Something that (almost) came up last game was a discussion about the teleological argument. I’ll do my best not to nerd-plode over everyone.
To kick off - every argument for or against God breaks down at some point. It’s the same with discussions about life on other planets. You can never prove or disprove the issue. You can prove or disprove whether the world is round because the issue is close and tangible enough to collect data and settle the issue one way or the other. But we have no empirical data proving that life exists on other planets, and unless we go to every single planet in every single galaxy in every single universe in the multiverse, we will never be able to prove that no life exists on alien worlds. But this hasn’t stopped scientist like Carl Sagan rounding up millions of dollars for the SETI project. And NASA keeps spending millions pushing outward. Lack of proof prompts the quest for data.
So when it comes to the teleological argument for the existence of God, it’s either good or bad depending on the context. If you’re trying to use it as evidence of the fact that God exists, it’s weak as piss. But if you use it as a case for an open minded, agnostic position, it’s strong. It’s also a good “worship enhancer” for folks who already believe in God/gods/nature. Things you would otherwise take for granted now stir up more wonder.
The argument goes a bit like this:
Life and the universe is ordered and complex.
the order and complexity suggests an intelligent designer.
The designer is referred to as god.
This is an absurdly brief summary of a case that you can write thousands of pages on, but that’s pretty much it. There have been plenty who have presented teleological arguments for the existence of God, but the big daddy is probably William Parley. He is famous for the Watch Maker analogy. Charles Darwin often quoted Parley. Personally, I feel Parley’s theology (or at least my limited understanding of it) is off, and Dariwn became a victim of Parley’s bad theology. Funnily enough, cosmologists use a version of the teleological argument when talking about the multiverse. The Anthropic principle, once you get into it, requires multiple universes for it to work. The multiverse exists to explain the data. There is no evidence they exist. The multiverse becomes Paley’s Watch Maker.
Up and Atom a cute video about the Anthropic Principle..
Please, nerdplode away, I know I am, just for the just to discuss this with someone.
Before I get into the argument I would like to know where you got that particular phrasing of the teleological argument. I would like to learn more about it's supporting arguments
Onto your arguments, I agree that the argument for God and life on other planets must break down due to our current information, however the argument for other life has more support for it in the form of us. We know that there is life on at least one planet, and we know that there are other planets, possibly in the billions in our galaxy alone, so it is probable that life exists on at least one more. The argument for God#gods however has no proven examples for us to extrapolate from. We can also scan for signs that we know that we leave that other sentient life might leave as well, whereas God apparently leaves no sign.
As an advocation fro keeping an open mind or agnostic view it does worse than saying "We don't know so we can't rule anything out" because the argument is very flawed, as I will show shortly. As a "worship enhancer" that's just using a persons confirmation bias to support an argument, it sounds like what I already believe so it must be true.
Alright, taking on this version of the argument
Life and the universe is ordered and complex.
Life is complex, but it is not ordered. If you disagree then try and give a difinitive explanation of what a species is, or explain why our bodies have so many design flaws.
the order and complexity suggests an intelligent designer.
No they don't. All order and complexity suggest is order and complexity, we project meaning and our desires onto what we see because we see the world through our own flawed lenses.
The designer is referred to as god
If order and complexity lead to God, and God is ordered and complex, does God not require a God of their own? If not, why not? If yes, is there an infinite number of gods each more complex than the last?
The entropic principle is based on the experience of humanity, our beliefs went: One land then many lands, one planet then many planets, one solar then many solar systems, one galaxy then many galaxies, one universe, follow the pattern. The many worlds/universes hypothesis is not touted as fact because it lacks evidence. There is some basis for it which is why it is being considered as a legitimate option, but it will not be accepted by the majority of the scientific community unless it can be tested and not proved to be false, which we cannot currently do, It is simply one possibility that we, as a species, are considering.
Another thought is that the multi-verse is natural selection applied to the universe.
I hope that this doesn't come across as aggressive in any way, I just really want a good debate.
If you are interested, and not already aware, Rationality Rules did a good debunking of the watchmaker analogy.
Not sure if I made this clear enough in the first post, but I don't believe in God because of the teleological argument. In fact, I don't know anyone who does... and I know a bunch of people who believe in God. I hear it getting pulled out when I overhear conversations between religious people and non-religious folks. But I always cringe a little when I hear it.
Your point by point debunking of each step of the teleological argument is totally valid.
