolution. This is  supposedly the case because as  a statistically complex thing a mind  would be improbable since it has to be the product of evolution and  develop. That would god is the product of evolution. That would make  evolution and the who understands it best (Dawkins?) would be God's  "Keeper." Aside from that aspect, Dawkins thinking here is extremely  silly. But let's take it in stages.  First I'll deal with the original  allegation that God has nothing to do in an evolving universe, secondly  I'll deal with the inane probability argument.

The  basic assumption he makes is that God is a big man in the sky. The  reason I think he assumes this is because he treats God as though God  were a big man; men need "tings to do." Of cousre if God created  evolution one would have to think that he understood this would leave  him with time on his hands. Rather than postulate the existence of a  huge heavenly golf course with angelic caddies, perhaps we might just  suspect that God doesn't need to "do things" in the same way that we do.  Tilehard de Chardin theorized that God is the strong force. The strong  force holds together atomic structures. In that case God would have a  lot to do, assuming he "needed something to do." But not being a big man  beyond our understanding we might just assert that God doesn't get  board, doesn't have to challenge himself with meaningless activities and  if he is trying to draw people to Christ he has his hands full anyway  trying to convict people like Dawkins of their arrogance, and also  teaching logic to atheists. That ought to keep him busy for an eternity  or two.

Notice that Dawkin's arguments don't stem from  the idea that God would not be capable of making a universe, but that he  needs an activity, what he really mean is that in our understanding of  argument for the existence of god there's nothing for him to do (that  assumes the best implication because he does not say this). He may  really mean there's nothing we can see that would give us an idea of the  difference between God and no God. Stephan Hawking's argument is not  based upon the probability scam but upon a question prompted by his own  theory which removes the singularity in favor of a no boundary condition  of the universe; in other words the universe did not begin in time.

So long as the universe had a  beginning, we could  suppose that it had a creator. But if the universe  is really completely  self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it  would have neither  beginning nor end: it would simply be. What  place, then, for a creator? (quoted byCTNS)

This is different from Dawkin's argument, but  the answers overlapp. Keith Ward Takes issue in God, Chance and  Necessity (quoted on CTNS site, Ibid.)

"On the quantum fluctuation hypothesis, the  universe  will only come into being if there exists an exactly balanced  array of  fundamental forces, an exactly specified probability of  particular  fluctuations occurring in this array, and existent space-time  in which  fluctuations can occur. This is a very complex and finely  tuned  ‘nothing’... So this universe looks highly contingent after all,  and a  creator God might well choose to create a partly probabilistic  universe  by choosing just such an origin for it."

     Drees points out that in fact the Hawking-Hartle  proposal accords well  with a theology which emphasises that every space  is equally created by  God, ‘“sustaining” the world in all its  “times.”’ R.J.Russell has shown,  moreover, that at the core of the  doctrine of creatio ex nihilo is the  principle of ontological  dependence - that all matter, all energy, and  the laws that govern the  universe all depend for their existence on a  God whose existence is not  dependent on anything. The discovery of an  actual temporal beginning  to this material universe would not prove this  doctrine (since the  doctrine rests on metaphysical convictions about  God and existence) but  only provide an additional gloss to it

  Russell, Ph.D. Physics Santa Cruz,
prof Theology and Scinece
Founder and director CTNS

This means there are still  things for God to do, just in case he needs them. Form the standpoint of  apologetic there are still "earmarks" of God's work. But with Dawkins  argument the rationale is quite different. His probability mess does not  lend itself well to the God argument proof issue. He's not just looking  for a hint of God's handiwork to compare to regular nature, but is  actually trying to subject God to the needs and habits of a big man.  He's creating his own Staw God concept and trying to wedge that in to  the Christian argument. Dawkn's strwa God is a big biological organism  subject to the same needs for challenge and stimulation that humans  possess. He has a human mind that can be compared to our own reasoning  processes so that a probability can be fixed to it's existence. Of  course it would have to be the product of evolution because in Dawkin's  world straw God is the product of higher forces, not the ground of being  or the primordial aspect of reality upon which all other things depend,  but the Dawkamentalist er zots God of science, evolution, has to create  the straw God. In so doing Dawkins has tipped his hand, it is apparent  he doesn't understand the Christian concept of God nor is he working  within it's philosophical boundaries. He's not only created a straw God  but he's placed it under jurisdiction of his own er zots god.

