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← Does science make belief in God obsolete?

AmericanGodless's Avatar Jump to comment 30 by AmericanGodless

Shermer: "[I]f we did not know the underlying science and technology, we would call it God."
Dawkins: "Entities capable of designing anything, whether they be human engineers or interstellar aliens, must be complex -- and therefore, statistically improbable."
ThoughtsonCommonToad: "[Dawkins] seems to not be able to take his own argument that one step further, as Shermer has done, and incidentally I did."

I must confess that I don't understand the "extra step" that Toad sees. Shermer is saying that if we see a creative force new to us, and inexplicable within our current knowledge, we would (should?) call it God. Dawkins is saying* that our experience with similar past human beliefs about such forces, and the record of science in finding natural explanations, should caution us against our concluding that it is a "skyhook" before thoroughly investigating the possiblility (probability) that it has actually been produced by evolution or some other natural "crane" (to use Dennett's metaphor).

Toad is right that Dawkins' argument does not obviate God in a sense that would effect a religious person's belief, as they have never learned the deep lesson of evolution. But "Shermer's Last Law" (any sufficiently advanced Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence would be indistinguishable from God), in my opinion, sounds like "if you don't see a natural explanation at first, don't expect that you ever will." Unless I am missing something, the extra step is to forget everything we have learned, abandon science, and retreat into worship.

* Edit: (By pointing to the statistical improbability of the new "god", and thus suggesting that, if it exists, it is highly probable that it came to existence by a naturally probable pathway, not a miraculous pathway.)

Sun, 27 Apr 2008 09:39:00 UTC | #161597