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Jim__

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In your attempt to discuss human limitations you raise 2 spurious issues: fear and religion.

Your post does not justify either issue as pertinent to the consideration of human limitations.

I'm going to consider only the potential limitations on human knowledge. My first consideration in this would be the historical development of the human brain. It developed through evolution via the natural selection of accidental mutations. Specifically, the human brain was selected for because it solved problems in the environment better than brains based on other accidental changes. We have to assume that our brains are a minimal cost model that can work well with our bodies and solve environmental problems a little bit better than the next-best model. Since evolution did not require that our brain have an unlimited capacity to solve problems; but only a slightly better capacity to solve the problems that were encountered in its environment, I believe that there is an a fortiori case that the human brain has limitations.

Is there any evidence for such limitations? Yes. For example, the human brain has a tendency to categorize knowledge. We divide up problems into subject matter categories, entities into life and non-life categories, life into plant and animal, and then subdivide these categories. To a certain extent, we see the world in terms of these categories; they have a certain determinative effect on our knowledge. Is there a physical constraint on the categories that we choose? An excerpt for Philosophy in the Flesh by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson (Basic Books pp 18 - 19):

The first and most important thing to realize about categorization is that it is an inescapable consequence of our biological makeup. We are neural beings. Our brains each have 100 billion neurons and 100 trillion synaptic connections. It is common in the brain for information to be passed from one dense ensemble of neurons to another via a relatively sparse set of connections. Whenever this happens, tha pattern of activation distributed over the first set of neurons is too great to be represented in a one-to-one manner in the sparse set of connections. Therefore, the sparse set of connections necessarily groups together certain input patterns in mapping them across to the output ensemble. Whenever a neural ensemble provides the same output with different inputs, there is a neural categorization.

To take a concrete example, each human eye has 100 million light-sensing cones, but only about 1 million fibers leading to the brain. Each incoming image therefore must be reduced in complexity by a factor of 100. That is, information in each fiber constitutes a "categorization' of the information from about 100 cells. Neural categorization of this sort exists throughout the brain, up through the highest levels of categories that we can be aware of. When we see trees, we them as trees, not just as individual objects distinct from one another. The same with rocks, houses, windows, doors, and so on.

A small percentage of our categories have been formed by conscious acts of categorization, but most are formed automatically and unconsciously as a result of functioning in the world. Though we learn new categories regularly, we cannot make massive changes in our category systems through conscious acts of recategorization (though, through experience in the world, our categories are subject to unconscious reshaping and partial change). We do not, and cannot, have full conscious control over how we categorize. Even when we think we are forming new categories, our unconscious categories enter into our choice of possible conscious categories.

Most important, it is not just that our bodies and brains determine that we will categorize; they also determine what kinds of categories we will have and what their structures will be. Think of the properties of the human body that contribute to the peculiarities of our conceptual system. We have eyes and ears, arms and legs that work in certain very definite ways and not in others. We have a visual system, with topographic maps and orientation sensitive cells, that provide structures for our ability to conceptualize spatial relations. Our abilities to move in the ways we do and to track the motion of other things give motion a major role in our conceptual system. The fact that we have muscles and use them to apply force in certain ways leads to the structure of our system of causal concepts. What is important is not just that we have bodies and that thought is somehow embodied. What is important is that the peculiar nature of our bodies shapes our very possibilities fro conceptualization and categorization.

That is the conclusion of the argument.

Aquinas' argument is (in part):

Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another
...
If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and that by another again.
...
But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and, consequently, no other mover
...
Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other


As to your question:

Are you saying its a warranted conclusion, and if so, where is your evidence?


Read my post #10:

... The whole argument leads to the conclusion that there is a need for an unmoved mover. You can call the argument invalid; but you can't claim the claim that the conclusion is an entirely unwarranted assumption.

...

This is not to claim that Aquinas' arguments are right. They have been rather famously refuted - for instance, by Kant. Dawkins could have just cited Kant.


As to:

As far as the second, no idea, have no interest in bullshit fields of study such as theology(or parapsychology like a BS posted in another post in this thread).


