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International Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 53, Issue 4, December 2013

Philippe Gagnon
Pages 409-433
DOI: 10.5840/ipq201353442

An Improbable God Between Simplicity and Complexity
Thinking about Dawkins’s Challenge

Richard Dawkins has popularized an argument that he thinks sound for showing that there is almost certainly no God. It rests on the assumptions (1) that complex and statistically improbable things are more difficult to explain than those that are not and (2) that an explanatory mechanism must show how this complexity can be built up from simpler means. But what justifies claims about the designer’s own complexity? One comes to a different understanding of order and of simplicity when one considers the psychological counterpart of information. In assessing his treatment of biological organisms as either self-programmed machines or algorithms, I show how self-generated organized complexity does not fit well with our knowledge of abduction and of information theory as applied to genetics. I also review some philosophical proposals for explaining how the complexity of the world could be externally controlled if one wanted to uphold a traditional understanding of divine simplicity.

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