Sunday, May 06, 2007

Arguing against religion, pt II

I don't know why, but this has been really bugging me.

A commenter on my previous post tried to compare belief in God with belief in gravity, then tried to back that up with Paley's argument from design.

The entire argument is bogus, and I should be able to ignore it. But some other stuff I have read recently brought it to mind, and now I need the catharsis of a blog rant to get rid of it.


Beliefgravity != BeliefGod

Even without knowing anything about Newtonian physics, a person can observe gravity in action (objects always fall towards the ground). Early experiments can be easily reproduced (ie. Gallileo's (apocryphal?) dropping of two lead balls off the tower of Pisa).

God, however, is much more elusive. Paley's argument from design (joshua even uses the eye, instead of the more currently fashionable bacterial flagella) might have been viable in 18021, but, like phlostigen and aether, thanks to improved technology, science has since shown it to be false. There are no direct observations of God (in any reputable publication). No reproducible experiments that demonstrate his properties.

Beliefgravity = well supported by observation and experiment

BeliefGod = blind faith

Conflating the the two is common theist obfuscation.


1 Paley's argument was that design implies a designer. It says nothing about the designer's apparent maliciousness. (I was going to go with incompetence, but even the most seemingly useless/pointless 'designs' are often brilliantly cruel)

2 people have spouted off:

Kyle Szklenski said...

This is Kyle. I agree with your arguments in your other post. I also agree with this post.

The atheist's wager is, in essence, "Any infinitely good god would forgive me for not believing in him or her and judge me rather on my merits. Thus, I will live a moral life and be judged appropriately."

It's the backup to Occam's Razor. They typically argue, "But what if you're wrong? Then you're going to hell." So I give them the atheist's wager. My boss says he's going to argue against it being plausible today because of a false assumption that takes place because of it, but I'm not looking forward to the discussion. It's quite annoying.

I came up with an interesting argument that I think you'd like. My boss claims that, "Religion is for answering metaphysical questions and science is for answering physical questions." I realized, though, that I've never actually heard a religious person give a good answer to any metaphysical questions.

I gave my boss the example of the major metaphysical question that everyone asks at some point in their life: Why am I here? First, he said, "The Bible doesn't really say. But..." I interrupted him and said, "So, it doesn't answer the most fundamental metaphysical question? Not very impressive, is it?" Then he said, "Well, it DOES answer it. The answer that it says is, 'To worship him.'" I almost crapped myself. I was fully expecting him to make up something a little more convincing than that. That sounds utterly stupendous and I almost didn't believe that the Bible actually said that, except that I was also taught that when I was young. It's only after becoming an atheist that I realized: Creating something purely to worship you is VAIN, and is not a characteristic of something which is infinitely good. I would have asked my boss, "Did you have your son just so he could worship you?" But I was afraid to, because his answer MAY have been, "Yes", so "moral" is my boss.

John said...
Yeah, I used to buy into the separate magisteria take on science vs. religion. It doesn't withstand any kind of close scrutiny though. I might make a post about it.
5/8/07, 5:50 PM