More deep thoughts from Richard Dawkins:
Entities capable of designing anything, whether they be human engineers or interstellar aliens, must be complex — and therefore, statistically improbable.
Actually, these are the same ‘deep’ thoughts we’ve heard before. Bill Vallicella was on the case, but is worth revisiting.
1. The explanandum, that which is to be explained, is organized complexity as such.
2. God is at least as complex as that which is to be explained.
3. Any ‘explanation’ that invokes a supernatural designer explains “precisely nothing, for it leaves unexplained the origin of the Designer.” One cannot be said to have explained organized complexity as such if one postulates an unexplained explainer that is at least as complex as any being among the explananda.
4. If the response to the foregoing is that ‘God was always there,’ then one could just as well say that ‘DNA was always there’ and be done with the matter.
Now I may be dense, but I cannot see that this is an argument that any theist should lose sleep over.
Why should anyone accept premise (1)? Why should anyone accept that organized complexity as such needs explaining? A plausible principle is that, if x explains y, then x is not identical to y: Nothing explains itself. This is especially clear if the explanation is causal. For it seems self-evident that nothing can cause itself. (I interpret causa sui privatively, not positively: I take it to mean ‘not caused by another’ and not ‘self-caused.’) Now if nothing can explain itself, and if organized complexity is to be explained, then some of the organized complexity must remain unexplained, that portion residing in the ultimate explainer. It follows that one cannot reasonably demand that all organized complexity be explained. If this is right, then it is no objection to God to say that his complexity — assuming he is complex — has no explanation. For if one wants an ultimate explanation, then one must accept an entity whose own existence and complexity has no explanation in terms of something distinct from it.
As Bill goes on, this kind of philosophizing makes no impression on fundie materialists. By definition, they simply want to deny, not discuss.
It seems to me that we have a stand-off. We have two diametrically opposed positions each of which is rationally defensible. The theist interprets the order (organized complexity) and existence of nature as deriving from a transcendent mind-like Source, an intelligent, providential ground of finite being and its intelligibility. On this approach it makes no sense to try to explain all being and all organized complexity in terms of simpler and simpler, stupider and stupider, material elements. The theist finds in himself consciousness, self-consciousness, intentionality, purposiveness, moral awareness, aesthetic sensitivity, etc., and he cannot for the life of him understand how any of this can be made sense of in material terms. So he interprets what he finds in himself as a key to the ultimate makeup of the world. The naturalist, of course, adopting a ruthlessly third-personal point of view, will have none of this. For him, there is no explanation apart from materialist explanation, and what cannot be reduced to this form of explanation must be simply denied. [emphasis mine]
But on the other hand, since Dawkins keeps repeating the same point over and over again, maybe discussion is possible.