You’re probably familiar with William Paley’s teleological argument for the existence of God. If you haven’t used it yourself then you’ll have been subjected to it by proselytising believers. A couple of days ago I had someone treat me to an updated version of the argument.
I was on the phone with a sales-person, talking about his company’s product, when he decided it would be a good time to dust off the old idea, give it a make-over and use it to convince me of God’s existence.
He started by asking me if I would agree that a computer must have an intelligent designer; I agreed this was so (though I have my reservations.) He responded with ‘how much more then must the universe and life on Earth – being so much more complex than a computer – also have an intelligent designer.’ He said this was ‘something to think about,’ and I agreed it was, though maybe this wasn’t the best answer I could’ve given.
Having ‘demonstrated’ that everything must be intelligently designed, my new friend announced that this was therefore irrefutable proof that Allah must have made everything.
Oops. I’m sure this isn’t what the Reverend Paley had in mind when he devised his watch analogy two centuries ago. His proof, however, is every bit as much a demonstration of Allah’s existence and creativeness as it is Yahweh’s. Or Vishnu’s or Marduk’s or any other of the multitude of deities credited with intelligently creating the universe and life in this insignificant part of it. Any one of them could’ve done it according to the teleological argument. Take your pick and sign up for the set of beliefs that corresponds with your choice.
But wait – complex machines like watches and computers bear no relation to anything in nature. A watch found on a heath, as Paley conjectures, or computers in hedgerows, can only have got there because a human being put them there (fly-tipping again). They would not be there because they’d arisen, like the rocks, grass and other plants that surround them, through the processes involved when nature creates something. Moreover, we know that machines have intelligent creators, because we are they. What doesn’t follow is that because man-made objects are demonstrably the product of intelligence that natural ones, which, remember, bear no relation to computers, watches, cars and CAT scanners, are as well.
We are gaining more understanding of how the universe came to be. Significantly, it doesn’t require that there is intelligence behind it. If it did, we would then need to explain how that intelligence arose, who created it and by what process. To say, as religious believers are wont to do, that this supreme intelligence has always existed is no explanation at all. If we’re to have something that has always existed then it is far more likely to be that which we know really does exist, rather than something we don’t. Conceding the longevity of the components of the universe, which we know to exist, is a far better bet than inventing deities to account for it. A God no more explains life, the universe and everything than do fairies the intricacies of my computer (gremlins maybe, but not fairies.)
For all that, life on Earth does have a creator. The genealogy of the universe tells us that physics begat chemistry begat biology. (‘But if life emerged from physical and chemical processes, then how come there’s still physics and chemistry?’) All life on Earth, including ourselves, is the product of these processes, ‘the blind watchmaker‘ that Richard Dawkins speaks of. They are not intelligent, do not have names like Yahweh or Allah and do not, on their own, create the machines that only humans can design.
That the universe had a first cause is totally reasonable.
The alternative is atheism whose fundamental doctrine is the absolutely absurd notion that everything just happened all by itself.
Because atheists believe an obviously absurd idea as their fundamental doctrine, atheists are prone to believe in all sorts of hoaxes:
Marxism (government as the source of social justice and human rights)
Prenatal genocide is a woman’s right to choose
Alternative energy (solar and wind power)
It may be ‘reasonable’ but is it the case? If you’d bothered to click on the link you’d have seen it is possible that at the quantum level the universe has always existed.
You fail to demonstrate how it is ‘absurd’ that everything happened by itself. A growing number of scientists are reaching this conclusion. But I suppose if a book written by pre-scientific, superstitious tribesmen in the bronze and iron ages suggests otherwise, it must be so.
You fail to demonstrate how those other, unrelated perspectives follow from atheism. You also fail to demonstrate how they are ‘hoaxes’; asserting they are constitutes neither argument nor evidence.
Better luck next time.
Quantum theory does not negate the need for a first cause.
Quantum theory, though exotic, is defined by the laws of nature which means it just didn’t happen all by itself.
