Ultimate 747 gambit

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Apologetic Counter-Arguments

The conclusion does not follow from the premises

"At most, all that follows is that we should not infer God's existence on the basis of the appearance of design in the universe. But that conclusion is quite compatible with God's existence and even with our justifiably believing in God's existence. Maybe we should believe in God on the basis of the cosmological argument or the ontological argument or the moral argument. Maybe our belief in God isn't based on arguments at all but is grounded in religious experience or in divine revelation. Maybe God wants us to believe in Him simply by faith. The point is that rejecting design arguments for God's existence does nothing to prove that God does not exist or even that belief in God is unjustified. Indeed, many Christian theologians have rejected arguments for the existence of God without thereby committing themselves to atheism." – William Lane Craig

Response: The appearance of design requires an explanation but invoking a more complex being is simply a tactic employed to hide the problem. An ultimately complex God is, by the design argument, ultimately improbable. If the theist holds the design argument's premise then the ultimate 747 gambit would disprove his existence. To avoid this problem, the design argument must be rejected. God would be a somewhat adequate explanation if he evolved from simplicity.

Explanations of Explanations

"A complete explanation of an God is not required in order to recognise God's existence as a valid explanation of the evidence. Dawkins demands an explanation for God (3) - in other words an explanation for the explanation. If we required explanations of explanations, we'd end up in an infinite regress and we could never explain anything. Science and history in particular would be taken as invalid, because we recognise that there are always open questions. "If archaeologists digging in the earth were to discover things looking like arrowheads and hatchet heads and pottery shards, they would be justified in inferring that these artifacts are not the chance result of sedimentation and metamorphosis, but products of some unknown group of people, even though they had no explanation of who these people were or where they came from. Similarly, if astronauts were to come upon a pile of machinery on the back side of the moon, they would be justified in inferring that it was the product of intelligent, extra-terrestrial agents, even if they had no idea whatsoever who these extra-terrestrial agents were or how they got there. In order to recognize an explanation as the best, one needn't be able to explain the explanation." – William Lane Craig


Craig misses the point. Dawkins' objection is not about a missing "explanation of an explanation"; it is about the explanatory power of the design explanation. The argument from design iterates and therefore preserves the problem: why are there complex things? The designer has intelligence, intentions, and the incredible ability to create universes. He does complex things intentionally and is therefore himself a complex thing since his thoughts have to be at least as complex as his designs. Ergo, he is in need of the explanation he was supposed to provide in the first place. In fact, the designer explanation solves nothing at all and it actually worsens it by raising additional problems. Craig assigns God the property of timelessness but this is mere wordplay; God is supposedly involved in human temporal concepts: he decides, he intends, he designs, he constructs. Intention and design are human concepts dependent on a temporal framework which cannot be applied to a timeless being. In the end, the design argument boils down to the God of the gaps: We don't know enough therefore God did it with magic! See: turtles all the way down

Craig's straw-man arguments must be illustrated more properly. He makes the obvious 'dodge' from the gambit by ignoring its salient statement that 'we cannot explain a mystery with the same mystery'.

Let the unexplained phenomenon be denoted by P; the explanation of P be denoted by A. Let false propositions be F and "equivalent to" be ~=.

{P->A}; in this case, this conditional represents design.

The gambit states:

F{P->A} if {A~=P}.

The design argument states:

1) Whatever is complex/ perfectly ordered requires a designer.

2) The universe is complex/ perfectly ordered.

3) Hence, The universe is designed.

Ultimate 747 Gambit states:

1) Whatever is complex/ perfectly ordered requires a designer.

2) God's mind is complex/perfcetly ordered and organized.

3) Hence, God is designed.

The Argument from Complexity:

1. Complex hypotheses/explanations are less preferable than simple hypotheses/explanations (by the principle of Occam's razor).

2. The complexity of the god explanation is weighed by the complexity of god's nature (premise).

3. God is suggested to be omniscient.

4. Omniscience entails the infinitely complex order of true thoughts, which is inexplicable to the human mind (analytic truth).

5. God's nature is infinitely complex [from 3 and 4].

6. The god explanation is infinitely complex [from 2 and 5].

7. The god explanation must be rejected when any other explanation- which is not infinitely complex- is posed [from 1 and 6].

Regarding Craig's counter-examples:

Archaelogy: Craig makes the same mistake as Paley; if fish fossils were found, no one would argue human design. We know that arrowheads are product of human design because of our observational experience and former knowledge, however we don't have another universe to compare with our one in order to notice design.

Dawkins also responds: The theologians, he writes, demanded that there must be a first cause, which can be given the name God. Dawkins responds that it must have been a simple cause, and he contends that God is not an appropriate name for it, unless God is divested of its normal associations. Dawkins wants the first cause to be a "self-bootstrapping crane" that slowly lifts the world to its current complexity. He says that he doesn't require a narrowly scientific explanation, but what any honest theory that accounts for the complex phenomena of the natural world requires is a crane and not a skyhook.

God is simple

"According to much classical theology (Thomas Aquinas, for example) God is simple, and simple in a very strong sense, so that in him there is no distinction of thing and property, actuality and potentiality, essence and existence, and the like. Some of the discussions of divine simplicity get pretty complicated, not to say arcane. (It isn't only Catholic theology that declares God simple; according to the Belgic Confession, a splendid expression of Reformed Christianity, God is "a single and simple spiritual being.") So first, according to classical theology, God is simple, not complex "– Plantinga

Response: Dawkins writes that he didn't get the impression that those employing this "evasive" defence were being "wilfully dishonest," but were "defining themselves into an epistemological Safe Zone where rational argument could not reach them because they had declared by fiat that it could not."

"More remarkable, perhaps, is that according to Dawkins' own definition of complexity, God is not complex. According to his definition (set out in The Blind Watchmaker), something is complex if it has parts that are "arranged in a way that is unlikely to have arisen by chance alone." But of course God is a spirit, not a material object at all, and hence has no parts. A fortiori (as philosophers like to say) God doesn't have parts arranged in ways unlikely to have arisen by chance. Therefore, given the definition of complexity Dawkins himself proposes, God is not complex. " – Plantinga

Response: Dawkin's definition of complexity can be applied to God's intelligence. God is the set of the most complex ideas that are arranged in the most organized way that is unlikely to have arisen by chance alone. Plantinga is also explaining away Dawkin's definition in biological and physical terms. It is also known in biology that there is a meaningful correlation between structure and function. A being with no structure has no function. It is important to note that there are two kinds of complexity: physical and functional. It can be granted that God is nonphysical. However, functional complexity is measured by the level of intelligence/conciousness and abilities. An omnipotent and omniscient being is thus ultimately functionally complex. Thinking, rationality, consciousness, and volition are complex processes that could not, by any means, arise by chance. The brain is a simple structure but its function is extraordinarily complex.

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