Is Atheism Rational? Part1

Is Atheism Rational? The problems of meaning and purpose.

 Copyright © Howard Robinson 24th April 2010.

 

Introduction

 

Since the dawn of time, mankind has debated, researched, pondered, disputed, agonised over and mulled over the subjects of meaning and purpose.

 

Mankind has found a number of options to answer these questions:

World Religions; Revelations – Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Mormonism; Philosophical Doubts or Uncertainty – Agnosticism and Atheism.

 

Judaism, Islam, Mormonism and Christianity are different in that they claim to have been initiated by divine revelation, not by man.

 

For a start let’s look at Atheism, then the other options and take it from there.

 

Atheism

An Atheist is someone who disbelieves or denies the existence of God or gods. It is a philosophical choice. It is a set of beliefs. Many Atheists believe that the Scientific Method and rational thought can provide the answers to the questions of existence and purpose. Many Atheists believe in the Theory of Evolution and the theory of The Big Bang. [Emphasis mine].

 

So we see that Atheism is something that is believed and it is a philosophical choice based on those beliefs.

 

The alternatives:

Hinduism

Most Hindus worship one or more deities, believe in reincarnation, value the practice of meditation and observe festive holidays like Diwali and Holi.

 

Hindus believe in the law of Karma: that a good life now results in a better life in the next reincarnation.

 

For the Hindu the goal of life is to attain freedom from reincarnation, but this is not guaranteed.

 

Buddhism

Buddhists believe in the Buddha, believed to have achieved enlightenment from thousands of re-incarnations.

 

They do not believe that this world is created and ruled by a God or god.

 

Essential beliefs:

1.The Buddha is our only Master.

2.We take refuge in the Buddha, the teaching of Buddha (the Dhamma) and the ordained Buddhist monks or nuns (the Sangha).

 

Sikhism

Sikh basic beliefs are summed up in the words of the Mool Mantra, the first hymn written by Guru Nanak:

 

There is only one God. Truth is his name. He is the Creator. He is without Fear. He is without hate. He is timeless and without form. He is beyond death, the Enlightened One. He can be known by the grace of the Guru (God, the Great Teacher.).

 

It is believed that God created everything, so all life is good, but attachment to material things leads to reincarnation and the sufferings of birth and death. The goal of Sikhism is to end the cycle of rebirth and be united with God.

 

Mormonism

Mormons believe in the Book of Mormon, which is said to have been given by Jesus Christ to their founder, Joseph Smith. They believe in a lost tribe of Israel, which settled in America.

 

Mormons believe that Joseph Smith is the prophet through whom the Gospel of Jesus Christ was restored to earth, in these the last days, the dispensation of the fullness of times, declared and predicted by prophets in earlier dispensations.


  

Jehovah’s Witnesses

 

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus was Jehovah’s first creation, that Jehovah then created everything else by means of him.

 

The leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses claims to be the sole visible channel of Jehovah and asserts that the Bible cannot be understood without associating with the Watch Tower organization.

 

They believe that 144,000 of them will be rewarded with life in the New Earth.

 

Islam

Muslims believe in the first 5 Books of the Bible and that Mohammed was the Prophet of their God, Allah. Many also believe that Jesus was a prophet.

 

All that is required is to believe and recite the Shahada: “There is no God but God, and Muhammad is his Prophet.”

 

For a Muslim, the object of life is to live in a way that is pleasing to Allah so that one may gain Paradise. It is believed that at puberty, an account of each person’s deeds is opened, and this will be used at the Day of Judgment to determine his eternal fate.

 

Like Christianity, Islam teaches the continued existence of the soul and a transformed physical existence after death. They believe in a day of judgment when humanity will be divided between the eternal destinations of Paradise and Hell.

 

Judaism

The Jews believe they are the inheritors of the Promise given to their ancestor Abraham by a God called “I AM that I AM”. This is the same God worshipped by Christians.

 

Unlike Christianity and Islam, Judaism has no official creed or universal doctrinal requirements for membership. Good deeds and the Mitzvot, (613 commandments contained in the Torah or Five Books of Moses) not beliefs, are the most important aspect of Jewish religious life. In addition, the term “Jewish” can be used to describe a race and a culture rather than a religion.

 

Nevertheless, the Torah and Talmud have a great deal to say about God, humanity, and the meaning of life.

 

Theism

This is belief in the existence of a god or gods, especially belief in a personal God as creator and ruler of the world. Theism in the broadest sense is the belief in at least one deity. In a more specific sense, theism refers to a particular doctrine concerning the nature of God and his relationship to the universe.

 

Pantheism

Pantheism means literally “God is all”. It is the view that everything is part of an all-encompassing immanent God. In pantheism the Universe and Nature are equivalent to God.

This is the belief that the Universe is divine and should be revered. Pantheism identifies the Universe with God but denies any personality or transcendence of such a God

 

Agnosticism

Belief that it is impossible to know whether there is a God.

Scepticism about the existence of God, but not professing true atheism. An agnostic does not deny the existence of God and heaven but holds that one cannot know for certain whether or not they exist.

 

Christianity

This is not a religion. It is a revelation and a relationship with God through faith in Jesus. God revealed Himself to Abraham, to Moses, through Prophets and ultimately through His Son, Jesus. Christians believe that Jesus was fully human and fully God, with the Father and Holy Spirit. Jesus claimed that faith in Him is the only way to God. Christians believe that Jesus lived a perfect, sinless life and was crucified for the sins of the world and raised from the dead. Faith in Jesus as Saviour and Lord imparts forgiveness and His perfect life to the believer.

 


  

What about religion?

Religion is a belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.

 

Religion can also be a personal or institutionalised system grounded in such belief and worship.

 

Religion, by definition, is man in search of God, god or gods.

