Recently I came across an article titled “Is There a God?” by Marilyn Adamson that gives several reasons that, to the author, suggest God exists. I decided I’d write a little “rebuttal” to their reasons, just for fun. Here we go:
- The complexity of our planet points to a deliberate Designer who not only created our universe, but sustains it today.
This first reason that Adamson gives in her argument for the existence of God is our universe. “The Earth…its size is perfect. The Earth’s size and corresponding gravity holds a thin layer of mostly nitrogen and oxygen gases, only extending about 50 miles above the Earth’s surface. If Earth were smaller, an atmosphere would be impossible, like the planet Mercury. If Earth were larger, its atmosphere would contain free hydrogen, like Jupiter.3 Earth is the only known planet equipped with an atmosphere of the right mixture of gases to sustain plant, animal and human life.”
A couple points can be made here, against these arguments. Yes, it is pretty sweet that Earth has an atmosphere, and that its size and therefore gravitational field hold the atmosphere in place, and that if it was smaller or larger the atmosphere as we know it wouldn’t exist. It’s safe to assume that no atmosphere means no life. However, the fact that Earth’s atmosphere is capable of supporting life does not point to a creator. Think of all the planets, not just in our solar system, but that we’ve observed and learned about. The vast, vast majority of those planets do not have an atmosphere capable of supporting life as we know it. The fact that the Earth has the atmosphere it does is pure luck. If there’s a 1/1,000,000,000 chance that a planet will have the correct type of atmosphere to support life, then of course there’ll be a few planets out of trillions that, in reality, have a habitable atmosphere.
“The Earth is located the right distance from the sun. Consider the temperature swings we encounter, roughly -30 degrees to +120 degrees. If the Earth were any further away from the sun, we would all freeze. Any closer and we would burn up. Even a fractional variance in the Earth’s position to the sun would make life on Earth impossible. The Earth remains this perfect distance from the sun while it rotates around the sun at a speed of nearly 67,000 mph. It is also rotating on its axis, allowing the entire surface of the Earth to be properly warmed and cooled every day. And our moon is the perfect size and distance from the Earth for its gravitational pull. The moon creates important ocean tides and movement so ocean waters do not stagnate, and yet our massive oceans are restrained from spilling over across the continents.4”
First of all, the “Goldilocks zone” isn’t as small as she’s implying here. The orbit of the Earth could decrease by 4.5 million miles or increase by 34 million miles and still be safe. In comparison, the Earth’s average distance from the sun is about 93 million miles. So, all things considered, anywhere from about 89.5 million miles to 127 million miles – about a 40 million mile range – would’ve made Earth a safe place for us to live. I’m going to use the same argument I did in the last paragraph. Think of all the planets we know of. Think of how many of them are outside of that range. Think of how many we know are inside that range. Again, it’s just chance that the Earth ended up where it is today, not the doing of a supernatural deity. Also, without the moon our oceans would indeed be much calmer, but the moon was actually much closer in the past. In fact, it’s moving away from the Earth about 1.5 inches every year.
This next section is all about water, and how life couldn’t exist without it, it’s a universal solvent, it has surface tension, evaporates and turns from saltwater to freshwater. Again, none of this is evidence that points to God. This, again, is random chance giving the Earth yet another factor in favor of producing and sustaining life.
