We don’t know how the universe came to be; therefore, god did it. This is what’s known as the classic “God of the Gaps,” also referred to as the cosmological or Kalam cosmological, or so called fine-tuning arguments.
This “we don’t know; therefore….” approach is also referred to as the fallacious argument from ignorance.
In the video, “Does Science Argue for or against God” Prager U has Eric Metaxas go to bat in promoting the traditional god of the gaps ideology. Apparently William Land Craig was busy.
We begin with a Times magazine cover from 1966, “Is God Dead?” Does advancements in science make God obsolete? Eric tries to turn things around with “perhaps” science actually provides the best evidence for God’s existence. But that’s not what history has demonstrated. Because of science, we no longer believe in the Gods of lightning, thunder, earth quakes, fire, tornadoes, volcanoes, disease, hurricanes, tsunamis, rainbows, and epilepsy.
As Sam Harris once said, what questions used to be best answered by science, but are now better answered by religion? Ancient people used to think that lightning was the result of an electric discharge, but we now know that this is better explained by “Zeus did it.”
We then get to hear about how Carl Sagan said there’s only a couple things a planet needs to support life when there are more things. Life is so rare, and since we haven’t found any signs of intelligent life outside our planet, we must be it. Of course, some people would argue that we haven’t found any signs of intelligent life in this planet either. But to steal some material from Neil deGrasse Tyson, not finding a fish in a cup of salt water doesn’t mean there aren’t any fish in the ocean.
Since the original estimate of the percentage of planets that could support life was too high based on new information, the estimate was lowered. Imagine that. An idea was changed in light of new evidence. That’s how science works. It progresses and improves over time. Religion can progress with science with a liberal interpretation of scripture. A dogmatic interpretation, a so called literal interpretation, causes scientific stagnation and ignorance.
Eric then makes the claim that there are over 200 parameters that must be “perfectly” met for life to exist on a planet. And then he uses an example of Jupiter as a “perfect” parameter since this large gravitational planet draws away asteroids. But does Jupiter do a “perfect” job of protecting the earth from asteroids? Let’s ask the dinosaurs.
Does “perfection” explain the five mass extinctions on earth? The reason that there are humans in the first place comes from imperfection. A need to have intelligence in order to adapt to changing conditions. No change in environment, no disasters, no need to evolve bigger brains.
“The odds against life in the universe are astonishing, yet here we are, not only existing, but talking about existing.” If there was only one planet in the universe then yes, it would be “astonishing.” We are one planet in one solar system. There are two other bodies, Mars, and a moon of Saturn, which also contain water which is necessary for life. We are part of one galaxy that contains 100 billion other stars, and there are over 100 billion galaxies in the universe.
“Can all these “perfect” parameters be met by accident?” They’re not perfect, they don’t need to be perfect, and the vast number of planets easily explains how this can come about by chance.
“At what point is it fair to admit that it is science itself that suggests that we cannot be the result of random forces?” Science doesn’t suggest anything. Science is about competing hypothesizes. As Richard Feynman put it, if an idea doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong. Science doesn’t say we don’t know something so God did it. Science says we don’t know something yet, and we will continue searching for the answers.
“A life-sustaining Earth just happened to beat the inconceivable odds?” No, a planet in a universe of trillions and trillions of planets happened to support life where after billions of years of evolution smart primates developed language and were then able to call their planet by a name.
We now get into the “fine-tuning” argument for the universe. “Values of the four fundamental forces were “determined” 1,000,000th of a second after the Big Bang.” How do we know they were “determined” as in a decision was involved, rather than coming into a balance, snapping into a balance, based on natural equalizing forces?
“Alter one of these values ever so slightly and the universe as we know it wouldn’t exist.” But this assumes that one of the fundamental forces can be altered independently of the others.
“If the ratio between the strong nuclear force and electromagnetic force were altered by the tiniest faction of the tiniest faction, no stars would have formed.” Once again, this is assuming that the ratios can be altered. How can we be so certain about probability numbers when our knowledge of physics, and time, only extends to the beginning of the observable universe?
Eric then goes on and on about tossing coins, quoting people who don’t understand how the universe came by chance, and calling it the miracles of miracles. But here’s the thing, the “god” word does absolutely nothing to address any of this. If there was an intelligent all-powerful being that always existed, what would be the chances, how many coin tosses would you need to represent the probability?
What would be the forces behind this beings intelligence and power? Just alter one of those ratios by a trillionth of a trillionth degree, and the god loses its’ ability to exist. Therefore, there’s no way this being just always existed by chance. Any probability argument that theologians apply to the universe can also be applied to god. And this is without getting into the specific attributes and stories written in religious text that can be easily debunked.
Wouldn’t be nice if we could simply address the origin of the universe with the awe and wonder it deserves, and the honesty of we don’t know how it happened? Why do particles pop in and out of existence in empty space providing mass and potential energy to nothingness? We don’t know. How do quantum entanglements work? We don’t know. Why is the universe expanding at an accelerated rate? We don’t know.
We don’t know that the Big Bang is the beginning of everything. Being the start of the universe we can observe doesn’t mean it was the beginning of everything and came out of nothing. What if our universe was spawned by another universe? And because of quantum mechanics, our understanding of empty space “nothing” has drastically changed.
To try and say that since we don’t know, or can’t personally fathom how it could have happened, means it must have required a god invented by men thousands of years ago is not sound reasoning. If people want to say they believe in god because of their faith, then fine. But those who claim that science supports their supernatural religious beliefs don’t understand what science truly is.
-James Kirk Wall
PragerU video reference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjGPHF5A6Po
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