The Instigator
NiqashMotawadi3
Pro (for)
Winning
6 Points
The Contender
MysticEgg
Con (against)
Losing
3 Points

Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion" has embarrassing logical errors

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
NiqashMotawadi3
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/16/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,120 times Debate No: 37804
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (4)
Votes (2)

 

NiqashMotawadi3

Pro

I take the position that "The God Delusion" has embarrassing logical errors. By embarrassing, I mean that they are embarrassing to the the author and his presumed approach, given that Darwkins takes a rational stance against religious dogma and falsehoods. That being said, I'm not arguing from a Christian standpoint. I'm actually an atheist who is dissatisfied with Dawkins and many other atheist celebrities.

1- Due to the nature of the debate, the burden of proof is on me to show the logical errors. Con's role is to disprove them effectively through logical arguments and reasonable apologetic.

2- First round is only for acceptance.

...

Best wishes to whoever accepts the challenge.
MysticEgg

Con

I accept this debate and look forward to us two atheists debating!

DISCLAIMER: I have not read the whole book "The God Delusion", only part of it. However, that shouldn't affect this debate.

Good luck to Pro! Allez!
Debate Round No. 1
NiqashMotawadi3

Pro

To begin the debate, it would be useful to define the term "logical error." A logical error is either a...

(1) Logical fallacy

"All atheists are indoctrinated." [Generalization fallacy]

(2) Invalid deductive argument
"
P1: Square X is colored red.
P2: Square Y is colored blue.
Conc: Square X has a bigger area than Square Y. [Conclusion not following premises]
"

(3) Unsound deductive argument
"
P1: Square X is colored red.
P2: Square Y is identical to Square X. [False premise]
Conc: Square Y is red.
"

(4) Violation of an Aristotelean law of thought

Aristotle's laws of thought are as follows[1]:

A. The Law of Identity - A is A
Everything is the same as itself; or a statement cannot not remain the same and change its
truth value.


B. The Law of Non-Contradiction - NOT (A and not A)
Nothing can both exist and not exist at the same time and in the same respect; or no
statement is both true and false.


C. The Law of Excluded Middle - Either (A or not A)
Something either exists or does not exist; or every statement is either true or false.


1- Dawkin's counterargument for Anselm's ontological argument[The God Delusion - P.83]

1A- Anselm's ontological argument[2]:

P1- We conceive of God as a being than which no greater can be conceived.

P2- This being than which no greater can be conceived either exists in the mind alone or both in
the mind and in reality.


P3- Assume that this being than which no greater can be conceived exists in the mind alone.

A- Existing both in the mind and in reality is greater than existing solely in the mind.

B- This being, existing in the mind alone, can also be conceived to exist in reality.

C- This being existing in the mind alone is not therefore the being than which no greater can
be conceived.


Conc: Therefore, this being than which no greater can be conceived exists in reality as well as
exists in the mind



1B- Dawkin's counterargument[The God Delusion - P.83]:

Dawkins starts by raising good objections but later transgresses and creates his own parodical counterargument which suffers from a logical error the original argument doesn't have.

P1- The creation of the world is the most marvellous achievement
imaginable.

P2- The merit of an achievement is the product of (a) its intrinsic
quality, and (b) the ability of its creator.

P3- The greater the disability (or handicap) of the creator, the more
impressive the achievement.

P4- The most formidable handicap for a creator would be non-
existence. [Violation of the law of non-contradiction]

P5- Therefore if we suppose that the universe is the product of an
existent creator we can conceive a greater being - namely, one
who created everything while not existing. [Violation of the law of non-contradiction]
[
Strawman fallacy]

P6- An existing God therefore would not be a being greater than
which a greater cannot be conceived because an even more for-
midable and incredible creator would be a God which did not
exist. [Violation of the law of non-contradiction]

Conc: God does not exist.