The last section in the first “reason” is about the human body, and how amazing the brain and eye is, but never really produces an argument for how these points prove the existence of God. While it may be amazing that our brain can take so many inputs and process things incredibly quick, all while subconsciously running the vitals of our body, evolution has had nearly four billion years to go from single celled organisms to humans as we know ourselves today. While that is an incredible leap, it’s also an incredible amount of time. She raises the point that “Evolution focuses on mutations and changes from and within existing organisms. Yet evolution alone does not fully explain the initial source of the eye or the brain — the start of living organisms from nonliving matter.” While it’s true that biologists don’t yet know the origins of life, that doesn’t mean you can just substitute God in as an answer. That cycle has been going on for centuries, religious folk explaining away some unknown phenomena as God, but backpedaling when science finally gets a grasp of the issue, reaching for more unanswered questions in an attempt to prop their deteriorating worldview up for just a bit longer. The eye also, more likely than not, is due to chance. Some poor ancient organism was born with the mutation that was the beginning on an eye. It didn’t provide any real benefit, but he had kids, who had kids, who had kids, and so on and so forth, and eventually at some point the eye became functioning. It was at this point that having vision turned out to be a real benefit, especially when nothing else could see. Since those with functioning eyes could now see, they had a better chance of surviving and having kids, thus passing on the eye. It, again more likely than not, started out as nothing more than rough shapes and blobs, no real definition or even color. But then some organism was born with a mutation that allowed for the slight differentiation between colors. This turned out to be a benefit, so, again, basic color vision began. Now remember, that was all just a theory of how the eye came to be. However, that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be true, and it certainly doesn’t mean that the eye is proof of God. Like I said before, a lack of knowledge does not open up a gap for God.
This whole point can really be deflected with one single argument. Yes, it is amazing that the earth has water, and that it has an atmosphere, and that we have brains and eyes that are magnificent. None of these even remotely point to the existence of God. There’s an extremely low chance that a planet has an atmosphere. There’s an even lower chance that that planet has water. There’s a low chance of the planet being a good distance from its sun, and an astronomically low chance of life forming on that planet. However, when you take into account all of the planets we, as the human race, have observed, it begins to make sense that we’ve never found another planet quite like ours. The chances are so low for any of these criteria to be met, but for all of them to be met perfectly? That’s damn near a zero percent chance. It is no a coincidence that the one planet, out of thousands that we’ve observed, capable of sustaining life so wonderfully does indeed have life on it. These conditions were not created to support life, but rather life was nurtured by these conditions. (I can’t say life was created due to these conditions, since we really don’t have proof of how life began.)
- The universe had a start – what caused it?
Again, this goes back to an argument that I used in the previous section. Just because you don’t know something, doesn’t mean you can use God as an answer and move about your day, feeling as if you’ve won the debate. Just because you’re uncomfortable with the unknown doesn’t mean you have to fill that void in knowledge with religion. (I’m not talking to the author directly here, but rather anybody who commits this “God of the Gaps” fallacy)
- The universe operates by uniform laws of nature. Why does it?
“Much of life may seem uncertain, but look at what we can count on day after day: gravity remains consistent, a hot cup of coffee left on a counter will get cold, the earth rotates in the same 24 hours, and the speed of light doesn’t change — on earth or in galaxies far from us. How is it that we can identify laws of nature that never change? Why is the universe so orderly, so reliable?”
Like Niel DeGrasse Tyson says, “The universe is under no obligation to make sense to you.” There is no “why” for these laws that govern the universe. The universe is so orderly and reliable because it is. That seems like a pretty bad argument at first glace, but let me expand upon it. If the universe instead had ever-changing natural laws, it’d be difficult for many things at all to form, and it’d, more likely than not, be impossible for life to form. The only reason we are here to make observations about the steadfast laws of the universe, is because of those steadfast laws.
- The DNA code informs, programs a cell’s behavior
I completely agree with her on the fact that it’s amazing to look at the complexity behind just the cells in our body. I agree that it’s puzzling to consider how life even began to form on Earth. However, we drift apart in our interpretation of this information. She sees it as a way to suggest the existence of God, again using the ever so popular “God of the Gaps” fallacy. I see it as yet one more question science will answer, or at least attempt to answer, in the future.
- We know God exists because he pursues us. He is constantly initiating and seeking for us to come to him.
