Dawkins' Central Argument for Atheism Fails

Gavagai
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Dawkins' Central Argument for Atheism Fails

There is a lot of rhetoric and otherwise manipulative prose out there that we must be careful to avoid if we are to seek the truth about reality in an intellectually responsible and careful way. Whether you're theist or atheist, you should be on guard against all forms of sophistry; do not let quick soundbites, dazzling slogans, and other superficialities do your thinking for you. Instead, get to the heart of the matter by closely analyzing the actual arguments that people have.

 An argument is valid when its premises lead logically to its conclusion; if we were to accept the premises of a valid argument, then we would be forced, as it were, to accept the conclusion. If an argument is valid, there will be a rule of logical inference that guarantees the conclusion, given the premises. With this in mind, let's look at what Dawkins calls his "central argument":

(1) One of the greatest challenges to the human intellect has been to explain how the complex, improbable appearances of design in the universe arises.

(2) The natural temptation is to attribute the appearance of design to actual design itself.

(3) The temptation is a false one because the designer hypothesis immediately raises the larger problem of who designed the designer.

(4) The most ingenious and powerful explanation is Darwinian evolution by natural selection.

(5) We don't have an equivalent explanation for physics.

(6) We should not give up the hope of a better explanation arising in physics, something as powerful as Darwinism is for biology.

Therefore, God almost certainly does not exist. (157-8, GD)

 

This argument is invalid, because the conclusion doesn't follow from the premises. If you disagree, then simply respond by stating the logical inference rule that permits one to derive the conclusion from the six antecedent premises. Here is a list of all the inference rules: http://www.philosophypages.com/dy/i9.htm#inru 

Cheers,

Gavagai

 

Rude, offensive, irrational jackass.


Vessel
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Gavagai wrote: There is a

Gavagai wrote:
There is a lot of rhetoric and otherwise manipulative prose out there that we must be careful to avoid if we are to seek the truth about reality in an intellectually responsible and careful way. Whether you're theist or atheist, you should be on guard against all forms of sophistry; do not let quick soundbites, dazzling slogans, and other superficialities do your thinking for you. Instead, get to the heart of the matter by closely analyzing the actual arguments that people have.

 An argument is valid when its premises lead logically to its conclusion; if we were to accept the premises of a valid argument, then we would be forced, as it were, to accept the conclusion. If an argument is valid, there will be a rule of logical inference that guarantees the conclusion, given the premises. With this in mind, let's look at what Dawkins calls his "central argument":

(1) One of the greatest challenges to the human intellect has been to explain how the complex, improbable appearances of design in the universe arises.

(2) The natural temptation is to attribute the appearance of design to actual design itself.

(3) The temptation is a false one because the designer hypothesis immediately raises the larger problem of who designed the designer.

(4) The most ingenious and powerful explanation is Darwinian evolution by natural selection.

(5) We don't have an equivalent explanation for physics.

(6) We should not give up the hope of a better explanation arising in physics, something as powerful as Darwinism is for biology.

Therefore, God almost certainly does not exist. (157-8, GD)

This argument is invalid, because the conclusion doesn't follow from the premises. If you disagree, then simply respond by stating the logical inference rule that permits one to derive the conclusion from the six antecedent premises. Here is a list of all the inference rules: http://www.philosophypages.com/dy/i9.htm#inru 

Cheers,

Gavagai

Where did you find this argument? Please provide a link or a text and page number so that I can see where Dawkins presents this argument in this form.  

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


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I think he's quoting the God

I think he's quoting the God Delusion, pages 157-158.
(He sources it in the brackets.)

I think Dawkins conclusion isn't that God almost certainly doesn't exist, more that it's irrational to believe in God as you shouldn't believe in something without evidence.


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Strafio wrote: I think he's

Strafio wrote:
I think he's quoting the God Delusion, pages 157-158. (He sources it in the brackets.) I think Dawkins conclusion isn't that God almost certainly doesn't exist, more that it's irrational to believe in God as you shouldn't believe in something without evidence.

That's entirely it. 


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If you like, change the

If you like, change the conclusion to "therefore, belief in God is irrational". The argument is still invalid. If you disagree, please state the rule of inference that permits you to derive this conclusion from the 6 premises.

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Strafio wrote:I think he's

Strafio wrote:
I think he's quoting the God Delusion, pages 157-158. (He sources it in the brackets.) I think Dawkins conclusion isn't that God almost certainly doesn't exist, more that it's irrational to believe in God as you shouldn't believe in something without evidence.

Thanks. I figured it was something like that as I could not imagine any intelligent educated person thinking that they had formed a valid argument proving that a god does not exist with what was presented above.

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


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Gavagai wrote: If you like,

Gavagai wrote:
If you like, change the conclusion to "therefore, belief in God is irrational". The argument is still invalid. If you disagree, please state the rule of inference that permits you to derive this conclusion from the 6 premises.

It still doesn't change what he meant. You didn't disprove his Central Arguement, you found to counter-philosophize (is this even a word?), which still doesn't change what he meant.


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Vessel wrote: Strafio

Vessel wrote:

Strafio wrote:
I think he's quoting the God Delusion, pages 157-158. (He sources it in the brackets.) I think Dawkins conclusion isn't that God almost certainly doesn't exist, more that it's irrational to believe in God as you shouldn't believe in something without evidence.