Your interest is quite beside the point. You asked why Dawkins was attacked. In this instance, his claims were attacked because he claimed:

Even if we allow the dubious luxury of arbitrarily conjuring up a terminator to an infinite regress and giving it a name, simply because we need one, there is absolutely no reason to endow that terminator with any of the properties normally ascribed to God: omnipotence, omniscience, goodness, creativity of design, to say nothing of such human attributes as listening to prayers, forgiving sins and reading innermost thoughts.


But, as I stated in my post, Summa Theologica goes on to derive God's attributes based on the previously given existence arguments. Again, I'm not arguing for the correctness of Aquinas' arguments; just that to claim they are not even there is, to say the least, extreme sloppiness, and, as such, subject to attack.

"...under direct attack by many people who use misinformation, lies, and ignorance as their weapons.

Dawkins can easily be accused of using these very weapons in The God Delusion and that is why it was so vociferously attacked.

Yes, Dawkins is an expert biologist. I enjoyed reading his books on biology.

Creationists criticized Dawkins for his arguments on biology. However, the criticisms that I see now, criticisms coming from philosophers and theologians have to do with Dawkins' attempt to argue philosophy and/or theology. He speaks with contempt about theology and then tries to refute certain of its claims.

For instance, my copy of The God Delusion is Houghton Mifflin 2006. On page 77, he tries to refute Aquinas' unmoved mover argument (The ellipsis in the quote just covers Dawkins' presentation of: The Uncaused Cause argument and The Cosmological argument):

1. The Unmoved Mover. Nothing moves without a prior mover. This leads us to a regress, from which the only escape is God. Something had to make the first move, and that something we call God.

...

All three of these arguments rely upon the idea of a regress and invoke God to terminate it. They make the entirely unwarrented assumption that God himself is immune to the regress. Even if we allow the dubious luxury of arbitrarily conjuring up a terminator to an infinite regress and giving it a name, simply because we need one, there is absolutely no reason to endow that terminator with any of the properties normally ascribed to God: omnipotence, omniscience, goodness, creativity of design, to say nothing of such human attributes as listening to prayers, forgiving sins and reading innermost thoughts. ...



Aquinas in Summa Theologica on Question 2 Article 3 (his unmoved mover argument):

I answer that, The existence of God can be proved in five ways.

The first and more manifest way is the argument from motion. It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion. Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another, for nothing can be in motion except it is in potentiality to that towards which it is in motion; whereas a thing moves inasmuch as it is in act. For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality. But nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality. Thus that which is actually hot, as fire, makes wood, which is potentially hot, to be actually hot, and thereby moves and changes it. Now it is not possible that the same thing should be at once in actuality and potentiality in the same respect, but only in different respects. For what is actually hot cannot simultaneously be potentially hot; but it is simultaneously potentially cold. It is therefore impossible that in the same respect and in the same way a thing should be both mover and moved, i.e. that it should move itself. Therefore, whatever is in motion must be put in motion by another. If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and, consequently, no other mover; seeing that subsequent movers move only inasmuch as they are put in motion by the first mover; as the staff moves only because it is put in motion by the hand. Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.


They make the entirely unwarrented assumption that God himself is immune to the regress? The whole argument leads to the conclusion that there is a need for an unmoved mover. You can call the argument invalid; but you can't claim the claim that the conclusion is an entirely unwarrented assumption.

As to his claim about the lack of argument for the attributes of God, here is an excerpt from the Table of Contents. The attributes are derived based on the arguments given with respect to the existence of God (i.e. the one's Dawkins is referencing):

...
4. The Perfection of God
5. Of Goodness in General
6. The Goodness of God
7. The Infinity of God
8. The Existence of God in Things
9. The Immutability of God
10. The Eternity of God
11. The Unity of God
12. How God Is Known by Us
...


Dawkins' claims here (and elsewhere) are just wrong; and 5 minutes of research would tell him that. This is not to claim that Aquinas' arguments are right. They have been rather famously refuted - for instance, by Kant. Dawkins could have just cited Kant. Instead he tries to refute the argument himself and fails even to state it correctly.

So, yes, The God Delusion was attacked for the sloppiness of its arguments.
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