1C- Critique of Dawkin's counterargument:

While Dawkins is parodying Anselm's ontological argument to make a point, he commits a logical error not found in the original argument. The logical error first appears in P4, "The most formidable handicap for a creator would be non-existence." The problem with this premise is that it assumes that an entity can be simultaneously existent as a handicapped entity and yet non-existent because of the handicap. Dawkins goes further and says in P6 that "even more formidable and incredible creator would be a God which did not exist." So basically, that most incredible creator that could exist is one that doesn't exist; ergo, "exist" when he "doesn't exist." According to the law of non-contradiction, nothing can both exist and not exist at the same time, nor can a statement such as "he exists" be both false and true. Thus, Dawkin makes a violation of the law of non-contradiction.

Another error is in the assumption that God could be handicapped. A God that is handicapped is directly a Not God, because that contradicts his omnipotence. Dawkins throughout his counterargument dealt with a Not God and then concluded that God doesn't exist, and this is an example of a strawman fallacy and a violation of the law of non-contradiction. The question "Can God carry create a rock he can't lift?" commits the same error because we're asking God to be Not God (by illogically having something he can't carry), and then asking if he can carry it while logically operating.


2- Dawkin's Central Argument in the Book[The God Delusion - P.157-158]

"This chapter has contained the central argument of my book, and
so, at the risk of sounding repetitive, I shall summarize it as a series
of six numbered points.

P1- One of the greatest challenges to the human intellect, over the
centuries, has been to explain how the complex, improbable
appearance of design in the universe arises.

P2- The natural temptation is to attribute the appearance of design
to actual design itself. In the case of a man-made artefact such
as a watch, the designer really was an intelligent engineer. It is
tempting to apply the same logic to an eye or a wing, a spider
or a person.

P3- The temptation is a false one, because the designer hypothesis
immediately raises the larger problem of who designed the
designer. The whole problem we started out with was the
problem of explaining statistical improbability. It is obviously
no solution to postulate something even more improbable. We
need a 'crane', not a 'skyhook', for only a crane can do the
business of working up gradually and plausibly from simplicity
to otherwise improbable complexity. [Non sequitur fallacy]

P4- The most ingenious and powerful crane so far discovered is
Darwinian evolution by natural selection. Darwin and his
successors have shown how living creatures, with their
spectacular statistical improbability and appearance of design,
have evolved by slow, gradual degrees from simple beginnings.
We can now safely say that the illusion of design in living
creatures is just that - an illusion.

P5- We don't yet have an equivalent crane for physics. Some kind
of multiverse theory could in principle do for physics the same
explanatory work as Darwinism does for biology. This kind of
explanation is superficially less satisfying than the biological
version of Darwinism, because it makes heavier demands on
luck. But the anthropic principle entitles us to postulate far
more luck than our limited human intuition is comfortable
with.

P6- We should not give up hope of a better crane arising in physics,
something as powerful as Darwinism is for biology. But even in
the absence of a strongly satisfying crane to match the
biological one, the relatively weak cranes we have at present
are, when abetted by the anthropic principle, self-evidently
better than the self-defeating skyhook hypothesis of an
intelligent designer.

Conc: If the argument of this chapter is accepted, the factual premise
of religion - the God Hypothesis - is untenable. God almost cer-
tainly does not exist." [Conclusion doesn't follow premises]


2A- Critique of Dawkin's central argument:

This argument cannot work as a deductive argument given that the conclusion doesn't follow from the premises. If we took the charitable position and treated it as an inductive argument with different sub-points, we still do not reach such an induction. Truth of the matter, there is no way in logic to start from the given sub-points and reach the conclusion: "God almost certainly does not exist."