Thanks. I figured it was something like that as I could not imagine any intelligent educated person thinking that they had formed a valid argument proving that a god does not exist with what was presented above.

The OP presented a paraphrase of how Dawkins presented it in his book, with the numbered points and everything. But, Dawkins doesn't claim to be making a formal deductive argument.


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Gavagai, It's been a while

Gavagai,

It's been a while since I've read The God Delusion, but I think point of this chapter was a little different than what you perceived it to be. It wasn't meant to be a formal deductive argument, but it demonstrates that the role that God fills for most theists--roles like creator, designer, first cause, etc.--have been largely explained by naturalistic means. This leaves very little room for God, and makes materialism a rational position.

Gavagai wrote:
Whether you're theist or atheist, you should be on guard against all forms of sophistry; do not let quick soundbites, dazzling slogans, and other superficialities do your thinking for you.

I can understand why you'd think Dawkins is guilty of sophistry. When I was reading The God Delusion, it felt like I was reading some apologetic work like I used to read as a Christian. But, it is very hard to go beyond the superficial in a book written for a popular audience.


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Gavagai wrote: If you like,

Gavagai wrote:
If you like, change the conclusion to "therefore, belief in God is irrational". The argument is still invalid. If you disagree, please state the rule of inference that permits you to derive this conclusion from the 6 premises.

 Gavagai if it is irrational then we are talking psychology,the psychology of reasoning (psychology) not the correct principle of reasoning (logic)

 If you could demonstrate a basic understanding of irrational and its implications for the psyche in general, I'll happily have a chat about this with you

 


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What you have listed is not

What you have listed is not the complete argument dawkins puts forward.

It could probably be summed up as

1) Something complex cant just magically come into existence.

2) god is complex

God cant magically come into existence and is therefore unlikely.

The main point is that any "god" being must be the result of a proses like evolution.

 

Edit:

Changed my stupid opening sentance. 

"Everyone knows that God drives a Plymouth: "And He drove Adam And Eve from the Garden of Eden in His Fury."
And that Moses liked British cars: "The roar of Moses' Triumph was heard throughout the hills."
On the other hand, Jesus humbly drove a Honda but didn't brag about it, because in his own words: "I did not speak of my own Accord." "


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Gavagai wrote: There is a

Gavagai wrote:
There is a lot of rhetoric and otherwise manipulative prose out there that we must be careful to avoid if we are to seek the truth about reality in an intellectually responsible and careful way. Whether you're theist or atheist, you should be on guard against all forms of sophistry; do not let quick soundbites, dazzling slogans, and other superficialities do your thinking for you. Instead, get to the heart of the matter by closely analyzing the actual arguments that people have.

 An argument is valid when its premises lead logically to its conclusion; if we were to accept the premises of a valid argument, then we would be forced, as it were, to accept the conclusion. If an argument is valid, there will be a rule of logical inference that guarantees the conclusion, given the premises. With this in mind, let's look at what Dawkins calls his "central argument":

(1) One of the greatest challenges to the human intellect has been to explain how the complex, improbable appearances of design in the universe arises.

(2) The natural temptation is to attribute the appearance of design to actual design itself.

(3) The temptation is a false one because the designer hypothesis immediately raises the larger problem of who designed the designer.

(4) The most ingenious and powerful explanation is Darwinian evolution by natural selection.

(5) We don't have an equivalent explanation for physics.

(6) We should not give up the hope of a better explanation arising in physics, something as powerful as Darwinism is for biology.

Therefore, God almost certainly does not exist. (157-8, GD)

This argument is invalid, because the conclusion doesn't follow from the premises. If you disagree, then simply respond by stating the logical inference rule that permits one to derive the conclusion from the six antecedent premises. Here is a list of all the inference rules: http://www.philosophypages.com/dy/i9.htm#inru 

Cheers,

Gavagai

He was merely sumarising the main points of the chapter, as you well know. Pretending he was listing his premises is completely dishonest of you. End of discusion.


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I'm working on my "Unified

I'm working on my "Unified Conflation Theory" and this whole thread is a good example of the principle at work.

Basically, after more than a decade of actively debating atheism/theism, I've yet to see a theist argument that didn't include equivocation/conflation/redefinition.

This one is a really good example of it, because it's really, really subtle, and very persuasive.  Like I have said before, I'm just an amateur logician, but I think the OP has a point when he says that the argument he presented doesn't follow.  It's also true that Dawkins made each of those points.  It's false that Dawkins presented the points in order as a logical proof.

As a matter of fact, someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't recall a single logical proof being presented in The God Delusion.  Dawkins even goes out of his way to say that his book is designed to show the lay reader that there are better explanations for the beginning of life than a complex creator!

This is, plain and simple, misrepresenting Dawkins argument as something it's not, and then judging it against standards it never intended to meet.

There are logical arguments against the existence of god.  Todangst and Deludedgod have written volumes on the subject.  Dawkins doesn't claim to be a logician, and writing him off after inventing a proof he didn't make is disingenuous at best and downright dishonest at worst.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Most of you suggest that

Many of you suggest that the portion of Dawkins I reproduced wasn't actually meant to be an argument. But Dawkins himself begs to differ. He explicitly calls it his "central argument". Does he not mean what he says here, or?

