Friday, August 17, 2007
Delusion IV - Chapter 2 part 1
I Object! In this part of the chapter, Dawkins lays out his hypothesis amongst a litany of transparent "proof by ridicule" tirades. He justifies giving offence to religions which is acceptable to me as long as he is aware that he is opening the door to evangelicals ridiculing historical sciences (such as evolution) for the same purposes of winning over the uncommitted and as an affirmation for those already convinced. By laying out a hypothesis he is implying that he aims to disprove it using science and logic. Via correct mathematical logic he would assume it true and with progressive mathematically acceptable steps would arrive at a contradiction. He knows that is how hypotheses are disproven and he knows it wouldn't work if he did that, so instead he debates a litany of positions that religions take on this hypothesis and rules them invalid one by one. One critical assertion he makes is that the existence of God can be proven (via "miracles") and another is that science could theoretically disprove the hypothesis. Now these two assertions are hypotheses in their own right, and I feel they are disprovable. Let us assume that the existence of God can be proven. No matter how amazing the phenomenon that is called a miracle, it is a tenable position that it is a natural phenomenon that we don't as yet understand. God could shift mountains, destroy the Earth and bring it back again, could consign you to hell forever, but there is nothing that can't be attributed to either a much higher alien technology, or mass hypnosis (or both). Besides which, practically all monotheistic believers define a God that will not allow himself to be tested. This is a contradiction because any proof is not an acceptable proof of the "supernature" of the phenomenon. Alternatively, let us assume that we have proven the last aspect that had been previously attributed to God. One can easily (and automatically) generate a new question that is yet to be answered by science, that can be easily assumed to be answerable by reference to God. Thus, no matter how far science reaches, there will always be a new why? to try and answer. Interestingly, I would have thought that any scientist or intellectual would accept that logic and conclude that talk of probability of there being a God is meaningless as far as logic can obtain. Thus he has got it completely backwards. The existence or non-existence of God is not something we should have an expectation to be provable, and we should be very confident of the non-provability of God, and regard the existence or non-existence as one of the most basic axioms of any belief system. Any talk of proof or dis-proof can only be a circular argument, or proof by ridicule, or a call to our instincts for seeing the bleedingly obvious. I know that as humans, it is in our nature to come to a conclusion one way or the other, but we get there through relating to our experience of the universe, not as a response to evidence.