This will be short. Look at this argument:

Nature is so beautiful and complex; the planets in our solar system, and our solar system in our galaxy, and our galaxy in the universe all fit and work together so well that it cannot possibly have happened by chance - there must have been a creator.

I want to know why Christians, or any other monotheist, thinks this is a good argument in favor of their position. Obviously, because they've used the singular form of the word creator but they've obviously done that on purpose to support their particular theology.

Why does the complexity of nature point only to a single god? I want a monotheist to explain to me how they manage to sidestep the possibility of many gods being responsible for the creation of everything. How do they justify their atheism towards every other god but their own?

Views: 179

Comment by Doug Reardon on December 16, 2011 at 2:51pm

Well, most people are either idiots, or willfully ignorant.

Comment by John Galt on December 16, 2011 at 3:08pm

It's sickening.

Comment by Albert Bakker on December 16, 2011 at 4:09pm

Well I suppose this has to do with religious history and the history of science as much as anything.  When you have multiple Gods who are constantly infighting or in a struggle for leadership then to understand the world and the phenomena in it as expressions of the will of the Gods becomes very difficult, unstructured and unpredictable.

When there is only one God who controls the world it suddenly becomes very structured and you can study the world as a proxy to read as it were the mind of God through His creation. Then philosophy of nature becomes something noble in and of itself and the complexity of nature becomes testament to the awesome power and wisdom of it's Creator.

Of course planetary systems and galaxies don't happen by chance.

Comment by Dustin on December 16, 2011 at 10:51pm

Or the designer could have created the Universe, then either died, forgotten about it, or went on a galactic vacation equal to trillions of years.  

Or that the designer still interacts in our daily lives and has nothing to do with the biblical fairy tales. 

These are all other possible scenarios, if in fact we could prove the universe was 'created' by a supreme intelligence.  

Comment by Jason on December 17, 2011 at 7:09am

Yeah…I’m kind of confused by what they are claiming as well…. I’ll be honest, I have not heard that specific argument before…
“our galaxy in the universe all fit and work together”. I don’t even know what that means. What’s working together? How does it fit? What do they mean by “fit”? Nature is complex?
I would have them explain that to you first. It fits…yet its complex?

Comment by John Galt on December 17, 2011 at 10:35am

Albert - I understand that it makes more sense, for many people, to think that one god would be better organized and structural than a god who was constantly fighting among other gods. But, what makes sense to humanity is not necessarily logical, and it's not necessarily true. And in fact, such dictatorships, when carried out here on our planet, usually fail miserably. I'm not really asking why people would think one god makes more sense - obviously they will think that because we're slowly evolving out of our religiosity in general. And in any case, who is to say that if there were a plethora of gods, that they would be imbued with human traits such as jealousy, greed, and the need to fight with one another? The fact that these gods we worship just happen to have our exact traits, I think, really speaks to their origin. 

Greg - Thank you for that. You obviously know a lot more about this than I do, and I really appreciate your explanation. I think, though, that they were referring to the "watchmaker analogy" and the title I chose was more for effect than anything. If those two issues are the same, then I apologize. So they're saying: it's impossible that all this complexity we see in nature, just happened by chance, therefore somebody must have created it, therefore god. I don't think I've ever had a conversation with a creationist who actually understood the Aristotelean argument, or Ockham's Razor, which is a shame. 

Dustin and Jason - I think this argument stems from the person not understanding the basic concept of evolution through natural selection. So, at least in my experience with them, Creationists seem to think that evolution is itself a series of accidents that have no intentional purpose, and so everything just happened by chance. And since things are so complex and so well suited to the different purposes they seem to have in nature, it is impossible that it all happened accidentally. And their next conclusion is to posit that the only other alternative to accident, is deliberate creation. Not true. But that argument is a whole other issue. 

It would be really interesting to get into a discussion of probability with these people, but I suppose they wouldn't understand it. I mean, they say that even just the fact that our planet happens to be in the "goldilocks zone" proves that some entity deliberately placed us there. However, if they even knew the tiniest amount about the size of the universe and the actual math behind how likely our existence was to occur, and how likely it is that it has happened elsewhere in the universe, they would probably stop using that logic. 

Comment by Albert Bakker on December 17, 2011 at 12:01pm

Of course evolution (by natural selection) is the exact opposite of chance and the fact that we happen to live on a planet that has all the right conditions to be inhabited by us is not a matter of probability but rather of adaptation, statistics and just plain logic as you pointed out.