 

It could be argued that the same reasons for dismissing other religions should be applied to your own as a test of authenticity and truth. Religion is an example of the truth that man is naturally inclined to believe and worship. Even Atheism is a belief system, belief that there is no God. A form of religious “worship” can be loosely extended to sport, possessions and people to name but a few.

 

So we see that there are a fair amount of faiths in opposition to Atheism. Most of them are very well worked out and seem pretty rational and reasonable. They don’t, however, help us with the question, “Is Atheism Rational. For this we will have to look deeper at the origins of the universe and of life etc.

 

Firstly, some quotes:

 

According to Seneca the Younger (4 b.c.- 65 a.d). “Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful”.

There is undeniable truth in this statement. People do regard religions, particularly eastern religions as true, though in our sceptical present day society there are many who regard religion as untrue and irrelevant. The wise are right to see religion as false because it is an attempt to reach God or god(s) using man made ideas and efforts. If there is a God or god, by definition this being could only be known to the extent that They wish to reveal Themself.

 

 

Blaise Pascal said, “Men never commit evil so fully and joyfully as when they do it for religious convictions”. This has been true in many instances from the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition to Oliver Cromwell. Jesus gave a very simple test: “by their fruits you will know them” and “a good tree will not bear bad fruits”. The chief fruit for a true believer is love and there is no way that these and similar hateful (ie love-less) acts could be called love. People have used religion as leverage for their own evil agendas.

 

Epicurus (341–270 B.C.) had a classic and very challenging argument for the non-existence of God: “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”

This reasoning by Epicurus is very compelling. His logic is impeccable. He clearly believes unequivocally that there is no God and sets to prove his belief. Is this rational though? It is not rational if there is reasonable doubt. We only have to look around at the world with an open mind to have reasonable doubt. Romans 1 verse 20 says, “since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

 

Epicurus clearly believes in evil. He is in effect saying God does not exist because evil exists. This is not rational. If evil exists then the probability is that God exists. Evil exists but it is curtailed, therefore there must be an opposite good.

“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?

This is another way of saying because there is evil either God is too feeble to prevent it or is not there. God certainly limits evil or it would overtake the world.

Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.

For His eternal purposes God has postponed judgment on evil and has, in the mean time, allowed it as an alternative.

Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?

If this is so why is there evil? Again God has allowed an alternative but has set a time to make evil cease.

Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?” 

He is willing and able but as I have said, He has set a time for this.

 

 

Epicurus’ words bring up two very difficult questions:

 

1) Why didn’t God destroy evil when it happened? My answer, as I have said, would be that God has postponed punishment but appointed a time in the future for dealing with evil. Jesus gave the parable of the weeds and the wheat to explain that dealing with evil had to be postponed or it would harm God’s children who are in the world. In the mean time God has allowed an alternative – the world (world system, worldly things), the flesh and the devil.

 

2) Why didn’t He stop the fall?

It was His purpose to bring a great many sons (children) into glory (his presence) Hebrews 2 vs 10. God has allowed the fall because he didn’t make rigid robots but gave the first people free will. He warned them about what would happen if they tasted good and evil, that they would die. They initially died spiritually and later on died physically as well. Their children inherited these two deaths. That is why Jesus had to die in our place.

 

George Bernard Shaw said, The fact that a believer is happier than a sceptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.

This is rather like ‘religion is the opium of the people’ of Karl Marx. He seems to be saying that religious faith is as intoxicating as a good deal of alcohol. There is truth here. A deeply religious person will be influenced and comforted by their religion. This may be a false peace or a false hope as by definition religion comes from man’s ideas and not divine revelation.

 

An unknown person said, “Philosophy is questions that may never be answered. Religion is answers that may never be questioned”. Religion should be able to be questioned. There can be no harm in questioning a religion that is true.

 

According to Gene Roddenberry: We must question the story logic of having an all-knowing all-powerful God, who creates faulty Humans, and then blames them for his own mistakes.

This statement contains some errors. Firstly, humans were not created faulty. After creating the first people, we read “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1 verse 31). God did give them free will and the opportunity to obey Him or disobey Him. This was not evidence of being faulty but it did result in faultiness. God warned them that they would die if they disregarded His warning. They disobeyed Him anyway.

 

An unknown author wrote: Two hands working can do more than a thousand clasped in prayer.

There is truth here and Jesus warned not to be too heavenly minded or you would be no earthly use. Conversely, there are things that can’t be done by physical work but prayer alone such as salvation, healing, deliverance, help and guidance and many more. The Bible teaches the value of deeds or action flowing out of faith “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2 verse 14 to 17)

 

I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world — Richard Dawkins.

I agree that religion can cause this. On the other hand, Christianity, which is a revelation and not a religion, has given us the first scientists, some outstanding like Mendel (genetics) and Newton (Physics) also outstanding men like William Wilberforce who campaigned effectively to abolish slavery.

 

Aldous Huxley said, “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”

I agree! The problem is that some evidence is misinterpreted through ideology or philosophy to make “facts” to support that ideology or philosophy.

 

Said William Drummond, He that will not reason is a bigot; he that cannot reason is a fool; he that dares not reason is a slave.

Agreed.

 

The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason Benjamin Franklin said.

This may be true of religion but it is not true of revelation. Before I was a Christian my feelings were what mostly guided my decisions and behaviour. Now it is faith which mostly guides me. This faith can not be exercised without reason. If I don’t use my reason as well I will be prone to all kinds of error or possible danger.

 

In 1988, Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama said, “We must conduct research and then accept the results. If they don’t stand up to experimentation, Buddha’s own words must be rejected.”

 

The easy confidence with which I know another man’s religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also, said Mark Twain.

Actually it is hard to scrutinise one’s own beliefs with the intensity, depth and dismissiveness with which we scrutinise other beliefs. This statement is true and instructive. Religion is folly if it is, as I have defined it, man in search of God, using man’s ways.

