Saturday, February 9, 2013

Lessons in Bad Philosophy: Dawkins Edition (part 4)

To all those who hung in there for this entire series, thanks! It's been a fun ride, and I am glad to be finally taking a look at Dawkins' unfounded conclusion to his unsound premises. So, without further ado.

Therefore, God almost certainly does not exist.
As I said in the first post in this short series (and as Bill Craig points out in On Guard), even if all of the premises were sound this conclusion simply does not follow. We have seen how none of them are sound, but for the heck of it I'll address this unfounded conclusion as well.

It has been rightly observed and communicated by many an apologist over the centuries that in order to know there is no God one would need to have comprehensive knowledge of the entire universe, both the visible and invisible realms, and also be able to soundly refute thousands of years of spiritual experience, not to mention the myriad of near death experiences of  people who would bet their lives (pun definitely intended) that what they experienced was more real than this physical life. This is clearly impossible. As impossible as swallowing the ocean. 

Now, Dawkins thinks he's clever and has, no doubt after decades of being told the above, reworded the statement to leave an air of uncertainty. He has changed it from "there is no God," which is the only truthful way for an atheist to phrase is, to "God almost certainly does not exist." This slight change, in all honesty, doesn't really do much to lessen requisites which must be present for him to be able to make such a statement authoritatively. 

To illustrate my point, let's say I took one of those handheld metal detectors to the beach, put on my crazy person visor and Bermuda shorts, and braved that scandalous lust-factory in search of buried treasure (for the record, I love the beach and I don't think it's a sin to go there). If I wanted to be able to authoritatively state that there is almost certainly no metal under the sand at that beach I would still need to have covered a good 95% or more of that beach with my metal detector. Sure, it's not 100%, but it's close enough,

Dawkins thinks that his wording exempts him from needing to qualify as an omniscient being in order to justifiably make his statement, but in reality he would still need to be nigh-omniscient before anyone should take this conclusion seriously. But then he would be something so close to God that he may as well be God, and then he would have to either be a theist, which he is clearly intellectually and emotionally opposed to, or deny his own existence, and that would be even more ridiculous than ignoring a universe full of evidence of a divine designer.
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