If the Earth were hostile to our kind of life, we wouldn't be living on it. We would either not be alive at all or we would be on another, different planet which wasn't hostile to life and we would have evolved to adapt to these surroundings, no doubt looking much differently, but perhaps asking the same questions basically. This must be true in the natural realm, creating necessarily the illusion of extremely unlikely coincidences, but not at all necessarily if supernaturalism were to be invoked. Then you'd actually have to explain the probability that a Creator would create the world (the Universe, the galaxies, the planets, life and so on) to look precisely so as it would have looked if it weren't created (by an Intelligent Creator) at all and naturalism were true. Which to point out just the smallest objection seems an extremely unintelligently and unintelligibly  wasteful way to create a world for humans to live their short little lives on during which they can be tested if they are worthy of an eternal "afterlife" of subservience in tranquil surroundings and mild pleasure or have to be cast off to undergo unspeakable horrors that exceed by far the fevered imagination of the most despicable psychopath that has ever existed or perhaps ever will for all infinity.

Comment by John Galt on December 17, 2011 at 12:52pm

The fact that we happen to live on a planet that has all the right conditions to be inhabited by us is not a matter only of probability, but the supposed uniqueness of it can be explained away by a proper understand of probability. And in fact, the argument that it is more probable that there is a timeless creator being who is responsible for our existence, is completely backwards. It's much more probable that we ourselves chanced into existence, because in that scenario there is only one singularity or leap from nothing into something, rather than two (the origin of the omniscient creator god, being the first).

I brought up probability in the first place, to illustrate that our existence isn't really all that unique (like Creationists seem to think it is) in the grand scheme of things. I think Dawkins does a good job of explaining what I'm trying to get at, in The God Dilusion (pg. 165 of my edition): 

"It has been estimated that there are between 1 billion and 30 billion planets in our galaxy, and about 100 billion galaxies in the universe. Knocking a few noughts off for reasons of ordinary prudence, a billion billion is a conservative estimate of the number of available planets in the universe. Now, suppose the origin of life, the spontaneous arising of something equivalent to DNA, really was a quite staggeringly improbable event. Suppose it was so improbably as to occur on only on in a billion planets....But here we are talking about odds of one in a billion. And yet...even with such absurdly long odds, life will still have arisen on a billion planets - of which Earth, of course, is one."

My point is that Earth really isn't unique at all, mathematically speaking. The fact that we have yet to discover any other planets with life does not mean that there are none out there. It means that we as a species lack sufficient technology to spot them. And so, in that sense, I think probability really does play a huge role in this argument, and if Creationists using the original argument actually understood the math behind their statements, they would stop using them. 

And I do entirely agree with you on that last sentence. If he does exist, god is a tyrant, a despicable psychopath and a misogynistic narcissist.

Comment by John Galt on December 17, 2011 at 2:48pm

Thank you! I would love some suggestions of introductory books on the subject.

Comment by Albert Bakker on December 17, 2011 at 3:14pm

I think we agree, I just emphasized - clumsily admittedly - that the apparent appearance of 'uniqueness' as you aptly put it, the Earth possessing just the right conditions for us is a consequence of putting things in reverse order: it is not the Earth that is nearly perfect for us, it is that we are nearly perfect for the Earth and this is so because from the most modest chemical building blocks to billions of years later those self-conscious creatures we are today, able to understand our place in the order of things to a certain degree, evolved to adapt to it.

If the Earth would be different, within a certain not really known margin, we'd be different, but the reasoning would be invariant under this translation. Okay so this is just pure logic, anthropic principle reasoning, the probabilities enter later in the estimates of habitable worlds.

I would think 1 to 30 billion planets in our galaxy is an underestimation. It probably would be more like an order of magnitude higher and maybe even higher than that. The number of Earth-like planets with liquid water would I think be in the order of a billion or two.

But the number of galaxies has to be revised downward to those that are old enough to have sufficient metallicity, or are rich in population I type stars, like our Sun. Only then you have sufficient abundances of heavier elements and chemistry can become sufficiently complex. This would be a critical prerequisite to life as we know it, but who's to say that life as we know it is all the ways that life can exist? In fact there has never been a proper definition of life been settled on, as it just seems arbitrary where to draw the line of demarcation - or is it an area?

The point of my last sentence was not so much to paint God in the most unfavorable terms I could muster, rather that it seems wasteful to the point of silliness to create an entire Universe just to have a infinitesimal little spot on the outskirts of one of those uncountable rotating blobs of shiny matter to play with His little human zoo.

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