At the end of the day the teleological argument does very little to prove that there is a god/gods. It simply suggests there may be one. Some kind of intelligent diety, super simulation creating mega computer, or some other infinite intelligence ... these are all possibilities. So is a spaghetti monster. The argument could never be used to prove anything. It's only real value, if any, is to dismiss the idea that there couldn't possibly be a god/gods/simulation/whatever.
"As a "worship enhancer" that's just using a persons confirmation bias to support an argument, it sounds like what I already believe so it must be true."
Yeah that was pretty much my point. It's handy if you already believe. Not much value if you're trying to pull someone across the line into belief.
" - (A paragraph that made me nod my head) - I hope that this doesn't come across as aggressive in any way, I just really want a good debate."
Nar what you said in that paragraph is spot on. When it comes to gods or multiverses or simulated realities we're groping around in the dark because we have no data, and are unlikely to get any through the scientific method. some things you just can't measure. (yet?)
In everything you wrote, the only point I would contend with this this one:
"The argument for God#gods however has no proven examples for us to extrapolate from. We can also scan for signs that we know that we leave that other sentient life might leave as well, whereas God apparently leaves no sign."
I think this is where science craps the bed when it contacts "religion".
First of all, the idea of "evidence" in the scientific sense it very different to the regular meaning of the word evidence. In a court case, the testimony of a witness would count as evidence. But scientifically, it can't be reproduced or verified by itself. In science land, it is not "Empirical Evidence", but in regular talk it absolutely is. "Empirical". A witness provides evidence "verifiable by observation or experience". It may be limited to their own observation or experience, but outside the lab and in a courtroom it counts.
Was there any "evidence" that George Pell touched altar boys? Yes. None of it would count as "empirical evidence" from a scientific point of view, but if I believe that George Pell touched boys it's not because I have no evidence.
So if we say "there is no evidence for the existence of God", what we're saying is that there is no evidence that I am willing to accept. Like my catholic friends at work who are unwilling to accept the testimonial evidence against George Pell. Which is fine by the way. If all you have is a single testimony then there is plenty of room for doubt. Even with a cluster of witnesses you could still have reasonable doubt. Gosh if the entire scientific community shows conclusively that the world is round, there are still going to be people who doubt. If someone is going to get us believing something we don't already believe, then they're going to have to earn our trust. Unfortunately it always comes down to trust. We choose to trust scientists, or politicians, or priests, or you tubers ... usually based on existing biases. It's rare to find someone who believes a thing through personal, "empirical" experience. Those people are the scientists who actually discover the stuff. most of us are just the people who trust them and regurgitate what they say to make us feel smarter.
This is why I always balk at the atheist definition of faith. "Faith is believing in something without evidence". That's a regularly beaten strawman. To be fair though, some religious ideas are built on said straw and deserve the beating they get. But a more accurate definition of faith or trust is "that which forms the hypothesis". A reasonable trust or doubt that moves you toward empirical experience. Bible doesn't say "look at stuff. See! Proof of God!". What it does say is "seek God and you will find him if you seek him with all your heart". Got to start with reasonable trust based of evidence.
You did make it pretty clear that you did not think that it was a good argument, I just really excited about using the new debating skills that I am learning.
A witness in legal proceedings is not simply taken at their word, there is an investigation which looks for corroborating evidence, which can include other eyewitness'. If there is no physical evidence for whatever reason but there are other eyewitness' then they will be interviewed seperately to see if their stories match up, no witness is simply taken at their word.
If we apply this to religion we see that while experiences in a single area or culture may line up, experiences in other areas with different cultures do not. A christians experiences do not match a hundus, but we must accept that both of their experiences are just as valid as each other. Their experiences show that one of the following must be true:
1.They are all correct..
2.Some of them are correct, but we can't determine which are which.
3. None of them are correct.
Since a large number of religions are mutually exclusive we can rule out option one. This leaves us with either guessing which one is correct, or that none are correct. If there is no way to distinguish between truth and falsehood, then there is no way to determine if any are correct, wiich leads me to three, none of them are correct. So an argument from personal experience leads me to believe that no religion is correct.
I have a couple of definitions from the Oxford English Dictionary I would like to discuss:
1. Complete trust or confidence.
2. Firm belief, especially without logical evidence.
3. Trust in somebody’s ability or knowledge; trust that somebody/something will do what has been promised
I think that theists use the first definition, while atheists assert that theists use the second definition because they can show no logical evidence. Faith in scientists, at least from my point of view, uses the third definition. We trust that they are competent at their job and/or that those who review their work are.
