Daily Archives: September 17, 2012
Geoffrey Berg’s tome, The Six Ways of Atheism, is a small volume but it requires some unpacking to get at the core of what he’s trying to say. I’m going to tackle one argument per post and we should get through the book by Saturday.
Let’s dive in to the first argument, the Aggregate of Qualities Argument:
- If God exists, God must necessarily possess all of several remarkable qualities (including supreme goodness, omnipotence, immortality, omniscience, ultimate creator, purpose giver).
- Every one of these qualities may not exist in any one entity and if any such quality does exist it exists in few entities or in some cases (e.g. omnipotence, ultimate creator) in at most one entity.
- Therefore it is highly unlikely any entity would possess even one of these qualities.
- There is an infinitesimal chance that any one entity (given the almost infinite number of entities in the Universe) might possess the combination of even some two of these qualities, let alone all of them.
- In statistical analysis a merely hypothetical infinitesimal chance can in effect be treated as the no chance to which it approximates so very closely.
- Therefore as there is statistically such an infinitesimal chance of any entity possessing, as God would have to do, all God’s essential qualities in combination it can be said for all practical and statistical purposes that God just does not exist.
This argument fails to disprove God as Christians defend him. Berg states repeatedly that there is little chance a being in this universe possesses any of these qualities, let alone all of them. Agreed. But we never argue that God is part of the universe. Which means all of Berg’s statistical analysis and posturing about how language glosses over reality is moot. His rantings only apply to beings originating in and living in the known universe. God transcends that universe, and therefore isn’t subject to laws that define the universe.
Berg anticipated seven potential responses; this was (oddly) not one of them. All of the objections he considered were pathetic and require no rejoinder from me.
So Berg and I agree that God doesn’t exist in the known universe. That is only equal to “God doesn’t exist at all” given metaphysical naturalism.
Geoffrey Berg has written a book with six new or improved arguments against God. I disagree — not one argument is new and nothing is improved. In fact, even atheists make fun of this guy (see Daniel Florien’s post here).
I am only writing on this for one reason, and one reason alone: my new resolution to finish things that I start! I already wrote on the First Way of atheism. Then I said I’d move on with the other disproofs Berg offered. I never did. I gave up, just like I give up on lots of things.
I am going to finish that which I start from now on. This comes in two parts: previous posts and projects. Regular readers will undoubtedly have noticed the first part of this resolution — I am far more active in the comments section than I ever have been. I’m actually responding to challenges, instead of letting them slide!
The second part is projects — posts that I said I’d write but never actually did. I was saddened when I read back through my blog, deleting posts that I no longer agreed with. Whenever I got to something tagged “Site News,” there would be a list of posts I planned on writing. And none of them ever materialized. I was a tad horrified. To rectify that, I’m going to write some of those posts, and finish some of the projects that I said I’d do.
One of the projects I started long ago was making a website with responses to all of the most popular atheist books. So what I’ll do is continue with this project, and the first
victim book I’ll visit is The Six Ways of Atheism.
Before I get started dismantling this piece of crap, I want to address one of Berg’s comments in the introduction. He said:
Nor do I really wish to deal with my own personal status. Essentially the arguments I put are valid or invalid irrespective of whether they are original to me or not. It is the arguments I want to be considered, not the person putting the arguments. (p. 12)
He then goes on to complain about intellectual elitism in philosophy, and how you can succeed in business with no degree, but for philosophy, you need a Ph.D. or they won’t take you seriously.
Well, not surprisingly, I disagree. It all depends on the arguments. If you make good arguments and do your homework, people will take you seriously — even academics with tons of letters after their proper names.
Take me. I have an associate’s degree in business. That’s it. I have no training in theology or philosophy, not even a 101 class. However, I’ve had opponents ask what academic journals I’ve published in. Once, I made a silly (but logically valid) argument to get out of doing something at work, and my boss said snidely, “I can tell you have a degree in philosophy.”
Despite my lack of formal training, I have been recognized as a thinker in philosophy of religion. I have detractors as well — most famously Austin Cline of atheism.about.com said I do not possess the intellectual honesty to even claim the title of “armchair philosopher.” A hit-and-run commenter on this blog said that were I to publish a book on philosophy of religion or Christian apologetics, it would be an insult to people who actually bothered to go to school to get degrees.
There are people who think Plato and Aristotle are hacks, too. As I frequently say, any idiot can start a blog. Any dummy can self-publish a book. My overall point still stands: it doesn’t matter where the argument comes from as long as it is a solid argument. If it’s good, people of all stripes will take notice. Your book will sell. Your blog will gain a following.
In that spirit, I am not going to consider Berg or his qualifications, only his arguments. I will not make any snide comments about how Berg is obviously not a philosopher, because his arguments are as naive as Steve Carrel’s character in 40-year-old Virgin. Nor am I going to make a comment about how arrogant he is; how the hubris drips off of every page leaving you with the same sticky feeling you have after a workout in high humidity. You won’t read about how he would benefit from hiring a better copy editor than his 10 year old nephew who only worked for Mountain Dew.
No sarcasm. No cheap shots. From now on!
I will only consider the arguments. If the arguments stand, then the source won’t matter.