Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Pathetic Showing By Dawkins

The title is entirely appropriate. What a fool.

Let's watch, won't we?

This little poll on whose statement was better is a pretty good cause for despair, because so many people seem to vote for the inferior argument, or, arguably, for no argument.

Let's dissect this, and see who really ought to win, based on reason.

Round One:
Collins "To say 'There can be no God, and I know that's the case' falls apart on the altar of logical debate -- and really, I think, ought to be considered as its own form of blind faith."
Well, of course - that statement is entirely dogmatic, and will have to justify itself with proof suitable to the nature of it. If you state that you have absolute certainty that X exists, you have to prove it. If you state that you are certain that X does not exist, your burden is not diminished in any way.
Dawkins "The onus is on somebody who says, 'I want to believe in God,' the Flying Spaghetti Monster, fairies, or whatever it is. It is not up to us to disprove it."
Fair enough, you have no burden to disprove it. But, then, you have a burden to prove its negation. Having not met that burden, and having, instead, made some silly comments about fairies, I think we can safely say that you have abandoned your responsibility to prove the negation. You lose, Dawkins.

1-0 Collins

Round Two:
Collins "God is outside of nature, at least in part. Science is only really valid in investigating nature. So science is essentially forced to remain silent on the subject of whether God exists or not."
This is a classic distinction - that between physics and metaphysics. We all know about the laws of physics. Few know about the laws of metaphysics because this, once the queen of the sciences, has been neglected lately. I suspect it is simply too difficult for most, even college professors, to understand, and they have chosen to ignore it. It will not die, though. One set of objects - stones, light, projectiles fired out of cannons at such-and-such an angle - obeys the laws of physics. Other objects - things as such, pure matter, thoughts - obey other laws. When one tries to import the laws of one group into the relations of another group, one will see contradictions arise. Descartes tried to apply the laws of metaphysics to physics, and came to grief. Dawkins and his materialist ilk think that physics provides excellent rules for metaphysics. Both are equally daft.
Dawkins "Here we have a beautiful explanation for how life comes about... and then Francis Collins and others want to smuggle God back in and say, 'Oh, well, natural selection was God's way of doing it.' He chose the method that made him super fluous. Why bother to postulate him at all, in that case?"
Eh? I don't think Collins said anything like that. Perhaps our truncated version of the debate misses some key points. I can do nothing but take it for what it is, though, and say that Dawkins is talking nonsense here. I've read Dawkins; I've found him generally uncongenial to the idea that writing should follow a logical course and that conclusions should follow from premises. I am willing to believe that he is just being a moron here, and failing to understand the crucial distinction between physics and metaphysics.

2-0 Collins

Round Three:
Collins "God is the answer to all of those 'How must it have come to be?' questions."
Well, this is stated with a breathtaking certainty. "The answer"? I don't know. I think you need to do more work to prove that, at least.
Dawkins "What an incredible evasion of the responsibility to explain. Scientists don't do that. Scientists say, 'We're working on it.'"
Scientists do not explain what is not in their domain, if they're smart. It is perfectly rational for a scientist to say, of some phenomenon, "We don't know, can't know, and will never explain this for you. Sorry." Poor Dawkins. He had his only good opening here, and failed to deliver with a really good criticism. Oh well. I have no choice but to call this round a draw.

2.5-0.5 Collins.

If the poll numbers are anything like what they were when I last saw the page, they're overwhelmingly in favor of Dawkins, who is saying nothing that isn't rabidly, illogically atheist. Look: there have been some intelligent atheists. Dawkins may even be one, but the key way he would show this to us is by arguing intelligently from sound premises. He hasn't been doing that. He doesn't appear ready to start. It's sad that a bunch of drooling fanboys would rather approve the bare statement that appeals to their pre-existing biases than actually think about anything.

Universal education - big mistake, hasn't worked, let's scrap it. A couple thousand morons don't know enough to know that Dawkins is talking out of his anus.


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