Perhaps he doesn't mean "argument" in the same sense as logicians and philosophers mean it? But then why should those of us who value logic and philosophy take him seriously here?

Rude, offensive, irrational jackass.


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Gavagai wrote: Many of

Gavagai wrote:

Many of you suggest that the portion of Dawkins I reproduced wasn't actually meant to be an argument. But Dawkins himself begs to differ. He explicitly calls it his "central argument". Does he not mean what he says here, or?

Perhaps he doesn't mean "argument" in the same sense as logicians and philosophers mean it? But then why should those of us who value logic and philosophy take him seriously here?

You built a silly strawman and then asked people to defend it. Just admit that, obviously, the argument as you presented it is not the intent with which Dawkins wrote the portion of the book you reference. If you would like to argue against this ridiculous strawman of his position I doubt that you will find any takers here.

 

 

 

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


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Hi, I don't come here often

Hi, I don't come here often but the original poster makes an interesting case against R.D. I will try to argue against it.

MrRage above notes that the O.P. is mischaracterizing R.D.'s argument. Page 157-8 of TGD is not a list of premises to a logical argument, but rather a summary. Having read through the chapter again it appears a rather incomplete summary.

But in any case, the O.P.'s emphasis on logical validity of argument is commendable. Hambydammit mentions above that R.D. is "doesn't claim to be a logician" and is not attempting a logical argument. All arguments of fact have a basis in logic whether we realize it or not. It is easier to see it when premises and steps are clearly layed out, and in technical papers this is indeed the case, but in common conversation we tend to keep things simple.

As far as I can tell, R.D.'s argument in chapter 4 is that the God hypothesis, far from the simplest explanation for complexity in nature, is an almost infinitely complicated "sky-hook" explanation. A being that can affect electrons across the universe according to an intelligible will is bound to be far more complex and requiring yet more explanation than that which he is invoked to explain. This assumption places the burden of evidence on the theist to provide (a lot of) positive evidence of God's existence.

Conversely, Natural Selection in biology is just the sort of "crane" explanation that allows us to theorize a gradual ramping-up of complexity by natural means. Crane explanations should always be preferred over sky-hook 'God-did-it' explanations, at least in the absense of direct evidence of God's intervention.

I suppose the logical skeleton looks something like this:

Premise 1) Life is complex.

Argument Modus Ponens: If a thing is complex, it appears to require a designer. Life is complex. Therefore, life appears to require a designer.

Premise 2) Life evolved naturally (not designed).

Argument Modus Ponens: If a thing which appears designed was not, then it must not be the case that things which appear designed, must be designed. Life appears designed, and life was not designed. Therefore, it is not the case that things which appear designed must be designed.

Argument Modus Ponens: If things which appear designed are not necessarily designed, then appearance of design in the universe is not evidence of God. Things which appear designed are not necessarily designed. Therefore, the appearance of design is not evidence of God.

 R.D. thus attempts to remove one of the chief theistic arguments for God, namely that the complexity of nature and the universe demands a designer. Natural selection shows us that this can easily be an illusion, and we cannot take complexity alone to be evidence for God even if there exist areas of complexity for which we don't yet have crane explanations.

There may perhaps be a point to be made with regards to the line "God almost certainly does not exist". I don't recall how many theistic arguments for god get dealt with in chapter 4, but it is always possible that there exists one which R.D. has not come across. Thus he cannot claim withcertainty that there is no evidence for any god. But as the burden of evidence is on the theist, he is not compelled to believe, and given the vast amount of fruitless searching for such evidence we are "almost" certain that God does not exist.


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Vessel,Dawkins himself

Vessel,

Dawkins calls it his central argument. Do you think that Dawkins is also building a "silly strawman" of himself?

Cheers,

Gavagai

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jlewis42 wrote: Page

Jlewis,

jlewis42 wrote:

 Page 157-8 of TGD is not a list of premises to a logical argument, but rather a summary. Having read through the chapter again it appears a rather incomplete summary.

Why then does Dawkins summarize it as his "central argument"? Shouldn't we take his word for it?

Quote:
I suppose the logical skeleton looks something like this:

...

Argument Modus Ponens: If things which appear designed are not necessarily designed, then appearance of design in the universe is not evidence of God. Things which appear designed are not necessarily designed. Therefore, the appearance of design is not evidence of God.

Are you saying that this is ultimately Dawkins's central argument, rather than the portion of his text that I reproduced above?

Cheers,

Gavagai

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Gavagai

Gavagai wrote:

Vessel,

Dawkins calls it his central argument. Do you think that Dawkins is also building a "silly strawman" of himself?

Cheers,

Gavagai

As others have pointed out to you, the argument as you present it is not the argument Dawkins makes. Dawkins may call an argument his "central argument" but I highly doubt that if you asked Dawkins to formulate his central argument into numbered premises it would take the form of what you have written above. Unless you can provide a reference for where Dawkins presents this argument in this form it is nothing more than a strawman.   

