Defending Richard Dawkins, Yet Upholding the Fully Natural and Logically Necessary Praxeology of God

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The
unseemly antagonistic tone of Richard Dawkins' latest book on the
so-called God
Delusion
has prompted uneasy reviews, even in the professional
scientific press. However, it contains a remarkable concession of
sorts. While Dawkins' very explicitly aims to dismiss supernatural
conceptions of God, Dawkins also very carefully differentiates his
primary targets from the naturalistic and rationalistic conceptions
of God of the sort advocated by Spinoza and Einstein. While Dawkins
certainly doesn't endorse such views, he does leave a huge door
for rational persuasion wide open. Can't we meet the challenge of
objectively demonstrating the objective existence of God on such
grounds, especially given the many considerable 20th century advances
in the realm of logical ontology (notably including praxeology)?
I claim that we can do so — and that this will show that "naturalistic
ontology" is fundamentally much richer (and more "nearly
supernatural" in some respects) than is commonly supposed.

Far
too much of substance has been written on efforts to prove the existence
of God to adequately survey here. Lacking space for that, we should
at least then briefly mention the very most noteworthy observations
about such efforts. (1) The primary motivation for finding such
proofs is to objectively persuade people concerning the "God
of ultimately supreme ethical relevance." However, proving
the existence of a too-abstract or a too-general conception of God
alone is generally a rather barren achievement in this respect.
(For example, the ethical import of "the most perfect possible
being" may be too negligible, or it may be too indeterminate.)
(2) Attempting to prove the existence of God is an extremely error-prone
endeavor, and many brilliant philosophers and logicians have stumbled
here. (For example, purported "first cause" proofs and
"ontological" proofs are notoriously prone to subtle fallacies.
Another common problem is finding suitable premises that do not
inadvertently indirectly presume key characteristics to be proved
— even the extraordinarily brilliant 20th century logician Kurt
Gödel fell prey to a subtle version of this error.) A couple
of possible reasons (among many) for such logical difficulties immediately
suggest themselves. (a) Their knowledge of logic may be very advanced
yet deficient in some key respect (for example, due to a missing
or incompletely qualified axiom). (b) Their conception of God may
not be sufficiently correct (for example, due to over-generalized
or mistaken attributes). I claim that others have found effective
ways around all of these problems.

Now
for the scientifically fun part of universal logic. What follows
is a highly abbreviated proof prospectus that omits many important
steps and qualifications, but which still aims at outlining a fascinating
realm of inquiry. By "universal logic" we mean logic in
the most general sense of the universal common logic that is inevitably
presupposed in all meaningful propositional (conceptual) thought
and communication (whether mostly correct or not, whether ambiguous
or not, whether fictional or not, whether metaphorical or not) —
and which thereby covers all purported doctrines of God, logic,
semantics, and so on. (Our logical point of departure is a fairly
minimal and conventional conception of logic that includes the 2
Aristotelian axioms of logic, plus the traditional law of identity.
This basis is sufficient to ultimately prove that this basis is
just the most classically evident threshold of a vastly richer and
greater system of ultimately fundamental logical ontology. Done
carefully, this sort of logical bootstrapping approach avoids many
traditional problems and common pitfalls, including invalid logical
circularity.)

Given
the many contending conceptions of God (even within the same religious
traditions, and sometimes even within the same denominations), which
is the objectively best one to use? We obviously can't prove the
existence of God based on ontologically flawed conceptions. Indeed,
a major reason for proving the existence of God is to positively
identify a generally correct conception of God, and thereby to fairly,
honestly, and objectively adjudicate among the many contending conceptions
of God (and especially their corresponding ethical implications).
We can increase the odds of success (and increase the general relevance
of success) by concentrating on the single most generally important
feature of God.

What
characteristic of God is most generally important overall in our
objective quest to prove the existence of God? (That's notably a
special-case question of maximal instrumental objective value. This
same sort of "categorical pattern" is reused in a reflexively
wider context below.) Given that our primary interest is ethical,
we are seeking the objective God of universal objective ethics.
So our initial aim is identifying whatever has the provisionally-assumed
characteristic of universally-supreme instrumental objective value.
(If our provisional presumption fails, we'll revise it.) This is
the categorically-designated concept of God that we will be using
from now on. (It appears to be a tactical error of complexity-increasing
overgeneralization to prematurely presume that God is most-importantly
a non-instrumental value.) Loosely speaking, we are provisionally
assuming that the "objective means to the ultimate truth"
is an important part of the "objectively ultimate truth,"
and seeing where that leads us. (The "objectively ultimate
truth" may be much more of a "generally progressive condition"
of value "orientation" or "direction" than an
"end" value or "destination." "God is the
way" as it were — the eternally continuable direction
and progressive condition of ethical quality, not a final end point.)

