Lennox Vs. Dawkins Debate – Has Science Buried God? Well Dawkins seems to think so, but Lennox does not.
Richard Dawkins is completely unaware of the divine simplicity argument. About 10 minutes in this becomes clear and continues to run throughout the whole debate as a kind of theme. This was put forth to him in a different debate moderated by Sir Anthony Kenny found here. Divine simplicity basically posits that God isn’t a composite, God isn’t made out of parts. God is not complex in the sense most often understood by most scientists and atheists such as Dawkins. In classical theism, God is identical to his attributes, which are not abstract entities or quantities, and they are not some thing. This is why educated and philosophically minded people know to articulate the nature of God in this way; “God is goodness” not; “God has goodness.”
However the whole divine simplicity argument is lost to Dawkins and because it is lost to him he considers God complex, a being so complex that it requires an explanation of its existence. But according to this logic, if God isn’t complex, which has been the overwhelming argument put forth by the historical defenders of classical theism, then God doesn’t require an explanation for its existence.
Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that studies the underlying principles or nature of reality and the origin and structure of the kinds of ultimate categories of those concepts. It is concerned with the study of First Principles (those that cannot be deduced from any other) and of being. Defined as such it is different from philosophical epistemology and so it is not in relation to the study of knowledge. Metaphysics involves thought about abstract concepts not at the empirical level of understanding found within scientific methodology. This includes topics like the mind and body, or what is called the mind-body problem within philosophy. Also there are existential topics like being, non-being and existence usually brought into focus under ontology. Additionally free will and theism are considered metaphysical topics. Classical theism is thought to expresses core characteristics of the Christian concept of God throughout its history as a philosophy and so Christianity is metaphysical. Metaphysics however in the broader more philosophical sense, outside of Christian theism, also interacts with empirical evidences through reason and logic, transcending past just space-time physical reality.
Below are some random thoughts and notes that are relevant to a great book I have been glancing at recently called The Sociology of Philosophies: A Global Theory of Intellectual Change (SoP for short) by Randall Collins. This is of course strictly in-between reads of An Introduction to Metaphysics. I will have an article on the topic of metaphysics posted shortly on The Known Quantity, so keep your fingers crossed.
Sociology has always interested me personally. It seems the more and more I delve into philosophical topics the closer I brush up alongside it. Whether its the discipline of science generally or postmodern philosophy particularly, sociology plays an important role in both. I suppose this is because language used in sociology seems to have a type of meta-utility for all types of specific disciplines. Put that way, to me the philosophy of sociological language seems like a ripe macro-level concept for study by sociologists.
SoP is an epic book, more than 1,000 pages. However on page 21 it states:
Postmodernism or postmodernity includes poststructuralism within its intellectual landscape of the 20th and 21st centuries. Postmodernism is the move away from modernism of art and architecture, philosophy and truth, and general cultural account and critique. It requires especially the rejection of global cultural narratives, meta-narratives, universal theories, or what are also called grand theories like religious fundamentalism. Narratives are constructed realities produced from cultural meta-narratives so that religious fundamentalism can be expressed in the Islamist narrative. However within postmodernism narratives are dynamic, changing and evolving within different times and places, that is, different contextual backgrounds. Meta-narratives cannot even be approached in any substantive way if what we observe from them, namely narratives, are not static. Postmodernism is a social theory of skepticism questioning what meta-narratives create like authority, political and cultural norms for not only a society but individuals, and also questioning where meta-narratives stem from like revealed theology or even human reason.
The cosmological argument is really a family of philosophical arguments (logos; See: Logic) that fall within natural theology and seek to demonstrate, through a priori or self-evident and empirical knowledge, a “Sufficient Reason or First Cause” for the cosmos. Theism throughout the history of the cosmological argument has been the necessary metaphysics constituting what is needed by what is inferred from argumentation as the First Cause. A theistic natural theology, and so the philosophy of religion in that context, regard the cosmological argument as central, inexorably leading to the monotheistic view of a personal God. It is a central theme of the cosmological argument that there need not be a beginning to the universe and to physical space-time, but that the First Cause actually endures existence at every moment. In other words the most prominent historical defenders of the cosmological argument, outside of the Islamic inspired kalam version, do not formulate the argument with concern for a beginning of the universe (See: Big bang theory).
Theism is the religious metaphysical philosophy that asserts God exists and that He created and sustains the cosmos. Classical theism supports a creator God that not only exists but is omniscient, omnipresent, exists necessarily, is nonphysical, eternal and essentially good. The Cambridge Companion to Atheism puts the philosophical position of theism as, “coming to mean a belief in a personal God who takes an active interest in the world and who has given special revelation to humans.” The most competitive alternative philosophy within the modern intellectual climate is metaphysical naturalism. An entrenched philosophy of science acting without the existence of God and the soul, preceding with the assumption of strict materialism.
Natural theology is a philosophy constituting the realm of Christian theology that is found in nature by excluding divine revelation in holy scriptures as authority. Appeal to the authoritative truth from the Bible is called revealed Christian theology and it forms theological doctrines about the nature of God. This is achieved by exegesis of verses found in the Old Testament and New Testament in regard to Jesus Christ for example. Alternatively natural theology bases itself within the realm of strictly observation in the natural world so that authority is given explicitly to nature as a way to know theology. The assumption is that the human mind is rational and able to know or understand nature, but only because a rational mind created nature. Philosophical argumentation and scientific evidences is the means by which natural theology can be articulated and systematized, not to falsify specific theories as such but to probe the nature of nature. To show logically that inference to transcendent mind over matter is the necessary being God.
Natural theology may begin with reason and observation rather than divine texts as authority but both are an epistemology about the nature of God.
The Nature of Nature: Examining the Role of Naturalism in Science, “Evolution and Ethics” by Michael Ruse, pg. 855 to 862.[link]
Ruse begins by distinguishing between moral discourse, or that which when discussed becomes a morality. So that the content of moral discourse is ethics. Ethics which come in two flavors; normative or substantive (also called ethics or metaethics). These Ruse equates normal ethics and metaethics to the moral statements of; “Love your neighbor as yourself” and “God wants you to love your neighbor as yourself” which is the content of “what one ought to do” or “why one ought to do what one ought to do” as Ruse puts it.