Musings on the existence of God – and of Richard Dawkins

A few days ago, Walker Morrow had a fun, humorous bit : Is there evidence for the existence of Richard Dawkins?

In it is embeded  this link to a video (scroll down a little) which, in what I am told is a humorous manner, mocks Dawkins’s way of questioning the existence of God to question the existence of Richard Dawkins himself!

The flippant answer would be, of course, that I’ve seen a YouTube video where Thunderf00t interviews Richard Dawkins, and, when I see a video of Thunderf00t interviewing ‘God’, I’ll believe in ‘God’, too!

But, of course, my real answer is a little wordier….and weirder!

I do not know that Richard Dawkins exists!

And, making that realization is essential!

OK – perhaps this is the Aspie in me, or perhaps it is the scientist in me – or, some combination thereof.  But, by the time I was 13 (I grew up behind the Iron Curtain, so I had no access to philosophical or theological writing of any kind – this was just my simple, peasant-brain reasoning), I realized that I could not objectively prove that I myself exist!

My original formulation was very clumsy and I have not really refined the wording much, just shortened it a bit (OK – a lot) :

  1. The only way we learn about/observe/get data from our surroundings is via our senses.
  2. Our senses are demonstrably subjective (I could demonstrate this to myself, as my right eye perceives colours quite differently than my left eye does…but only just  before the onset of a migraine headache.  So, I concluded that our senses necessarily colour (pun intended)  our perceptions, making them definitely ‘not objective’.)
  3. Since the only information reaching ‘us’ about our surroundings is subjective (through the senses), it can be manipulated and we cannot make any objective conclusions based on it…like, say, to assert that any self-awareness we think we perceive is ‘our own’.

OK – so the argument is a bit ‘rough-around-the-edges’, but, you get the gist of it.

Some people think this is pointless prattle –  nothing but what Scott Adams would have called ‘mental masturbation’…

I beg to disagree!

Before a scientists makes any observation, she/he calibrates the instruments to be used.  This is important, because it sets the ‘baseline’ against which any results can be evaluated:  how good were the instruments, the accuracy of any measurements, the error margins, and all that.  If, for example, a thermometer measures temperature to the nearest degree, it will not reliably show variations of one-thousandth of a degree, and so on.

Similarly, if we are aware that all our perceptions are subjective and that we cannot even prove that ‘we’ are the bit we think of as our ‘self’, that we cannot objectively prove anything ‘absolutely’, not even our own existence as we perceive ourselves to be, it ‘calibrates’ our credulousness of what we perceive – so to speak!

Thus, if we are ‘objective’ in our reasoning, we are forced to admit that we  lack the capacity to ‘accept anything as absolute truth’ – or, if you will, as a tenet of faith.   To do so regardless would be irresponsible, to say the least.

Therefore, I ‘do not believe that Richard Dawkins exists’, any more than I ‘believe that I exist’!

It is essential that we understand that this ‘calibration’ does not mean that I can assume any such foolish thing as ‘I do not exist’ or ‘I do not need to behave as if I exist’ – not in the least.  The absence of belief in something does not imply the belief in the non-existence of it!   That is an important distinction – one too often lost on people not trained in logic.

It simply alerts me that everything has an ‘error margin’ and that nothing ought to be accepted ‘absolutely’, without reservations, without an implied error-margin.

Perhaps this is the manifesto of the ever-questioning skeptic….  Still, it prevents me (and many others like me) from being able to just ‘believe’ things, to have ‘religious faith’ – of any kind.

4 Responses to “Musings on the existence of God – and of Richard Dawkins”

  1. walker morrow Says:

    I agree, absolutely. We have no objective way of looking at the world, and so our worldview is, constantly, subjective. My theory is that we’ve all agreed upon a common consensus of what many things actually are in the abstract, which applies to those things in real life – i.e. we as a human race agree what, say, a dog looks like in the abstract sense, and so from there all animals that meet this definition can be referred to as dogs.

    However, at no time do we actually know that what we call a dog is actually a dog. It’s just a dog as far as we know. Which is not to say that we shouldn’t run with that definition as far as we know – because otherwise we would severely handicap ourselves – but just that we should be careful when making absolute statements.

    Or rather, we could make an absolutute statement – ‘that is a dog’ – but always with the unspoken understanding that all of our assumptions and observations could eventually be proven false.

    So, to apply this to Richard Dawkins – we actually don’t know that Richard Dawkins exists. We assume he exists; most, if not all, people would agree that he does; certainly we act as if he exists, and should. But we don’t know in an absolutely objective sense whether or not he truly exists. So, in a sense, the ‘God’ question could relatively easily be made into the ‘Dawkins’ question 🙂

    Great post!

  2. CodeSlinger Says:

    Xanthippa:

    There are no whole truths. All truths are half truths; it is treating them as though they were whole truths that plays the devil.

    — Bertrand Russell

  3. bulletproofcourier Says:

    Great post, very thought provoking. Also made me think about how the Heisenberg uncertainly principle might come into play.

    Speaking of which: Why are quantum physicists unskilled at lovemaking?

    Because when they find the position, they can’t get the momentum, and when they have the momentum, they can’t find the position.

    Xanthippa says:
    That is a terrible joke!!!
    (I love it!)

  4. Steynist 404st « Free Canuckistan! Says:

    […] XANTHIPPANESS– Musings on the existence of God – and of Richard Dawkins; I apologize for the lack of new […]


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