It
might seem that our "universally-supreme" qualifier unfairly
favors monotheism and unfairly discriminates against pantheism,
polytheism, and some process theologies (among other possibilities).
However, our attempts at proof can't succeed if we have presumed
wrongly here, so this is a matter of semi-educated guessing, not
fairness.

It
turns out that you can't get very far with our provisional principal
criterion of God, because all roads seem to reflexively lead back
to the axioms of logic. Indeed, there is a shortcut to seeing this
more directly: deny that logic has our provisionally assumed principal
characteristic of God, which then gives you a performative contradiction.
That's a very interesting and very important result, since it could
be due to our presumption being at least partly axiomatic. (The
means for positively identifying axioms is a topic for another discussion.
Self-contradicting statements do not necessarily involve negated
axioms. Paradoxical statements are warnings that the logic of negation
is pitfall-ridden due to subtle semantic issues.) The implications
of this approach are that almost all attempts to prove the existence
of God have been tantamount to standing on the face of God and looking
elsewhere — so no wonder that countless such past attempts repeatedly
(and inevitably) failed. If the axioms of logic are genuinely universally
fundamental, they must be universally-supreme instrumental objective
values that are thereby also the primary constitutive characteristics
of God.

The
axiomatic fundamentality and universality of logic reflexively precludes
all other God options (at least of the objectively ethically-supreme
kind), and so this logically naturalistic characterization of God
completely circumvents the supernaturalism that so vexes Richard
Dawkins. Moreover, Dawkins' beloved evolutionary processes must
adapt neurobiology in approximate accordance with God in order to
successfully manifest rational sentience. Hence, it may be almost
inevitable that many people will be reflexively predisposed to develop
some sort of vague "God intuitions" (albeit most likely
multiply-conceived, and most likely overly-generalized towards the
concrete or abstract) in the course of seriously inquiring into
the ultimate nature of their experiential universe. In our very
complex world, the "God doctrines" inspired by "the
God intuition" naturally tend to be error-prone, but that hardly
makes them primarily manifestations of irrationality — contrary
to Dawkins' ironically irrational presumptions about this issue.

But
how can this necessary (although possibly partial at this point)
identification of God and the universally-supreme instrumental objective
values of universal logic be correct? — logic sure don't look like
God (or even the fingerprints of God), so to speak. That's certainly
true, but here we must be very careful not confuse the map with
the territory. The traditional map (statement) of logical axioms
is typically very inaccurately rendered — due to omitting the important
principal qualifying conditions of their axiomatic applicability,
and due to omitting their direct axiomatic corollaries. Moreover,
we must recognize that the map here is radically incomplete — as
we've just discovered, there should be an additionally recognized
axiom that reflexively states the collective logically-fundamental
status of the universal axioms as specifications of the universally-supreme
instrumental objective values (that you should believe and use).
This 4th axiom of universal logic calls for deep and very profound
revisions to conventional views of the ultimate nature of logic
and ontology. The praxeological action axiom (and its immediate
axiomatic corollaries) is also notably typically missing from contemporary
lists of logical axioms. This 5th axiom of universal logic calls
for still further major revisions to our logical value worldview.
(By the way, it's a terrible pedagogical blunder to call "value-invariant"
praxeological statements "value-free" — such mindless
"value-free" usage seriously corrupts ontological intuition
and hobbles thinking.) Looking at the traditionally badly-expressed
and stunted list of 3 logical axioms is like looking at the near-noontime
shadow of a spectacular soaring cathedral — it's no wonder that
almost everyone completely misses the spectacular crowning glory
of universal logic when presented with such a pitiful shadow of
the real thing.

We
have now integrally incorporated both the critical special case
of (person-invariant) universally-supreme objective instrumental
values and the general category of (person-specific) subjective
values (which can congruently coincide with both person-specific
and person-invariant objective values) into the axiomatic formulation
of universal logic. Each of these steps alone is a radical advance,
and both together catapult us into the genuinely scientifically-universal
realm of logic whose foundations transcend many prevailing false
dichotomies, including the morally-logically horrid science-religion
dichotomy. For example, the most important cases of the "fact-value"
and "is-ought" dichotomies (and related "naturalistic
fallacies") are largely circumvented, since the most fundamental
axiomatic facts of universal reality are intrinsically universally-supreme
objective instrumental values.