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


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Vessel,Others pointed out

Vessel,

Contrary to what you suggest, others here have pointed out that what I reproduced really is what Dawkins says. They only disagree that Dawkins meant what he said as an "argument". My response: but Dawkins himself considers it an argument. Thus far, nobody has denied this.

Quote:
Dawkins may call an argument his "central argument"

He did. 

 

Quote:
but I highly doubt that if you asked Dawkins to formulate his central argument into numbered premises it would take the form of what you have written above.

You're free to doubt all you want, Vessel. The fact is, Dawkins summarized it as his "argument" (his word, not mine). I understand him to mean "argument" in the ordinary sense meant by logicians and philosophers: roughly, a set of statements leading to a conclusion of some sort. If this is not how he means "argument", then what exactly was he hoping to accomplish?

Further, I already provided a reference. Please go back to my original post and look for it again.

Cheers,

Gavagai

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The people taking issue

Some of the people taking issue with G's thread seem to echo, dangerously, the type of argumentation that theists use when taking issue with any number of threads regarding the bible:

"Yes, that's what it says.. but that's not what it means."

Of course.. I've never read the book (Dawkins).. therefore, can't really state what is in it. But, I just wanted to drop in my two cent observation on how it's developing. Smiling


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RhadTheGizmo wrote: Some

RhadTheGizmo wrote:

Some of the people taking issue with G's thread seem to echo, dangerously, the type of argumentation that theists use when taking issue with any number of threads regarding the bible:

"Yes, that's what it says.. but that's not what it means."

Of course.. I've never read the book (Dawkins).. therefore, can't really state what is in it. But, I just wanted to drop in my two cent observation on how it's developing. Smiling

Cough 

Rev_Devilin wrote:

Gavagai wrote:
If you like, change the conclusion to "therefore, belief in God is irrational". The argument is still invalid. If you disagree, please state the rule of inference that permits you to derive this conclusion from the 6 premises.

 Gavagai if it is irrational then we are talking psychology,the psychology of reasoning (psychology) not the correct principle of reasoning (logic)

 If you could demonstrate a basic understanding of irrational and its implications for the psyche in general, I'll happily have a chat about this with you

 

I didn't Smiling  


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Gavagai

Gavagai wrote:

Jlewis,

jlewis42 wrote:

Page 157-8 of TGD is not a list of premises to a logical argument, but rather a summary. Having read through the chapter again it appears a rather incomplete summary.

Why then does Dawkins summarize it as his "central argument"? Shouldn't we take his word for it?

Quote:
I suppose the logical skeleton looks something like this:

...

Argument Modus Ponens: If things which appear designed are not necessarily designed, then appearance of design in the universe is not evidence of God. Things which appear designed are not necessarily designed. Therefore, the appearance of design is not evidence of God.

Are you saying that this is ultimately Dawkins's central argument, rather than the portion of his text that I reproduced above?

Cheers,

Gavagai

 

Yes 


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Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins wrote:

This Chapter has contained the central argument of my book, and so, at the risk of sounding repetitive, I shall summarize it as a series of six numbered points

 

 

God Delusion page 157 


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Gavagai

Gavagai wrote:

Vessel,

Contrary to what you suggest, others here have pointed out that what I reproduced really is what Dawkins says. They only disagree that Dawkins meant what he said as an "argument". My response: but Dawkins himself considers it an argument. Thus far, nobody has denied this.

Quote:
Dawkins may call an argument his "central argument"

He did. 

 

Quote:
but I highly doubt that if you asked Dawkins to formulate his central argument into numbered premises it would take the form of what you have written above.

You're free to doubt all you want, Vessel. The fact is, Dawkins summarized it as his "argument" (his word, not mine). I understand him to mean "argument" in the ordinary sense meant by logicians and philosophers: roughly, a set of statements leading to a conclusion of some sort. If this is not how he means "argument", then what exactly was he hoping to accomplish?

Further, I already provided a reference. Please go back to my original post and look for it again.

Cheers,

Gavagai

Splendid. I will look tomorrow to see where he presents this:

Quote:

(1) One of the greatest challenges to the human intellect has been to explain how the complex, improbable appearances of design in the universe arises.

(2) The natural temptation is to attribute the appearance of design to actual design itself.

(3) The temptation is a false one because the designer hypothesis immediately raises the larger problem of who designed the designer.

(4) The most ingenious and powerful explanation is Darwinian evolution by natural selection.

(5) We don't have an equivalent explanation for physics.

(6) We should not give up the hope of a better explanation arising in physics, something as powerful as Darwinism is for biology.

Therefore, God almost certainly does not exist.

as an argument for the non-existence of god. If this is indeed what he presents as an argument then, though a brilliant biologist, he should never attempt to present a logically valid argument again as a mentally challenged five year old could see that the conclusion is a non-sequitor here.

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


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Jlewis,You forgot to

Jlewis,

 You forgot to answer my first question. You and others have said that Dawkins did not actually mean it as an argument. Question: Why then did Dawkins summarize it as his "central argument"? Shouldn't we take his word for it?

Cheers,

Gavagai

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Vessel
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RhadTheGizmo wrote: Some

RhadTheGizmo wrote:

Some of the people taking issue with G's thread seem to echo, dangerously,

Why would this be dangerous? 

