My series of posts inspired by Dawkins’ The God Delusion finally ends (I really ought to be thinking more about logic) with his rather comic view of God. Someone once said, that when people told him that they did not believe in God, he asked them which God they did not believe in, and it strikes me that I would not believe in a God described by the following two points, which Dawkins was adding to an earlier response (the possibility of hallucinations etc.) to claims that personal experiences of God cannot be scientifically refuted:
"First, that if God really did communicate with humans that fact would emphatically not lie outside science. God comes bursting through from whatever other-worldly domain is his natural abode, crashing through into our world where his messages can be intercepted by human brains – and that phenomenon has nothing to do with science? Second, a God who is capable of sending intelligible signals to millions of people simultaneously, and of receiving messages from all of them simultaneously, cannot be, whatever else he might be, simple. Such bandwidth! God may not have a brain made of neurones, or a CPU made of silicon, but if he has the powers attributed to him he must have something far more elaborately and non-randomly constructed than the largest brain or the largest computer we know."
(Dawkins 2006: 154)
Dawkins’ God seems here to be like the leader of some alien invaders from a parallel universe, because surely the Creator of this world would not need to “burst” or “crash” into it—no more than a human author would have to magically appear inside her characters’ fictional world in order to influence them. Of course, fictional characters are not alive, like we are, but that was only an analogy, and the key word is ‘Creator’ (if we have one, this universe is more her/his world than it is our world).
...... Her/his messages might bypass our brains (designed as they would have been for our dealings with this material world) and be received via our consciences (in some immaterial way), or they might be relayed via angels (for whom this world might be like the seas are to us, i.e. not so much unnatural—are houses natural?—as just relatively uncomfortable), or they might indeed arise within our brains, but since those would be brains that s/he made (or is making), so such information would hardly have to travel more than the zero distance from the tip of her/his metaphorical pen (which would be quite unlike any part of Creation) to the metaphorical paper (Creation).
...... No analogy is perfect, so consider another. In Flatland, mathematical creatures of both 2 and 3 dimensions occupy the same space, the former in a plane through which the latter might move as easily as they move through any of the planes of space. E.g. a cube passing through Flatland might seem to appear from nowhere, first as a small equilateral triangle, growing and changing into a rotating hexagon before reverting to a shrinking triangle and disappearing again—or as some other sequence of 2-dimensional shapes. It might be quite mysterious, to the dimensionally challenged Flatlanders, how the different possible sequences could be the same thing, but nonetheless Flatland is just part of the natural abode of the cube.
...... Now, perhaps elves would burst into this world upon the backs of unicorns, from their natural abode (Elfland), were they not fictional, but the Creator would be more like something that was to this world (Creation) as this world is to such fictional realms, were s/he to exist. And whatever the Creator is composed of (if anything), it would hardly be like the stuff of this world, whence we can hardly conclude that s/he must have any kind of elaborately and non-randomly constructed information-processor (although of course s/he might have, e.g. a host of angels).
...... Dawkins’ second point relates to scientific refutation because his argument for the improbability of God rests on our need to explain a complex God—but why should the Creator not be simple? Cf. how an author need not contain anything like her own complicated plots (just the insight, imagination and inspiration to construct such things, with pen and paper); cf. how a sphere is not a complicated Dr. Triangle/Mr. Hexagon character (within Flatland). Anyway, the theory of evolution having shown us one way in which complex (physical) structures might arise from simple (physical) beginnings, the assumption that the Creator could not be simple is an odd one for Dawkins to make.
...... Anyway, whether the Creator is complex (in certain respects, and from our point of view) or simple, there is hardly any necessity to her/him being non-randomly constructed. If s/he had an origin (and why should s/he?), it would be quite mysterious (why should it not be?), so maybe s/he arose randomly (and if we don’t know out of what sort of stuff, how can we say if it is unlikely?) and maybe s/he was constructed (why not an infinite sequence of Creators?). (But there should be time enough for Theology later, if there is any point to doing any.)
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