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Tue, 26 May 2009

Anti-Dawkins Paper No. 2: Why Dawkins' Main Argument Against God Is Wrong

In my earlier anti-Dawkins post, I explained why Richard Dawkins' conception of God, as presented in his book The God Delusion, is too narrow to be of much use. In this post I will confront Dawkins' most important argument against God: what he calls the "argument from improbability."

The "argument from improbability" is the main argument in The God Delusion. The gist of the argument is that God, if there is one, would have to be extremely complex. According to the argument, only a very complex being could create the universe or do the other tasks that God is thought to do (such as answering prayers). However, a highly complex being is very statistically improbable. Therefore (the argument goes) it is very probable that there is no God. What is more, using God to explain the complexity in nature is useless, because the assumption that God exists just adds to the complexity that it supposedly explains. (This is only a brief summary of the argument; the original is in The God Delusion, especially in chapter 4.)

Unfortunately for Dawkins, the argument from improbability is wrong. The argument might appear convincing at first glance, but it turns out to be hopelessly weak once you see the illogical spots. It is like a magic trick: the believability goes away once you notice how the trick is done.

I started to write a post explaining the flaws in the argument, but the post got rather long, so I turned it into a paper. Here is the link to that paper. (The paper is in PDF format.)

Of course, this paper is not a disproof of atheism or a proof of the existence of God. However, it debunks one seemingly "good" reason for being an atheist. If you are going to be an atheist, you will have to find a better reason than the argument from improbability.

posted at: 15:15 | path: /religion/atheism/god_delusion | persistent link to this entry


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