 

I believe in My Self – that’s enough. I believe in this life, beautiful and unique! I believe in Science! I have faith in Reason. I don’t need to show what I don’t believe in! I Believe in Human Race! I’m sure it’s beginning to see the real light, the light of Knowledge! Says Richard Phillip.

The first statement is similar to the first sin where the first people wanted to be “like god”. Belief in science is okay, so long as it is limited to the how and not the why. This statement is not rational because it talks in words of faith and belief, things which, unless there is a sound basis, defy reason and rational thinking. Knowledge can cause pride and arrogant thoughts of superiority. Knowledge does not mean improved behaviour. The caricature of the evil genius is widely used as a credible character in many books and films with good reason. We instinctively see knowledge as amoral but also as a powerful tool in the hands of a bad person. The Bible warns that knowledge can make proud and teaches that love can build up. The last statement is blind faith in a humanity, which is flawed. Around the world there is still corruption, extortion, abuse of power, hate, violence and greed. Yes there is good as well, but the human race has not improved and shows no evidence of improving. Technology, learning and improved standards of living for some have not changed us for the better.

 The origin of everything.

Atheism believes that the Universe came into being accidentally by a series of random events. It is expressed quite elegantly in the Big Bang Theory. Another theory, which was once proposed, is the Steady State Theory.

 

If the universe really came about by accident is it rational to expect the laws of physics, the complex structures of atoms, molecules, solar systems and galaxies all by random accidents? The alternative to random chance is intelligent design. We will examine these three, starting with the Steady State Theory.

 

Steady State theory

Basically this says that the universe has always existed, much as it is now, with matter being formed continually. This does not explain where this matter is coming from or, more importantly, where all the matter in the universe came from in the first place. It is irrational to say, “The universe is here, therefore it has always been here”. Sadly, the Steady State theory does not meet the most basic tenets of a scientific theory, namely that there must be evidence and facts to base the theory on. Fundamentally, the Second Law of Thermodynamics tells us that the universe had a beginning (when the disorder was zero) so that disproves the Steady State theory.

 
The Big Bang Theory

Firstly, the Theory

The Big Bang theory is the current scientific explanation for how the universe came into being. According to the theory an extremely dense and hot ball of matter, very small in diameter, exploded, creating hydrogen and helium and providing the basis for further evolution of matter. This has to be sufficient matter to make billions of galaxies each containing hundreds of billions of stars.In theory, as the new matter expanded, it created space. It is thought that the Big Bang occurred about 10 to 20 billion years ago and that the universe has since been expanding and cooling.

 

 

The most popular scientific view is that there was a singularity at first – something where the laws of physics break down. At the proposed start of the universe with a singularity the density of the universe and the curvature of space-time would have been infinite. Because all the known laws of physics break down under these conditions this is a serious problem for science. Science is therefore unable to describe or predict the initial conditions and how the universe began. It is fair to say at the outset that The Big Bang Theory does not rule out God because no one has been able to say what happened in the first small fraction of a second.

 

The Evidence given for the Big Bang – an expanding universe

For the Big Bang to be correct, the universe must be expanding outwards from the centre of the blast.

 

Evidence for this expansion is given in the form of red shifts of galaxies and quasars.

 

When a celestial object is travelling away from us the light emitted should speed up. But the speed of light remains constant in the universe, it cannot change, therefore, the wavelength shifts to the red. Because the spectra of elements such as hydrogen are known this “red shift” can therefore be measured. (For example, when excited, hydrogen gas gives off light in four distinct colours in the visible spectrum, as well as a number of lines in the infra-red and ultra-violet.)

 

The red shift of the light from galaxies has been found to be proportional to their brightness and their brightness has been taken as a measure of their distance. So it appears that the farther galaxies are from us the faster they are moving away from us. Of course this makes the assumption that brightness is a measure of distance and also that speed away from us is the only cause of red shifts.

 

 

Let’s Examine the Evidence.

 

To Quote Stephen Hawking, “I was interested in the question of whether there had been a Big Bang singularity, because that was crucial to an understanding of the origin of the universe. Together with Roger Penrose, I developed a new set of mathematical techniques, for dealing with this and similar problems. We showed that if General Relativity was correct, any reasonable model of the universe must start with a singularity. This would mean that science could predict that the universe must have had a beginning, but that it could not predict how the universe should begin: for that one would have to appeal to God.”

 

The Big Bang Theory is just that, a theory. The facts that have been used to verify it may be in error. For example Quasars and galaxies with red shifts are thought to show that the universe is expanding and thus there has been an explosion. Have you ever seen the results of an explosion? To achieve the universe, as we know it from a Big Bang explosion, is like an explosion in a house resulting in neatly piled bricks, glass and mortar with the rest of the contents neatly organised and catalogued.

 

Stars of a certain mass will explode and produce a “supernova”. The problem with greater mass than this above a threshold level (and the mass of the universe is definitely above that level) is that we know it will become a black hole which will definitely not explode. So, the Big Bang Theory has a problem right at the start of the universe – no “Bang”!

 

The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that the disorder or “entropy” of the universe increases with time. This means that space, time and matter have not always existed but came into being when entropy was zero. As we have already said, the universe had a beginning. It also means that for an explosion to result in ordered galaxies and solar systems it would have to go against this fundamental law of physics.The Second Law of Thermodynamics also shows that the universe can only have existed for a finite time. Otherwise, the universe would by now have degenerated into a state of complete disorder, in which everything would be at the same temperature.

Galaxies collide, which goes against the theory of an expanding universe. Our own galaxy is on a collision course with our nearest neighbour, the Andromeda galaxy. Even though it is the same age as the Milky Way, Hubble observations reveal that the stars in Andromeda’s halo are much younger than those in the Milky Way. From this and other evidence, astronomers infer that Andromeda has already collided with at least one other galaxy.

