Who Made God?

Searching for a Theory of Everything

Edgar Andrews

Andrews made some comments on "Logical Positivism" and has comments about this book on his website.

Introduction

p9 "After all, 'If God made everything, who made God?' is the sceptic's favourite question, asked repeatedly by such as Richard Dawkins and his fellow 'new atheists'. They wield it like a sword - drawn from the twin scabbards of science and philosophy and calculated to decapitate any theists foolish enough to stick their heads above the parapet. In reality, however, the sword is all haft and no blade. Not only can theists safely raise their heads but they can take a good look round at the barren 'landscape' of reductionism. What they will see is a cabal of academic atheists diligently reinventing the Vienna Circle - the air full not of flashing swords but of grinding axes. (The Vienna Circle was the 1920s philosophical school that invented logical positivism, a failed philosophy if ever there was one.)"

Chapter 1 Sooty and the Universe, Who Made God?

p10 Robert Jastrow "At this moment it seems as though science will never be ale to raise the curtain on the mystery of creation. For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountain of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries."

p13 Sooty is a black bear hand-puppet on a long-running children's show in the UK. The key characteristic noted was that he performed magic in a variety of settings.
Andrews addresses these three variations on the materialist responses to "Who made God?".

p15 Cites Dawkins and 'The God Delusion' who pulls the line 'Who made God?' out as part of his favorite lines in multiple settings.

p16 con then pro on ontological argument.

p19 Re "ontological" - argument against man 'creating' an all-powerful God. Agrees to value ontology as arguing against the creation being greater than the creator.

p20-21 Probability arguments including Hoyle's whirlwind in a junkyard making a 747, monkeys on typewriters producing Shakespeare, etc. To me the main point is to argue against chance making anything given enough time.

p22 Entropy - interesting that he uses the same order-disorder approach that I used and have been pounced on by chemists for. Perhaps because he is a physicist. "Disordered states of matter arise spontaneously; ordered states do not." A reasonable statement but not always true - so he is vulnerable here.

p23 Uses entropy to discuss the argument that God is so ordered and complex that a god probably doesn't exist.

p24-25 Discussion of cause and effect. Interesting "circular reasoning" discussion. "God as the ultimate uncaused cause."

Chapter 2 Yogurt, Cereal and Toast

p28 Starts with Alice and the Queen, who says "Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." Uses this as a start for discussing quantization, the uncertainty principle, and quantum entanglement.

p29 "science actually explains nothing" , but describes the world.

p30 "scientific explanations .. describe a wide range of different phenomena or experiences in terms of a small number of unifying concepts - and do so mathematically and quantitatively, allowing theory to be checked by experiment and put to practical use."

p32 Yogurt model of quantization

p33-34 Cereal model of Schrodinger's cat or quantum mechanical uncertainty and the uncertainty principle.

p34-35 Toast model of entanglement. Actually could be useful as a conceptual intro.

p37 Quantum indeterminancy and Einstein's "God does not play dice with the universe." quote.

Chapter 3 Stringing It All Together

p40 Sails through gravity and space curvature, cosmic rays, accelerators and the four fundamental forces. Then on to the particle zoo to prepare for string theory.

p46 Intro to string theory.

Chapter 4 Pouring Concrete

p52 Hypotheses as foundations

p56 Section on hypothetic hazards is quite good. Discusses syllogisms and what makes them valid or invalid.

p57 Science syllogism that defines science so that it rules out God.

p57 "hidden hypothesis" problem.

p58 Good example of "hidden hypothesis"

  1. (Hidden hypothesis) Nothing has objective reality that cannot be experienced by our natural senses.
  2. Science is the use of our natural senses to study objective reality.
  3. Science produces no evidence for the existence of non-natural causes or entities.
  4. Therefore non-natural entities (for example, God) have no objective reality.

p58 His description of logical positivism.

p58 The hypothesis of God

p59 Cosmological argument of Aquinas

p59 Stephen Hawking's Brief History .. story of "turtles all the way down"

p60 Attributes a "turtles" or infinite regress argument to Stenger.

p60 Teleological argument. Points to 1953 discovery of DNA structure and the genetic code. Also mentions moral argument.

p61 Mentions "God, the Failed Hypothesis.." by Stenger and Dawkins' insistence that God must be treated as a scientific hypothesis, x'ing out historians and philosophers.

p62 Gould's NOMA. Gould "The net, or magisterium, of science covers the material realm: what is the universe made of(fact) and why does it work this way (theory)? The magisterium of religion extends over questions of ultimate meaning and moral value. These two magisteria do not overlap nor do they encompass all enquiry (consider for example the magisterium of art and the meaning of beauty)." Stephen J. Gould, Rocks of Ages, cited in Dawkins, The God Delusion, p.78. It's hard to believe that Gould was serious in excluding the magisterium of religion from the entire material universe, except that he was playing a game and defining the magisterium of religion in this way just to make it dismissible in all of science.

p62 Genesis 1:1 as the hypothesis of God.

