Re: [asa] Dawkins, religion, and children

From: <philtill@aol.com>
Date: Wed May 09 2007 - 02:57:48 EDT

Pim,
 
I posted this separately because I think it is more important that the other replies I sent you.
 
You said,
 
> Remember that if ID can be used to infer the existence of a God, then
> ID can also be used to show the existence of a God to be improbable.
 
Well, first off I don't agree that ID can be used to infer either of these: neither His existence nor non-existence. I don't believe ID is biblical or a correct way to lead people to God or to transform the culture. I believe you need revelation from God to find God.
 
But to the point of our discussion, I don't think IDers themselves are overtly claiming to prove the existence of God, either. They are claiming to prove the existence of design without stating who or what the designer is. Now, being consistent with this, if Dawkins wants to say that God also shows evidence of design within Himself, but agrees to claim with the IDers that we cannot know who or what God's designer is, then I can actually agree with that! I agree because God is self-existent and therefore any design in God comes from Himself in an eternal sense that we cannot fully understand. He is eternally "self-determined." He can be like that because He is outside time and fundamentally different than anything else you may encounter. If the theologians will allow me to use Dawkins' sloppy terminology, then I will say that God is His own designer; He is indeed designed, but there is no higher God.
 
Thus, seeing "design" in God does not lead to an infinite regress. Only if you want to insist that God must have a designer _other_than_Himself_ do you get into the regress. But to insist that His designer must be other than Himself is to insist that God does not exist as a starting presupposition. Nobody ever in the history of orthodox Christianity (or Judaism or Islam, to my knowledge) has ever believed that God is not self-determined self-existently from within His own nature. To refuse to allow us to talk about the God we have always believed in is, like I said, circular reasoning on the part of Dawkins. He has said nothing about the God of the monotheistic faiths. (This is just another way to say the same thing that everybody has been repeatedly saying to you. Maybe putting it this way will be a little clearer.)

You also stated,
 
> Perhaps we should come to the conclusion that neither logic nor
> science can do much to support our concept of God and that the
> attempts to infer God's existence through such arguments do a
> disservice to an entity which cannot be captured by such reductionism.
 
This is all-or-nothing thinking. The design argument, taken wholistically along with our entire engagement of existence in this world, contributes to our apprehension of God. This necessarily involves science at some level. I think ID's packaging is very wrong since it omits Jesus and God's verbal and historical revelation, but by no means does ID's error mean that science should withdraw altogether from engaging religious beliefs or vice-versa. This is especially true when we are talking about historic, revealed faiths where observable events have occurred and can be tested. I would want to test Mormonism's claims of American history, for example, and so I believe testing is allowed across the board. I think repentance is more imporantant than science in finding God, but together the entire package of life contributes to our experience with God.
 
God bless,
Phil
 
 
 
-----Original Message-----
From: pvm.pandas@gmail.com
To: philtill@aol.com
Cc: asa@calvin.edu
Sent: Tue, 8 May 2007 12:44 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] Dawkins, religion, and children

On 5/8/07, philtill@aol.com <philtill@aol.com> wrote:
 
> You also quote Dawkins saying this:
>
> > A designer God cannot be used to
> > explain organized complexity because any God capable of designing
> > anything would have to be complex enough to demand the same kind of
> > explanation in his own right.
 
> But the problem is that Dawkins is seeing only the complexity as the issue
> and so he mindlessly blows over most of the other necessary parts of the
> IDer's argument. Organized complexity alone doesn't demand a designer. The
 
On the contrary, I believe that Dawkins cleverly exploits ID's
argument, and the argument cannot be easily saved by adding what you
call ID assumptions such as 'inside space time and subject to physics
because they are certainly not ID assumptions necessary for the
Explanatory Filter.
 
> IDers aren't saying that it does. They are saying that organized complexity
> inside spacetime and subject to physics demand a designer, because physics
> in spacetime is incapable of producing the appearance of design. (Whether
 
regularity and chance are the relevant processes used by Intelligent
Design. As Dawkins has shown for instance, evolution is quite capable
of generating the appearance of design. But that's also not really
ID's argument either.
 