 

We should expect that galaxies are scattered randomly throughout the universe. Instead they are often found in “clusters,” which are in turn parts of extremely large structures called “super-clusters.” If Big Bang really occurred there would be a far more even distribution of matter. And if galaxies, though improbable, did form, they would be moving away from each other, not colliding. Also, if the universe has been expanding for billions of years, why do we not observe a large ‘hole’ where the centre of the blast was?

 

We can turn matter into energy in exceptional circumstances such as producing a critical mass of a radioactive substance, which has an unstable nucleus, but we can’t create matter. It would take more intelligence and greater technology that we possess to make matter. It would take the intelligence and the capabilities of a “God” to provide the necessary energy, convert it into matter, overrule the law of entropy and organise it into galaxies.

 

The “quantum” theory would propose that vacuum became particle and anti-particle pairs and the energy needed for the vast amount of matter in the universe was “borrowed” from gravitational energy. This just seems a circular proposition, robbing peter to pay peter. In making an awful lot of matter an equal amount of anti-matter would be made. Where does it all go?

 

So where does all the matter come from? The theory does not answer this question or fit the condition that the matter in our universe has come from somewhere. It is easier and more rational to believe that God put it there, and at the same time gave the Laws of Physics.


  

Red shifts of galaxies and quasars.

At the centre of our spiral galaxy a lot of energy is being generated with occasional vivid flares. Based on the immense gravity that would be required to explain the movement of stars and the energy expelled, the astronomers conclude that at the centre of our galaxy is a super massive black hole.

 

In the 1960s objects were observed which emitted radio waves and were thought to be stars. They had very unusual spectra. It was eventually realized that the spectra were so unusual because the lines were Red shifted by a very large amount, corresponding to velocities away from us that were significant fractions of the speed of light.

 

The reason that it took some time to come to this conclusion is because these objects were thought to be relatively nearby stars, no one had any reason to believe they should be receding from us at such velocities.

 

The current model of a quasar has a super-massive spinning Black Hole at the centre. This spinning action produces a “swirl of space” pulling gas streams in a spiral motion towards the hole. These gas streams collide as a result of the enormous gravitational energy and create intense heat. This is what gives a quasar its high luminosity. They can emit as much energy as an entire galaxy. Current research would suggest that the implosion of a massive star, in the order of 100 million times the mass of the sun, could form a massive black hole sufficient to power a Quasar.

 

Quasars are thought to be among the most distant objects, which can be observed. They are thought to be very distant because of their huge red shifts. As the red shift of Quasars is thought to mean speed and then this equates to distance. In any explosion the dispersed components move with different speeds. At any given time point the fastest components will be furthest away from the explosion centre. Thus, it is thought that Quasar red shifts are evidence for the Big Bang Explosion. But gravity also causes a red shift. A super massive black hole has “super massive” gravity and will most certainly produce a “super massive” red shift. So quasars are not travelling as fast as their red shifts suggest and they may not be as distant as was thought. As said earlier, they were first thought to be near, maybe they are.

 

As we have said, there is a super massive black hole at the centre of our galaxy. If other galaxies have black holes at the centre then surely each black hole will be contributing significantly to that galaxy’s red shift. Adding this to the fact that there are also galaxies coming towards us casts doubt on the Big Bang theory. For example there are a hundred galaxies, including Andromeda, which are coming towards us (with blue shifts).

 

Suppose that the blue shift galaxies have a black hole at the centre, which is causing a red shift – and this is very probable. This means that the blue shift galaxies true blue shift due to motion is larger than observed and they are coming towards us faster than has been thought. Also, if the red shifts of galaxies and quasars are due significantly to the black hole gravitation then the universe is probably not expanding. Of course, all of this is highly hypothetical but is does cast doubts on the Big Bang. I’m not an astrophysicist, but to me there seem to be some flaws in Big Bang. Also, the supporting theory can get far too theoretical, involving matter and anti-matter, can get far too theoretical to be a realistic solution to the problem of where the universe has come from.

 

For the Big Bang to be correct, the enormous explosion has to organise itself into atoms, molecules, stars, galaxies, planets, and living things, contrary to the Second Law of Thermodynamics. This takes an enormous leap of “faith”. Take atoms for instance – each atom has a discreet orbital or a set of discreet orbitals for the electrons. Up to two electrons occupy the first shell (1S). Up to 2 electrons occupy the next orbit (2S) with a further six (2P) making up the second shell. Up to 18 electrons occupy the next shell (3S, 3P, 3D) up to 8 occupy the next shell (4S and 4P) and so on. It is interesting to note that the 3D orbital is filled after the 4S orbital, which has slightly lower energy. This always happens as electrons fill orbitals along the periodic table of elements. Sometimes the orbitals “hybridise” but it is always the same way with the same numbers of electrons to fill the orbitals. The electrons are not so much in ring like orbits but clouds of probability. If a gamma ray hits an electron it gains energy and may move up to a higher orbital, before giving out the equivalent “light” between its energy state and the orbital it came from. What makes the electrons behave so? So far as we can tell, there is only the attraction from the nucleus at work. It is mind blowing if you think just what they do. There is more than fair probability of design here!

 

What about the spin of quasars and galaxies? Quasars spin so fast that an entire revolution only takes a few hours. Where did this angular momentum come from? Where did the rotation of the sun and the earth and the rotation of our solar system come from? An explosion is not the answer. It takes a great deal of “faith” to believe that the universe came about by random processes out of nothing and, from the evidence we have seen, this belief is not rational.

