A we hit the next chapter of Hitchens is definitely starting to get into the meat of what his going after. It is in this chapter which is very short that he actually builds his case against religion and start to be a little bit less emotionally inflammatory and more reason oriented in his approach. At first I was seeing much the same as before in this chapter as I was seeing up till now in the book. Religion has forced ‘blah, blah’ an caused this misery in the world. Once again this is one-sided and fairly biased but then he actually started talking about the issues presented by science to religious metaphysics. Metaphysics being the philosophy that explains the fundamental nature of being and the world that surrounds our being.
His first argument is one that has been around for a long time which basically boils down to: if we can explain certain aspects of the universe without postulating God, then why do we need God in the first place? I am not sure this question truly dismisses the notion of God. It could be argued that God set things up to run by themselves much like Deists did for years. I am not sure that just because we don’t need God to show how something works is the same as asking the question whether God is needed for something’s existence. They seem to be two very different questions to me.
The next thing of course that stems from this is Ockham’s Razor which is a method of pursuing the truth of something created by the philosopher William Ockham. Basically you keep dismissing unnecessary assumptions until you get the first sufficiently explanation of cause. In other words, the explanation for something which has the least assumptions is superior to one that has more assumptions. This leads to Ockham concluding that you could not with this theory prove the existence of God at all but only that if you are looking for a first cause to the universe then whatever the first cause was could be considered as God. This leads to the question of who created the creator. The fallacy of infinite regression which Ockham’s razor shows is truly a fallacy is presented. The problem I have at this point is Hitchens automatically assumes that only religious views of the origin of the universe would be affected. My argument has long been that all theories of origin suffer this problem. Evolution has its Big Bang, but the question then comes where did the cosmic egg come from? Same problem only without a god or gods to deal with.
The final argument is short but introduces the next chapter which is about a leap of faith all religious people must take not once to keep their faith but constantly take over and over again to keep their faith. I would agree that we do this but so do atheists. Everybody’s knowledge is incomplete and not exhaustive so all of us take leaps of faith constantly until our knowledge gets larger or better. Even then it is still not exhaustive or complete enough to say we are going forward in a belief system without taking certain things as assumptions. This leap of faith is not exclusive to religion but all fields of inquiry. We all do it, as it is simply the product of not being omniscient.
Thus metaphysics can never be exact nor can anyone truly say someone’s metaphysical claims are false with such a certainty that they could not be right. Metaphysics by its nature postulates questions about the unknown, but often leaves things fuzzy no matter what because we are human and make mistakes and our knowledge is not complete or exhaustive. Until it is metaphysics will always be a debatable subject and subject to constant review.
Next: Arguments from Design