The Mozart Argument

Over at Dangerous Idea, Victor Reppert links to the lecture notes for a talk by Alvin Plantinga listing half a dozen (or so) arguments for the existence of God.

Down in the comments, someone asks why atheists snigger at Plantinga.

To answer that question, scroll down Plantinga’s talk to “(U) The Mozart Argument”. As far as I can tell, it’s basically:

  1. I like Mozart’s music
  2. If evolution had taken a different course, Metallica’s music would have been considered beautiful
  3. But it’s not
  4. Therefore, God exists

As Dawkins put it in The God Delusion, “That’s an argument?” To answer the commenter’s question, the reason I have such a low opinion of Plantinga is that any time I read him, he’s in one of two modes: 1) full-on obscurantism and bafflegab, or 2) tripe like the above.

Obviously, just because I don’t understand something doesn’t imply that it’s meaningless. Maybe if I put in the time to understand high-falutin’ Plantinga, it would make sense. But bullshit-drivel Plantinga makes me seriously doubt that possibility. If I may steal a line from Sam Clemens (only steal from the best!), it ain’t the parts of Plantinga that I can’t understand that bother me, it’s the parts that I do understand.

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11 Responses to The Mozart Argument

  1. Eamon Knight says:

    Maybe if I put in the time to understand high-falutin’ Plantinga, it would make sense. But bullshit-drivel Plantinga makes me seriously doubt that possibility.

    With respect to the output of certain people and movements, I decided a while ago that: if everytime they say something I understand, it turns out to be bullshit, it’s a pretty good bet that all the bits I don’t understand are also bullshit.

    It’s now my default answer to any new Creationist argument I encounter.

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  2. arensb says:

    if everytime they say something I understand, it turns out to be bullshit, it’s a pretty good bet that all the bits I don’t understand are also bullshit.

    Blake Stacey did better than that, and described how to calculate the probability of that “pretty good bet”. He was talking about Ann Coulter rather than creationists in general, but the principle still applies.

    I suppose the next step would be to apply a second stage to the math, and automate the process. Add a “Total bollocks” button to Digg and del.icio.us. Then, the next time a creationist points you at a web page, you can look it up and see that 90% of the people with whom you agree 87% of the time think that the page is bollocks, and therefore the odds are 78.3% (or whatever) that you’ll think it’s bollocks too. You could then decide to take the 21.7% chance (if you’re bored at work) or give it a miss (if you have better things to do, like washing the dog).

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  3. Steven Carr says:

    Plantinga claims our cognitive faculties are reliable, so basically you can trust your judgement about what is rubbish and what is not.

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  4. arensb says:

    Steven Carr:
    Ah, but our cognitive faculties are only reliable if God exists. Otherwise, there’s no reason to assume any correspondence between what our senses tell us and the state of the universe.

    Therefore, if God exists, then Plantinga is wrong, and there is no God. Truly a mind-mashing paradox.

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  5. gimbi says:

    arensb wrote: “Ah, but our cognitive faculties are only reliable if God exists.”

    …is that a rerun of Descartes arguments?

    Then ask yourself this: Why is there not simply nothing?

    Because what we got, seems to be pretty more than that.

    Mozart had composed countless works at the age of 10. My kid struggles with his instruments. Yet he is considered musical.

    And what answer can you give? Let me guess…

    “Accident”!

    So believe in your “accident”, I know you don´t worship it…

    good for you…

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  6. arensb says:

    gimbi:
    As I understand it, you’re so uncomfortable with not knowing how the universe came to be that you’re willing to plug your ignorance with the word “god”? If so, where in the world did you get the notion that the universe is obligated to make you comfortable?

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  7. gimbi says:

    “uncomfortable”? How so?

    You mean you are more comfortable than me, because you don´t make any demands on your senses?

    Does that make “your” world not obligated to confirm to them?

    …sshhh, just whisper it to me; your magical word: “accident…”

    Like

  8. arensb says:

    So do you have an actual point to make? If so, why don’t you make it?

    Like

  9. Fez says:

    gimbi says,

    You mean you are more comfortable than me, because you don´t make any demands on your senses?

    Hopefully you’ll do better than your parents did teaching you that it’s rude to answer a question with a question. I guess you’re one of those who expresses civility only for those who hold the same opinion as you.

    Like

  10. gimbi says:

    arensb:

    “Accident” as an explanation does not suffice.

    Besides, definition of an “accident” always requires a some outer perimeters.

    Like Dylan wrote: “somebody got lucky, but it was an accident.”

    Fez:

    Did not your parents teach you, that it is rude to ask a question regarding weather it is rude to answer a question with a question?

    Like

  11. Fez says:

    So gimbi is either one who doesn’t want to make demands on their intelligence or a troll. Are the two mutually exclusive? Coming up next on, “When iTards Attack”.

    Plonk.

    Like

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