 

Quote:
the type of argumentation that theists use when taking issue with any number of threads regarding the bible:

"Yes, that's what it says.. but that's not what it means."

 It is important to understand the intent with which, and the context in which, something is written is it not? I have not seen anyone claim that the word of Dawkins is infallible, that it never contains contradictions or that his writing is man's reference for truth so I am unsure of how the analogy applies.  

 

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


Gavagai
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Here's where we are now

Here's where we are now at. I reproduced Dawkins' central argument. I pointed out that it's invalid, asking those of you who disagree to specify which inference rule he used.

Nobody responded with an inference rule.

I received these two responses instead: (1) Dawkins' conlusion is not that "God almost certainly doesn't exist", it's that "belief in God is irrational", and (2) the portion of text was not something Dawkins meant as an argument (and some of you added that I was dishonest by calling it an argument).

In response to (1), even if the conclusion is "therefore, belief in God is irrational", the argument is still invalid. Disagree? Then by all means, specify the inference rule.

In response to (2), Dawkins himself considers it his central argument. I've done nothing more than take his word for it, understanding him to mean by "argument" what most rational people mean by it: roughly, a set of statements leading to a conclusion of some sort.

Take care,

Gavagai

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Vessel
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Gavagai wrote: Here's

Gavagai wrote:

Here's where we are now at. I reproduced Dawkins' central argument. I pointed out that it's invalid, asking those of you who disagree to specify which inference rule he used.

I received these two general responses instead: (1) Dawkins' conlusion is not that "God almost certainly doesn't exist", it's that "belief in God is irrational", and (2) the portion of text was not something Dawkins meant as an argument (and some of you added that I was dishonest by calling it an argument).

In response to (1), even if the conclusion is "therefore, belief in God is irrational", the argument is still invalid. Disagree? Then by all means, specify the inference rule.

In response to (2), Dawkins himself considers it his central argument. I've done nothing more than take his word for it, understanding him to mean by "argument" what most rational people mean by it: roughly, a set of statements leading to a conclusion of some sort.

Take care,

Gavagai

If Dawkins made a flawed argument, which the argument most certainly is if he concludes "therefor, god almost certainly doesn't exist" as part of the argument as you state he does, then why would you expect any body to argue that it is valid? Such an argument is obviously flawed. Next. 

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


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Gavagai wrote: There is a

Gavagai wrote:
There is a lot of rhetoric and otherwise manipulative prose out there that we must be careful to avoid if we are to seek the truth about reality in an intellectually responsible and careful way.

"Truth about reality"?  That's what we're supposed to be looking for?  Intellectually responsible according to whom?  Is it a fruitful enterprise in the first place? 

Quote:
Therefore, God almost certainly does not exist. (157-8, GD)

This argument is invalid, because the conclusion doesn't follow from the premises.

Nope, it's not... it should conclude by stating that a belief in god for explanation is unnecessary

 


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Vessel, The fact

Vessel,

 The fact that Dawkins' central argument is invalid is not as trivial a matter as you make it out to be. Apparently, you haven't noticed that many people (here and elsewhere) find him quite persuasive. It only takes a modicum of experience in philosophy and logic to see that his arguments are flimsy. Many people in our consumer-driven culture don't like thinking too hard about things. They want quick fixes and easy answers. And this is what Dawkins has delivered, rather than rigorous and sound argumentation.  Even a very prominent atheist philosopher I know of has said that Dawkins makes him embarrassed to be an atheist.

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Quote:

Quote:
Why would this be dangerous?

That an atheist would begin to argue like a theist? Of course it's dangerous! The universe might collapse or something....

Quote:
It is important to understand the intent with which, and the context in which, something is written is it not? I have not seen anyone claim that the word of Dawkins is infallible, that it never contains contradictions or that his writing is man's reference for truth so I am unsure of how the analogy applies.

Heh. Which is kind of my point.. I don't see why anyone feels a need to defend Dawkin's at all. This thread could easily be defused by this one statement in response to G (Correct me if I'm wrong G):

"IF that is the Dawkin's argument wishes to make and the conclusion he wishes to conclude, then he would bewrong."

Or something along those lines.

.. so, I just found the whole thread unexpected-- in all it's forms. Smiling And yes Rev, you did take a different approach. Heh.


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Gavagai

Gavagai wrote:

Vessel,

 The fact that Dawkins' central argument is invalid is not as trivial a matter as you make it out to be. Apparently, you haven't noticed that many people (here and elsewhere) find him quite persuasive.

Gavagai

Many find him quite persuasive, yes. He is quite persuasive. Especially in the field where he is an authority, biological evolution. Still the matter is quite trivial.

I think what you fail to realize is that, from an atheist perspective, attempting to defend flawed arguments is pointless, unless perhaps one wishes to do so for reasons of ego. Even if Dawkins central argument for the non-existence or likely non-existence, or probable non-existence, or any subjectively quantified level of likelihood of non-existence is flawed, this is no reason that any atheist should form a belief in a completely unevidenced god or gods. And it is no reason any theist should continue to hold a belief in a completely unevideened god or gods.

