Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Kant vs. Dawkins on evidence of absence

Kant maintained that what we know about the world around us can only be about the way the world appears to us, not the world as it is in itself. Therefore, we are left with just putting our appearances together, and given this we can't expect there to be evidence either way. So, Kant said, we have to decide whether to believe in God or not depending on whether we think it would make us a better person if we believed. And, he thinks that belief in God would be better for our character, and therefore we should believe. 
Contrast him with someone like Richard Dawkins, of God Delusion fame. Dawkins thinks that if there were a God, there would be evidence for his existence. But, there isn't any evidence that isn't better explained by evolution. He thinks we can know reality, and it makes more sense without belief in God. In fact, he actually thinks God couldn't possibly explain anything at all, and it would be the ultimate wrong answer whether or not there was a good evolutionary explanation for everything. For him, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. To believe in God is to embrace a belief that is almost certainly false, and therefore cannot be moral. 

4 comments:

Gyan said...

Dawkins is at least a realist--that we can know reality-one can build science only on realist grounds while Kant--we can only know appearances-is useless for sciences and dubious philosophy-wise as well.

John Moore said...

For the purposes of science, appearances are just as good as actual reality. It's the difference between methodological naturalism and metaphysical naturalism. There's no practical difference at all.

IlĂ­on said...

VR: "For [Dawkins], absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. To believe in God is to embrace a belief that is almost certainly false, and therefore cannot be moral."

Once again, "So what?"

What does it even mean to assert that "to embrace a belief that is almost certainly false ... cannot be moral" after one has asserted that there is no such thing as 'morality'?

Hugh Jiddiete said...

"So, Kant said, we have to decide whether to believe in God or not depending on whether we think it would make us a better person if we believed."

Is this right? My understanding is that Kant thought something like this:
1. we ought to achieve the highest good (summum bonum).
2. ought implies can.
3. we "can" only if God makes it so.
4. God exists.