And God created the universe… indeed

Nov 11, 2013 1031

Not one to shy away from the big questions, Sam de Brito has dived right into the deep end of the universe in his column in the Brisbane Times today. From the perspective of an atheist, he addresses the question of how the universe was formed, and you can read his article here:

Remember, he is not referring to this earth, or life on earth, or human evolution; he is referring to how the whole kit and caboodle started – the whole universe.

Of course, many thinkers look at this and come to the conclusion, in de Brito’s words, that “God did it.” Other thinking people, such as de Brito himself, roundly reject this and attribute it to chance. Here de Brito follows the explanation given by Richard Dawkins.

Now here is the interesting logic. They admit that there are only two possibilities to explain the fine-tuning of the universe, and that both are extremely improbable: either this is the result of absolutely random chance, or “God did it.” The atheistic argument is that random chance is so mind-bogglingly improbable, that it is at least as improbable as the “God did it” argument. Therefore, it is better to believe that “random chance did it.”

Let’s just think about this for a moment. When you strip this argument back it basically says, “There is some amazingly improbable stuff here that is mathematically impossible. We can’t explain it; under any other circumstances we’d call it design. But no, we are going to conclude that there is no intelligent designer, and that God is not involved, because we’re atheists and therefore we cannot admit God as a possible cause.” Huh?

De Brito introduces this discussion with this admission.

“The answer to the deeper question of the origin of life still eludes us, as does an explanation for the jump from prokaryotic cells (bacteria) to eukaryotic cells (like the ones in our bodies containing a nucleus and mitochondria) as well as an account of the origin of consciousness. Pulling back from these teeny, tiny, earthly concerns…”

Well, hang on a minute! Teeny, tiny, earthly concerns? If Dawkins et al cannot say anything at all about these fundamental, basic issues – the building blocks of life – how can they say anything at all about the universe as a whole?

The probabilities of the six fundamental constants of the universe are so great that cannot even be fathomed. So let’s look at these “teeny, tiny, earthly concerns” and at least try to take a stab at just one of these, one which we can discuss in terms of specific probabilities, and this is DNA. In recent times, it was just this issue that was famously instrumental in converting the eminent atheistic philosopher Anthony Flew to deism.

Atheists must account for how the DNA sequence could have randomly evolved to code 124 proteins. The fact is that on average 1089190 DNA molecules must form to provide the one chance of forming the specific DNA sequence necessary to code 124 proteins. 1089190 DNAs would weigh 1089147 more than the earth … A quantity of DNA this colossal could never have been formed. This is vastly more than the total number of subatomic particles in the universe. Even given all of evolutionary time, and then some, there is no chance that this could have happened. If you want to go back further, the probability of the first protein itself being formed is also statistically zero.

1089190 is an important number, because mathematically, probability above 1050 has, statistically, a zero probability of occurrence. For more information see here.

So what do we do? Completely throw out the science of mathematics so that we may reject the possibility of God? In stark terms, this is what atheistic explanations must do.

And this is only one of those “teeny weeny, earthly concerns.” And I should point out that the probability for the formation of the very first protein itself is likewise absolutely astronomical and is statistically zero.

And there is no point invoking infinite time. In practical terms, all that does is to remove the debate from the realms of logic and science. As Mora says,

“A further aspect I should like to discuss is what I call the practice of avoiding the conclusion that the probability of a self-producing state is zero … When for practical purposes the condition of infinite time and matter has to be invoked, the concept of probability is annulled. By such logic we can prove anything … ” 

P.T. Mora, The Folly of Probability, as quoted in Origins 13(2):98-104 (1986) Geoscience Research Institute, Loma Lind University, 1986. Emphasis supplied.

If we admit that we have no scientific explanation for these “teeny, weeny, earthly concerns”, and if we are able to go further and admit their mathematic impossibility, then I think we should be very, very humble when we come to looking at issues of cosmology.

I’m actually really impressed that Sam de Brito is doing a course in philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I’m just an amateur and a slightly educated reader when it comes to cosmology and science. When I read Sam’s fascinating piece, I though I’d just put down a few ideas of my own.

The bottom line is that as far as the origin of the universe is concerned, on the balance of probabilities, I’m happy to stay with “God did it.”


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