In the beginning, according to the atheist scenario, was the Big Bang. After aeons, everything calmed down, cooled down, settled down, until conditions were just right for life. Next, various inanimate globules of matter became animate and, at the same time, managed to reproduce themselves. They were very simple and very primitive, you understand, so you needn’t think too hard about them. A flash of lightning, perhaps, or maybe a long, slow awakening, and eventually the little bits of what’s-it came alive and straight away were able to produce new generations of living what’sits. These simple, primitive life forms, which were totally unconscious and mindless, managed (over aeons) to combine themselves into new forms, and out of the blue developed sensitivity to light (= sight), sound, touch, smell, taste, organs that enabled them to eat, drink, move, and even reproduce in new ways. “Out of the blue” because these things had never existed before. The very concepts were totally new. Pick up a pebble, and ask yourself how you would make it see. Where would you, conscious though you are, even begin the process? And “out of the blue” also because if they hadn’t worked straight away, in their most primitive form, they wouldn’t have survived. What is the use of something that doesn’t work?

But we are told that these unprecedented organs and concepts in their original form were the products of total blindness, deafness, unconsciousness etc. Eventually, out of all this spontaneous creativity, we humans arrived, and we’ve been investigating ever since. And although we don’t actually understand how the simple, primitive forms of life came alive or managed to reproduce themselves, and we can’t even replicate the process whereby the inanimate becomes animate, we are so clever that one day we’ll do it, and our cleverness will prove that you don’t have to be clever to do it. It can happen all by itself.

The bottom line, then, for the militant atheist is that anyone who doesn’t believe in the ability of chance to create all these hitherto non-existent, hugely complex (even in their most primitive form) organisms – which require all the dazzling talents of human consciousness merely to unravel and comprehend – is deluded. And is also unscientific. Because belief in a conscious creator is irrational and unprovable and untestable. Whereas belief in the creative genius of unconscious chance is…ah! Well, maybe not rational. Maybe not provable. Maybe not testable. But you don’t need a conscious creator to explain life. All you have to do is believe in chance. Besides – trump card coming up – if you believe in a conscious creator, who created him? You see, you only replace one mystery with another.

But the trump card doesn’t work if it’s in the wrong game, and the game here is Seeking the Truth. If you find it difficult to believe in the ingenious and hugely complex inventiveness of unconscious chance, you have to consider other explanations, regardless of where they lead. The question concerning the creator of the creator is akin to a computer announcing that it put itself together, because if it didn’t, who created Man? The answer to both questions is: we don’t know. It is highly unlikely that we shall ever know – at least in this life. But in any case, since we do not know now, it is arrogance for anyone – believer or non-believer in a god or in chance – to claim that they have a monopoly on truth.

This, however, is the pivotal point of Richard Dawkins' argument. Again and again in The God Delusion, he comes back to the fact that: “A designer God cannot be used to explain organized complexity because any God capable of designing anything would have to be complex enough to demand the same kind of explanation in his own right” (p. 109). In other words, something cannot have been designed if we cannot explain the existence of the designer. To the suggestion that “there must be a cosmic intelligence who deliberately did the tuning" [of the universe], he responds: “I have already dismissed all such suggestions as raising bigger problems than they solve” (p. 147). But who says that different, unsolved (possibly insoluble) problems invalidate a proposition? For a renowned scientist to argue that an explanation can’t be true because it leads to further problems which he can’t explain is – to take Dawkins back into his own specialized field – like saying that the theory of natural selection can’t be true because we don’t know how life originated. It is a complete non sequitur. Under no circumstances, however, should this be interpreted as an argument for design. It is simply an argument against the rejection of one possible explanation in favour of another that leads to exactly the same dead end.

The fact is that sooner or later, despite the atheist's faith that science will one day reveal all, we come up against the complete blockage of not knowing how it all began. The Big Bang is the current favourite, and in answer to the question what went bang, some say nothing and some say something, but nobody knows and nobody can know. That does not, of course, invalidate the Big Bang theory, so why should the same "don't know" invalidate the design theory? It is an abnegation of scientific objectivity for anyone to “dismiss” the suggestion that there may be/have been a designer on the grounds that such a suggestion raises bigger problems.

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2. Agnosticism

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