Furthermore, P3 is logically fallicious because of the non sequitur it commits. This is apparent when Dawkins writes: "The temptation is a false one, the designer hypothesis immediately raises the larger problem of who designed the designer." Dawkins has defined this temptation in P2 as the "natural temptation... to attribute the appearance of design to actual design itself." In simplified form, Dawkins says that we can't say that X is designed by a designer Y, because that would raise the question of who designed Y. The problem with this claim is that it violates an elemental point in the philosophy of science. You cannot require that explanations themselves be explained, since this leads to an infinite regress of explanations that stops us from explaining anything. Each explanation is independent and thus the request of an explanation of the explanation is a Non sequitur. If taken seriously, Dawkin's principle would make the practice of natural sciences impossible, given that every scientific explanation opens new doors and raises new questions that require their own explanations[3].

Take for example a group of astronauts who discovered highly-advanced machinery on their first visit to Pluto. Their explanation could be that aliens are the designers of such machinery. Dawkins, however, would consider the temptation to believe that such machines were designed by aliens to be false because it raises the question of who designed the aliens.

That being said, my example is only there to show that a group of researchers can have a very plausible explanation without having to deal with its own explanation. A modern-day example of this would be "dark matter" which we know little about and yet use to explain how stars are gravitationally held[4].

...

* Many other examples of logical errors were emitted due to space restrictions.


I conclude by saying that I'm only here to evaluate the content of a book I found utterly lacking on my second journey through its pages. My discourse is only concerned with the fruit of the logical problems instead of debate tactics and petty semantics that could dominate other debates in DDO.


[1] oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl201/modules/Philosophers/Aristotle/aristotle_laws_of_thought.html

[2] philosophy.lander.edu/intro/anselm.shtml

[3] Peter Lipton, Inference to Best Explanation, page 24;

[4] cfa.harvard.edu/news/2011/pr201129.html
MysticEgg

Con

Thanks to Pro for his opening arguments; allow me to respond.

Before I continue, however, allow me to make a point. I am taking this debate on the pretext that logical errors in "The God Delusion" are only considered "embarrassing" if Dawkins himself proposed them. Otherwise, I will instantly consent the debate to Pro, as he [Dawkins] puts forward a lot of ID (intelligent design) arguments within the book, and thus Pro could semantically argue that:
"Within the pages of The God Delusion we find a fallacious ontological argument. Therefore, The God Delusion has a logical error."

If Pro wishes to go down that route, I consent. So far, he has not, and I should hope we shall not!

Similarly, any counter argument that isn't Dawkins' own, I will consider to be invalid for the purpose of this debate. That is to say, if Kant's objection is fallacious, I should hope this doesn't help fulfill Pro's burden, because it isn't Dawkins' own counter. Again, if Pro wishes to do so, I consent here and now. Let us hope that we don't traverse down the semantics route.

I think my opponent means what I think he means, though, because my opponent consistently uses "Dawkins' argument". We'll see. Anyway, allez!

With that out of the way, onto my opponent's contentions.

Opponent's Contention One: The counter given for Anselm's Ontological Argument.

Well, I agree entirely with my opponent here. This argument is fallacious, although (as my opponent pointed out); it is just a parody. A parody that is not Dawkins' own, I should add.

The refute given in The God Delusion is not Dawkins' own counter, merely it is para-phrased from Douglas Gasking, who proposed the argument[1]. If my opponent wishes to keep this contention open, then I consent it. Although since it is not Dawkins' counter, I will consider it "refuted" until either:
a) My opponent proves that this objection is Dawkins' original work. Or:
b) My opponent clarifies that by "has", it meant within the book's pages and not (as I assume) an argument that Dawkins himself proposed.

Opponent's Contention 2: Dawkins' "central argument".

I'm going to go through this in a random order, so please bear with me.
We do open the world of interpretation here, because books are all read differently, of course. What I believe Dawkins' conclusion meant is that "from all that I have given, here, in my book, we can safely reach a conclusion that God almost certainly doesn't exist." As in, following all of the refutes or para-phrased refutes that Dawkins provided in his book, the conclusion he proposes is backed up by a host of objections. Dawkins tried to set out, throughout the book, many counters.

If he actually, explicitly stated that:
This is my argument set out formally, xyz.

