So I’ve been reading David Berlinski’s The Devil’s Delusion for the last while now, and in Chapter 7 he takes on Richard Dawkins’ reasoning (or ‘proof’, as Dawkins puts it) for God’s inexistence. Dawkins writes about it in chapter 4 in his book The God Delusion. The way I understand it is that, since the universe is improbable, God is improbable and therefore nonexistent. That’s Dawkins’ reasoning, and in The Devil’s Delusion, Berlinski challenges this. Dawkins includes what he calls the “the Ultimate Boeing 747 gambit” which he doesn’t like (Berlinski writes, “it has been an irritation to Dawkins ever since it made its appearance”).
First to explain this “gambit.”
To accomplish this, I’ll again quote Berlinski, “The appeal to a Boeing 747 is meant to evoke a lighthearted quip attributed to the astrophysicist Fred Hoyle. The spontaneous emergence of life on earth, Hoyle observed, is about as likely as a tornado sweeping through a junkyard and assembling a Boeing 747 out of the debris.”
Dawkins tried to take Hoyle’s “gambit” and refute it, but Berlinski shows that he missed the whole picture. This leads to my question, but before I get to this, I want to add the footnote that this book is full of complex arguments that bend the mind, or at least my mind. It dances through scientific and philosophical pretensions that atheists try to cover up. I find this book a very tough read, but i love it, even though I don’t understand all of what he means, so i very well could be misunderstanding some of his arguments. With this, I’d like to give a quote from Berlinski’s book that seriously perplexes me:
When expressed as Dawkins expresses it, the Ultimate 747 gambit explodes and then gutters out inconclusively. But often arguments of this sort carry with them a shadow, one prepared in a pinch to take over from the main character. In the case of the 747 gambit, the shadow is given over to meditations concerning the structure of rational explanations. It is an important topic, and one that Dawkins is prepared to cover in the cloak of his carelessness.
A single power assumption is at work throughout: Unlikely events require an explanation. The power assumption trails in its two additional assumptions. The first is that old standby: The universe is unlikely. And the second has long stood by: If God created the universe, He must be more unlikely than the universe He created. From the power assumption and its sidekicks, an infinite regress very quickly arises, one in which God requires an explanation, which in turn triggers the demand for yet another explanation, and so another God. (italics original)
He continues on, but my question is: How did he get to that second assumption? is there something i’m missing or misunderstanding? He’s talking about the 747 gambit, right? I can’t wrap my head around this, and until I understand it i won’t continue the book. Can anyone please explain how Berlinski got to the second assumption?