“I was an atheist at one time. And like many atheists, the issue of people believing in God bothered me greatly. What is it about atheists that we would spend so much time, attention, and energy refuting something that we don’t believe even exists?! What causes us to do that? When I was an atheist, I attributed my intentions as caring for those poor, delusional people…to help them realize their hope was completely ill-founded. To be honest, I also had another motive. As I challenged those who believed in God, I was deeply curious to see if they could convince me otherwise. Part of my quest was to become free from the question of God. If I could conclusively prove to believers that they were wrong, then the issue is off the table, and I would be free to go about my life.
I didn’t realize that the reason the topic of God weighed so heavily on my mind, was because God was pressing the issue. I have come to find out that God wants to be known. He created us with the intention that we would know him. He has surrounded us with evidence of himself and he keeps the question of his existence squarely before us. It was as if I couldn’t escape thinking about the possibility of God. In fact, the day I chose to acknowledge God’s existence, my prayer began with, “Ok, you win…” It might be that the underlying reason atheists are bothered by people believing in God is because God is actively pursuing them.”
Atheists spend so much time, attention, and energy refuting these things because, while we may not believe in them, they can negatively effect us in our day to day lives. In the US especially, there are religious people voting for politicians who use religion as a justification for their views, or use religion as an excuse for what they say. Often times these religion-based views oppose progress, or are just flat out immoral. For example, you have people fanatically going against gay marriage, justifying their stance based on their religion, a religion that not everyone subscribes to. A religion that says people should not be the ones judging others, to leave that part to God. They conveniently forget that part quite often. Religion is also famous for their “abstinence only” sex ed, which might I add does not work at all. It leaves kids totally under prepared for the world, and leaves them clueless of the different methods of birth control and safety.
Religion is spread by force and fear. People are told that they are sinners, that they will go to hell if they don’t obey, and that certain things are unholy. People are bullied into submission and made to feel guilty for who they are, because guilty people are easy to control and manipulate.
Religion hinders scientific advancement. Articles like this spread misinformation, and make people think that it’s ok to make conclusions without having done the proper reading. It provides shaky interpretations of information, using a predetermined worldview to mold the facts, rather than the other way around. It discourages questions, scientific inquiry, and free thought.
Often times humans are very irrational in their subconscious thinking and feeling. Of course God weighed heavily on your mind, religion is a major part of society. You can’t even sneeze without hearing a “bless you” from stander-by (not saying that hearing that annoys me). Religion, and the idea of a God/Gods are ingrained into us all, atheist or not. It isn’t God pressing the issue, it’s your brain repeatedly thinking about a topic you face in your every day life. God did not surround us with evidence of his existence, either. The only piece of “evidence”, and I use the term very lightly here, is the Bible. Nothing else in the world directly points to the existence of a God. None of the points you used in the proceeding points point to God. Just because some people think they feel God pushing them does not mean that God exists. People are superstitious, people are paranoid, nervous wrecks, and our brains are known to play tricks on us.
- Unlike any other revelation of God, Jesus Christ is the clearest, most specific picture of God revealing himself to us.
You can not use the bible to prove the existence of God. Doing so requires extreme circular reasoning.
Closing quote: “Looking at all these facts, one can conclude that a loving God does exist and can be known in an intimate, personal way.”
Looking at these “facts” (the last two were not facts) we can not determine, objectively, that a God or creator exists. Nothing, not a single point or argument present in this article pointed towards the existence of God. Your points, at best, were you misinterpreting some scientific probabilities of conditions on/of a planet, and at worst were you filling in the gaps of human knowledge with religion. You even said yourself that you “had another motive. As I challenged those who believed in God, I was deeply curious to see if they could convince me otherwise. Part of my quest was to become free from the question of God… I too had no expectations other than rightfully admitting God’s existence.” This makes it sound like you were hoping to be proved wrong, you wanted there to be a God in the universe. Don’t get me wrong, I’d be totally fine with being proven wrong. It’d mean we, as a species, would have a lot of work to do in terms of understanding new things. However, being fine with getting disproven and hoping, looking to be proved wrong are two different things. Based on your “points” that were made I doubt it took much other than some religious pseudo-scientific ramblings to convince you of the existence of God.