Atheists often prattle on about how there is no evidence for the existence of God, and that believing in God is an irrational leap of faith based on wishful thinking. The fundamentalist atheist can barely conceal his condescension for and his certain intellectual superiority over the poor benighted theist. Yet these same atheists somehow think it’s reasonable to believe that the universe is a result of a cosmic accident that played out over time, matter colliding with no purpose to produce the universe and us in it. The question becomes which is the more reasonable position given what evidence there is.
I thought about all this as I was reading an article by physics professor Dave Goldberg with the provocative title, “Four Reasons You Shouldn’t Exist: Physics says you’re an impurity in an otherwise beautiful universe.” As science becomes more sophisticated and as human knowledge grows, it is increasingly clear to any honest observer that the odds of our existing by chance grow more remote. We are told and continually reminded by vigilant atheists that in the 18th Century David Hume pretty much destroyed the argument from design, even before William Paley developed his watchmaker argument.
But the world and our understanding of it is very different than in the age of Newton. In Western culture as the 17th turned into the 18th and 19th Centuries belief in a benevolent supreme being seemed to become less plausible, as you can find detailed in James C. Turner’s “Without God, Without Creed: The Origins of Unbelief in America.” Just the opposite is happening in our day despite the protestations of atheists. Some, like a guy named Richard Dawkins tell us that well, yes, it certainly looks like the universe was designed, but we know it really wasn’t. He even wrote a book called “The Blind Watchmaker” (hahaha)
When I read something like this I wonder who it is who is really taking the leap of faith:
You’re almost unfathomably lucky to exist, in almost every conceivable way. Don’t take it the wrong way. You, me, and even the most calming manatee are nothing but impurities in an otherwise beautifully simple universe.
We’re lucky life began on Earth at all, of course, and that something as complex as humans evolved. It was improbable that your parents met each other and conceived you at just the right instant, and their parents and their parents and so on back to time immemorial. This is science’s way of reminding you to be grateful for what you have.
But even so, I have news for you: It’s worse than you think. Much worse.
Your existence wasn’t just predicated on amorousness and luck of your ancestors, but on an almost absurdly finely tuned universe. Had the universe opted to turn up the strength of the electromagnetic force by even a small factor, poof! Suddenly stars wouldn’t be able to produce any heavy elements, much less the giant wet rock we’re standing on. Worse, if the universe were only minutely denser than the one we inhabit, it would have collapsed before it began.
Worse still, the laws of physics themselves seem to be working against us. Ours isn’t just a randomly hostile universe, it’s an actively hostile universe.
So to the rigorously logical and rational atheist I am to believe in “unfathomable luck” as the author of my existence. Wow! That’s intellectually fulfilling. And using a term like “unfathomable luck” actually papers over the extreme improbability of such a universe existing solely by chance. Words can’t do such improbability justice, but at least we’re getting scientists who refuse to believe in God to admit that life is incomprehensibly complex and fine tuned.
I’ve raised my children to be immune from the virus of atheism. At unpredictable moments as they grew up I would comment, for example, on how amazing it is that by complete chance things like apples grow out of the ground, that there is even ground and seeds to produce such things as apples, and that by complete chance the beauty of apples appeal to our eyes that by chance can appreciate beauty, and that by that same chance these things that happened to be on our tongues called taste buds can actually enjoy and appreciate the taste of apples, and that also by chance our bodies require certain nutrients to stay healthy that also by chance the apples provide. It’s become a running joke in our family, which can be applied to literally everything, sunsets, horses, trees, rain, everything.
I’ve also done a reverse chance shtick with things humans create, because we all know that the coffee cup I’m holding wasn’t actually made with any purpose or design in mind, it’s just a product of millions of years of chance and matter colliding. Absurd, but then I’ll tell them some very smart but very blind people believe that the hand holding the cup, infinitely more complex, is somehow a product of millions of years of chance and matter colliding. The absurdity of such juxtapositions will keep them immune no matter how many cocky atheists they encounter on their life’s journey.
Now I don’t want to go all Biblical on you, but I must answer one question that might arise when seemingly rational people refuse to even consider, let alone accept, the blindingly obvious. Why? A plausible explanation can be found in Genesis 3 where we find the story of the fall of man. The temptation presented to Adam and Eve by Satan was that if they just did what God said they should not do, eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would “be like God, knowing good and evil.” Being made in the image of God was just not enough, obviously; they wanted to be like God. Bad move; sin and death entered the world, and human beings still hate the fact that God is God and they are not.
As God’s enemies, it just won’t do to admit the universe is the product of God’s Word, his creation, because then they would be accountable before God for their rebellion. That just won’t do, so they buy into a story that the universe, our existence, everything that is, is a product of random chance; it has no purpose, it has no meaning, it just is and we can move on our merry way, being like God, determining for ourselves what is good and what is evil. Unfortunately for them, modern science is making this story less plausible by the day. Yet instead of going with the most likely explanation, God as the source of it all, they turn to “unfathomable luck.”