I listened to Richard Dawkins’ interview in BBC’s Life Scientific radio program. It was important to him that those who read his book ditched their religion and became atheists like him. It’s only natural that he wants others to see what he sees. But for him, the non-existence of God can be shown through reasoning. Now that, I don’t understand.
Think about this. Do you think ants will ever send rockets to Mars?
Ants marching along in a line. They look so unaware of their surrounding. I can put a piece of rock in front of an ant, leaving it with no other choice but to climb it. I can then lift the rock and take it elsewhere with the ant on it. Does it know what’s happening? Probably not. And yet, the arrogant ant scientist will dismiss the notion of a powerful being watching over the ants as utterly ridiculous.
We take animals and test their memory, time perception, self awareness, tool use, language, and so on. We flash images at them and see if they remember what they saw. We put marks on their bodies and test whether they recognize it when they see themselves in the mirror. We record sounds they make and look for meanings in them. That’s all good but who is testing us? What makes us sure we are at the top of this intelligence hierarchy? If at all, doesn’t the result of these tests show there could be a superior intelligence, where all our current reasoning falls apart in the face of it? I’m not just saying we know very little and we have a lot to learn. We all agree with that. I’m questioning if, with the mind we have, we are capable of knowing and explaining everything there is.
In his book The God Delusion, Dawkins’ main argument against religion goes like this,
1. Suppose everything around us is designed by a designer (a supreme being, a god, etc).
2. If so, then who designed the designer? Who created God? Someone must have designed the designer too. This contradicts 1.
3. Therefore there is no designer.
But he missed one small point: those who believe in religion believe their mind is not capable of comprehending their god. He has silently dismissed that crucial point, and made a hidden assumption that the existence or non-existence of a god can be reasoned with human logic. Here is the missing bit,
0. We as humans do not have any limitation in our understanding. Our logic system is sound, and can explain everything.
Point 0 is known and studied very well in philosophy, mathematics and artificial intelligence. There is a beautiful example quite related to Point 0. Here it is in all its glory,
This sentence is incorrect.
The sentence is a paradox. Here is why,
- We can’t say it’s correct because it says it is incorrect.
- Our remaining option is to conclude it is incorrect. If it is indeed incorrect, then it’s opposite must hold. The opposite is,
This sentence is correct.
The result of our conclusion is against our conclusion itself! The paradox is related to Godel’s incompleteness theorem, which demonstrates the limitation of our reasoning. The solution is to avoid making self referential statements. Have sentences talk about other sentences, not about themselves. Otherwise the universe will collapse on us. The consequence of our logic system is that it can’t prove its own correctness. Proving our logic correct requires yet another system that lives outside us.
That is why atheists’ attempt to prove God’s non-existence will always be a flawed logic. Their option is to just believe in God’s non-existence and have faith in themselves.
I leave you with an object we can’t explain.