Then I would be quite moronic to try and defend it. the conclusion would indeed be non-sequiter. However, I never saw it as such. Indeed, I even think he tried to (albeit rather ineffectively) suggest this:
"I shall summarize it as a series of six numbered points." These are summaries and this is not a formal, complete argument. These are points and not premises.

Here are lots of points that summarise what I have already been through in this book.
Point 1
Point 2 etc...

I see these points to defend my assertion that "God almost certainly does not exist." I don't think he meant it as a conclusion.

This is a quotation:

"5. We don’t yet have an equivalent [theory] for physics. Some kind of multiverse theory could in principle do for physics the same explanatory work as Darwinism does for biology…

6. We should not give up hope of a better [theory] arising in physics, something as powerful as Darwinism is for biology…

God almost certainly does not exist."

Notice how there is no "Therefore" or "From these premises I conclude". Indeed, he calls them "points", instead of premises.


If Dawkins meant what I think he meant, then it cannot be fallacious, just poorly presented, begging to be misinterpreted.

Of course, I could be completely wrong, but I fear we are in the world of interpretation. This is, after all, a book and not a case study, scientific review, or paper.

On the "who designed the designer?" area:

It is, of course, true that we cannot allow explanations to become infinite regresses. We would not be able to explain anything then! But something as complex as a designer needs an explanation. Laws of nature "just are". Dark matter "just is". True, we're working on it. However, the laws of nature or dark matter never designed anything. There are mindless with no conscious. A designer would have to be. And a mind or conscious has to be explained, otherwise we see a case of special pleading fallacy, which is the take on:
"Well yes everything that can intelligently design has an explanation, but God is some kind of exception of this rule" Why is God an exception? Unless a reason is presented why God (the IDer) is the exception, we must ask who designed the designer, otherwise we enter special pleading, which is a fallacy.


Well, I hope I have addressed my opponent's contentions to an acceptable level. I sincerely hope we won't ensue into semantics of "well this writing is technically within the book", because so far at least, this debate has been engaging and (for me at the least) thought provoking. See y'all next round!

Source(s):

[1]http://en.wikipedia.org...


Debate Round No. 2
NiqashMotawadi3

Pro

Like I anticipated, my opponent chose the tactic of special pleading to shift the goal-posts, although he agreed with me completely that Dawkins has logical errors in his book.

Richard Dawkins is held responsible for any illogical argument he uses in his book to support his position. Similarly, one can say that William Lane Craig's book is illogical for using Platinga's ontological argument.

A special pleading fallacy usually has this form[1]...


    1. Rule: Xs are generally Ys.

    1. x is an X.

    1. x is an exception to the rule because it is I (where I is an irrelevant characteristic).

    1. Therefore, x is not a Y.


My opponent commits here a special pleading fallacy in his defense of Dawkins, given that he gives the following irrelevant characteristic: The argument is not originally Dawkin's, which means that Dawkins didn't commit a logical error when he used it to defend his atheistic position.

I'm not trying to change this into a semantic debate at all. But instead, I'm showing how my opponent has took a fallacious route to defend Dawkins.
...

In his defense of Dawkin's central argument, my opponent commits another special pleading fallacy and repeats Dawkin's error in P3:

"It is, of course, true that we cannot allow explanations to become infinite regresses. We would not be able to explain anything then! But something as complex as a designer needs an explanation. Laws of nature "just are". Dark matter "just is". True, we're working on it. However, the laws of nature or dark matter never designed anything. There are mindless with no conscious."

"Something as complex as a designer needs an explanation" is yet anotherirrelevant characteristic of a special pleading fallacy. I ask my opponent to show me where such an exception is put forth in the philosophy of science.

It is somewhat ironic for my opponent to tackle special pleading fallacies in the previous round, while making many of them in the process.

It is also apparent to the reader that I have not given "dark matter" as the only example of things that don't require explanations. At this point, I have to awkwardly quote myself to respond to my opponent.