Now, if you could show that he is wrong and that evolution is not an explanation for the varied life we see on the planet and that a god or gods are a required necessity as an explanation for the existence of the universe, and should be exempt from the need for something as an explanation for their existence as well, then that would be a non-trivial matter.

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


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Quote: "Truth about

Quote:
"Truth about reality"?  That's what we're supposed to be looking for?  Intellectually responsible according to whom?  Is it a fruitful enterprise in the first place? 

Yes, I think it's important to find out the truth about reality. What are you getting at?

Quote:
Nope, it's not... it should conclude by stating that a belief in god for explanation is unnecessary

Even with the conclusion "Therefore, belief in God for explanation is unncessary", the argument is invalid. And in any case, it sure seems like Dawkins would not want to resign himself to such a minimal conclusion. As far as I can tell, his conclusion is that God is highly improbable.

Cheers,

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Vessel,We all know that

Vessel,

We all know that just because one argument against God fails, it doesn't follow that God exists. Similarly, if one argument for God fails, it doesn't follow that God doesn't exist. Thanks for reiterating the obvious.

The issue is that Dawkins' argument is invalid. That's all. It's not earth-shattering. On the other hand, it's not totally trivial. It's very interesting, given his status nowadays. If you don't agree, then it's funny that you've bothered to keep up with this thread so much.

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Vessel,We all know that

.


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Gavagai wrote:Vessel,We

Gavagai wrote:

Vessel,

We all know that just because one argument against God fails, it doesn't follow that God exists. Similarly, if one argument for God fails, it doesn't follow that God doesn't exist.

The issue is that Dawkins' argument is invalid. That's all. It's not earth-shattering. On the other hand, it's not totally trivial. It's very interesting, given his status nowadays. If you don't agree, then it's funny that you've bothered to keep up with this thread so much.

I've kept up with the thread because I find it hared to believe that Dawkins has presented the argument as you present it. Not because he is a famous atheist, but because he isn't brain dead. No one with half a brain could possibly think that the numbered premises you quote supported the conclusion "therefor, god almost certainly does not exist ". And I still have to see with my own eyes where he writes this conclusion at the end of these premises before I can actually believe that this is the verbatim conclusion he presented as supported by these premises. If it is, then yes, you are right, this thread holds no interest for me.

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


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 I would also like to

I would also like to point out the irony (not to mention the passive agressive hostility) in your saying this

Gavagai wrote:

 Thanks for reiterating the obvious.

considering the fact that the purpose of this thread is stating that an obviously flawed argument (strawman or not) is flawed. I suppose I could keep up with the thread simply for entertaining usage of literary devices. 

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


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I would really enjoy a

I would really enjoy a response to Rev_Devilin. The topic creator seems to be avoiding it, or perhaps he missed it. Whatever the case, I would enjoy seeing a response to it.

Also, whomever said that this is the same arguement that theists give for the Bible is wrong. The Bible is SUPPOSED to be the word of God. You'd ASSUME that the word of God wouldn't be debatable in meaning.


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Quote:

Quote:

I would really enjoy a response to Rev_Devilin. The topic creator seems to be avoiding it, or perhaps he missed it. Whatever the case, I would enjoy seeing a response to it.

Also, whomever said that this is the same arguement that theists give for the Bible is wrong. The Bible is SUPPOSED to be the word of God. You'd ASSUME that the word of God wouldn't be debatable in meaning.

Don't point your finger at me! No.. seriously.. your profile picture really makes me feel uncomfortable with all its directional finger-ism-ness and stuff.

As for my observation:

Tis true, the bible is supposedly the word of God, which is why theist debate (defend) its meaning so zealously.

The purpose of my observation was to imply the question, "why does anyone feel the need to defend Dawkin's meaning?"

As for.. this implication of your statement:

"IF God's word, then meaning not debateable."

My only response to that is.... If Dr. Seuss's "Cat in the Hat" theme's can be debated.. so can anything.

Heck, "The road ends" can have any a number of implications, inferences, whether thematic or factual.

Language is a peculiar thing.. if it were simple, then I'm sure a substantial amount of arguments (not just within the realm of theology) would cease to be.


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May I quote

May I quote myself?

Hambydammit wrote:
I'm just an amateur logician, but I think the OP has a point when he says that the argument he presented doesn't follow. It's also true that Dawkins made each of those points. It's false that Dawkins presented the points in order as a logical proof.

So, why do you keep saying, "yeah, but it's not a good argument"?

I can't see where anyone's trying to defend it as an "argument."

Also, what I see is theists saying, "See... he used the words 'number' and 'argument'. Therefore, he's making a logical argument!"

The gall! You call us hypocritical when you're the ones taking this thing out of context. And shame, shame on those of you who have commented on this, and then admitted you haven't read the book. Taking sides on something you don't know about?!

Now, after I've gotten onto you, Rhad, I'll take your side...

Rhad wrote:
The purpose of my observation was to imply the question, "why does anyone feel the need to defend Dawkin's meaning?"

Exactly!

I didn't defend it, nor has anyone else I've seen. We've simply pointed out that as a logical argument, it's not valid, but that the book surely doesn't give the impression of it being a logical argument. it's a layperson's book on evolution and critical thinking!