Chapter 5 Ferrets and Fallacies

p64 Quotes Dawkins in his recommendation on Stenger's book 'God, the Failed Hypothesis..' where he points to "fine-tuning" as the "last rabbit hole" for the defense of the God hypothesis, and claims that Stenger has sent a pack of ferrets down that last rabbit hole. That was too much for Andrews to pass up, so he does a chapter on 'ferret fallacies'.

p65 National Academy of Sciences statement on God claiming the neutrality of science on that question. Then argues that Stenger is at odds with the scientific community as a whole when he disagrees.

p65 Einstein quote objecting to being characterized as supporting atheism.

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Chapter 16 Summary and Prognosis

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Comments from Edgar Andrews

Edgar Andrews on his blog in November 2015: post positivism

"Here is a short extract from my book 'Who made God? Searching for a theory of everything' (p.58 2nd edition);

A related but distinct hazard is the 'hidden hypothesis' whereby an otherwise invalid argument is bolstered by an un-stated assumption. This device can turn a silly syllogism into powerful propaganda, as the following example suggests:

1. (Hidden hypothesis): nothing has objective reality that cannot be experienced by our natural senses.

2. Science is the use of our natural senses to study objective reality.

3. Science produces no evidence for the existence of non-natural causes or entities.

4. Therefore non-natural entities (for example, God) have no objective reality.

The hidden hypothesis (1) is quietly absorbed into the definition of science given in (2) so that science is no longer just the study of the natural-physical-material universe (as in our earlier example) but becomes transmuted into the study of reality as opposed to non-reality. If we buy into this idea we inevitably conclude that science is the only means of acquiring genuine knowledge or establishing 'true' truth.

This idea - that the only meaningful (and non-tautological) statements are those capable of being verified by sense experience - is actually a venerable philosophical theory known as 'logical positivism'. It claims that what cannot be verified by science has no reality, and implies that in studying the material universe science actually encompasses all legitimate knowledge. Logical positivism was the philosophical flavor of the day in the 1920s and 1930s and was popularized by A. J. Ayer in his book Language, truth and logic (1936). But Alfred Ayer himself, writing fifty years later, declared: 'Logical positivism died a long time ago. I don't think much of Language, truth and logic is true it is full of mistakes' . In spite of this, many philosophers recognize in the 'new atheism' of writers like Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, Stenger and Wolpert a reincarnation of this discredited school of thought - and do so with grave concern."

I might add that Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow in their book 'The Grand Design' (published a year after "Who made God?") say on p.34 "This book is rooted in the concept of scientific determinism, which implies that there are no miracles, or exceptions to the laws of nature". 'Scientific determinism' is just another term for logical positivism."

In Andrew's book, 'Who Made God?' he states in the preface:

"If God made everything, who made God?' is the skeptic's favorite question, asked repeatedly by such as Richard Dawkins and his fellow 'new atheists'. They wield it like a sword drawn from the twin scabbards of science and philosophy and calculated to decapitate any theists foolish enough to stick their heads above the parapet. In reality, however, the sword is all haft and no blade. Not only can theists safely raise their heads but they can take a good look round at the barren 'landscape' of reductionism. What they will see is a cabal of academic atheists diligently reinventing the Vienna Circle - the air full not of flashing swords but of grinding axes. (The Vienna Circle was the 1920s philosophical school that invented logical positivism, a failed philosophy if ever there was one.)"

"Early in the twentieth century, the Vienna circle of logical positivists made a major impact on philosophy in England and the United States. They used empiricism as a criterion for meaning, holding that the only meaningful propositions are either tautologies (including mathematical statements), which tell nothing about the world, or else statements that are empirically verifiable. Logical positivism ran into two problems: It was difficult to state the principle of verification precisely, and it had a self-contradiction at its heart because the criterion of meaning is neither a tautology nor empirically verifiable. Thus the criterion of meaning seems to be meaningless. The later holism of American philosopher W. V. O. Quine (1908-2000) also challenged the positivist distinction between tautologies and empirical statements, pointing out that meanings may vary so much between contexts that the dichotomy is hard to maintain...

Logical positivism represents the extreme version of the respect for science that permeates contemporary thinking. Yet the status of science is itself an issue of major philosophical concern that cannot be taken for granted. Not least is the fact that science has to assume the existence of an ordered and regular world. This is a resupposition of science. We may as a matter of fact experience nature as uniform, but why is this? Why do humans have the ability, through reason, to understand the innermost workings of the physical world? Why is mathematics somehow applicable to the workings of nature? For logical positivism, questions like these were insoluble, and therefore meaningless in the first place. Yet the worst way of dealing with awkward questions is to pretend that they do not exist on the grounds that they are meaningless."

^ That's from the 'Encyclopedia of Science and Religion' which you can download from the Internet Archive here: https://archive.org/details/EncyclopediaOfScienceAndReligion

Go to 'Positivism, Logical' on page 685 and read the entire entry and note the bibliography for logical positivism on page 687 as it is useful for further study.


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