"Take for example a group of astronauts who discovered highly-advanced machinery on their first visit to Pluto. Their explanation could be that aliens are the designers of such machinery. Dawkins, however, would consider the temptation to believe that such machines were designed by aliens to be false because it raises the question of who designed the aliens."

The aliens are (1) conscious and (2) complex. It is untrue that Peter Lipton's best explanation model is only applicable to unconscious and simple things as my opponent suggests. It is also false to follow my opponent's unwarranted exception that explanations that involve conscious, complex entities need their own explanations or else they're invalid
. This is nowhere found in the philosophy of science and demonstrated to be false by the example above.

Con goes further and says...

""Well yes everything that can intelligently design has an explanation, but God is some kind of exception of this rule" Why is God an exception? Unless a reason is presented why God (the IDer) is the exception, we must ask who designed the designer, otherwise we enter special pleading, which is a fallacy."

If God was defined as "natural" by theologians, then I would agree with my opponent that making him an exception to the regression of explanations in the natural world is logically fallacious. Nonetheless, God is defined as "supernatural." This means that what is applicable on the natural world is not necessarily applicable on the metaphysical realm. In other words, it is logically plausible for a metaphysical entity to have no explanation for His existence and yet be the source of creation of a physical/natural world. Dawkins treats God as if he is a natural entity that is not immune to regression, although that is fallacious and contradictory to God's theological definition.


...

So far, the points of agreements are...

1- Dawkins has a logical errors in book, "The God Delusion."

2- Dawkins takes a rational stance against religious dogma and illogical arguments.


It is important to explain why I find the above logical errors embarrassing. As I said in my opening statement, I find them embarrassing to the author himself because of the logical/rational approach that he presumes.

Take for example a Literature Professor who misspells the word 'Literature,' although he presumes the role of an expert on English. His error is said to be embarrassing due to what he presumes or what others presume him to be. While Richard Dawkins is clearly not an expert on logic or a professional logician, he presumes and is thought to presume the role of an enlightened, rational scholar that fights illogical and dogmatic arguments made by the religious. Hence, why such logical errors are embarrassing in this sense.


...

While I adore my opponent's enthusiasm in this debate and his attempts to refute me, or so I think, I'd rather he played by the rules instead of attempts to change what the debate topic means.

MysticEgg

Con

Thanks to Pro; allow me to respond.

Well, it seems that my hopes have remained as what they are...hopes.


"My opponent commits here a special pleading fallacy in his defense of Dawkins, given that he gives the following irrelevant characteristic: The argument is not originally Dawkin's, which means that Dawkins didn't commit a logical error when he used it to defend his atheistic position."

It would seem that, despite my initial hopes, my opponent wishes to include arguments proposed by other people that are para-phrased by Dawkins. As such, I will respect that decision; I consent.

Please vote for Pro.

"I'm not trying to change this into a semantic debate at all. But instead, I'm showing how my opponent has took a fallacious route to defend Dawkins."
It would only be considered fallacious if it was against the rules. Now I interpreted "has" to mean: An original proposal that is proposed by Dawkins. I'll admit this was my error in assuming as much. Nevertheless, because of my misguided interpretation, I (rather inevitably) walked into a hole I cannot climb out of.


"It is somewhat ironic for my opponent to tackle special pleading fallacies in the previous round, while making many of them in the process." Indeed!


My opponent does point out that my argument could hold merit if God is natural. But, since God is defined as supernatural, the once would be fallacious special pleading fallacy is considered irrelevant, because "what is applicable on the natural world is not necessarily applicable on the metaphysical realm." This covers what would be logical fallacies, too.


"It is important to explain why I find the above logical errors embarrassing. As I said in my opening statement, I find them embarrassing to the author himself because of the logical/rational approach that he presumes."

This is not part of the debate, clearly, but I think Dawkins took a natural stance on things because

a) we have no evidence for the supernatural
b) explaining natural things by supernatural terms gets us literally nowhere. And:
c) one doesn't need to understand unicorns and "unicornology" [as an example] to dismiss them as folklore that's caught on.

