Deep into New Atheism

ܐܵܠܘܼܟ̰ܵܐ

ܐܵܠܘܼܟ̰ܵܐ

Active Member
Orange Room Supporter
Will be using this thread to provide some of my critiques of the four horsemen of the new atheist movement and where their works fall short. Especially concerning Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett

.....

On Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion":
[Written it previously]
-----

Aristotle's laws of thought are as follows[1]:

A. The Law of Identity - A is A
Everything is the same as itself; or a statement cannot not remain the same and change its
truth value.

B. The Law of Non-Contradiction - NOT (A and not A)
Nothing can both exist and not exist at the same time and in the same respect; or no
statement is both true and false.

C. The Law of Excluded Middle - Either (A or not A)
Something either exists or does not exist; or every statement is either true or false.



1- Dawkin's counterargument for Anselm's ontological argument[The God Delusion - P.83]

1A- Anselm's ontological argument[2]:

P1- We conceive of God as a being than which no greater can be conceived.

P2- This being than which no greater can be conceived either exists in the mind alone or both in
the mind and in reality.

P3- Assume that this being than which no greater can be conceived exists in the mind alone.

A- Existing both in the mind and in reality is greater than existing solely in the mind.

B- This being, existing in the mind alone, can also be conceived to exist in reality.

C- This being existing in the mind alone is not therefore the being than which no greater can
be conceived.

Conc: Therefore, this being than which no greater can be conceived exists in reality as well as
exists in the mind



1B- Dawkin's counterargument[The God Delusion - P.83]:

Dawkins starts by raising good objections but later transgresses and borrows a satirical counterargument which suffers from a logical error the original argument doesn't have.

P1- The creation of the world is the most marvellous achievement
imaginable.

P2- The merit of an achievement is the product of (a) its intrinsic
quality, and (b) the ability of its creator.

P3- The greater the disability (or handicap) of the creator, the more
impressive the achievement.

P4- The most formidable handicap for a creator would be non-
existence.
[Violation of the law of non-contradiction]

P5- Therefore if we suppose that the universe is the product of an
existent creator we can conceive a greater being - namely, one
who created everything while not existing.
[Violation of the law of non-contradiction]
[Strawman fallacy]


P6- An existing God therefore would not be a being greater than
which a greater cannot be conceived because an even more for-
midable and incredible creator would be a God which did not
exist.
[Violation of the law of non-contradiction]

Conc: God does not exist.


1C- Critique of Dawkin's counterargument:

While Dawkins is parodying Anselm's ontological argument to make a point, he commits a logical error not found in the original argument. The logical error first appears in P4, "The most formidable handicap for a creator would be non-existence." The problem with this premise is that it assumes that an entity can be simultaneously existent as a handicapped entity and yet non-existent because of the handicap. Dawkins goes further and says in P6 that "even more formidable and incredible creator would be a God which did not exist." So basically, that most incredible creator that could exist is one that doesn't exist; ergo, "exist" when he "doesn't exist." According to the law of non-contradiction, nothing can both exist and not exist at the same time, nor can a statement such as "he exists" be both false and true. Thus, Dawkin makes a violation of the law of non-contradiction.

Another error is in the assumption that God could be handicapped. A God that is handicapped is directly a Not God, because that contradicts his omnipotence. Dawkins throughout his counterargument dealt with a Not God and then concluded that God doesn't exist, and this is an example of a strawman fallacy and a violation of the law of non-contradiction. The question "Can God carry create a rock he can't lift?" commits the same error because we're asking God to be Not God (by illogically having something he can't carry), and then asking if he can carry it while logically operating.


2- Dawkin's Central Argument in the Book[The God Delusion - P.157-158]

"This chapter has contained the central argument of my book, and
so, at the risk of sounding repetitive, I shall summarize it as a series
of six numbered points.

P1- One of the greatest challenges to the human intellect, over the
centuries, has been to explain how the complex, improbable
appearance of design in the universe arises.

P2- The natural temptation is to attribute the appearance of design
to actual design itself. In the case of a man-made artefact such
as a watch, the designer really was an intelligent engineer. It is
tempting to apply the same logic to an eye or a wing, a spider
or a person.