> or not they are correct is not my point.) Dawkins has latched onto just one
> part of their argument -- complexity -- and ignores the rest. God is not
> subject to the same physics as bacterial flagella. If bacterial flagella
 
On the contrary, Dawkins has latched onto ID's argument 'complexity'
and 'specification' and that's the full extent of the argument.
Claiming that he ignores the rest seems to involve an ad hoc appeal to
claims and assumptions ID cannot rely on based on its own
formulations.
 
Remember that if ID can be used to infer the existence of a God, then
ID can also be used to show the existence of a God to be improbable.
 
> were likewise outside of physics and spacetime, then the ID-ers would never
> be arguing that they need a designer.
 
Irrelevant to the discussion.
 
> You also stated
>
> > Dawkins defines the God Hypothesis as follows
>
> > <quote> ...<snip>...any creative
> > intelligence, of sufficient complexity to design anything, comes into
> > existence only as the end product of an extended process of gradual
> > evolution.</quote>
 
> But we conceive of God in a way that is analogous to the way we conceive of
> the number 1 (for example). We didn't invent that concept. We just
> apprehended it. It appears in nature, for example, in the integral values
> of quantum numbers. "One" is simple, not complex, and thus Dawkins may not
> like it as an analogy for the Designer.
 
Nor do I because it is a meaningless analogy which can easily be taken
too far. We have defined 1 as part of a much larger foundation of
mathematics. Is God a mathematical construct? A definition? Then we
are entering an area of tautology. One is One, God is God.
 
> But consider the fact that "one"
> cannot exist by itself. It must exist in the context of arithmetic, and
> Godel's theorem shows that no arithmetic system can be reduced to a finite
> set of axioms unless it is incomplete, and no finite or infinite set of
> axioms can ever be known to be free of internal contradiction through any
> countable set of deductions. IMO, we see through this that arithmentic
> cannot have real and consistent existence apart from an infinite Mind.
 
That seems to be a somewhat strained variation on the Godel Theorem.
Godel's theorem is far less reaching than your conclusion.
 
> Its
> existence implies the Mind's existence. Whether or not this infinite Mind
> is "simple" in the theological sense, I do not know, but I do know that it
> cannot be reduced and it cannot arise through an evolutionary process from a
> reduced state the way Dawkins asserts.
 
Again an unsupported assertion.
 
> We conceive of God as an eternal being who ends any infinite regress and who
> cannot be reduced to an unthinking, unknowing axiom of physics or
> mathematics. Dawkins has not said anything in TGD about this being.
 
Are you sure? It seems to me that your variation to God may be clever
but rather ad hoc. One can always redefine God or add another
requirements such as simplicity versus complexity. The question is
simple, is God simple or complex. Is God specified? based on these two
simple assumptions, one can draw logical conclusions. If God is
simple, then we are saying that complexity is reducible to simplicity,
and thus other simple systems can also generate complexity. If God is
complex, then we have to deal with the fact that invoking something
more complex as an explanation for something less complex is not a
very satisfying scientific explanation as we need an explanation for
the more complex system.
 
> But like mathematics in
> view of Godel's theorem, the infinite regress of nature has to end
> somewhere, and it must be a wholistic Mind that is eternal, not a few
> algorithms of physics. When we assert faith in God, we are asserting that
 
That is a conclusion which is not necessarily related to Godel's theorem
 
> only a Being with God's nature can self-exist. We are asserting that
> unthinking physics is incapable of self-existing. Dawkins has said nothing
> about this assertion, which is at the essence of monotheism. For that
> reason his book is silly and unworthy to organize any debate.
 
I agree that for that reason the book may be silly but the arguments
presented by Dawkins are hardly that silly. I am sure that 'we are
asserting' a lot, but from the perspective of a scientific hypothesis
of God, this does not seem to do much.
 
Perhaps we should come to the conclusion that neither logic nor
science can do much to support our concept of God and that the
attempts to infer God's existence through such arguments do a
disservice to an entity which cannot be captured by such reductionism.
I would be fine with that but religious people have opened up God to
scientific inquiry and they cannot just slam shut the door when their
approach is turned against them.
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Received on Wed May 9 02:58:28 2007

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