Saturday, October 15, 2011

Berg's sixth argument and concluding thoughts

I am almost in awe of Berg's sixth argument.  In a sense, I don't really understand it - to the extent that there is something to understand. Either I am missing something important or the argument has literally no substantive support. If the former is true, I trust that Berg will debug my case of any presumptuous errors it contains..  His argument:

Argument 6: The ‘Some Of God’s Defining Qualities Cannot Exist’ Argument
1. God must have certain characteristic qualities (such as providing purpose to life), otherwise he would not be God.
2. But it is impossible for any entity to possess some of these qualities (such as providing purpose to life since we can find no real purpose and therefore we in practice have no ultimate purpose to our lives) that are essential to God.
3. Therefore since some of God’s essential qualities (such as being the purpose provider to life) cannot possibly exist in any entity, God cannot exist.
Berg obviously doesn't know what Deism is, since he cannot imagine a God existing without imbuing a purpose to life.  But that is neither here nor there for the majority of atheists who just don't want a God giving them a purpose and thus being held accountable for not living up to that purpose.

To the point: Berg fails to understand a central component of teleology; endowing purpose is not an impossible task, but rather an intrinsic part in the act of creation.  Regardless of whether the universe was created for fun and amusement, or was designed for agents of free-will to obey their Creator, it is nonetheless imbedded with a purpose.  All acts of creation involve purpose-giving. Automobile engineers design vehicle engines with the purpose of propelling a car.  Authors write books with the purpose of informing, persuading, or [insert motivation here].  When I play Starcraft, I manufacture marines and siege tanks with the purpose of destroying my opponent. There is simply no room for dispute here.

In refuting Berg's Six Ways of Atheism, I have developed great sympathy for Bertrand Russel when he said that the ontological argument was intuitively false but difficult to identify how it was false. Without exception, Berg's arguments are mere exercises in philosophical sophistry, propped up by logical errors and neglect for basic observations. Its poor performances like these that cause most folks to dismiss philosophy with scorn.  But hey, philosophers have got to do something. Even if that something is completely ridiculous, right?

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