 

Finally, Intelligent Design

We have briefly discussed the “design” of atoms. There is design in the air we breathe. The nitrogen is good for our lungs and it’s interesting to note that despite losses from our planet, our atmosphere, including inert gases, remains a constant 21% oxygen, 78% nitrogen, about 1% inert gases and traces of water vapour and carbon dioxide. The composition of air is unchanged until an elevation of approximately 10,000 meters. This is not an accident.

 

Current theory is that the earth was formed from a dark nebula – a gas or dust cloud without a star. Genesis chapter 1 verses 1 and 2 says “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” Instead of being “fairytales for simple people” this is a fair description of a dark nebula.

 

“The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference”. Richard Dawkins.

This is a pretty bleak assessment. There is (I believe! And hope we have been seeing) strong evidence for design. There are the laws of physics, there is gravity, a constant speed of light and red shifts. There are galaxies and our sun with planets. The moon is just the right size and the right distance away to cause a total eclipse. There is the boiling point and freezing point of water. Water is densest at 4 deg C. If this were not the case, fish would freeze. The earth’s situation and atmospheric conditions allow water to exist as gas, liquid and solid..

 

Do you know that the earth is just the right distance from the sun? (Approximately 91 to 94.5 million miles,) Closer would be too hot, further away and we would freeze to death.

 

In atoms, if either the strong nuclear force or the weak nuclear force were slightly different in value, life would not exist.

Quote: “The strong nuclear force determines the degree to which protons and neutrons (some components of atoms) stick together.

– If the strong nuclear force was slightly greater (0.3% stronger) life would be impossible because all protons and neutrons would bind     together. There would be only heavy elements in the universe.

– If the strong nuclear force was slightly weaker (2%) life would be

impossible because protons and neutrons would not stick together.

Only one element, hydrogen would exist in the universe.” Copyright 1994 by Return to God, P.O. Box 159, Carnation, WA 98014.

 

So, if the ratio of the strong nuclear force and the weak nuclear force varied slightly in the wrong direction then only hydrogen or heavy elements would be formed. So, no carbon, no life. Or, no sun! I’d call that evidence for design. At least there is a high probability! There is also purpose – to sustain life on earth and provide an environment for us to know our Creator.

 

By all means let’s be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out — Richard Dawkins.

I totally agree with being open-minded, provided that does not mean, “you must believe what I believe”, since that would be irrational. I totally agree that we should use our brains, they are, after all, a gift from God.

  

The origin of life

There are two main theories for the origin of life.

1.    Organic life came into being from dead, inorganic components. There was no design or purpose. We are all descended from that first single celled ancestor. From this came fish. From fish came amphibians. From amphibians came reptiles. From reptiles came mammals.

 

2.    God created life with design and purpose.

 

Let’s examine the evidence.

Atheism and science have no satisfactory explanations for the origin of life. Scientists have made amino acid soup but this is a million miles away from single celled organisms.

 

Oparin proposed a theory that life on Earth developed through gradual chemical evolution of carbon-based molecules within a primordial soup that could be created in an oxygen-free atmosphere through the action of sunlight. He proposed that the “spontaneous generation of life” did occur once, but was now impossible because the conditions found in the early earth had changed, and the presence of living organisms would immediately consume any spontaneously generated organism. He proposed that organic molecules would combine in ever-more complex fashions until they formed coacervate droplets.

 

According to the Wikipedia: Coacervates were famously proposed by Alexander Oparin as crucial in first theory of abiogenesis (origin of life). This theory supposed that metabolism predated information replication, contrary to modern understanding, and for decades Oparin theory was the leading approach to the origin of life question. Coacervates measure 1 to 100 micrometers across, possess osmotic properties and form spontaneously from certain dilute organic solutions. Their name derives from the Latin coacervare, meaning “to assemble together or cluster”. Though they were once suggested to have played a significant role in the evolution of cells and, therefore, of life itself, nowadays this approach is mostly abandoned.

 

In the Miller–Urey experiment a highly reducing mixture of gases, methane, ammonia and hydrogen, was used. Basic organic molecules, such as amino acids, were formed. Less reducing gases produced a lower yield and variety. It is debatable whether or notthe mixture of gases used in their experiment truly represents the atmosphere of early Earth. The question is where did the 21% oxygen of today come from if it was not always there? It was once thought that a reasonable amount of oxygen was present in the early atmosphere, before “life” began, but this would have prevented the formation of organic molecules. As we have said, something about the earth maintains the present mixture of gases in our air. It is therefore probable that it has always been this composition.

 

Considering the way the prebiotic soup is referred to in so many discussions of the origin of life as an already established reality, it comes as something of a shock to realize that there is absolutely no positive evidence for its existence. Michael Denton, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, Adler and Adler, 1985, pg 261.

 

DNA is short for deoxyribonucleic acid and is found in all living things. The formation of complex long-chain molecules like DNA from “amino acid soup” is not straightforward. In addition to the amino acids in the miller-Urey experiment there were high concentrations of chemicals that would have prevented the transformation from short chain (monomers) to long chain molecules (polymers). An equally significant challenge to the theory is how the relatively simple amino acids become complex long chain molecules in water. This is because in a water environment the long chain molecules would favour reaction with water (hydrolysis) to break down into their constituent small molecules (monomers) instead of the loss of water (condensation) for turning individual monomers into polymers. So, natural production of DNA from amino acids in water is chemically impossible.

 

Another blow for spontaneous generation is in the area of chirality.

A chiral molecule lacks an internal plane of symmetry and its mirror image cannot be superimposed on it. The most frequent cause of chirality in molecules is the presence of a carbon atom where the adjoining atoms are not symmetrical. A chiral molecule can exist in two different forms, distinguished by the direction they rotate polarised light – either clockwise or anti-clockwise. These “optical isomers” have been called left-handed and right-handed.

 

 

Two optical isomers of a generic amino acid, from the Wikipedia:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To take a well-known example, let’s look at Glucose and Fructose. These have an identical makeup of atoms within each molecule, but they are opposite optical isomers.

