Saturday, March 28, 2009

Who Designed the Designer: A Response to Richard Dawkins

My paper in Think: Philosophy for Everyone (a publication of The Royal Institute for Philosophy) is now on line (Spring, 2009 edition, pages 71-81). It is a secular journal, which encourages creative forms for doing philosophy that will reach past the purely academic world. That doesn't mean it is dumbed down. Some very prestigious contributors have been featured. For my paper, I designed a discussion between a Christian, an agnostic, and an atheist partial to Richard Dawkins. (In 2004, I published a paper in Think that featured a posthumous report from Pascal about the errors made in a Think paper criticizing his wager argument.)

Think was only published in the UK until recently. I'm not sure if this issue is available in the US except in some libraries. As you will see, my argument challenges Dawkins's supposedly showstopping question to theists and also defends Intelligent Design.

9 comments:

Mattie said...

What are the submission details for Think? (length, format etc.) I remember looking for them about a month ago, but I couldn't find anything.

Doug Groothuis said...

That should be on their web page. They don't allow footnotes, want shorter articles, and like creative ways of presenting material.

Stephen said...

Dr. Groothuis,
I very much enjoyed your article (you're really on a roll with this post and your essay on why you are pro-life).

I have a question, one that was posed to me by a skeptic when I responded to Richard Dawkin's 'Who Designed the Designer' objection that a mind is just as complex as the universe and thus has no explanatory power, using the argument that a mind is simple. I said that Dawkins had confused the complex thoughts of mind, with a mind itself, which is simple. I believe I was cannibalizing something I had read by Dr. WLC.
My skeptic friend responded by arguing that the brain is the most complex organ known to man. I waffled a bit and made a vague reference to dualism but I was unable to offer him a good answer as to why minds are separate from brains and why we can reasonably refer to a mind as a simple entity. I was wondering if you could offer me some guidance as to answer or where I might look for one, please? I had a look again at the WLC Q&A article from whence I got the argument but Dr. Craig does not go into any great detail on that particular ocassion.
Thank you for all your good work!
Stephen

Kel said...

You do realise that scientists have long since refuted any tenets that ID sprung forth, correct?

It's not to say there isn't a god behind it all, it's just that ID was terrible science. When someone supports ID in this day and age, they are going to lose any respect of anyone who is scientifically literate.

Doug Groothuis said...

Stephen:

The brain is material; the soul is not; nor is God material. ID explains material complexity (or a specified sort) in terms of intelligence. It addresses finite, material states. God is infinite and immaterial. So, the argument does not have a boomerang effect. I tried to point this out in the article. You may want to read it again.

Doug Groothuis said...

Kel:

There is no substance to what you say. You ask a question; you give no argument. "Science" has not refuted ID; I have read the major critiques and most of them just beg the question by asserting naturalism as synomous with science. I would not have written my article if I knew that "science" had refuted ID. It has not.

I suggest you read some of the top ID thinkers: Dembski, Meyer, and Behe.

Doug Groothuis said...

Kel:

There is no substance to what you say. You ask a question; you give no argument. "Science" has not refuted ID; I have read the major critiques and most of them just beg the question by asserting naturalism as synomous with science. I would not have written my article if I knew that "science" had refuted ID. It has not.

I suggest you read some of the top ID thinkers: Dembski, Meyer, and Behe.

Victor Reppert said...

William Lane Craig in the forthcoming book Confronting Christianity's Critics, coming out in Broadman and Holman:

Several years ago my atheist colleague Quentin Smith unceremoniously crowned Stephen Hawking’s argument against God in A Brief History of Time as “the worst atheistic argument in the history of Western thought.” With the advent of The God Delusion the time has come to relieve Hawking of this weighty crown and to recognize Richard Dawkins’ accession to the throne.

Stephen said...

Dear Dr. Groothuis,
Thank you for responding to my question. Your essay was indeed very helpful and my apologies if I have misunderstood your paper andor mis-stated my skeptical friend's position.

I think I basically understand your argument that ID explains material complexity in terms of intelligence. I think that my friend's problem is that he cannot accept the premise of immaterial thoughts of a mind existing independently of a brain. When I described God as an immaterial mind, he rejected it because from his point of view, thoughts are entirely reducible to chemical reactions in the brain and cannot exist independently of brain function. For him to accept the notion of God as an immaterial mind, I suppose would require a great big brain to be floating around outside the universe also!
So I was wondering, how do I address the issue when skeptics claim that immaterial thoughts can only be produced by material brains and cannot exist separately from them. (ie. the brain dies, thoughts die too)

Many thanks,
Stephen