Of  course weather one is a Tillichian, a Lutheran or a Thomism, even a  protestant evangelical God is not a product of anything. No Christian  group anywhere would accept this. That aspect alone marks Dawkin's straw  God as a straw man argument. Of course as the last post parted out  (part 1) it makes so much more sense to understand God as the progenitor  of physical law, and perhaps directing to toward evolution, rather than  the product of it, because otherwise you have these disembodied laws  that most modern scientists don't even see as perspective anymore, no  way to explain what they do or where they are located prior to the  universe. That also means that the universe itself lacks explanation.  Thanks to this maneuver Dawkin's idea actually highlights the real need  to understand God as the basis of reality rather than to posit a big man  with nothing to do. For this reason his argument is circular as the  premise (God is a big man with nothing to do) rests upon the conclusion  (viewing  God in which way disproves the existence of God).

That  God is subject to evolution Dawkins predicates upon the human  understanding of the universe about the nature of complexity. Complexity  serves a key function in the argument because with it probability might  favor God. But in using it he opens the door to another means of  destroying his argument. He wants to say that God would have to be  complex because as far as we know only complexity can  produce more complexity. Thus a complex universe would have to be the  process of a more complex God:

To  midwife such emergence is the singular achievement of Darwinian  evolution. It starts with primeval simplicity and fosters, by slow,  explicable degrees, the emergence of complexity: seemingly limitless  complexity—certainly up to our human level of complexity and very  probably way beyond. There may be worlds on which superhuman life  thrives, superhuman to a level that our imaginations cannot grasp. But  superhuman does not mean supernatural. Darwinian evolution is the only  process we know that is ultimately capable of generating anything as  complicated as creative intelligences. Once it has done so, of course,  those intelligences can create other complex things: works of art and  music, advanced technology, computers, the Internet and who knows what  in the future? Darwinian evolution may not be the only such generative  process in the universe. There may be other "cranes" (Daniel Dennett's  term, which he opposes to "skyhooks") that we have not yet discovered or  imagined. But, however wonderful and however different from Darwinian  evolution those putative cranes may be, they cannot be magic. They will  share with Darwinian evolution the facility to raise up complexity, as  an emergent property, out of simplicity, while never violating natural  law.

He just asserts that natural law is all there is  and thus God must be a product of natural law. This astounding  conclusion is arrived at how? By using human understanding based upon,  his own words, "Darwinian evolution is the  only process we know that is ultimately  capable of generating  anything as complicated as creative intelligences." And how much of the  universe have seen? Up close we know some stuff form one planet, how  much? We don't know, we are still amazed by our own planet. Off planet  we've made remarkable progress through telescopes and other long range  means, but what do we really know?

John Polikinghorne Q  and A (question  about cosmological argument)
John Polikinghorne's Websiet
the answer of his  assistant

However since it is known that only 4% of  the matter and energy in the Universe is made of what we understand as  matter, and most of the  universe seems, on current understandings, to  be “dark matter” and “dark energy” about which we know nearly nothing,  and no-one knows how to reconcile Quantum Mechanics with General  Relativity (the  much-hyped String Theory looks increasingly like a  dead-end) it is unwise to assume  that current understandings of  cosmology represent the last word.
  I’ll see what John has to  add. John said he  had nothing to add to this reply

We  can take this to mean we know only about 4% of the universe. Actually  it might be a lot less but this s a good illustration of one aspect of  which we know almost nothing, and that aspect is major. So Dawkins  standard for fixing human knowledge is pretty feeble. But the fact he's  willing to do it is interesting because when we use the same kind of  standard in God arguemnts, it means nothing to an atheist. We say "not  one single example anywhere in all of reality shows a non contingent  aspect of the natural world" but they dont' care. As far as they are  concerned that tells us nothing about the universe being contingent.  they are willy to shout "fallacy of composition" on that one but totally  ignore what the limited data base does to their assumption about  complexity and human knowledge.

(1) tries to force God  under the jurisdiction of the physical by just asserting the universal  necessity of physical law, he abhorrence of Magic, of course making out  that supernatural is "only magic" which can't exist because it's opposed  to the ideology of physcialism and lack of a God forbid that anything  should contradict that! We know that's the only real truth how do we  know it? by the same circular reasoning that allows us to hide proof of  miracles under the same dictum and to assume through circular reasoning  that there is no God.

(2) Of course attaching a  probability to something like God woud be totally impossible since  there's nothing to compare to. the very concept of the probability of  the foundation of reality is impossible understand.