 

Fructose is an extremely sweet sugar, which is found in many fruits. It takes the body a long time to break down fructose, resulting in a slow release of sugar, rather than a sudden rush. For this reason, it is used for diabetics.

 

In total contrast, glucose quickly gives the body energy, the body using this sugar to power cells.

 

Though their chemical formula is the same, they are so different. So, clearly, where optical isomers are concerned, the “handedness” is extremely important for their biological function.

 

To be correct, the theory of spontaneous generation from inorganic chemicals must explain the fact that all the building blocks in living organisms have the same “handedness”. Amino acids are left-handed and nucleic acid sugars, ribose and deoxyribose, are right-handed.

 

Single optical isomers can be manufactured, but there has to be a source chiral isomer or a chiral catalyst, otherwise a 50/50 mixture of both isomers is produced. This is called a racemic mixture.

 

Recognising the impossibility in nature, it has been suggested that such a chiral source may have come from space or that polarised light has the power to destroy one isomer. It has been shown that beta particles (electrons) caused the breakdown of D-leucine in a racemic mixture. Larger amounts of Carbon 14 than at present have been proposed for this.

 

This is all highly speculative, with too many ifs and buts. What is clear is that the correct isomers for life, if they were produced naturally, which we have seen is highly improbable, would only be produced in equal amounts with the wrong isomers. This could not result in “life”.

 

 

There are five main nucleobases in the nucleic acids DNA and RNA. These are adenine, guanine, cytosine, thymine, and uracil.

As a final nail in the coffin, it has been found that while adenine and guanine require freezing conditions to form, cytosine and uracil require boiling temperatures – so four out of 5 of the components of DNA and RNA cannot form together naturally.

 

DNA is an extremely complex program. There is enough information coded in a single cell to fill a large library. Although information implies the work of intelligence, Atheism has to believe that DNA has occurred totally by accident without design and without a designer. This takes orders of magnitude more faith than to believe that God is the DNA programmer.

 

To quote from www.allaboutscience.org:

DNA is a double-stranded molecule that is twisted into a helix like a spiral staircase.The four bases that make up the stairs in the spiralling staircase are adenine (A), thymine (T), cytosine (C) and guanine (G). These stairs act as the “letters” in the genetic alphabet, combining into complex sequences to form the words, sentences and paragraphs that act as instructions to guide the formation and functioning of the cell. The A, T, C and G in the genetic code of the DNA molecule can be compared to the “0” and “1” in binary code like software to a computer and like software to a computer the DNA code communicates information to the cell. The sequencing and functioning of that code is enormously complex, more complex than the space shuttle. However, it’s important to realize that the physical base of a message is completely independent of the information transmitted. In other words, the chemical building blocks have nothing to do with the origin of the complex message. It is a very precise, unique message for every single organism. So where did the message come from?

 

 

To Quote from www.bibliotecapleyades.net:

In the human DNA molecule, they found something quite unexpected—an exquisite ‘language’ composed of some 3 billion genetic letters. DNA actually stores information—the detailed instructions for assembling proteins. The information in human DNA is roughly equivalent to 12 sets of The Encyclopaedia Britannica, an incredible 384 volumes.

 

The only types of communication considered high-level are human languages, artificial languages such as computer and Morse codes and the genetic code. No other communication system has been found to contain the basic characteristics of a language. These languages can only rationally be understood as products of intelligence.

 

DNA holds an extremely complex 4 character double digital program. Anyone who has ever tried computer programming (which is vastly simpler) will know how easy it is to make mistakes and have a program that won’t run. How hard it would be for even a human programmer to get the billions of amino acid variations right. As we have said, this type of high-level information has been found to originate only from an intelligent source. It should also be said that the source is incredibly accurate and precise.

 

The precision of this genetic language is such that the average mistake that is not caught turns out to be one error per 10 billion letters. If a mistake occurs in one of the most significant parts of the code, which is in the genes, it can cause a disease such as sickle-cell anaemia or even death. Yet even the best and most intelligent typist in the world couldn’t come close to making only one mistake per 10 billion letters, far from it. Is it rational to believe this all came about by a random accident?

 

The copying mechanism of DNA, to meet maximum effectiveness, requires the number of letters in each “word” to be an even number. Of all possible mathematical combinations, the ideal number for storage and transcription has been calculated to be four letters. This is exactly what has been found in the genes of every living thing on earth, a four-letter digital code. The probability of this happening by chance must be so small as to make it impossible.

 

One of the discoverers of the genetic code, Francis Crick, after decades of work on deciphering it, admitted that “an honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going” (Life Itself, 1981, p. 88).

 

It doesn’t take a great deal of thought to see that much more than natural processes would be needed to span the vast difference in chemistry and complexity to form DNA containing billions of coded amino acids and then from DNA to form a living cell.

 

The origin of life from inorganic molecules is so improbable some have proposed Extraterrestrial origins – delivery by objects (eg carbonaceous chondrites) or by gravitational attraction of organic molecules or primitive life-forms from space but this still doesn’t answer the question of where life came from.

 

Each cell is a highly efficient factory, not a simple blob of protoplasm as believed in Darwin’s day. The instructions on how to create, run, and repair living cells takes an enormous 12 billion bits of information (approximately). Information like this can never arise from a natural process. It is always the result of intelligence.

 

Bubbles formed entirely out of protein-like molecules, called microspheres, will form spontaneously under the right conditions. But they are not a likely precursor to the modern cell membrane, as cell membranes are composed primarily of lipid compounds rather than amino-acid compounds

 

Even if the right chemicals under the right conditions will “spontaneously” produce life that would not mean it happened that way. But as we have seen, no-one has been able to generate life in a test tube even with our vast knowledge of chemistry. The evolution of life from natural occurring elements is impossible and improbable. Not only that, even using readymade basic components no one has yet synthesized a “prototype cell” which would have the necessary properties of life.


