Chris Severn, a commenter on a a previous post, has placed great import on the wikipedia article entitled The Ultimate Boeing 747 Gambit. The premise is that Richard Dawkins believes that the idea of God is highly improbable, even more improbable than a tornado's sweeping thru a junkyard creating a fully functional 747.
Chris, I thank you much for commenting here, but I gotta tell you - reading this article made me laugh out loud. Seriously, if you want to be a serious and intellectually honest and consistent atheist, Dawkins is pretty far from where you want to be spending your reading and thought time and energy.
I'll comment on Dawkins' thinking as presented by the wiki article, 'cause I can promise you I'm not going to waste time reading Dawkins' book.
-He (Dawkins) considers the existence of such an entity to be a scientific question, because a universe with such a God would be significantly different from a universe without one
2nd sentence in the article and we already have huge problems. This doesn't look good.
Anyone paying attention to my argumentation w/ Chris will know that my contention is that, w/o God, there IS no universe at all. It wouldn't just be "different." There would be nothing.
In response, Chris has suggested several alternative possibilities:
1) the universe has always existed
2) matter, energy, 'and' the universe popped spontaneously into existence out of nothing w/o a cause
3) time repeats itself. The big crunch at the end of the universe begins again as the big bang at the beginning...
Notice that #s 1 and 3 are the same.
Briefly, the problems w/ each, as I've already stated...
1a) There were an infinite amount of seconds before now, and we have just added a second, now two, now three, etc, to infinity.
1b) To sustain your objection to a strong theistic argument, you just thrust aside The Laws of Thermodynamics; if energy is neither created nor destroyed and the universe is infinitely old, the finite amount of energy in the universe would have been a victim of entropy long before now.
#2 is also logically impossible b/c nothing causes nothing. If there's nothing, then there's nothing.
Chris continues to insist that the answer "God did it" is unacceptably improbable. And what if it is? It's still the only logically possible option offered so far.
-Therefore, Dawkins concludes, the same kind of rational reasoning can be applied to the God Hypothesis as to any other scientific question.
"Rational," yes. "Scientific," no. Science has no mechanism to test whether God exists one way or the other.
-Dawkins concludes that the argument from design is the most convincing
I think it's a good argument but it's far from the 'most convincing.' It's not "convincing" at all for a hardened fundamentalist like Dawkins anyway, so that's a poor choice of words by either Dawkins or the wiki author.
-The extreme improbability of life and a universe capable of hosting it requires explanation, but Dawkins considers the God Hypothesis inferior to evolution by natural selection as explanations for the complexity of life.
Stop the press!
But when I see Dawkins' sloppy reasoning and the massive holes in Darwinian evolutionary models, I see no reason to accept what he says.
-he redirects the argument from complexity in an attempt to show that God must have been designed by a superintelligent designer
The moment he does so, he stops responding to the Christian worldview.
Maybe that's part of his problem - he's arguing against a religion of his own making, or some kind of finite godism. On Christianity, God is the Uncaused First Cause, the Undesigned Designer. Arguing that He needed a designer is to continue to commit the infinite regress fallacy that so many atheists are so wedded to in their ideas of the universe (including Chris Severn w/ his "cyclical universe" model). Just b/c atheists want to continue in idiocy doesn't mean Christians have to.
-Fred Hoyle reportedly stated that the "probability of life originating on Earth is no greater than the chance that a hurricane, sweeping through a scrapyard, would have the luck to assemble a Boeing 747.
I'd argue it's much, much less probable, but the principle is the same.
-The basic argument against empirical theism dates back at least to David Hume, whose objection can be popularly stated as "Who designed the designer?"
Wow, so impressive! Either one ends up w/ the God that atheists don't like or one ends up in logical impossibility. Personally, I've never considered it all that rational to pass up rational thought just b/c I don't like it. But that's just me.
-to show that where design fails to explain complexity, evolution by natural selection succeeds and is the only workable solution
It doesn't work, for one thing.
-1. 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.
2. 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.
So far so good.
-3. 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.
The loud guffaws you hear in the bkgrd are coming from me. That's the best that internationally-renowned atheist and Oxford scholar Dawkins can do?
I should take Dawkins' say-so that God's existence is improbable? And, again, I should be willing to follow him into idiotic reasoning that leads me AWAY from a logically non-impossible option (God) and BACK INTO a logically impossible one? Sign me up!
-4. 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.
This is a minor point, but, again, evolutionary theory is full of huge problems that, to me, are insuperable.
-5. We don't yet have an equivalent crane for physics
But we will! Believe us!!! Or we'll label you morons and fools! And we'll make sure to try to re-educate your children!!!
-Some kind of multiverse theory could in principle do for physics the same explanatory work as Darwinism does for biology.
Speaking of "no evidence" and "improbability"...
-But the anthropic principle entitles us to postulate far more luck than our limited human intuition is comfortable with.
Dawkins' personal preferences surface again. Why should anyone care what he thinks? That's serious, not rhetorical. B/c of his reasoning? Haha, it's lame. B/c of his reputation? In this area, it's 100% unwarranted. B/c of his clipped English accent? It's the best thing he's got going for him.
-Richard Swinburne reasons that theism is parsimonious because it only invokes a single substance, God, as a cause and maintainer of every other object. This cause is seen as omnipotent, omniscient and totally free.
Otherwise known as one of the core doctrines of Christianity. Credit to the author - he correctly represented Christianity here.
-Dawkins believes postulating such an entity doesn't explain anything and usurps the role of science.
1) It explains origins in a way that's actually logically possible.
2) Unlike anythg Dawkins has offered.
3) This is a perfect example of Dawkins' inability to confine science to what it can actually do.
What materials could one test to determine whether God exists? What repeatable experiment? Science is not the only way to arrive at truth. In cases of metaphysics, it's nearly worthless and leads you to act like an idiot, like someone who does NOT have a Ph.D from a prestigious university.
-He suggests that a God that controls every atom and listens to all our prayers cannot be something simple, and his existence would require a "mammoth explanation" of its own.
I hope his argument is any better than what he's offered above.
"Mammoth explanation" has been provided in the Bible, for one thing. And I'd be happy to recommend several extremely large volumes of systematic theology.
And this is not what I would call a "mammoth explanation."
-[Natural selection], as far as we know, is the only process ultimately capable of generating complexity out of simplicity.
It's not my fault that you artificially level the playing field.
-Dawkins's response to criticism
According to Dawkins, the strongest response was the objection that he was imposing a scientific epistemology on a question that lies beyond the realm of science.
Yes, thank you.
-Dawkins writes that he didn't get the impression that those employing this "evasive" defence were being wilfully dishonest, but were "defining themselves into an epistemological Safe Zone where rational argument could not reach them because they had declared by fiat that it could not."
OK, then the burden is on him to demonstrate how science could test whether God exists using the scientific method.
You know, it MIGHT be that his critics were waiting for him to engage the question using a relevant and applicable methodology.