The point I, and lots of others, have been making, is that this is a very subtle (and very well articulated, yet again... props to the OP for being very well spoken... um... typen...) attempt to deflect/distract/conflate.

Whether Dawkins made an argument or not is irrelevant. We do not hold to Dawkins the way theists hold to their dogma. If Dawkins did mean that as an argument (which I doubt, but am open to the possibility) then he needs to refine it. If, as I suspect, he was writing six points, numbered for ease of separation, for laypersons not familiar with science or critical thinking, then this OP is disengenuous at best, and dishonest at worst.

Can we talk about something else?

 

 

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Here is what I was getting

Here is what I was getting at. If the Bible is infact the Word of God, than the meaning should not be debatable. It should be a one road street, without error, arguement, or inconsistancies. What I'm defending isn't the theme, isn't the application or the way it was said. I'm arguing the meaning.

This is something that theists argue all the time. The definition of the word day, for example.


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Quote:

Quote:
Can we talk about something else?

Sure.

What's the difference between disingenious and dishonest?

By the way.. what the heck are you yelling at me for? Sticking out tongue

I was merely making an observation.. I'm pretty sure I can quote at least one person that said "perhaps he did say it was his central argument, but he wasn't meaning to argue X."

X, being the title of the book.. I believe. "The God Delusion". The central argument to "The God Delusion" could reasonable be inferred to be "That God is a Delusion" or that "The universal Delusion of God" or....... "Peoples Delusion that leads to God."

I don't know.

Perhaps I'm not even thinking of the right book..

You are correct sir, I have not read the book.. and perhaps I shouldn't have commented at all! I'm just trying to procrastinated on a legal research memo.. so, give me some slack. Sticking out tongue

Best Wishes,

RtG

p.s. Heh, if any of my posts at the moment are taken as arrogance or antagonistic.. not my purpose. Smiling Just having fun.... kind of.


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Quote: Here is what I was

Quote:

Here is what I was getting at. If the Bible is infact the Word of God, than the meaning should not be debatable. It should be a one road street, without error, arguement, or inconsistancies. What I'm defending isn't the theme, isn't the application or the way it was said. I'm arguing the meaning.

This is something that theists argue all the time. The definition of the word day, for example.

I don't think anyone ever argues the definition of the word day.. perhaps they do-- but, perhaps they just confuse "redefinition" with "reapplication".

A day is not a day everywhere.. a day for you.. would not be a day for you if you were.. say, on mars.  Or.. perhaps, say on some other planet.. far away-- and.. what happens if you lived on mars for half your life and earth half your life.. would you calculate your life in earth days? mars days? perhaps a mixture of both?

The word day is definitely open to interpretation...

As most words are--

Words rarely have meaning without context.. and "context" is what the Bible is about-- IMO. 


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I was just messing with you

I was just messing with you Rhad Eye-wink

Actually, I chose my words poorly... by disingenuous, I meant to say that he is intentionally misinterpretting, feinging naivety.  I should have chosen a different word than dishonest.  It's not coming to me at the moment, but I meant blatantly lying (without the subtle attempt at manipulation.)

I'm also not sure why I said "at best" and "at worst."  Either option is bad.

I was just grumpy, and typed fast.  This kind of argument really pisses me off, because it's just another deflection.

I swear, one day, my entire argument is going to consist of the following:

"Yeah, ok, fine.  But can you prove god exists?  No?  Ok then."

"So, what's the point?  Can you prove god exists?  No?  Ok then."

"That argument's flawed.  Can you prove god exists?  No?  Ok then."

For the love of Zeus, dissecting a layperson's book trying to find a proof that wasn't presented, as if that somehow even dents the fact that all attempts in the history of the world to prove god's existence -- on any level -- have failed utterly?

Reeks of desperation to me.

 

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RhadTheGizmo

RhadTheGizmo wrote:
Quote:

Here is what I was getting at. If the Bible is infact the Word of God, than the meaning should not be debatable. It should be a one road street, without error, arguement, or inconsistancies. What I'm defending isn't the theme, isn't the application or the way it was said. I'm arguing the meaning.

This is something that theists argue all the time. The definition of the word day, for example.

I don't think anyone ever argues the definition of the word day.. perhaps they do-- but, perhaps they just confuse "redefinition" with "reapplication".

A day is not a day everywhere.. a day for you.. would not be a day for you if you were.. say, on mars. Or.. perhaps, say on some other planet.. far away-- and.. what happens if you lived on mars for half your life and earth half your life.. would you calculate your life in earth days? mars days? perhaps a mixture of both?

The word day is definitely open to interpretation...

As most words are--

Words rarely have meaning without context.. and "context" is what the Bible is about-- IMO.

Yeah, people do argue the word day, sadly. And yes, it is all about context, yet they still argue what the word means. You see two completely different beliefs out of what is supposed to be the word of God. Two vastly different definitions that bring absolutely different ideas and meanings to the Bible.

The arguement, again, is that unlike the word of God, which is supposed to be without error, arguement, or inconsitance, the word of a man SHOULD be what is open to interpretation and SHOULD be argued and SHOULD have the chance of being inconsistant.

This is why the arguement that this is similar to what theists do is incorrect.


