Friday, 20 July 2007

Oolon Strikes Back

I enjoy the odd debate with Paul. He is much more pleasant than David Anderson.

Paul thinks the ID argument has some merit but doesn't want it taught as science in schools.

Paul recently posted regarding a part of the Dawkins book "The God Delusion" here is my assessment and reply to his arguments;

Paul said;
"The heart of Dawkins argument is in effect that God is very improbable. The greater the improbability of any occurrence, the more improbable a putative designer must be - and if such a designer is improbable, then he/she/it probably doesn't exist -
However statistically improbable the entity you seek to explain by invoking a designer, the designer himself [sic] has got to be at least as improbable. (TGD, paperback edition, p.138)
Dawkins describes this "counter-argument" - which he describes as "the statistical demonstration that God almost certainly doesn't exist" (p.137) - as "the Ultimate Boeing 747 gambit," after Fred Hoyle's likening of the appearance of life to being a whirlwind in a junkyard spinning up an airliner.

Actually, I don't think it's a statistical demonstration of anything, other than the fact that Dawkins can't string together either any coherent mathematics or any coherent philosophy. What I find really mindblowing is that Dawkins thinks that here he has found the great decisive argument that will basically wrap it up for God in one fell swoop. Honestly, if it were that good, does he not think that some of the really great atheist minds of the past might have got there before him?"
The "counter argument" relates to the common creationist assertion that evolution is false based upon probability. He is simply pointing out that if religious folks object to evolution producing life as we see it on the basis of probability, then claiming such life was instead created by a god leaves us all with the unanswered problem of where the god chappie came from in the first place. Whether you claim god is immortal or not you are left with a question that is at least slightly bigger than where did the universe come from i.e. where did this being which created it all come from? A simple argument to understand really, that is, if you read what he actually wrote.

Whilst Dawkins does not claim any knowledge of where everything came from in the first place he is simply pointing out that the Theory of Evolution does at least give an explanation for complexity arising from simplicity, and so is surely a step towards explaining something rather than a large leap away from such an explanation. He is left with not knowing how the "relatively simple" early universe appeared, religion is left with not knowing how something capable of creating such "complex" beings as us, and therefore presumably more complex still, came from.

Like Dawkins I don't measure the merit of an argument by whether or not it has been thought of before. I do so by simply considering the arguments merits in a rational fashion. Clearly your religious mode of thought will in fact lead you to reject meritorious arguments simply because they are new. This is not rational.

You next discuss some of the claim made by the main ID proponents and you seem unhappy that in his argument Dawkins doesn't refute them.

Paul, I think you have given your hand away here. Dawkins is talking about arguments for the existence of god. ID is not supposed to be anything to do with such matters (so claim Behe et al).

Perhaps you would say that you don't agree with them on this. Your own argument certainly seems to imply that you see ID as proof of god existing, otherwise why would you complain that Dawkins hasn't addressed their claims in a chapter on the existence of god?

You ask for more careful framing than Dawkins' simple assertion that God must be harder to create than what god in turn creates, and yet your own argument is simply that god did it and evidence is not relevant. Double standards? Or a mental blind spot? Perhaps you think that god evolved? This argument would mean that your area of uncertainty can be made as simple as Dawkins area of uncertainty. But then again, your hypothesis still invokes a whole extras step involving a supernatural being and simply going straight for the Theory of Evolution is simpler overall.

Next you speculate about the fact that Dawkins numbers may have changed - if this is true then it is an occupational hazard of someone who goes with the best evidence available and refines their argument or indeed completely changes their mind in view of this evidence. This is again something foreign to religious thought - after all you are certain that you are 100% correct. Dawkins has never claimed such a level of certainty about anything.

Next we get more of your convenient double standards;
"The fact that the complexity that we observe in the universe is contingent does not mean that the complexity of a cause for the universe would also have to be contingent."
Why not?

"This is why Dawkins' argument doesn't stand up."

You haven't told us why.

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