Re: [asa] Dawkins, religion, and children

From: PvM <>
Date: Mon May 07 2007 - 13:12:45 EDT

Remember also the part that Jack quoted

<quote>"...suppose we concede, at least for purposes of argument, that
God is complex. ..why does Dawkins think it follows that God would be
improbable? Given materialism and the idea that the ultimate objects
in our universe are the elementary particles of physics, perhaps a
being that knew a great deal would be improbable... Of course we
aren't given materialism. Dawkins is arguing that theism is
improbable; it would be dialectically deficient in excelsis to argue
this by appealing to materialism as a premise. Of course it is
unlikely that there is such a person as God if materialism is true; in
fact materialism logically entails that there is no such person as
God; but it would be obviously question-begging to argue that theism
is improbable because materialism is true."</quote>

As I have shown however, Dawkins argument is not presuming that
materialism is true, on the contrary. Plantinga is arguing a clever
strawman of his own creation here. Having read Dawkins, I do have to
admit that I may have some advantage here.

Plantinga mostly dances around the topic, jumps from God Delusion to
Watchmaker to make a somewhat incoherent argument against his own
strawmen. It would have been so much better if he could have addressed
the argument proposed by Dawkins in a more straightforward manner.

There are two possibilities, either God is complex or God is simple.
If God is complex then using a complex entity to explain complexity
begs the question 'what or who created God'. If God were simple, then
it begs the question of reductionism. If complexity can indeed be
reduced to simplicity then it seems that there exists a strong
argument in favor of reductionism and God becomes the 'origin' of
reductionism, a sort of alpha point, as opposed to the omega point
proposed by some theologians

<quote>Omega point is a term invented by French Jesuit Pierre Teilhard
de Chardin to describe the ultimate maximum level of
complexity-consciousness, considered by him the aim towards which
consciousness evolves. Rather than divinity being found "in the
heavens" he held that evolution was a process converging toward a
"final unity", identical with the Eschaton and with God. </quote>

Weird though that this theologian considers the maximum level of
complexity-consciousness to be a description of 'God'.

From a faith based perspective "great Christian philosophers" may want
to define God to be simple or complex, but a definition needs to be
also coherent and consistent. Furthermore, calling God an eternal
being, is an easy way to not have to explain its existence but that
makes it scientifically speaking, and remember that we are talking
about a scientific hypothesis of God, quite vacuous.

I believe that Dawkins unique contribution here is that either one
argues that ID is wrong, which is fine with Dawkins, or that ID is
right but that raises significant questions about the complexity and
origin of God. However, this is a can of worms mostly opened by ID.

Where did Dawkins get it wrong? An improbable system need to be
implausible. If God were too probable we would see quite a few more
Gods. But the probability, improbability does not follow from science
but rather from our faith. Is Dawkins wrong though or is he cleverly
taking the claims about God being a valid scientific hypothesis to
their logical conclusion?

Rather than demonize Dawkins, we may want to identify where he went
wrong, even if this requires us dropping the ID hypothesis. We can
leverage his claims that religious belief and morality etc have
evolved, to show how this may be reconciled with God's written word.

Refusing to discuss Dawkins just because the arguments appear to be
anti-Christian or uncomfortable is another approach but personally I
believe that working through Dawkins arguments in a meaningful manner
can be far more effective.

On 5/7/07, Jack <> wrote:
> I am not going to discuss Plantiga here anymore, his argument stands on its
> own.
> You even provided the link Pim, whoever is interested can read the article
> and come to their own conclusions about its merits, and about your
> interpretation of it.
> I am going to make this simple. I am finished with this discussion with you
> Pim, until you tell us where you think that Dawkins gets it wrong. You
> claim to be a Christian, and if you are Dawkins must get it wrong somewhere.
> Otherwise it seems we have no common ground to continue.

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Received on Mon, 7 May 2007 10:12:45 -0700

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