Monday, 16 July 2007

Victor J. Stenger and the Failed Hypothesis

I based the ideas in this article, on the book written by the physicist Victor J. Stenger, 'God the Failed Hypothesis'. The book is subtitled 'How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist'. This is also a modification of a debated thread within an article on this blog entitled: "Atheism or Religion?"

What you cannot do is prove 'God doesn't exist' as an axiomatic certainty. But what Stenger does and I believe he is the first scientist to do it, he comprehensively breaks down every theistic claim for God and shows why it is a failed hypothesis, using the scientific method, based on probability. So, even if one claimed nothing for atheism, not requiring it to show, rational and probabilistic decisions, this in itself is false... it suggests, that someone who loses their religion, comes at that position without any rational decisions, it is simply done on a whim?

Atheism is not simply a belief that there is not a God... That suggests that an atheist simply believes there is no God, end of argument and cannot put forth a rational argument to why they don't believe. If that were true, one could not take the Richard Dawkins position (I think he originally borrowed this analogy from someone else), which I do here and which is based on probability, that is: 'I take the God concept, to be as likely as the tooth fairy' ...I take this position, because God, like the Tooth Fairy, are both arbitrary speculations, even the false can be falsified through context, such as 2 + 2=5... This is exactly what one cannot do with an arbitrary speculation, because there is no context within reality, by which to falsify it, how could there be, it's a supernatural claim. So you have to fall back on probability.

And as for the often made claim, that one does not need tradition, or religion to believe in God, the point is that most people do. Those that simply believe in a God in the Spinozian sense, it appears what Spinoza means by God, however, is simply nature. Well, I have no qualms with that claim. Those are not the individuals, who tend to feel the need to bully others, through religious dogma. But even here, there is sometimes a problem... Intelligent Design advocates will often use this argument, to attempt to strengthen their position. This is exactly what Stephen Meyer of the Discovery Institute does.

Of course the argument for all encompassing God, doesn't answer anything either. It is an anti-intellectual proposition, because one end up in an infinite regress, of who created the creator and so on. The best one can do, is say: 'I believe in an all encompassing God ', end of conversation, what has one proved, nothing. Of course I believe in Spinoza's God too, if one simply means nature.

Of course, the statement that statistical probability is not necessarily proof, well, this may be correct. But unlike the belief in God, the atheist position is not dogmatic. If someone presented evidence for God, most atheists (I would hope) would be open to it, how many theists on the other hand, would read Stenger's book with an open mind? Now following on from this: because the God concept lies in the same arbitrary conceptual category as tooth fairies, that is enough on its own, not only to dismiss it as improbable, but most likely impossible. Note, I do not say false. I take the same position as Michael Shermer of Skeptic Magazine fame, I do not buy into the God concept, because evidence for God is so weak... Indeed, it is so weak that I go beyond agnostic; to strong atheism. But being open minded to evidence, if a theist can present good evidence (none ever has), then I of course, would have to accept it.

Note: I use the definition of Spinoza's God in this article, as it is often misrepresented by theists, as a force beyond nature, that is all encompassing... But in reality, Spinoza's God is nothing more than nature itself. Spinoza is often misrepresented as an agnostic because of this error, in fact with this correct definition of Spinoza, one could best call him an atheist and not an agnostic.

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