  

The Theory of Evolution

Definition: A theory of biological evolution developed by Charles Darwin and others, stating that all species of organisms arise and develop through the natural selection of small, inherited variations and mutations that increase the organism’s ability to compete, survive and reproduce. In theory this is a gradual process in which something changes into a different and usually more complex or better form. Implicit in the theory is the principle of Uniformitarianism. Uniformitarianism states that everything on the earth has remained the same as it is now. In other words, according to Uniformitarianism, there have been no large-scale natural disasters on the earth.

 

Justin Brown – If the Bible is mistaken in telling us where we came from, how can we trust it to tell us where we’re going? If it is mistaken quite right!

 

You cannot be both sane and well educated and disbelieve in evolution. The evidence is so strong that any sane, educated person has got to believe in evolution. — Richard Dawkins.

This is a sweeping statement! As we shall see there is no evidence to substantiate this claim. Also he is really talking about faith or “disbelieving” which doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with education.

 

It is absolutely safe to say that, if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that). Richard Dawkins.

Is this statement rational? Is it scientific? People who talk like this in essence are saying “agree with me, mine is the only intelligent viewpoint.” Make no mistake the tone and content of this shows passion. Yet it is an amazingly overconfident assertion.  The word “believe” in the context of evolution is right because it is all about belief not facts.

 

Let’s look at the theory rationally with as much honesty and as little bias as we can muster. Evolution claims to be a scientific theory. Shall we apply the Scientific Method to it?

 

 

The steps of the scientific method are to:

 

1. Observe.

2. Construct a hypothesis that is consistent with the observation.

3. Use the hypothesis to make predictions.

4. Test those predictions by experiments or further observations and modify the hypothesis in the light of your results.

5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until there are no discrepancies between theory and experiment and/or observation. (A hypothesis becomes a theory when there is consistency).

 

Darwin observed variations within species. He also observed that some species were interdependent. For example, clover needs bees. He also observed that fossils were found in different strata with the simpler animals and plants being lower down.

 

From this he concluded that every animal and plant that now exists had come from a less developed common ancestor and had developed to their present state through mutation and natural selection (evolution). He didn’t know about genetics and DNA and, as we shall see, how impossible evolution by mutation was.

 

If he were employing the scientific method he would have gone to step 4 above and made further observations. He did make a great deal of observations and the calibre of his raw data is excellent. That’s not the problem. His conclusions go beyond his observations.

 

He concluded that evolution had happened though he had no observations to support this. He had not observed a gradual evolution of one species to another in the fossil record. The lack of fossil evidence for transitions and consequent missing links bothered him and he says so.

 

However, he contented himself with the consolation that they had not been found yet and all would be well when more fossils had been unearthed. Quite an optimist, but it’s not science! It’s as well to note that the language and the reasoning of evolution is all in the vein of a faith or a belief system.

 

 

Evolution doesn’t give any help for how the first single celled creatures came about either. As we have seen, “Spontaneous Generation” is impossible. Without a viable cause or means of the first life coming into being by accident or by random events, evolution falls at the first hurdle.

 

As we have seen, an extremely high quality of information exists in the cells of every living organism. Instructions are given elegantly and accurately in a language that has an “alphabet”, “grammar” and meaning.

 

Evolution tells us that through chance mutations and natural selection, living things evolve. This means organisms must undergo gradual changes until they become another species. This can only be done by changing the DNA code. As we have already seen, 1 error in 10,000,000,000 (1 in 10 billion) can cause a serious health problem or even kill an organism.

 

Abnormality in an individual’s DNA is a disease known as a genetic disorder. Abnormalities can range from a small mutation in a single gene to the addition or subtraction of an entire chromosome or set of chromosomes.

 

Single gene disorder is the result of a single mutated gene. There are estimated to be over 4000 human diseases caused by single gene defects. Single gene disorders can be passed on to subsequent generations. This is the opposite of the proposed passing on of benefits through mutation.

 

A well-known mutation is haemophilia, which is a group of hereditary genetic disorders that impair the body’s ability to control blood clotting or coagulation when a blood vessel is broken.

Mutations cause disability, disease or death. Look at spinabifida and thalidomide. Just think about that for a minute. If mutation causes evolution, why don’t we see evolution when people are exposed to gamma rays or radioactive substances? The answer is that the mutations caused either make ill or kill. They don’t cause improvement. Evolution has assumed that the majority of mutations are successful. In fact, the vast majority are highly unsuccessful.

 

Damage to DNA can lead to cellular dysfunction, cancer, ageing, cell death and other diseases. There is cystic fibrosis, hypothyroidism, colon cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and sickle cell disease, one of the most common genetic diseases in the USA.

 

Fortunately, most of us have functioning DNA repair pathways that survey the DNA and fix the errors. Not bad for a happy accident is it?

 

Mutation by UV causes skin ageing and in excess can cause burns or cancer. In an extreme case, there is a whole family whose repair gene has been turned off through mutation. They blister and burn in sunlight and there is a high incidence of cancers in the family.

 

So, mutation is not a viable means for evolution.

 

DNA is such a huge program that what is possible is adaptation within a species. In fact the evidence of adaptation infers that this facility has been programmed in. That is all that Darwin observed with his finches – adaptation – they remained finches of about the same size but they had different beaks, which were adapted to different food sources.

 

Another player in evolution is Nature. Darwin puts amazing faith in the omnipotence and wisdom of Nature. He really believed in it. He believed that Nature could anticipate and direct the needs of an organism and the interplay between different organisms.

It is irrational to deny the existence of God yet give Nature “God” like qualities.

 

I have a question: If the earth is hundreds of millions of years old, why is the oldest tree only thousands of years old?