And you, the atheist, have the obligation to explain why the ridiculous is more plausible than the reasonable.
SOM, where is your evidence that your god exists and was the creator? Why can’t the laws of physics be the replacement for a god in the teleological argument?
It’s hilarious to watch you tell so many lies again. You are quite a poster child for believing nonsense. I wonder, do you also disbelieve that the US sent men to the moon? That would go nicely with your other conspiracy claims.
“Having ‘demonstrated’ that everything must be intelligently designed, my new friend announced that this was therefore irrefutable proof that Allah must have made everything.”
I’m sure I never thought of this conundrum as a Christian and minister. the same ID arguments are being used by the slimy apologists of all the major religions precisely because they CAN be. they go to the point of ‘proving’ the possibility of in the words of the Book of Acts 17 “The Unknown God” or the Deistic god of the philosophers, but for a personal, theistic god who created, loves and cares about what bill and ted do with their privates in their own privacy… in the word of the inimitable Christopher Hitchens “they have all their work yet ahead of them”
for this, each and every one of those religions will jump over actual evidence to say a Faith determination that what they are telling you is True ™ is required to in fact Know ™ it is true. and if you aren’t willing to Leap before you Look (something mom would have killed me for even before the truck in the road would have)? … well then your DAMNED and want to be DAMNED and deserve to be DAMNED because you refuse to be ‘Open’ to the evidence that is there waiting at the other side of that Precarious Cliff Face they are asking you to traverse… (rant over) 🙂
You’re right, though Paley undoubtedly saw it as proof of (his version of) the Christian God.
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‘Quantum theory does not negate the need for a first cause’: Yes, it does.
‘Quantum theory, though exotic, is defined by the laws of nature which means it just didn’t happen all by itself.’ i) QT is not defined by ‘the laws of nature’, whatever you mean by that. ii) Quantum theory does indeed suggest phenomena can happen by themselves. (See here: https://medium.com/the-physics-arxiv-blog/a-mathematical-proof-that-the-universe-could-have-formed-spontaneously-from-nothing-ed7ed0f304a3#.rtsk15bd8 or here: http://www.hawking.org.uk/the-origin-of-the-universe.html)
‘And you, the atheist, have the obligation to explain why the ridiculous is more plausible than the reasonable.’ No, I don’t. You’re the one who’s decided scientific ideas are ‘absurd’ and ‘ridiculous’ while belief in a sky daddy is ‘reasonable’. There’s no obligation on my part to explain anything to the irrational and closed-minded.
It is obvious that quantum mechanics does not obviate the need for a first cause.
Did quantum mechanics happen all by itself just like the atheist universe?
You are simply transmitting nonsense put out there by people who are desperate to explain away the absurdity of every having to happen all by itself in order for atheism to be true.
As ever, you present no evidence for the ‘obvious’, nor for your claim that scientists are ‘desperate’ to explain away God. You clearly don’t understand the first thing about quantum theory and your ignorance is wilful (did you read the articles I linked to?)
There’s no point in responding to you further. I’ll continue to allow you to comment, provided you’re not abusive, but that’s it from me.
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For all we know, there could be intelligent design behind the universe. It is at the moment beyond our comprehension. But clearly the intelligent designer couldn’t be the barbarous ignorant god of the old testament. The one who made the earth and plants in three days – but didn’t make the stars until the fourth. The one who commanded to Moses: “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live,” and not to have sex with beasts or put an ox to death for accidentally goring someone.
The problem with positing an intelligent designer (of any sort) is the infinite regress it creates: who made the designer? How did he/she/it become intelligent? If, as the religious like to claim, there has to be a ‘first cause’ then, by definition, it must precede the designer and its intelligence. As they also like to tell us something cannot come from nothing, least of all a fully realised intelligent being.
Agreed. I don’t believe in an intelligent designer. I was just making the point of how ridiculous religion’s intelligent designer actually is.
I knew you didn’t – I was agreeing really. The whole ideai is preposterous. That he could be the pantomime villain of the Old Testament is truly absurd.