Posted: Dec 18, 2011 10:50 am
by Thommo
jlowder wrote:
"So-called 'new atheists' or 'brights' like Richard Dawkins like to compare believing in God to believing in flying spaghetti monsters or invisible pink unicorns But I reject these comparisons. Pastafarianism and unicornism are not even forms of supernaturalism and more generally do no important metaphysical work at all. Not to mention that pastafarianism is very specific and thus very immodest--why spaghetti instead of linguine or rigatoni or lasagna or macaroni? And unicornism is maximally incoherent--even ignoring the fact that there is significant tension between being pink and being invisible, unicorns are by definition imaginary creatures and so no existing thing could count as a unicorn. The intrinsic probability of unicornism, not to mention fairyism and leprechaunism, is zero."

Maximally uncharitable interpretation and definition of unicorns and the argument by Draper here.

Nobody would get away with the sloppy rebuttal of god(s) by asserting that god is defined to be "made up" and therefore cannot exist. The logic and uncharitability of this rebuttal are not improved simply because Draper likes debating gods but not unicorns.

The same can be said for a subjective opinion of unicorns or fairies not doing important metaphysical work.

It also strikes me as faintly ludicrous that one could point out the unlikeliness of a particular selection amongst a smallish finite set of possibilities (spaghetti as a type of pasta), without considering the unlikeliness of a particular trait selected amongst an infinite set of possibilities* (most possible loving as a specific option from the range of most loving, 2nd most loving, 3rd most loving...).

jlowder wrote:I also claimed that classical theism has a higher intrinsic probability than deism. Why? Classical theism usually entails the implicit belief that the mental, as opposed to the material, is ontologically fundamental.

In all honesty, I think any claim of probability with no well-defined sample space can be fairly dismissed as hand waving. It is a somewhat trivial observation that if we were to select one element from an infinite sample space at random, then any one element will be selected with probability = 0.

So unless we can provide good reason to stack the deck in favor of theism, or demonstrate in some way that the sample space of possible hypotheses can be fairly subdivided into finitely many symmetrical options, we have a serious issue to even remotely assert a non-zero probability.

*note that I personally don't only consider an "all loving god" to be "a god", but Draper himself stated this criterion in one of the other documents you linked earlier in the thread. Academic tradition and habit are all well and good, but they make for poor logic.