The
fundamental logical primacy of intensional logic (versus extensional
set-theoretic logic, which is pathologically subject to Gödel's
incompleteness theorems) should also be recognized as an axiom (albeit
arguably as an axiomatic corollary of the other axioms). We can
then consider the reflexive applications of this system to our thinking
about it, and so seek further axiomatic corollaries.

It's
a common logical error to regard some axioms as being more fundamental
than the others. By virtue of being logically axiomatic, all of
the axioms and their direct axiomatic corollaries are ontologically
co-fundamental. In mathematics, it's common practice to select out
and only state one of several possible minimalist sets of mutually-independent
subject-specific axioms — but this is motivated by the definitional,
formal, pedagogical, and proof-taxonomy roles of axioms in mathematics.
This otherwise useful practice is a huge mistake in "pre-symbolic"
universal logic, which involves ultimately fundamental and universal
axioms, which in turn are naturally mutually and reflexively applicable,
and which cannot be fully logically independent.

We
now can see that the "laws of logic" is a misleading label
for (roughly speaking) "the absolutely fundamental universal
ontology of logical value." We routinely implicitly treat "value"
and "experience" as ontologically second-class derivatives
of other things (such as ourselves) — but this is another demonstrably
huge (although natural) mistake of inverted perspective. This mistake
is somewhat analogous to earlier routine presumptions that the sun
and stars moved around the earth every day (which at the surface
of the earth, they still appear to do — even though we now know
better). This logically intrinsic feature of "purely naturalistic
ontology" is "almost supernatural" in character.

There
are of course a great many issues, qualifications, and questions
that should to be addressed at length in support of the preceding
suggestions, such as presenting a fully articulated proof. (Those
who find this prospect dubious should try proving that it can't
be done. You may find it surprisingly difficult to keep your feet
out of the line of reflexive fire from unavoidable presuppositions.)
We also haven't delved into the more directly subjective and personal
realms of spiritual significance and spiritual practices. These
things will likely lead to a large number of important questions
and problems, which are important means of further correction, refinement,
and discovery. These sorts of things could be dismissed as being
logically secondary to prior axiomatic necessity — however such
an overly-stringent and somewhat evasive Rand-like tactic would
seriously undermine the ease of learning, understanding, applying,
and propagating the core system — and that notably contradicts God's
corollary social-ethical imperatives.

