A pastor friend of mine recently tweeted/facebooked a link to the following video from Dr. J.P. Moreland – in this video Dr. Moreland attempts to prove that god exists using what he calls “creation”. I responded to the post on Facebook – but wanted to share my answers to three of the main points made by Moreland.
Firstly I’d like to take a moment to say the following:
Though I respect Dr. Moreland’s stance and fully understand it – I find it best, when I want to know how the Christian community or individual Christians feel about certain things, that I ask the sources directly. When Dr. Moreland here speaks as to the goals of the new atheists, although some of them are somewhat correct, I believe he does his audience a disservice – My challenge to you and anyone that bothers to read this is simply this: Ask a New Atheist (which I am) what it is that you want to know about New Atheism (I hate to use capitals on those) – never take someone’s word over those of true sources. The same goes for any questions you have about Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, etc…even though myself or Dr. Moreland may be well versed in a few different belief systems we are not nearly as valid a source than a reasonable selection of believers in those faith systems.
This approach helps us to avoid a false understanding of one another, which promotes a more respectable dialog.
Now, to move on to some of the points that Dr. Moreland made:
Three Evidences for God’s existence from the Created world
Contention 1: The Universe began to exist, something supernatural had to create it.
Dr. Moreland uses the 2nd law of thermodynamics – aka Entropy – to explain that the universe actually had a beginning point – of which there is zero question amongst the scientific community that I am aware of.
I have never heard any scientific mind of the 20th century or later claim that the universe did not have a beginning nor that the galaxies are not expanding (and cooling) over time (See the Doppler effect – this is where the Big Bang theory came from)
The problem arises when Dr. Moreland makes the claim that there must have been an external supernatural actor…That’s like saying that the ice cream you have in your hand must have come from Wal-mart – when it could have just as easily come from Dairy Queen or Wendy’s. The beauty and the frustration in science is in the ability for us to say “I don’t know” in relation to where or what caused the singularity to expand or even where the singularity came from. We do not know, but that’s ok – what is NOT ok is to say that you KNOW what the singularity came from and his name was YHVH (or other god) because that simply cannot be proven true. This is science done backwards – having an answer first and then working your way back to the question or hypothesis.
The actor very well could have been God…perhaps even YHVH, but it also could have been a collision with another universe in a multiverse…truth is, I don’t know – to claim that you do is to lie.
Contention 2: Origin of Biological Information
Dr. Moreland uses multiple examples that rely on simplified computer models – so for the sake of this argument I’ll stick with that.
DNA is a compilation of data in the form of proteins/Amino acids (1’s and 0’s of binary code if you will though in this example a quantum code would be necessary) – RNA (the step below DNA) can and has been repeatedly formed in the laboratory from materials that are completely inorganic – in other words RNA – or the information that supposedly cannot be formed outside of intelligent intervention has and is something that can be formed simply by random process. Not only is abiogenesis possible, but considering the number of amino acids that would have existed in the early atmosphere of the earth, it was almost unavoidable. It was like – if you will – having 10 million computers compiling random code for millions of years – eventually one or many of them will result in recognizable patterns that we call information. These are the building blocks of life.
I’m not incredibly familiar with the inner operations of SETI, but it sounds to me like their actual standard for intelligence is that transmissions that are in pattern would definitely be a result of intelligent life…but not non-transmitted information. It is the effort of transmission that would lead one to believe that intelligent life compiled and sent data…not the data alone.
Contention 3: Moral Absolutes Exist and are best explained by a Moral law giver.
I am not, and don’t actually know any people that are true relativist. Dr. Moreland is spot on here and I do not disagree. However – his understanding of the source for moral law disagrees with mine. (Though torturing little babies does sound tempting…jk)
I believe that the evidence of our anthropological history points to a moral law which is almost entirely centered on Survivalism and Empathy. That is – the need to survive, and the somewhat unique mammalian ability to consider how one would feel if in the same situation as another.
This trait is a unique one that was evolved in higher society mammals – (Dogs, Dophins, Monkeys, Apes, and Humans) – wherein these animals have diminished medula oblongatas and therefore fewer tendencies for anger and killing as well as a greatly enlarged Temporal Lobe – wherein emotions, self-awareness, and empathy reside. Simply put, it is our need to survive that guided us into a more communal way of life as well as the need to cope with conflicts without constant killing in that communal way of life – empathy drives us to compassion and a willingness (sometimes) to help others.
I like to think of the likelihood of our existence and kind of a cosmic lottery – where the chances of winning are 1 in about 10 Trillion – seemingly ridiculous odds right? However – in this lottery there are Trillions of galaxies, each with trillions of stars/solar systems that lie in the Habitable zone, each system has it’s own habitable zone and likely has 2-3 planets each…half of which might be habitable and congruent to some form of life formation….when you consider the number of lottery tickets that buys you’ve got to know that someone is very likely to win. So the odds might be 1 in about 10 trillion, but you’ve sold 1000 Trillion tickets to this lotto….so the odds of there being a winning ticket are actually 100/1.
There is a chance of god existing, of course…lets just hope for your sake and mine that it isn’t Allah or Cthulu.
On Dr. Morelands final comments regarding the responsibility of believers to be able to account for their faith – I completely agree…and I hope that more believers will take the time to familiarize themselves not only with their own currently held beliefs, but also the beliefs of others and the findings of the scientific community.