Re: [asa] Dawkins, religion, and children

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Date: Thu May 03 2007 - 12:12:54 EDT

Correction in the "Lemma" below marked by **
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Sent: Thu, 3 May 2007 12:06 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] Dawkins, religion, and children

Pim wrote:
> In other words, it's Plantinga who insists on defining God as simple,
> perhaps based on the philosophical teachings of others. In fact, there
> are many reasons to object such a principle based on ID's own claims
> about complexity and the conservation thereof.

Personally I don't understand the theological statement that God is simple, but in any case I don't think Platinga is correct in appealing to it as a response to Dawkins. Even though God is simple in His essence, God's knowledge is certainly not simple, and I see no reason why Dawkins should not include God's knowledge and understanding as a "part" of God in this context. It may be theologically important to distinguish between God's essence and knowledge, but it is not important to the structure of Dawkins' argument, as far as I can see.
So I would prefer to grant Dawkins' idea that God involves some type of complexity in His acts of creating.
However, I have already posted a very clear argument that shows that there is a basic fallacy in Dawkins' syllogism, and that his syllogism is therefore completely undone. I don't think there is any response to my argument. I am posting it below with some additional material that I have previously sent to Pim off-list.
Here is Dawkin's argument:
Major Premiss #1. Every existing entity that shows evidence of design requires a designer superior to itself
Minor Premiss #1. God (as an existing entity) shows evidence of design in himself (complexity of thought, perhaps)
Conclusion #1. Hence God requires a designer (another God) superior to himself
Major Premiss #2. Infinite regressions are not possible
Minor Premiss #1. Conclusion #1 implies an infinite regression (an infinite number of Gods)
Conclusion #2. Hence, Conclusion #1 is not possible
Conclusion #3: Since Conclusion #1 is not possible, then either the Major or Minor Premiss must be discarded.

(Alternative 1): If the Major premiss #1 is correct, then we must discard Minor Premiss #1; God is not an existing entity.

(Alternative 2): If we are unwilling to discard belief in God, then we must discard Major Premiss #1
Lemma: thus, in discarding **Major Premiss #1** we validate Darwinism and simultaneously agree that God is not required to explain any appearance of design. God does not have any role and therefore we have no reason to hypothesize God.
Conclusion #4: Either way (Alternative 1 or 2), it is unlikely that God exists.
I see at least two ways to dissect this:
A. There is clearly an equivocation with the term "existing entity" between Major Premiss #1 and Minor Premiss #1. The first usage in the Major premiss means "every contingently existing entity", whereas the second usage in the Minor premiss is speaking about "a necessarily existing entity." We usually leave the word "contingent" unstated since it is obvious: there is no reason to assume that a necessary being requires a Designer superior to itself! That's just plain silly! But here, Dawkins' equivocation means there is no common middle term in the syllogism, and therefore the first syllogism is formally fallacious. Therefore Conclusion #3 is also incorrect. There is in fact an Alternative #3:
(Alternative 3): The syllogism is formally fallacious
and in fact it is. Therefore, neither Alternative #1 or #2 must be accespted, and so Conclusion #4 does not follow.
B. Another way to argue this is to allow Dawkins to broaden the definition of "every existing entity" in the Major premiss to include both contingent and necessary beings. That removes the equivocation. But now Premiss #1 is just begging the question. Is it really true that every existing entity, necessary ones included, require a designer superior to itself? Has ID or anybody ever made such a claim? Of course not! That's silly! So Dawkins has failed to prove that the Major Premiss #1 must be discarded when it refers only to contingent beings. Alternative #2 may discard the Major Premiss #1 when it refers to necessary beings, but the Lemma does not follow and so Conclusion #4 does not follow, either.
A request:
If I am wrong about this, then someone please show me how his middle term in the first syllogism is not equivocal. I agree that it is distributed in the Major premiss as it ought to be for a valid syllogism, but is it really distributed widely enough to include its different usage in the Minor premiss? To wit, does it include necessary beings? If not, then his argument is bogus and it is not a judo maneuver against ID. But if the middle term really is distributed widely enough in the Major Premiss to include God, then isn't the major premiss simply question-begging? Is it really true that a necessary being, whatever his complexity or simplicity, must have been created by something higher than itself? Has ID really **ever** phrased their major premiss #1 to include necessary beings??? No, of course not! There is simply NO argument against ID in Dawkins' poor syllogism. Let's not be sloppy in our logic nor allow him to be. He is putting forth an argument that claims t
 o use logic, and if the logic is fallacious then we have a duty to say so.

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Received on Thu May 3 12:13:53 2007

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