Despite limitations
of space (and likely limitations of the reader's kind patience),
we should revisit the principal criterion of God that we began our
inquiry with, and address some likely further concerns. (1) Whatever
we can ultimately prove concerning the necessary existence of something
that satisfies that criterion is still true, independently of whether
or not you are willing to call it God. And I can't emphasize strongly
enough that "conventional logic" is a valid but overly-sterile
shadow of the much more "full bodied" and "deeply
organic" (as it were) system of "universal value logic."
Likewise, the corresponding objective concept of God (in the sense
of its meaning and designation) is very much richer and very much
more subtle than is initially evident. (2) You may be hesitant to
recognize this extended family of supreme logical values as the
logically absolutely-required ontological-heart of any reasonably
objectively valid conception of God. But what kind of truly universal
God is worthy of the name that does not principally and integrally
comprise the universally-supreme instrumental objective values,
and thereby is the objective God of objective ethics, and thereby
is the objective God of natural law? (3) You may wonder how to reconcile
this conception of God with a deep and extensive personal investment
in the teachings of Lao-tzu, Confucius, Buddha, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad,
Krishnamurti, or others. The objective concept of God (including
the wider ontological context of universal value logic) is intrinsically
a notably much more "spiritual wisdom friendly" interpretive
context of ancient and near-ancient religious books than the prevailing
scientific world view. (4) You may quite naturally prefer a seemingly
more personal conception of God. Is it really so impersonal that
the demonstrably-objective knowledge of the existence of God absolutely
requires your first-hand integrally-personal self-knowledge of universal
value logic — which knowledge moreover amounts to direct, repeatable,
correctable, and intimately-personal revelation (that is a notably
unending source of further refinement)? Is recognizing the absolutely-primary
universal logical ontology of value not more ontologically-personal
and more spiritually-coherent than either abstract supernaturalism
or reductive materialism? (5) You may prefer a God that occasionally
performs miracles. Shouldn't the intrinsically supremely-wonderful
existence of God (and the corollary infinitely-intelligible order
of nature) be super-sufficiently "miraculous" enough for
any seriously religious person? (6) The "universal lighthouse"
God and the "universal moral compass" God may seem too
intellectual for you. Do you really expect that you can lazily lapse
into thinking ignorantly and falsely, but still act wisely and truly?
Some great religious books very laudably and explicitly proclaim
the ultimately supreme primacy of Truth, which is an intrinsically
logical value concept that is intrinsically characterized by our
conception of God (since that was what we were originally seeking).
There can be no spiritual-intellectual dichotomy in the realm of
Truth. So, do you really believe in the ultimately supreme primacy
of Truth? (7) The God that only "helps those that help themselves"
may seem too demanding for you. Is meeting your responsibility for
being recurrently aware of God's value-presence (rather than vice
versa) and letting that thereby influence your actions for the better
really that onerous? Is the responsibility on your part to do occasional
concentrated thinking too much to ask for tapping into the fountainhead
of supreme scientific genius and accessing the associated bounty
of world-improving benefits? (8) You may wonder how you would worship
the objective God. Remember that "objective" here directly
involves the "primary ontology of value." (The bogus "science-religion"
dichotomy has naturally encouraged a presumed but also totally bogus
"objective-spirit" dichotomy.) Contemplative prayer, meditation,
and meditative prayer are still appropriate. Much of the same ageless
spiritual wisdom still applies for relating to the actual objective
God (and likewise for relating to your fellow human beings). (9)
Finally, you may be a militant atheist who recoils at embracing
a word that seems hopelessly tainted with many unpleasant associations.
Aren't you rational enough to overcome that? The objective God is
associated with the more noble progressive traditions of Aristotle,
Aquinas, and Spinoza (among many others). You can't honestly equate
all theism to supernaturalism and irrationalism — indeed, a great
many theological proponents assumed the "burden of proof,"
which is very admirably rational, despite their many stumbles. Of
course many important errors in earlier conceptions of God were
found and corrected, which is the typical course of development
of any non-trivial field of science. This time, however, the objective
conception of God is rooted in the axiomatic foundations of universal
value logic, so you can't rationally and objectively deny or falsify
the objective conception of God (because such attempts inescapably
generate self-refuting performative contradictions). So atheism
can now be countered by means of a radically-objective counterexample.

While
an extended system of universal logic incorporating universally-supreme
instrumental objective values necessarily exists, delineating the
details and ramifications of such a system is a complex and exceedingly
pitfall-ridden endeavor — and I have almost certainly made my share
of mistakes along these lines. Fortunately, the necessarily universal
and reflexively invariant character of this system's axiomatic values
provides a very powerful self-diagnostic tool for progressively
finding and overcoming such errors (especially given a team of able
and aggressive critics), thereby leading towards increasingly objectively-correct
and practically-powerful formulations.

I
strongly suspect that there are some additional universal logical-ontology
axioms (and axiomatic corollaries) missing from our extended list
of logical axioms (which pertain to the logical ontology of value-experience,
particularistic properties, polyadic relations, and physical cosmology).
The advent of a fundamentally-objective doctrine of God should be
logically powerful enough to reveal a series of previously-overlooked
opportunities to make Nobel Prize–worthy advances in the social
and physical sciences. (Here I mean objectively-demonstrable hard-core
instrumental utility, versus the otherwise-valuable utility of driving
emotional inspiration. For example, fundamental physics and cosmology
are all over the map about what things are more ontologically fundamental
and what things are really ontologically plausible. Progress here
could help salvage something useful from the almost-awe-inspiring
profusion of incredibly-but-dubiously complex and increasingly wildly-speculative
theoretical proposals.) However, I'll conclude here with a much
more modest promotional claim that this substantially more-complete
family of universal scientific axioms is already sufficiently powerful
for establishing the core objective ethical religion of genuine
science, and for scientifically refining and reinforcing the best
prior doctrines of natural law (including remedying some of the
lingering weaknesses in Hoppe's argumentation ethics). Meanwhile,
praxeological economics is demonstrably the scientifically most-fundamentally
ethically-superior (and thus most objectively "socially responsible")
theory of economics (and policies thereof) to promote.