P3- The temptation is a false one, because the designer hypothesis
immediately raises the larger problem of who designed the
designer. The whole problem we started out with was the
problem of explaining statistical improbability. It is obviously
no solution to postulate something even more improbable. We
need a 'crane', not a 'skyhook', for only a crane can do the
business of working up gradually and plausibly from simplicity
to otherwise improbable complexity.
[Non sequitur fallacy]

P4- The most ingenious and powerful crane so far discovered is
Darwinian evolution by natural selection. Darwin and his
successors have shown how living creatures, with their
spectacular statistical improbability and appearance of design,
have evolved by slow, gradual degrees from simple beginnings.
We can now safely say that the illusion of design in living
creatures is just that - an illusion.

P5- We don't yet have an equivalent crane for physics. Some kind
of multiverse theory could in principle do for physics the same
explanatory work as Darwinism does for biology. This kind of
explanation is superficially less satisfying than the biological
version of Darwinism, because it makes heavier demands on
luck. But the anthropic principle entitles us to postulate far
more luck than our limited human intuition is comfortable
with.

P6- We should not give up hope of a better crane arising in physics,
something as powerful as Darwinism is for biology. But even in
the absence of a strongly satisfying crane to match the
biological one, the relatively weak cranes we have at present
are, when abetted by the anthropic principle, self-evidently
better than the self-defeating skyhook hypothesis of an
intelligent designer.

Conc: If the argument of this chapter is accepted, the factual premise
of religion - the God Hypothesis - is untenable. God almost cer-
tainly does not exist."
[Conclusion doesn't follow premises]


2A- Critique of Dawkin's central argument:

This argument cannot work as a deductive argument given that the conclusion doesn't follow from the premises. If we took the charitable position and treated it as a strong inductive argument with different sub-points, we still do not reach such a strong induction. Truth of the matter, there is no way in logic to start from the given sub-points and reach the conclusion: "God almost certainly does not exist."

Furthermore, P3 is logically fallicious because of the non sequitur it commits. This is apparent when Dawkins writes: "The temptation is a false one, the designer hypothesis immediately raises the larger problem of who designed the designer." Dawkins has defined this temptation in P2 as the "natural temptation... to attribute the appearance of design to actual design itself." In simplified form, Dawkins says that we can't say that X is designed by a designer Y, because that would raise the question of who designed Y. The problem with this claim is that it violates an elemental point in the philosophy of science. You cannot require that explanations themselves be explained, since this leads to an infinite regress of explanations that stops us from explaining anything. Each explanation is independent and thus the request of an explanation of the explanation is a Non sequitur. If taken seriously, Dawkin's principle would make the practice of natural sciences impossible, given that every scientific explanation opens new doors and raises new questions that require their own explanations[3].

Take for example a group of astronauts who discovered highly-advanced machinery on their first visit to Pluto. Their explanation could be that aliens are the designers of such machinery. Dawkins, however, would consider the temptation to believe that such machines were designed by aliens to be false because it raises the question of who designed the aliens.

That being said, my example is only there to show that a group of researchers can have a very plausible explanation without having to deal with its own explanation. A modern-day example of this would be "dark matter" which we know little about and yet use to explain how stars are gravitationally held[4].

...

* Many other examples of logical errors were emitted due to space restrictions.


I conclude by saying that I'm only here to evaluate the content of a book I found utterly lacking on my second journey through its pages.


[1] oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl201/modules/Philosophers/Aristotle/aristotle_laws_of_thought.html

[2] philosophy.lander.edu/intro/anselm.shtml

[3] Peter Lipton, Inference to Best Explanation, page 24;

[4] cfa.harvard.edu/news/2011/pr201129.html
 
  • Advertisement
  • Mrsrx

    Mrsrx

    Somehow a Member
    Orange Room Supporter
    As an extreme agnostic i am not sure i believe in this thread.
     
    SAVO

    SAVO

    Member
    ATHEISM .is the only salvation..

    U have to read the philosophy of atheism..
    I would raccomend Ludwig Feuerbach books .
     
    Top