If there was one trend that I could make go away, it would the so called “scientific proofs” that god exists. These exercises are misguided sojourns that combine misunderstood or twisted science with bad logic swirling together into a toxic stew that just makes my head hurt.
These exercises seem to be designed for the weak of faith and mind. “Look” they say to people who are not sure what they believe, “God is just as proven as gravity! You can believe and be smart at the same time! No actual faith needed!” When in fact, such exercises erode faith (faith doesn’t need proof, remember?) and they certainly are not designed for anyone who has any training in science, statistics or critical thinking.
I came across a particularly bad example yesterday, a full blown migraine of execrable science and bad logic in the form of Steven Hemler’s book, The Reality of God: The Layman’s Guide to Scientific Evidence for a Creator. Hemler appeared on the Drew Hystriani show yesterday and after only 20 minutes I was ready to inject oxycontin directly into my carotid to relieve the pain.
Hemler’s approach is particularly bad as it assumes that some level of evolution (both biological and astrophysical) has taken place, but that god has intervened in the process from time to time, a illogical chimera of evolution and intelligent design.
He started with the fine tuning hypothesis, which says that there are millions of ways the constants of the universe could have been arranged, but only the one we exist in has the proper constants that allow everything (and therefore us) to exist. Wow! What are the odds? Out of all the possible ways to start a universe, ours is the only one that allows us to exist! Well, duh. Of course we exist in the kind of universe where we can exist. Plus we have no idea of what happens to “non fine tuned” universes or how many possibilities there are. Maybe they popped into existence and fizzled right out. Maybe there were billions of big bangs that didn’t work out before the one that did. No matter how improbable something is, if you have enough trials, it will inevitably happen.
After he finished with the fine tuning of the universe, he turned to the fine tuning of the solar system. At that point I thought my Circle of Willis was going to rupture. Our planet is just the right size, just the right distance from the sun, with just the right atmosphere, protected by the moon and magnetic field — what are the odds? Are you kidding me? There are 200 billion galaxies each with a trillion stars each. Anyone who asks that horribly misunderstands probability. There is a huge difference between individual probability and cumlative probability.
The odds of you buying a winning lottery ticket is something like one in hundreds of millions. But with hundreds of millions of tickets sold, the odds of someone winning is a virtual certainty. And what are the odds that the winner is a Christian who will credit god for the win? Very high, of course. Since a majority of people in this country are at least nominally Christian, and likely to thank god, the odds of god being thanked for a lottery win is not billions to one against (the probability of a single winner times the percentage of Christians.) but rather a virtual certainty. Someone is going to win and it is highly likely they will thank god. In the same way, we are virtually certain to live on a planet where conditions are right for us. We can’t live anywhere else!
The very worst moment came when they were discussing the hypothesized creation of the moon when another protoplanet crashed into the forming earth, knocking off a chunk of the earth, forming the moon and the earth taking on more molten iron into the core from the other proto-planet (which is a real scientific hypothesis). To hear Hemler say it, god said, “Crap, there’s not enough iron in the earth to make the magnetic field strong enough to make the Van Allen belts!” And then flicked his cosmic pool cue to nudge another planet out of it’s orbit to fix the problem. I feel another aneurysm coming on.
Hemler said that he uses the analogy of a sculptor and her chisel. Natural processes are just god’s chisel to Hemler, but god is directing the processes at all times. This is even worse than scientific creationism, as it destroys science as well. Scientific laws? Meaningless: god can violate them he damn well pleases, and he pleases all the time. Hemler says that science and faith can coexist, but really in his view science is just a subfield of theology.
And speaking of theology, he saved the worst for last, a “new” “proof” that god actually exists, which turned out to be the second worst “proof” ever.
The worst is Anselm’s ontological argument, which says something like, if you can conceive of an almighty and perfect god he must by definition exist because not existing would be an imperfection. Yes, it is basically that stupid. You can see the whole argument here. This argument has been refuted many times.
So the new version of Anselm’s argument that Hemler “credited” to Father Robert Spitzer goes something like this: Human beings are constantly searching for perfect truth, beauty, justice and love. Obviously we can’t find those things, but god is all of those things, therefore god exists. It is just Anselm in disguise. Lots of ways to refute it. Personally, I am searching and searching for the perfect rib eye steak, therefore god must be the perfect cow.
Hemler further destroyed the argument by making it a circular special pleading argument by saying that it was god who wrote those desires into our hearts. So, the “proof” for god is the (pre)supposition that he wrote those desires into our DNA that can only be satisfied by him. Excuse me, now I have added dizziness to my headache. Besides, if he wrote those desires in our hearts and they can only be satisfied by him, how can he outlaw divorce?
Obviously in our mate we seek beauty, truth, justice and love. But we are destined to be dissatisfied, so why let us get married in the first place? To make us unhappy? Thanks, again, Jesus.
Over and over again Hystriani said he was going to give this book to his atheist brother in law. The brother in law will probably laugh his ass off. This kind of crap is not going to convince anyone who is not already convinced. Or very weak in the mind. Or both. Right Drew?
I actually admire people who have actual faith in their god. They really believe that god waved a magic wand and everything just appeared. They say I can’t prove otherwise and they are right. Such a thing is empirically unprovable and must be taken on faith. And I say to those people, good for you, use your faith to move mountains.
But please, those of you with weak faith, all you apologists “defending” your religion with “science” and “reason,” stop. Please, just stop. You can almost hear the veins in the necks of apologists bulging as they grit their teeth and strain real hard, “I believe, I believe, I believe.” Just like the audience clapping for Tinkerbelle.
“Look at all these great, wonderful, logical reasons for why I believe!” As if all of that might add up to actually believing. Oh, ye of little faith. I pity you.