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Here's what would impress

Here's what would impress the hell out of me...

If, instead of making us argue about whether a day was a day or a dragon was a dinosaur, the bible contained just what the OP was after... logical proofs... before they were invented.  Surely god was powerful enough to say, "I know you don't understand what you're writing, you dweeb!  Just write what I say!  I'm god... I know what I'm talking about.  Now shut up and write!"

Or... how about quantum physics.  Wouldn't it be cool if there was this one passage in the bible that said, "and everything is made of superstrings at a subatomic level," and until the last couple of decades, nobody would know what it meant, and then suddenly, a theoretical physicist would have an 'AHA' moment, and say to himself, 'wow.. that guy god really knew his shit'"

It's just so patently ridiculous.  And here we are arguing about whether or not one of the foremost scientists in the world's book has a logical proof in it... as if that's going to somehow take away the ludicrous nature of a belief in a super-Jesus-buddy who killed himself so that we wouldn't have to kill our goats.

Sheesh.

 

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Quote: Yeah, people do

Quote:

Yeah, people do argue the word day, sadly. And yes, it is all about context, yet they still argue what the word means. You see two completely different beliefs out of what is supposed to be the word of God. Two vastly different definitions that bring absolutely different ideas and meanings to the Bible.

The arguement, again, is that unlike the word of God, which is supposed to be without error, arguement, or inconsitance, the word of a man SHOULD be what is open to interpretation and SHOULD be argued and SHOULD have the chance of being inconsistant.

This is why the arguement that this is similar to what theists do is incorrect.

Anyone who says that "the word of god (the bible) is without argument" is a fool-- IMO.  To state that one knows absolutely the meaning and implications, perfectly, of everything in the bible seems to me painfully arrogant..

As for the "without error or inconsistency"-- perhaps.. let's say I agree with you.

 The Universe is without error or inconsistency.. does this mean that one cannot perceive it as having error or being inconsistent?

Whether or not you agree with my statement about the universe.. doesn't change the fact that A.) It can't be proven false, B.) Assuming it's true, doesn't preclude people from perceiving it as otherwise.

So.. merely because people argue about it.. doesn't mean that the assertion is untrue. 

 


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Quote: Here's what would

Quote:
Here's what would impress the hell out of me...

If, instead of making us argue about whether a day was a day or a dragon was a dinosaur, the bible contained just what the OP was after... logical proofs... before they were invented.  Surely god was powerful enough to say, "I know you don't understand what you're writing, you dweeb!  Just write what I say!  I'm god... I know what I'm talking about.  Now shut up and write!"

Or... how about quantum physics.  Wouldn't it be cool if there was this one passage in the bible that said, "and everything is made of superstrings at a subatomic level," and until the last couple of decades, nobody would know what it meant, and then suddenly, a theoretical physicist would have an 'AHA' moment, and say to himself, 'wow.. that guy god really knew his shit'"

It's just so patently ridiculous.  And here we are arguing about whether or not one of the foremost scientists in the world's book has a logical proof in it... as if that's going to somehow take away the ludicrous nature of a belief in a super-Jesus-buddy who killed himself so that we wouldn't have to kill our goats.

Sheesh.

If the bible contained the theory of relativity... I'm pretty sure the book wouldn't have survived the previous 1500 years because no one wouldn't known what the heck it was talking about.  Just my opinion though. Smiling  Of course.. I guess God could have mind-zombied some people to keep the book going throughout those 1500 years.. or.. 10000 years, depending on how old you think the stories have been around.. 


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Quote: I was just messing

Quote:
I was just messing with you Rhad Eye-wink

I know. Eye-wink

 

Quote:

For the love of Zeus, dissecting a layperson's book trying to find a proof that wasn't presented, as if that somehow even dents the fact that all attempts in the history of the world to prove god's existence -- on any level -- have failed utterly?

Reeks of desperation to me.

 All attempts to turn lead into gold have failed throughout history.... doesn't mean it won't happen at some point. Smiling


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Quote: If the bible

Quote:
If the bible contained the theory of relativity... I'm pretty sure the book wouldn't have survived the previous 1500 years because no one wouldn't known what the heck it was talking about.  Just my opinion though. Smiling  Of course.. I guess God could have mind-zombied some people to keep the book going throughout those 1500 years.. or.. 10000 years, depending on how old you think the stories have been around..

You mean god couldn't have been clever enough to put enough um... whatever he needed... in the book to keep those silly uneducated bronze age folks in a proper state of kiss-ass and still slip in a little something about relativity for us smart folks that have figured out how illogical the rest of the religion is?

I'm not buying it.

 I mean, seriously... I don't usually argue about Christianity because it's so absurd.  I mean really... come on already... the premise is just stupid!  God, in his infinite wisdom, created man flawed, then punished him unless he killed goats properly.  Then, he fulfilled his divine and perfect master plan by coming down to earth and getting himself killed, thereby allowing himself to forgive us for being the way he made us, so that we can live forever and tell him how fabulous he is.

It's just crazy, and I'd much rather deal with the absurdity of a god in the first place.  (I wonder if the Christians here have considered that even if they could somehow prove a god they'd still have a very hard time making a connection to their god!)

 

 

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