In any case, while Dawkins is not a logician, I think his presumptions are admirable. But anyway... :D


"While I adore my opponent's enthusiasm in this debate and his attempts to refute me, or so I think, I'd rather he played by the rules instead of attempts to change what the debate topic means."

Thanking you for the compliment. However, allow me to stress to my opponent that I did not intend to change the rules; I merely interpreted them. I fear this debate has been a waste of everyone's time.


Well, I will sign off then! But before I do:

I apologise to everyone for wasting people's time in this debate; my misinterpretation has served to everyone's time being wasted. Nonetheless, I thank my opponent for an enlightening (if slightly disappointing and bitter) debate! Another thanks to the audience and the voters.

I stress to the voters:
I have consented this debate to Pro. Please vote for Pro.

Thanks everyone, I'll see you around.


Kind regards,
J
Debate Round No. 3
NiqashMotawadi3

Pro

I thank my opponent for his participation.

I believe this debate wasn't a waste of time to the readers interested in seeing logical errors in Dawkin's book, and I salute my opponent for having a very good conduct throughout the debate. If I was voting, I would have awarded him the conduct point.

I don't say this often, but I think my opponent has a better future in debating than I do, and I urge him to continue debating.

Our conflict was simply that my opponent understood "logical errors in Dawkins' book" to mean logical errors commited by Dawkin's original arguments in his book. Truth be said, little in this book is Dawkins' creation. I only think the levels of atheism and a few other parts were orginally created by him. Yet as I argued, commiting the same logical error someone else commited by using it in your book to support your position still makes your book logically fallicious and containing a logical error.

I think I'm going to write a full list of what I think are logical errors in Dawkins' book. By this, I don't mean to throw mud on Dawkins or anger his fanbase. My hope is to strengthen logicallity within the atheist community.

I also suggest watching the debates and reading the few books of a young, atheist philosopher that I find inspiring, Dr. Arif Ahmed.

Other than that, another thank you to my opponent and everyone who read the debate.
MysticEgg

Con

Thanks, Pro!

Well, this is going to be a short and sweet debate. I have consented, please vote for Pro.

"I don't say this often, but I think my opponent has a better future in debating than I do, and I urge him to continue debating."


I'm not known for my modesty; thank you!

On the full errors, while it would be a strengthening move for atheists to refine arguments, I implore Pro to only use arguments that are meant to be arguments. For example, I would not include Douglas Gasking's argument as fallacious, because even though it is, it is not meant to be an argument - merely a parody.

Other than that, thanks to my opponent, the voters and the audience; I will see you all around! Please vote for Pro.


Kindest regards,
J
Debate Round No. 4
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Proletariat 3 years ago
Proletariat
In my two sentences, I meant sorry to Pro, not Con. Pro made the claim.
Posted by Proletariat 3 years ago
Proletariat
This was really sad to read.

It had the potential to be a decent debate, but Pro insisted on playing semantics and he did ignore some arguments Con made in order to further his specific semantic premise.

Sorry, Con, but reading this was not worth much at all.
It could have been, but you chose a dirty route to win a debate instead of discuss an issue that could be interesting.
Posted by MysticEgg 3 years ago
MysticEgg
We'll see. ;D
Posted by donald.keller 3 years ago
donald.keller
The God Delusion is a fallacy... Just a giant multi-chapter fallacy
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Ozymandias_King_of_Kings 3 years ago
Ozymandias_King_of_Kings
NiqashMotawadi3MysticEggTied
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Total points awarded:32 
Reasons for voting decision: Good debate, very lively. I still like the book though.
Vote Placed by Sojourner 3 years ago
Sojourner
NiqashMotawadi3MysticEggTied
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Total points awarded:31 
Reasons for voting decision: Thanks to both Pro and Con. Enjoyed the discourse!