It
may now be possible (with a great deal of effort) to prove that
establishing "the universally-supreme God of logical value"
as the predominant foundational-methodological doctrine within the
public world scientific community (my favorite strategic option)
is a sufficient basis for generating the most powerful possible
active defense system against the ideological scourges that ravaged
20th century world civilization — with huge first-mover advantages
to societies that took the lead in this. (However it might be easier
and more fun to accomplish such a transformation than to formally
prove its feasibility.) The spread of this logically deeper scientific
worldview would be a fairly modest and moderate form of "logical
value consciousness raising" — but it would also be tantamount
to initiating a combined 2nd Axial Age, 2nd Renaissance, 2nd Scientific
Revolution, and 2nd Age of Enlightenment. This would multiply the
world quality and duration of life many times over. These prospects
certainly seem wildly improbable at present, but I'll very provocatively
claim that you don't really have true faith in the objective reality
of God if you don't think this is a likely prospect before the end
of the 21st century.

Hey
Richard Dawkins! This "extended phenotype" claims
to have found the world's most powerful meme — the "objectively
supreme God meme." Pass it on. :-)

Postscript
1: I searched for and found the "objectively supreme God meme"
in multiple pieces and forms, scattered throughout the written works
of many other people. From ancient times up through present times,
many philosophers have written about related things, although in
widely different terms and contexts. What I've written here is not
notably new nor original — and given the inherently enormous difficulty
of doing reliable and realistically valuable philosophy, I shun
the temptations of personal innovation, and instead concentrate
on harvesting the best results scattered throughout our era's spectacular
"information explosion."

Postscript
2: I want to defend Dawkins' against charges that he generally inappropriately
applies "the scientific method of the natural sciences"
to what might be variously construed as purely logical (or purely
spiritual) issues of (supernatural) theology. I grant that Dawkins'
sometimes falsely overreaches, but here are some offsetting considerations.
(1) There are a number of purported scientific methods, of which
the most general is "arguing to the best explanation"
— which integrally incorporates logic, and which better reflects
actual scientific practice. (I grant that the proper formulation
of this variously-expressed doctrine is not well-settled.) This
general perspective also better addresses the issue of what we should
most responsibly believe and advocate — just because something is
supposedly never 100% empirically proved does not thereby rationally
license holding contrary theories (as any reasonably responsible
aeronautical engineer or medical doctor will attest). (2) There
is no such thing as an "entirely logical phenomenon" —
indeed we discern the ontologically constitutive nature of logic
in the very empirical process of reflexive thinking. (3) Previously
unrecognized errors in logical reasoning can be brought to light
and refuted by contrary empirical observations. This position does
not challenge the ultimate primacy of logic, nor does it mean that
some such purported refutations are sometimes mistaken — it just
recognizes that we are fallible users of logic. (4) Many (granted
by no means all) of Dawkins' conclusions involve pointing out internal
inconsistencies (or contrary-to-fact implications) of the supernatural
doctrines he attacks — which is the venerable logical process of
reduction to absurdity, not questionable empirical induction.

Postscript
3: Thanks much to David Gordon for quickly pointing out some important
oversights and serious misstatements in an earlier and much briefer
version of this article.

References:
It would take many dozens of references to provide adequate background
for the things I've mentioned above. Personally, the works of Jacob
Bronowski and H. W. B. Joseph were early major points of departure
for value and logic. Later, the works of Friedrich Hayek, Brand
Blanshard, and Robert Pirsig helped provide a much more broadly
informed and much more deeply ramified philosophical worldview,
which Ayn Rand's visionary (and sometimes grossly unreliable) philosophical
works had tantalizingly started and promised, but unfortunately
failed to deliver. And later still, the comprehensive works of Murray
Rothbard and Ludwig Von Mises (and followers thereof) were extremely
enlightening. Along the way, many hundreds of other works provided
numerous additional items of insight. Not having room to give lots
of references, I hesitate to give any, but here are a few relatively
more recent works on logic that I've found worthy of rereading recently
(despite the inevitable reservations):

January
22, 2007

Conrad Schneiker
[send
him mail
] is a nanotech inventor and integrated circuit electronics
engineer. He is writing a book titled: The
Provably Ultimate Foundation of Science is the Universal Logic of
the Universally-Supreme Logical-Value System
. His web site
is AthenaLab.com.

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