Saturday, May 5, 2007

Bob's War on Science: Part of a Continuing Series

If you listen to Bob for long enough, you'll note one regularly trumpeted theme: His beliefs are based in "science and reason." Bob claims that, out of all other religious traditions, his beliefs alone are completely rational and demonstrable. To buttress his claim, Bob "uses" science and logic.

With my next few posts, I'm going to explain how Bob suborns science for his own ends and show you that he has no idea what he's talking about.

To begin to "prove" that God exists, Bob starts by asking, and then answering, a question: Who has the onus of proving the existence of the Divine, the atheist or the theist?

Bobbo's answer is simple: The atheist must prove the non-existence of God.

He frames this conclusion by asserting that it is not the job of the believer to prove God exists. Simply because Bob thinks proving God exists requires little effort. Bob begins by breaking the question down into two choices: Believing the universe came from nothing or believing the universe came from something. (Bob says there is no third choice.) You must merely look around, see an ordered universe and realize that it (and the order found in the universe) must be caused by something. And since the universe is appears designed, there must have been a designer, i.e. God.

Bob then provides an illustration: A sandcastle on a beach. If you walk down a beach and come across a sand castle, you can assume that someone created it. Since you can look at a sandcastle and "assume someone made it" you can look at the universe and assume that God exists. So as it is with the sand castle, so it is with the universe: It is up to the atheist to "prove that it wasn't designed."

Therefore, according to Bob, the atheist must refute this argument and prove the non-existence of God because it's so obvious that God exists.

Have your frontal lobes melted yet?

Let's start by looking closely at Bob's premise. Note that it is one big argument from ignorance. Bob claims that God exists because nobody has of yet been proven God not to exist. This is just dumb. Bertrand Russell proved that this form of argument is nonsense with the celestial teapot:
If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense.
And if you think about it, Bob's line of fallacious thinking can be used to prove the existence of anything! There is an invisible pink unicorn living in my bedroom closet. Don't believe me? Prove the invisible pink unicorn doesn't exist! Since you can't, the invisible pink unicorn exists!

The next error in Bob's thinking is the false analogy. A false analogy argues that because two objects have one quality in common they must have other qualities on common. Bob invokes a false analogy by comparing a sandcastle to the universe. He reasons that since the sandcastle was designed, the universe must be designed because both display an underlying order. Thus the universe is analogous to the sandcastle.


Bob is just reiterating the Watchmaker argument. And this argument fails. Richard Dawkins explains why:
[I]f complex things must have been intelligently designed by something more complex than themselves, then anything posited as this complex designer (i.e. God) must also have been designed by something yet more complex.
Furthermore, the Watchmaker argument assumes multiple Gods! If you find a shoe further down the beach, does this mean you can assume a shoe maker? This implies that there are several creators in the world, responsible for all kinds of creation. So unless Bob is arguing for the existence of multiple Gods, he is wrong to invoke a sandcastle-maker.

Finally, Bob's entire proof doesn't even get out of the gate because it begs the question. Bob looks around at the universe. He sees design. Because there is design, there must be a designer. And who else is capable of designing the universe but God? And how do we know God exists? Because we can look around and see the universe! Around and around we go on the big wheel of bad logic! Whee!

And this is just the premise for Bob's proof of God's existence!

Next time, we'll deal with the Anthropic principle and the laws of Thermodynamics.


djtyg said...

Bob likes to claim that you can't be a Christian unless you don't believe in evolution. This is a lie, as many Christians do believe in evolutionary science.

I don't like Dawkin's response to the watchman argument (Christians believe that God is infinite, hence no one created him, whereas no one says that about the Universe), but you are right in that it does open the possibility for polytheism.

Bob's war on science is nothing more than the continued attempt to continue the false persecution complex. If it's not gays, liberals, or Democrats, then it's the scientists. It's all about using fear to obtain power. If not for himself, then for his conservative masters.

John said...

By Bob's logic our justice system is bass-ackwards. Instead of having the onus on the state to prove that a crime was committed, we should assume that the state is always right and have the defendent prove his innocence. Would help in saving money for the state.

As Bob would say,"I would
respectfully disagree " with what djtyg says above. I believe that I have the same logical ground to assert that the Universe has always existed as for someone else to assert that "God" has always existed. The fact that humans have a hard time with accepting that the universe may have always existed doesn't make it false ( we have a hard time comprehending the proposition that God has always existed). I am open to ideas, unlike Bob, and unlike Bob the person making a claim should be the person providing evidence for the claim.

I also don't buy into Bob's watch on beach arguement. Given what we currently know about physical laws, a watch can only come from human creation. We don't have full knowledge of what the Universe is and how it operates to conclude that it needed a creator See above)