Thursday, December 06, 2007

Still unconvinced.

Pharyngula: 34 Unconvincing Arguments for God
Introduction - Atheism – the lack of belief in gods – is based upon a lack of evidence for gods, lack of a reason to believe in gods, and difficulties and contradictions that some god ideas lead to. Nevertheless, atheism is a tentative state, subject to change if compelling theistic arguments are presented. Following are some of the arguments that atheists have considered, along with some of the reasons these arguments have been rejected. (1) God-of-the-Gaps (God as a “free lunch”) - Almost every “proof” for the existence of gods relies, at least in part, on a god-of-the gaps argument. This argument says that if we don’t know the answer to something, then “God did it.” “God” gets to win by default, without any positive evidence. But is saying “God did it” really an answer? Intelligent design, god-advocate William Dembski has authored a book entitled No Free Lunch. However, “God” is the ultimate “free lunch.” Consider the following: We don’t know what gods are composed of. We don’t know what gods’ attributes are. We don’t know how many gods there are. We don’t know where gods are. We don’t know where gods come from or, alternately, how it is possible for them to always exist. We don’t know what mechanisms gods use to create or change anything. We don’t know what the “supernatural” is, nor how it is capable of interacting with the natural world. In other words, we know absolutely nothing about gods – yet at least one god is often given credit for many things. Thus, to say “God did it” is to answer a question with a question. It provides no information and only makes the original question more complex. The god-of-the-gaps argument says that not only do we not have a naturalistic answer today, but we will never discover a naturalistic answer in the future because no naturalistic answer is possible. Thus, to rebut a god-of-the-gaps argument, we only have to show that a naturalistic answer is possible. For example: We open the door to a room and observe a cat sleeping in a corner. We close the door, then open it again five minutes later. We observe that the cat is now sleeping in another corner. One person says “God did it by levitating the sleeping cat” (without offering any proof). Another person says “It’s quite possible that the cat woke up, wandered over to the other corner, and fell asleep again.” Thus, although no one saw what actually happened, the god-of-the-gaps argument has been rendered implausible by a possible naturalistic explanation.

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