Of course if you don't trust a scientist you can always study their field and try to prove them wrong. For some reason religion doesn't like it when you do this.
Sorry if this is a little scattered, I'm having trouble concentrating.
"For some reason religion doesn't like it when you do this"
To be fair, it really depends on what you mean by "religion" there. If we're talking about Theology as a field of academic study then the gloves are usually off. As soon as the printing press was invented and the core texts of Christianity fell into the hands of thinking people the exchange and demolition of different ideas has been brutal - and welcome in some ways. But if we're talking about religion as a social or cultural group the dynamic is very different. Rio Tinto blowing up sacred aboriginal caves comes to mind. That is only considered a bad thing to do by people who respect cultural and spiritual beliefs, even if they don't share them. Same if you start deliberately taking an axe to what is essentially the core of a culture's identity. If you're going to challenge a belief system it needs to be done thoughtfully and respectfully. Not because religious beliefs deserve special protection, but because without a respectful approach adherents simply buckle down. Triggering a victim complex can create an fortress that's impervious to reason. And there is a trend of modern atheism do manifest a poisonous level disrespect. It's even worse when clumsy straw man arguments or deliberate misinterpretations are presented in their cases.
But .. my two cents worth ... when it comes to religious or philosophical debate I say have at it. We just need to check ourselves first. Make sure we have a case and are not simply unloading emotional baggage. Consider the end game. What's the goal? If I talk to a muslim about spiritual things am I doing it to validate myself and bolster my own ego? Or do I actually care about what that individual believes and how it directs their life? That's important. Like Jesus said, "You travel over land and sea to make a proselyte, and when you do you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourself". When Richard Dawkins says that religious people "should be mocked with absolute contempt", where is that going? Is mockery and contempt making the world a better place? Even if I were an avid atheist I'm pretty sure I'd still doubt that Dawkins' game plan is the way ahead.
Regarding personal spiritual experience - that's really all there is. If there is a God that should be both the starting point and the ultimate goal. The spiritual experience of another person is never going to count as "empirical evidence" for someone hearing their "testimony". But your own experience does. That's actually what "Empirical" means after all. To use UFOs as an example, you may have a belief one way or the other about whether or not they exist, but you'd never know for sure until you've been beamed up and probed.
To give another example; Carl Sagan. As an astrobiologist it wouldn't be enough to simply believe or not believe in extraterrestrial life. Carl rounded up millions of dollars to head up the SETI program. The goal of SETI is to gain empirical data of civilisations on other worlds. Let's just imagine for a moment that tomorrow SETI picks up a signal and the late Sagan's dream of finding an alien civilisation on another world comes true. That empirical encounter would be as a result of Carl's "faith". Putting aside the English dictionary for a moment (bible wasn't written in English) Carl Sagan's acts between believing there may be life on other planets and actually rounding up the money from investors to build SETI are acts that are closer to the biblical definition of faith. The Greek word for it is Pistis. The basic definition of Pistis is to be persuaded of something, but like English worlds it can mean different things in different contexts. In a secular contexts the word is used for guarantees or warrantees. So that thing which ensures what you believe in is fact. That's why in Hebrews 11 is says that "faith is the evidence..." in the Carl Sagan example signals from space, or the lack of signals, are the evidence inevitably being reached by his actions building SETI. Spiritually speaking, encounters with God are reached through "faith". It has to start with evidence.
The religious substitute for faith is ritual and dogma. It is usually at this point where you will hear religious teachers state that faith is believing without evidence. And naturally atheist preachers pounce on it. This is usually said because the evidence wrecks the religious house of cards they are building. Once your teachings defy reason you generally have to shun critical thinking. This is why you see the religious institutions burning bibles. Free though is the enemy of bad religion.
"1.They are all correct..
2.Some of them are correct, but we can't determine which are which.
3. None of them are correct."
This will sound weird, but if the bible is any good, then number three is correct.
This is already a long post so I'll cut it short. Paul talks about the difference between religion and faith in Galatians. Specifically in Ch 4 and 5. This is actually a bit of an Easter Egg in the Latest Blade Runner movie. Paul specifically refers to religion as a "Yolk of Slavery" at the beginning of ch 5. According to ch 4 the religion is against and the opposite of "receiving the Spirit through faith".