The world’s oldest recorded tree is a 9,550 year old spruce in the Dalarna province of Sweden.

The oldest living tree “Methuselah” is 4,768 years old and grows in California, USA.

Prometheus was the nickname given to the oldest known Great Basin Bristlecone Pine, which had grown on Wheeler Peak in eastern Nevada, USA. The tree was likely at or over 5000 years old when cut down in 1964

King Clone is thought to be the oldest Creosote bush ring in the Mojave Desert. It has an average diameter of 45 feet and reaches up to 67 feet in diameter. At an estimated 11,700 years old, it is possibly the oldest living organism on Earth.

 

The point is that the ages of these plants infer that the earth’s age is tens of thousands rather than hundreds of millions of years old.

 

Another question: If evolution has happened, why does ageing occur, as though pre-programmed into every living cell? We should expect the “organism” to want as long a life as possible to pass on its genes as much as possible. (This is the sort of statement made by Darwin giving organisms not only amazing intelligence and foresight but also the power to change themselves for the better. Since humans, the supposedly highest evolved “organisms” are incapable of this, the rest of the less highly evolved “organisms” have got no chance.) As well as ageing, why are all animals and plants subject to death and decay? This is not explained by evolution. It is explained by the Fall (Genesis chapter 3).

 

Another question. If humans are the “highest evolved” organisms isn’t it strange that our babies are so helpless, needing intensive nurturing versus some “less evolved” organisms which can fend for themselves soon after being born or hatched? Why do we need clothes? Why do we need to sterilise our food and purify our drinking water? All other organisms eat raw food, some can even drink stagnant water with no ill effects.

 

Let’s examine the evidence for evolution:

 

The conditions needed for fossils.

 

All animals are readily eaten by other animals. Even their bones can be eaten by carnivores and bacteria. Not surprisingly, the formation of intact fossils is very rare under normal conditions. This is especially so as we are told that sediment forms at a rate of only one inch per year. At this rate it would take centuries to bury a dinosaur (if there was anything left to bury!)

 

Instead of finding eaten and weathered fossils, fossils are mostly found complete. Some dinosaur fossils had impressions of skin – not the sort of thing expected if only 1 inch of sediment per year is deposited on them. They were obviously covered quickly. Because of decay and scavengers and the need for burial to coincide with when they had died there is a very strong probability they were not dead but alive when buried. Fossil remains of clams support this, having been found in the closed position, indicating they were buried alive. Sedimentary layers and fossil remains seem to be a testimony to a past marine cataclysm.

 

Also, instead of finding that fossils are very rare, we find that they are quite abundant. There are a hundred million fossils, all catalogued and identified, in museums around the world. All fossils are found in sedimentary rock i.e. rocks formed from a slurry in water. Conditions conducive to the formation of fossils include quick burial in moist sediment or other material to prevent soft parts being eaten by scavengers, prevent weathering and exclude oxygen and bacteria, preventing decay. In other words something like a worldwide, cataclysmic flood is needed to make fossils in the numbers found in the fossil record. We find sea creatures at the bottom strata, logically, with land animals in the higher strata.

 

Rather than over millions of years, it is now known that fossil formation can occur quickly under the right circumstances. It has been found that fossils formed within 50 years at a river delta.

 

 

In Siberia some 50 woolly mammoths and a long-horned rhinoceros were found preserved in ice with even the skin and flesh intact. We are expected to believe they lived 10,000 to 1.6 million years ago (the Pleistocene period). Would they have remained preserved for this length of time? Maybe not. What is even more important is that something different from today’s conditions occurred, contradicting Uniformitarianism. A large amount of water has overwhelmed the mammoths and frozen rapidly. Mammoths preserved in ice is evidence of a flood, as is coal at the North Pole (suggesting a temperate climate worldwide which has been changed by the loss of a water vapour canopy). Evolution fails to explain these things.

 

There are nearly 300 surviving Flood Legends passed down by ancient civilizations. Some suggest Noah’s Flood.

 

 

The fossil record

Evolution assumes that there is only one way that the fossil record can have formed. That in itself is not scientific because there is at least one other possibility. It assumes that strata have been laid down by geological time period with the oldest rocks lowest down.

 

The formation of rock strata over tens or hundreds of millions of years all sounds quite rational until you look at what we should expect if evolution really has happened. If evolution is the cause of life on earth, then there ought to be large numbers of partly evolved fossil life forms. For the huge gap between cold-blooded reptiles and warm-blooded mammals there ought to be hundreds, maybe thousands of link fossils if evolution is true. Millions of years of gradual evolution should show in numerous transitional fossils.

 

The opposite is found! When fossils are examined they form records of existing and extinct organisms with clearly defined gaps.

 

From Cambrian to Pleistocene, new species appear abruptly in large numbers with no transitional forms leading up to them. It was thought that some fossil horses showed evidence for evolution. This has since been shown to be an error. They were not a different species anyway. Many animals in the “fossil record” are alive today in much the same form as their fossils. So they are not a part of evolution! The rest have died out but death does not prove evolution and an abundance of “living fossils” certainly does not.

 

As we have said. highly complex creatures suddenly appear in the “Cambrian” rocks. The palaeontologists call this immense problem “the Cambrian Explosion”. There are trilobites, brachiopods, worms, sponges, jellyfish, all without ancestors. Trilobites for example, have a very complex lens system in their eyes, so they are not just “simple” organisms. If there was evolution there must have been less complex predecessors but there is no record.

 

 

Charles Darwin noticed the Cambrian Explosion and thought it was an artefact of a poorly preserved fossil record. We now know this was a mistake. In addition, many of our modern animals and plants are in that lowest level, just above the Precambrian. How

I am interested in science and also Christianity. I like science fiction and fantasy novels. Reading is one of my favourite hobbies.

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