Re: [asa] Dawkins, religion, and children

From: David Opderbeck <>
Date: Tue May 01 2007 - 13:57:29 EDT

*So do fairies exist or not? Does something exist just
> because some claim that it forms a coherent worldview?
I don't know if fairies exist; I highly doubt it. And no, coherency alone
isn't enough to prove a knowledge claim indubitably. But the point is that
the reasonableness of presupposing belief in God is tied to the coherency of
the worldview supported by that belief. No coherent worldview is supported
by any belief in fairies. Thus, it simply is not true that it is equally
reasonable to believe in fairies as it is to believe in God. The knowledge
claim "fairies exist" is not commensurable with the knowledge claim "the God
of the Bible exists."

On 5/1/07, PvM <> wrote:
> Dawkins addresses these issues in the God Delusion as explained below,
> though it helps to see the full text..
> About the Ontological Argument
> <quote>It is possible to conceive, Anselm said, of a being than which
> nothing greater can be conceived. Even an atheist can conceive of such
> a superlative being, though he would deny its existence in the real
> world. But, goes the argument, a being that doesn't exist in the real
> world is, by that very fact, less than perfect. Therefore we
> have a contradiction and, hey presto, God exists!</quote>
> The simple response seems to be that it is impossible to conceive of a
> being than which nothing greater can be conceived, it's like finding
> the largest prime.
> So perhaps perfection is found in non-existence after all. Or what
> about the most perfect being, would such a being be all powerful? If
> not it is not perfect. But if it were all powerful, it should be able
> to create something more powerful than himself, and thus he would not
> be perfect.
> Things get complicated with such 'logic'.
> But we are getting too far away from the original statement by Collins
> <quote>Francis Collins: "I would argue that atheism is the least
> rational of all choices because that assumes that you know enough to
> assume the possibility of God [in the first place]</quote>
> So far I have failed to see a good response to this question.
> David O
> > A-fairyians is another silly comparison because, once again, fairies do
> > underwrite a coherent worldview as does the concept of the Christian
> How have you establishes this and what relevance does this have? Proof
> by assertion just somehow does not make for a very impressive
> argument. So do fairies exist or not? Does something exist just
> because some claim that it forms a coherent worldview? These are very
> unsatisfactory answers to a very relevant question.
> Dick: You wouldn't be making this argument if you had been among the
> Israelites being lead through the wilderness by a column of smoke by
> day and a pillar of fire by night. It wasn't the "spaghetti monster"
> who spoke to Moses out of the burning bush. In short, we have the
> testimony of 44 authors writing over a period of fifteen hundred
> years, all who testified to the living God of the Judeo-Christian
> tradition. If I am persuaded by data and evidence alone it is He, the
> great "I Am," that gets my vote.
> So we get to vote across the board? Zeus, Thor, And the many other
> gods about whom countless 'eyewitness' stories exist, passed down
> through countless generations. I agree that the biblical story is
> mostly internally coherent but does that make it right? Give the
> spaghetti monster some time and who knows... It may go the same way as
> the stories of L Ron Hubbard.
> And we know that he must be right as countless books have been written
> on this topic.
> Perhaps somewhat tongue in cheek but I find these answers not very
> satisfying. How does one respond to Dawkins' statement without
> presuming that one is right? Is the answer, as some have suggested, a
> coherent worldview? But then the question becomes, that there are many
> coherent worldviews and coherency cannot be defined to be 'Christian
> God' without becoming tautological.
> I see Dawkins' argument as quite powerful and we may reject it as
> lacking in theological depth, but to the layperson, the argument
> sounds quite solid. Is the best answer one which argues that
> philosophically speaking the ontological argument seems puzzling?
> On 5/1/07, Rich Blinne <> wrote:
> >
> >
> > On 5/1/07, PvM <> wrote:
> > >
> > > Collins' argument seems illogical to say the least, especially when
> > > applied to any other 'entity', such as Thor, Zeus, the flying
> > > spaghetti monster etc.
> > >
> > >
> >
> > Collins' argument does not apply to any other "entity" but to any other
> > "Being" [Note capitalization]. Since Being is singular the concept of
> > probabilities does not apply due to the lack of a statistical sample. As
> > David O. noted the FSM is merely a re-labeling and does not
> > address either the strengths or weaknesses of the argument. All the
> > pluses and minuses of the ontological argument apply here.
> >
> > That Dawkins does not have the philosophical chops that even other
> > have to understand the traditional theistic arguments and their
> > was noticed by NY Times reviewer, Jim Holt, of the God Delusion:
> >
> > >
> > >
> > > The least satisfying part of this book is Dawkins's treatment of the
> > traditional arguments for the existence of God. The "ontological
> > says that God must exist by his very nature, since he possesses all
> > perfections, and it is more perfect to exist than not to exist. The
> > "cosmological argument" says that the world must have an ultimate cause,
> > this cause could only be an eternal, God-like entity. The "design
> > appeals to special features of the universe (such as its suitability for
> > emergence of intelligent life), submitting that such features make it
> > probable than not that the universe had a purposive cosmic designer.
> > >
> > > These, in a nutshell, are the Big Three arguments. To Dawkins, they
> > simply ridiculous. He dismisses the ontological argument as "infantile"
> > "dialectical prestidigitation" without quite identifying the defect in
> > logic, and he is baffled that a philosopher like Russell "no fool"
> > take it seriously. He seems unaware that this argument, though medieval
> > origin, comes in sophisticated modern versions that are not at all easy
> > refute. Shirking the intellectual hard work, Dawkins prefers to move on
> > parodic "proofs" that he has found on the Internet, like the "Argument
> > Emotional Blackmail: God loves you. How could you be so heartless as not
> > believe in him? Therefore God exists." (For those who want to understand
> > weaknesses in the standard arguments for God's existence, the best
source I
> > know remains the atheist philosopher J. L. Mackie's 1982 book "The
> > of Theism.")
> >
> >

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Received on Tue May 1 13:58:11 2007

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