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35 of 47 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Surely someone can do better than this?, 29 July 2010
This review is from: Why There Almost Certainly Is a God: Doubting Dawkins (Paperback)
I purchased this book because the reviews seemed to indicate that it was the best of the responses to 'The God Delusion'. I was, therefore, astonished to read a series of arguments that were so riddled with flaws and fallacies that my sixth form Critical Thinking students would be able to tear it to shreds. From my own experiences as an undergraduate, I assumed that everyone who studied Philosophy would have to take a course in Logic. What I don't understand is how someone as eminent and respected as Keith Ward could have gone through his entire academic life without studying Logic, for this is the only explanation I can find for this crude attempt at rebuttal (NB I am sure there must be another explanation but I want to give a flavour of the nature of Ward's arguments). I would love to spend some time with Ward going through his book paragraph by paragraph and hearing from him in person what he was actually thinking when he wrote it and whether he genuinely believes what he wrote has any grounding in logic.

There is so much circularity, assertion, poor use of analogy and factual (and conceptual) inaccuracy in this book that I felt cheated by the author. This is certainly not the 'satisfactory response' by a theologian to Dawkins that Polkinghorne claims on the back cover. Buy this, if only to see how not to construct logical argument.
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Showing 1-10 of 10 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 12 Aug 2010 22:30:54 BDT
Francis, A says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on 29 Aug 2010 19:37:38 BDT
S. Neville says:
HI
Keith Ward did study Logic. He is Philospoher of Relgion not strictly speaking a Theologian. He argues like a Philosopher.

Circular Logic: everyone does it. If one is a Atheist one argues from that position and so does a Theist. What to them appears perfect logic, appears to the other as weak and flawed.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Sep 2010 16:16:42 BDT
Rob Salem says:
If the only way a philosopher can justify theism or atheism is through circular logic, then a philosopher should be neither a theist nor an atheist or, at least, accept openly that neither position can be justified without a leap of faith. Had I attempted the use of circular logic as an undergraduate, my tutors would have chuckled sagely into their sherry. One cannot defend the use of circular logic on the grounds that 'everyone' uses it. Circular logic cannot be used under any circumstances in philosophical argument as the conclusions will always be invalid.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Oct 2010 00:59:30 BDT
A. Burton says:
Rob, i think the problem is the fact that one cannot use logic to prove or disprove the existence of God. Any author attempting to do so is required to use circular logic. Either God created the universe, leading to, who created God? Or the universe was created by a quantum fluctuation due to the inherent inprobability of matter within space/time, resulting in the questions, where did it all come from and what caused it all in the first place?

These are questions we'll never have answers to, but it won't stop people writing books about it to buy themselves new TVs and the like.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Mar 2011 19:22:49 GMT
Last edited by the author on 9 Mar 2011 19:42:43 GMT
C. Collins says:
A. Burton wrote: "i think the problem is the fact that one cannot use logic to prove or disprove the existence of God. Any author attempting to do so is required to use circular logic."

This isn't entirely true, since it's perfectly possible to *disprove* certain ideas, or conceptions, of 'god', based on their being inherently incoherent/contradictory, so there are basic logical considerations to bear in mind; there's one can of worms, anyway, because theists will (if they can be bothered) try to 'redefine' their 'god' to render it consistent with standard logical norms.

To the extent that your statement "...one cannot use logic to prove or disprove the existence of God." is true, however, this is because there is a fundamental problem with the term 'God', which is that there is no established positive ontology for the term 'God', itself. Hence the term 'God' is inherently unscientific, merely a non-concept, cognitively meaningless except in the mind of any given believer. It's a case of X million people with X million invisible friends each asserting that actually there's only One True Invisible Friend and his name is 'Dave'. How would they know? Then we start moving into religious epistemology...

This is important in terms of your discussion because only the theist is really arguing in a circle, because only he truly thinks that he has something to talk about. The danger, however, is that, in accepting the challenge of trying to 'disprove God' non-theists reinforce the impression that there *is* something meaningful (called God) about which we can meaningfully ask the question: 'Does it exist or does it not?' I hope that makes sense.

So atheists can implicitly 'beg the question' regarding the existence of 'God', thus drawing them (us) unwittingly into the same kind of circular arguments within which theists are inextricably bound. Sometimes the best response to nonsense is to call a spade a spade, rather than - as many of us do - take theists at their word and take their delusions seriously. They weren't reasoned into their beliefs, however, and trying to apply reason to their irrational beliefs sometimes only lends credibility to those self-same irrational beliefs.

So, non-theists really have very little to argue with in the first place *until* there is a suitably-defined concept about which we can usefully talk. Needless to say, telling us what 'god' is not - i.e. not-material, not-natural - is not an adequate foundation for a meaningful discussion.

So, to conclude, it's really no surprise that non-theists can't definitively disprove the existence of each and every 'invisible friend', because there's precisely *nothing* (cognitively meaningful) of which to speak *in the first place*. If this is true - that it (whatever you choose to call 'it') can't be disproven - this merely illustrates the central failing of theologians over many centuries. How do they know that everyone else is referring to the same person called 'Dave', for starters?

Even they don't know what they're talking about (or if they do, they're incapable of explaining it to anyone else) yet some still want to assert that because 'it can't be disproven' this puts them in a position of strength! You can't disprove my invisible friend, called 'Dave', so that means he ("almost certainly") exists - that's about the size of Ward's 'argument' in this book... Truly Bizarre!

In reply to an earlier post on 18 May 2011 19:42:17 BDT
Savita says:
Thankyou C Collins - very interesting and well-written comment with a lot of truth in it.

Posted on 24 May 2011 14:27:49 BDT
Last edited by the author on 5 Jun 2011 05:04:57 BDT
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In reply to an earlier post on 5 Aug 2011 20:38:55 BDT
Last edited by the author on 5 Aug 2011 20:41:00 BDT
Andrew says:
Peter,

As a philosopher you will have appreciated the discussion between theist philosopher Keith Ward and atheist philosopher Anthony Grayling. Grayling surgically dissected Ward's 'philosophical' arguments, forcing him to sacrifice God's 'omnipotence' in order to maintain his 'perfect goodness'. Worth reading again:
http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/2005/02/tsunami-god-suffering-evil-grayling/

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Nov 2012 23:17:07 GMT
Had a look at your "critique". In #2 You don't seem to comprehend the most basic argument for not believing in supernatural entities... which is simply that you can invent anything you like: fairies, imps, transcendental beings, stuff outside of space and time, pasta deities etc., but that doesn't make them true. To come up with a good argument for a deity you have to argue forwards from evidence/reason to belief, not state some arbitrary made up belief and say it can't be disproved. The number of possible worlds we *might* be in is infinite, but the one we are actually in is singular.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 May 2014 09:15:24 BDT
Jiment says:
C. Collins. I just wanted to 2nd Savita. You have articulated many of my own thoughts on the subject in a way I never could. It's always nice to find that someone else has done the work for you. Thanks.
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