Popular but False Ideas

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Popular but False Ideas

 

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 In our dialogue about the existence of God this morning (Newstalk 93, Jamaica) my friend Lloyd D’Aguilar a professing atheist repeated some notions that are downright false even though propounded by reputable scientists. I am summarizing the essence of the false ideas and not necessarily quoting Lloyd or any scientist (unless otherwise indicated).

 

False Idea #1– Given millions or billions of years matter can generate almost anything.

The flaw here is that time is treated as having causative powers. Time, like chance, has no causative powers at all so no matter how much time you invoke you still need a cause to get the end product under discussion. Time may be necessary but not sufficient for anything to come or be brought about.

I raised the multi-pronged problem for a non-God thesis providing an explanation for; something being in the world as opposed to nothing at all, the origin of life from non-life, the origin of reproductive capacity in animals, the origin of the genetic code or of the information-rich nature of all life forms (à la Antony Flew), the origin of rationality/conceptual thought, the origin of the self (the entity that understands and intends, etc.) and the origin of consciousness/self-consciousness (à la Roy Varghese). All of these phenomena, either presuppose the existence of an infinite, eternal Mind or Self (God) or are best explained by invoking God=the inference to the best explanation.

Varghese suggests a cute but deadly thought experiment for the atheist. He urges “Think for a minute of a marble table in front of you. Do you think that, given a trillion years or infinite time, this table could suddenly or gradually become conscious, aware of its surroundings, aware of its identity the way you are? It is simply inconceivable that this would or could happen. And the same goes for any kind of matter…But the atheist position is that, at some point in the history of the universe, the impossible and the inconceivable took place. Undifferentiated matter (here we include energy), at some point, became ‘alive’, then conscious, then conceptually proficient, then an ‘I’…this is simply laughable.” (Appendix A, p.163 of Antony Flew’s 2007 book There is a God.

Ponder the fact that Nobel Prize-winning physiologist George Wald said concerning the origin of life “We choose to believe the impossible: that life arose spontaneously by chance.” (cited in Flew, 131)

 

False Idea #2 Matter has always been there, matter is eternal.

This notion has been thoroughly debunked since the early twentieth century and has been further buried by the discoveries of the Cosmic Background Explorer COBE satellite. Agnostic Robert Jastrow summarizes thus, “Five independent lines of evidence—the motion of the galaxies, the discovery of the primordial fireball, the law of thermodynamics, the abundance of helium in the universe and the life story of the stars—point to one conclusion; all indicate that the Universe had a beginning.” (in hisGod and the Astronomers, 2nd edition, 1992, 103) The universe properly understood is the sum total of the things that constitute it, essentially matter. So then since matter is not eternal it is proper to ask about its origin.

The world and life as we know it cry out for an explanation and the God thesis is the inference to the best explanation. The God thesis has greater explanatory power and explanatory scope than any of its competitors.

 

 

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