In  addition to this there are also a couple of problems with the  "complexity" and applying it to God.

(1) No basis for  comparison.

How could one say if the basis of reality  is complex or simple? This would especially be perplexing if creation  has a moment in time. If God existed "before" creation (if creation is  done in time then there can be a "before") as opposed to placing it in a  spacial coordinate such as "beyond event horizon." In either case to  what do we compare God? Let's say we have car in an eternal void of  nothing. This is true absolute nothing, no vacuum flux, no germs no  nothing. Just pure darkness and this care. Now how fast is it moving? Is  it moving at all? Say it's 0 mph. But wait, no landmarks to measure  miles, no time to measure hours, hwo can we even say it's moving at all,  must less how fast? This is the same problem we have in consider God's  complexity. What is complex compared to God? Does the term have a  meaning. What is simple compared to the only thing that is? On the other  hand suppose there's nothing but a singularity, a mathematical dot. The  dot would be complex compered to nothing, but compared to us it would  be simple.

(2) God is simple

Thomas  Aquinas  believed that God was simple, the "primary act of existence,"  extremely simple.

(3) Their premise contradicts  evolution which has complexity coming from simplicity

Dawkins  says as quoted above that evolution would mean God has to be complex  and to have developed by physical laws. On the other hand evolute posits  origin from extreme simplicity and the simplicity evolves into  complexity. We begin the universe with a singularity and life with a  single cell organism. It looks like the principle of complex from the  simple is not a contradiction to evolution. Since God is not a  biological organism and can't the product of a process that would  suggest that God is simple and the complexity of the universe evolved.  Moreover, God does not have a physical brain and thus what is it exactly  that would need to be complex?

Come to that Dawkins is  willing to use human data base, limited though it is, to argue absolute  analogy for things beyond our observation, so why isn't he wiling to  accept the notion of a contingent universe?

(4) If God  was complex it would have no consequances because God is not vulnerable  to the probelms of complexity

a. wont wear out no  entropy

b. doesn't have to be the result of a process

Where  does that leave God? The kindest thing to say is that it leaves him  with nothing to do, and no achievements that might attract our praise,  our worship or our fear. Evolution is God's redundancy notice, his pink  slip. But we have to go further. A complex creative intelligence with  nothing to do is not just redundant. A divine designer is all but ruled  out by the consideration that he must at least as complex as the  entities he was wheeled out to explain. God is not dead. He was never  alive in the first place.

Of course I've already  demonstrated quotations above that show God would still have a lot to do  as the strong force, setting target levels for fine tuning. But of  course there's no reason to believe God needs to do anything. This  requires the notion  of a God of liberal theology. When confronted with  this reality Dawkins shows his true dishonestly. Dawkins seeks to head  off a liberal God concept but he just can't quite bring himself to face a  real one:

Now, there is a  certain class of sophisticated modern theologian who will say something  like this: "Good heavens, of course we are not so naive or simplistic as  to care whether God exists. Existence is such a 19th-century  preoccupation! It doesn't matter whether God exists in a scientific  sense. What matters is whether he exists for you or for me. If God is  real for you, who cares whether science has made him redundant? Such  arrogance! Such elitism."

That's a straw theologian  argument because no one says that. There are some who hinted at it in  the 60s God is dead movement, but there are plenty of modern theologians  still working and none of them really say this. Tillich certainly  didn't say it. Tillich says God is a concrete reality not just a wishful  thought in our minds. No theologian I know of says that. But plenty of  them say that is not a big man in the sky. But Dawkins is not brave  enough to take on those guys.

Well,  if that's what floats your canoe, you'll be paddling it up a very  lonely creek. The mainstream belief of the world's peoples is very  clear. They believe in God, and that means they believe he exists in  objective reality, just as surely as the Rock of Gibraltar exists. 

 Yea  but that does not mean that it's subject to the laws of physics, which  He created, nor does it mean he's a big man in the sky either.

If  sophisticated theologians or postmodern relativists think they are  rescuing God from the redundancy scrap-heap by downplaying the  importance of existence, they should think again. Tell the congregation  of a church or mosque that existence is too vulgar an attribute to  fasten onto their God, and they will brand you an atheist. They'll be  right.

 Most of those churches don't  believe God is subject physical law or the product of evolution either.  Dawkin's arguemnts are convoluted, circular and dishonest he really  should be selling securities and making loans for mortgage company.


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