Some of the most boneheaded arguments in the Facebook Christian Debate came from ignorant Christian #2, Mike. He continually claimed that I was condescending. However, take note of how Mike writes as we go through this series of blogs, since Mike will be featured often. Not only is he condescending but also very passive aggressive. For example, what is he referring to when he speaks of “the war” in the comment below? If he meant the larger question, why not say that? Why use the word ‘war’? He also claims I will “win the battle.” Why is his view of debating so aggressive? Notice how he uses phrases like “I fear for you” and I “attempted to read” as if I failed at reading. I didn’t attempt to read. I succeeded in reading. His attempt to be a good guy by claiming he “honors” that fails. Really? You honor my attempt at reading? No, you are not condescending at all. He believes that debating with an atheist is a no-win. This lets him off the hook for all his lame-ass attempts at defending his faith. His argument in this statement is that “Proof of God” is all around us. Read on and then I’ll be back to kick his ass.
Mike: I must say that I usually don’t engage Atheists in debates because it is a no-win. Proof of God is all around you – but a more shallow, “natural proof” can always be pointed to by the non-believer. So, I believe you will “win the battle” every time. I fear for you that it is “the war” (the larger question) you should be concerning yourself with, though. You seem lke a guy who has attempted to read a great deal to learn, and I honor that. But trying to understand things like the source of creation with our limited minds is, I believe, true folly (not just you – any of us).
You will hear this flawed argument from the average Christian often. It’s the “Just look at the trees, man” statement. It comes from people who don’t know the first thing about natural selection. They see something complex in nature and claim that it couldn’t have happened by chance so it must have been designed and a design needs a designer–therefore God. Chance has nothing to do with it. It is natural selection over a long, gradual process. William Paley in 1802 came up with the ideas of the watch needing a watchmaker.
William Paley in Natural Theology:
“In crossing a heath, suppose I pitched my foot against a stone and were asked how the stone came to be there, I might possibly answer that for anything I knew to the contrary it had lain there forever; nor would it, perhaps, be very easy to show the absurdity of this answer. But suppose I had found a watch upon the ground, and it should be inquired how the watch happened to be in that place, I should hardly think of the answer which I had before given, that for anything I knew the watch might have always been there.”
William Paley in Natural Theology (Ch. XXIII, Pg. 441):
“Upon the whole; after all the schemes and struggles of a reluctant philosophy, the necessary resort is to a Deity. The marks of design are too strong to be gotten over. Design must have had a designer. That designer must have been a person. That person is GOD.”
Christian apologist, Ray Comfort is also a supporter of this argument. A painting must have a painter, a building must have a builder.
The problem is that we have evidence that buildings are built and have designers. We can look up who the designer was, we can look at the designs and find out what materials were used in the building. We don’t, however, have any proof of buildings occurring naturally. So we can easily spot things that are created vs. things that are naturally occurring.
Natural selection explains how things naturally occur over time. Organized complexity can emerge from simple beginnings and anyone who bothers to study the science will raise their consciousness to the awesomeness of nature. Even on a cosmological level we can see how something can come from nothing (for more information on this you can read A Universe from Nothing by Lawrence M. Krauss). Science already has many answers and is still seeking more. But just because science hasn’t answered everything yet doesn’t mean we automatically jump to a divine answer. Why make the leap to god when no evidence supports that hypothesis?
What Mike does here, and does often in his arguments-which you will see throughout this series-is provide us with an argument from ignorance. What Mike says is, “I have no idea how this could happen therefore it must be God.”
Mike’s statement that a ‘more shallow “natural proof”‘ is the atheists answer to the argument from design is clearly an uneducated, brain-dead response. Shallow? The truth is that science is so much more fascinating and mind-blowing than the clearly shallow, bronze age explanation that a divine dictator said “God created man in his own image.” Douglas Adams says it best when talking about the science behind natural selection:
“The awe it inspired in me made the awe that people talk about in respect of religious experience seem, frankly, silly beside it. I’d take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day.” Adams (2002)
For a second let me suppose Mike is correct and the complex things in nature do indeed need a designer. That designer would have to be infinitely more complex than the things it creates. So it follows that if complex things need a designer than the designer, also being complex would also require a designer. So who designed God? It creates an infinite regress – the expression “Turtles all the way down” comes from this problem.
A well-known scientist once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: “What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise.” The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, “What is the tortoise standing on?” “You’re very clever, young man, very clever,” said the old lady. “But it’s turtles all the way down!” —Hawking, (1988)
There is no reason to believe that the barbaric god of the Old Testament or his improbable son would be the creator. In fact, the only reason Mike thinks this is because he was born to Irish Catholic parents in America. His faith, like so many other people, is the faith of his parents. If Mike was born in the Middle East I would be debating his Islamic claims to creation.
Mike might throw in the towel because his limited mind can’t grasp much at all but that doesn’t mean the human race should just give up. Could you imagine what the world would be like if we all took Mike’s advice and stopped seeking scientific answers to questions we didn’t understand? Could you imagine what the medical would would be like? I can. Go read about life in the Middle Ages and you will get an idea of Mike’s world. Just because Mike’s weak mind needs religion to be his mental crutch doesn’t mean the human race should cease to seek to be enlightened. Science is filled with many brilliant minds who are working on these questions. In fact, the most brilliant minds of today and in the past do not subscribe to the limited “it must be god” thinking and if the scientific community–people who are actually in this field and are of superior intelligence do not believe that god did it, I’m going to go with them over Mike’s argument from ignorance.
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