So while I was wandering the Internet the other day, I came across an interesting website: godandscience.org. It’s a website started by an alleged atheist-turned-theist-turned Christian, and it focuses on providing evidence for and defending Christianity. The creator of the site, Rich Deem, being a research scientist, attempts to make each of the arguments on the site very structured and well researched. They also happen to be quite well written, and the end result is a pretty compelling evangelical website.
Now I’m not a Christian, and I’m not looking to fill some kind of hole in my life with Christ’s love either. So I was about to leave and check on my fantasy basketball team when something caught my eye. It was a post titled “Is God Real? Does Science Answer ‘Is There a God’?” I’m a wholehearted believer in the power of science to uncover nature’s mysteries, but I had always assumed this was one of science’s yet unanswered questions. Intrigued, I followed the link and read the article.
It’s an interesting read, and it’s not too long, so I definitely recommend giving it a shot. But if you’re lazy, here’s the gist of Deem’s arguments:
“The best evidence for design can be seen in the nature of the universe and how it came to be…Cosmologists assume that the universe could have evolved in any of a number of ways, and that the process is entirely random. Based upon this assumption, nearly all possible universes would consist solely of thermal radiation (no matter). Of the tiny subset of universes that would contain matter, a small subset would be similar to ours… The laws of physics must have values very close to those observed or the universe does not work “well enough” to support life… the ratio of electrons to protons cannot vary by more than 1 part in 1037 or else electromagnetic interactions would prevent chemical reactions. In addition, if the ratio of the electromagnetic force constant to the gravitational constant were greater by more than 1 part in 1040, then electromagnetism would dominate gravity, preventing the formation of stars and galaxies… So, although it would be possible that one or two constants might require unusual fine-tuning by chance, it would be virtually impossible that all of them would require such fine-tuning…On the other hand, the deist or theist says that God designed the universe with just the right laws of physics… Only an intelligent Being would be motivated and expected to produce any kind of universe such as what we see.”
Kind of a long summary, but I wanted you to really see the non sequitur Deem sneakily employs in his argument. Sure, Rich, I’ll give you that the probability of our universe being exactly the way it is today is extremely small, even miniscule. But in no way does that prove that an intelligent creator must have designed it. This kind of argument is equivalent to me saying the following:
There are over 6 billion people on Earth. The probability the two individuals who happen to be my parents met up and got married is therefore incredibly small. Furthermore, the probability that the combination of their genes combined in exactly the right way to produce the exact features of the child who is now writing this is also incredibly small. If my father had met another woman, or if I had received a single different chromosome from either of my parents, I would not be the same person I am today; I might not even exist. Therefore, God must be responsible for all of the above.
In both scenarios, extremely unlikely sets of events occurred. But in neither scenario is the hand of God necessary or evident.
But if you’re not convinced, let’s look at this from another angle: The universe could have developed along one of an infinitely large set of possible paths. Even if we assume that some paths are more likely than others, the probability that the universe takes any one particular path is, therefore, next to zero. However, the universe has to choose one path! And it happened to choose the path that led to the development of our current world. But if it had chosen any other path, this would have led to a universe defined by just as unlikely constants. And if this hypothetical universe led to some other life, does the “intelligent Being” still get credit for designing it such a way that it did?
I’ve only looked through godandscience.org cursorily, but it seems that this post is representative of most of the articles found on the site. The few I’ve looked at are chocked full of scientific facts, figures, and references, but are woefully lacking on logically connecting those facts to religion. Alarmingly, the site see’s a LOT of traffic, probably something on the order of at least thousands of daily visitors. And I can see many of those viewers reading these posts without a critical eye and getting tricked by the scientific format of the posts and the voluminous outside references. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to the ideas presented on the site; it’s just that I dislike the use of pseudoscience to advance personal agendas.
If you see any egregious article on godandscience.org (or anywhere else on the world wide web,actually), point it out to me, and I’d be happy to write about it (and give you a shoutout :))! In the meantime, I’ll do my part and point out other issues throughout the site in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!