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Strong Atheism: Process based Non-cognitivism

November 12, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

The Process based Non-Cognitivism argument found here is an argument against obtained God belief (OGB), as defined in the previous blog’s article. Obtained God belief is best understood as the process leading to deism. OGB can be simply defined as follows: By looking at the  universe around us we can deduce that God exists. I don’t care for the term OGB or agree entirely with it, but I’m not going to get into that. I am merely going to assess the argument from the link, and offer some insight.

Let’s look at section II of the article. I already refuted the first part of MGB in my previous blog, and will look at the second formal argument.

Posit that we attempt to define “god” by OGB.

  1. To be considered a valid OGB-type hypothesis, a concept must be a viable explanation for a given observation or set of observations.
  2. There is no observation that the god-concept can viably explain.
  3. The god-concept cannot be considered a valid OGB-type hypothesis. [from 1 and 2]
  4. Therefore, the term “god” is meaningless.
  5. Therefore, the god-concept is invalid.

To begin, I must say that from 1 we run into problems. Define viable. Clearly people have accepted belief in God, no one would deny that. God explains things. So, to the people who believe in God, and the explanations that come along with God is it not by their definition a viable explanation? This can quickly be as subjective as that, but I will not leave it to that cop-out remark. The issue with 2 is addressed in section III of the article, “Is it indeed the case that ‘there is no observation that the god-concept can viably explain’?” This is a good question, and the true point of this argument. I think it’s necessary to consider some people who have accepted God in form of deism or christianity. If a logical mind would agree with God, wouldn’t it prove that the god-concept can viably explain observations? Einstein agreed with the God of Spinoza. I’ll let you look that one up. He supported the existence of God with his findings in science. C.S. Lewis former atheist and leading intellectual became a theist in 1929 and a Christian in 1931. He said something to the effect of “I believe in God as I believe in the sun. Not only because I see it clearly, but because by it I see everything else.” This is a very popular quote, and for good reason.  He agreed that the god-concept viably explained the world he saw. There’s a long list of people like this. For example, Frank Morrison, who set out to disprove the events of the cross, and ended up becoming a Christian. Josh McDowell who has a similar story, looking to prove the bible an illegitimate argument and begins finding that at every point Christianity stood up to scrutiny. Even Anthony Flew rejected atheism very late in life for deism (even though his story is questionable). Richard Dawkins even expressed his surprise that the universe was formed with the universal laws of nature already in place. God answers this. God viably explains. But, we can’t leave it at that. We have to look at some arguments that prove, not that God exists, but that the god-concept viably explains observations.

To the question “is there an observation the god-concept can explain” the article in reference says, “it is not our burden of proof to demonstrate that there are.” This is a good call by the author. I’ll come back to it later, I just wanted to note it now, so it’s in your mind as I recite the citations in the article.

The scrutiny of apologetic arguments begins with Cosmological Arguments, or better said in Christian perspective as Causation or First Cause. You can read the argument in section III of the article, which would be helpful, since I’m not going to quote it all here. Now, to get into this argument, I don’t think the author understands this argument, or how it’s supposed to be used. It is not that everything thing is in movement, but rather that everything is. It’s more of an Ontological Argument (which the author butchers, I’ll get into that later). The real argument reads something like this: It is posited that everything that is was caused. Everything is doing what it is doing because something else caused it to do it. In physics it’s said that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Things don’t act without another action making them act. This is not exclusively a Christian or theist idea. What the Causation argument says is that something had to make the first cause. Otherwise there is an infinite number of causes, and we would never reach this point, and these actions, these causes, that are happening in the present. Think about it, it’s kind of heavy. Anyways, that is the real argument. God explains this observation viably. However, this alone has a flaw that the author of the article notices. That is, what caused God? Now in essence this boils down to ‘show me a time when God, who by definition always existed, did not exist.’ Well, the god-concept in itself answers that. But I won’t leave it at that, there’s more, and the author helps us out a little on this one, too. The argument cited states “everything we observe” and “They commit the fallacy of composition by transposing the property of being… to the entire universe without justification.” Well, it is justified, the previous articles justify it, you can dig through them to figure out to what I’m referring. But see, we only observe the finite. Again, by definition we cannot observe the infinite. In fact, because infinite is a negative term it only states what God is not. God is not (insert properties of finite). One of these properties is causation. The finite exists because something else caused it. God, again by definition, is uncaused, even the opposite of caused. That is, God is self-referencing. Check out LT Jeyachandran’s chapter in Beyond Opinion for better understanding, or my previous blog.

Next argument: Ontology. If you look at the article’s citation of this argument you will see that no logically sound person would ever consider this. Make no mistake, this is not a theist’s approach in the least. I found this  site http://www.godlessgeeks.com/LINKS/GodProof.htm and had a good laugh at some of these “proofs”. It is apparent that these are jokes. Not serious arguments. This exact “Ontological Argument” is found as number 3. also, check out 33. and some of the others. They are funny. So with that I’m going to skip this one, and refer you to both the above argument and my previous blog for a real ontological argument.

Theological Arguments. I’m starting to get annoyed by the names of these arguments. They’re arguments, for theism. They’re all theological. This is a Scientific Argument, using science is the hint. So now I’m going to state a truth and explain how it applies, please read the argument in the article before hand. Behind intelligence intelligence is assumed. What I mean by that is best explained in the example of a book. If I had a dictionary and claimed it came about from an explosion, no one would buy it, even if I claimed the molecules combined into the shape over millions of years. A book is written by a person, so if we have a book, we can assume a person exists. The universe is much the same, in that elements and atoms and molecules work like language combing to make new levels of understanding. DNA is a code, atomic structure and alphabet. It’s systematic, it’s orderly, it adheres to specific law and is universal. That is the clearest picture of intelligence I can think of. Intelligence must be assumed. Is the god-concept a viable explanation for what we observe according to science? Yes.

Argument from the Intellect and Emotionalism. Morality, Intelligibility and so on. These apologetic arguments are shrugged off in the statement “The main problem in all these arguments is to prove that natural processes are insufficient to bring about the existence of these X.” To use the author’s own words, I’d like to say “it is not our burden of proof to demonstrate that there are.” Why should I have to prove that evolution does not account for the beginning of consciousness. It’s the atheists job to do that, and my job to either adequately refute it, or take a new position. Also, it’s not that other ideas are insufficient, only that the god-concept is not insufficient. Again, I’ll state that the goal is not to prove the existence of God, but rather that God is a viable explanation for our observations.

Back to the book analogy. From a finished book we can assume an author, derive a name, possibly infer what books the author has read, and so on. But we cannot know the author. We can’t define a distinct physical feature, or life style from the book alone. We can never really know the author based solely on his creation. Why would we expect more from God’s creation? He created the universe, and he put pieces of who he is into it, even “created he they in his image”. But it is not an autobiography. Praise God we have revelation that gives us insight into who He is and a little bit on the ‘Why?’ That is why deism and Christianity are different. God is a reasonable conclusion for the universe, but God is made known to us by other means. Get to know God, read the bible, talk to him. I believe without doubt he does exist. Do the same.

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