article begins with a hypothetical dialog between some
You're sitting in the cafeteria with a few people
from your biology class. The talk around the table
is going a little bit of everywhere and not much of
anywhere. Somewhere in the conversation, between chatting
about dates and a killer bio test, you casually mention
the church retreat you attended last weekend. Someone
asks, "You go to church?" Another asks,
"You believe in God?" Another says bluntly,
"I don't believe in God. How can anyone even
know if there is a God?"
My first thought is, wow! What school did these people
attend? I only wish kids had conversations like these
when I was in high school. When I was in grade school
and high school nearly every one of my classmates believed
in God by default. (In other words, that's how they
were brought up, and they had never really given it
much thought.) It is truly rare to hear somebody below
the collegiate level discuss the existence of God, much
less declare themselves an atheist. The story continues
with the following.
You listen uncomfortably as everyone
else talks about how evolution disproves God. You
leave the cafeteria feeling defeated, maybe even wondering
if intelligent people really do believe in God. Yes,
says Christian writer Paul Little, many intelligent
people do believe in God—and with good reason.
In this adaptation from Know Why You Believe, Paul
offers some evidence that should not only help strengthen
your beliefs, but also give you something to say when
the lunchroom conversation turns toward religion.
Why should you be uncomfortable when somebody
makes a claim that contradicts something you believe
in? After all, you believe in it because of the evidence
that has been presented to you supports that belief,
right? You should be able to defend your belief, or,
if necessary, change your belief to better fit the evidence.
Of course, anybody who states that evolution
disproves God has no idea what they're talking about.
(Which might be expected if these are 9th grade biology
students.) The theory of Evolution makes absolutely
no claim about God, nor does it make claims about the
origin of life. Darwin's theory of evolution through
natural selection simply suggests a means by which biological
life forms can change and adapt to their environment.
While this may be a domain typically reserved for God,
it no more is an attempt at the disproof of God than
the biological explanation for disease was an attempt
to disprove the existence of God because many believed
that disease was God's punishment for sinners.
I completely agree that many intelligent
people believe in God. Some of my personal heroes, like
Thomas Jefferson, believed in God. But there are also
a lot of intelligent people who don't believe in God.
Who believes something has absolutely no affect on whether
or not that belief reflects reality. As a counterpoint,
however, I suggest reading How
by Michael Shermer. In it, Shermer shows a direct correlation
between the level of education of an individual, and
the likelihood they will not believe in God.
The article then starts in with the evidence
they say supports the belief in God. Let the fun begin.
OK, we'll admit something right
off. It is impossible to put God in a test tube or
prove him by scientific method. But that shouldn't
cause us to say, "God really is dead!" Hardly.
In fact, there are many reasons to believe that God
is very much alive and active in the universe.
Why does the scientific method always
seem to require test tubes? Well, it's nice to see that
they have given themselves the all important "out".
When confronted with facts and knowledge obtained through
science that seems to disprove their beliefs, they will
just say, "Hey! You can't put God in a test tube!".
Anyway, with that much needed disclaimer out of the
Think about humanity's overall longing for something
beyond what we see. It's this longing that causes
people to turn to religion for answers.
Agreed, but it is also what has caused people to turn
to science for answers. Last I checked, science has
proven itself to be a pretty darn good tool for answering
many questions humanity has had over the past few hundred
years. There are certainly some questions science has
not been able to answer, and may never be able to answer,
but that doesn't automatically mean that the answers
provided by religion are the correct ones.
It is significant that studies of the world's
cultures show an almost universal belief in a god
This is a very interesting, and correct point. (A point
which is thoroughly addressed in Michael Shermer's book.)
As I mentioned before, however, how many people believe
something is not necessarily proportional to how true
that something is. Close to 80% of Americans thought
that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11, and 60%
of people believe in some form of ESP. Only a few hundred
years ago the vast majority of people believed in a
lot of things that we now know are not true. It is not
how many people believe in something that matters, but
why they believe.
There are approximately 11 million species of
life on earth, including humans. Did all of these,
including the universe itself, begin by chance?
Of course they didn't, and no biologist I've ever heard
would claim that they did. This is called begging
the question, and it is a logical
fallacy. First of all, the number of species
on Earth is a much debated question amongst scientists.
The actual numbers range from between 10
million and 50 million. Second, as I've
stated previously, evolution makes no claims about how
life or the universe began. Third, species evolve through
natural selection, not by chance. One component of natural
selection is the chance mutations of genes in an organism
which can then lead to evolution or extinction, but
a dinosaur doesn't turn into a bird by chance. It turns
into a bird by millions of years of natural selection.
Science doesn't yet have an answer for how the universe
began, or even for how life began, although there are
many theories. The fact that science can not yet explain
something does not therefore prove the existence of
an omnipotent, omniscient being. That's another logical
fallacy called non-sequitur.
That makes two so far, not that I'm keeping score or
anything. (Actually, I am.)
Scientists have claimed that given the right
conditions, some sort of life form would eventually
evolve. How ever, the same scientists who propose
this theory are quick to point out its weaknesses.
Well, some scientist have suggested that life
may be common throughout the universe. They claim that
as long as the basic building blocks are there, given
enough time life will form. In fact, there is a lot
of evidence to suggest that life may have formed multiple
times on Earth alone. This, of course, is completely
unrelated to whether or not God exists. And yes, scientists
often point out the weaknesses in their own conjectures.
That's a great thing about science; it's self correcting.
The point of science is to seek the truth, and part
of that is correcting errors even if they are your own.
When was the last time any major religious upheaval
came from within the church? Seems to me that
it's always some external force that is sick of the
way things are and forces change from the outside.
The respected astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle asks,
"What are the chances that a tornado might blow
through a junk yard containing all the parts of a
747, accidentally assemble them into a plane, and
leave it ready for takeoff?" Hoyle answers, "The
possibilities are so small as to be negligible even
if a tornado were to blow through enough junk yards
to fill the whole universe!"
That's nice. Not sure what it has to do with evolution,
though. Again, evolution is not a product of chance,
it is a product of natural selection. Chance is one
of many components (and perhaps not even the most important
one) in natural selection.
In his book The Intelligent Universe, Hoyle says,
"As biochemists discover more and more about
the awesome complexity of life, it is apparent that
its chances of originating by accident are so minute
that they can be completely ruled out. Life cannot
have arisen by chance."
Maybe this is why Hoyle was an astronomer and not a
biologist. There are a multitude of ways life may have
formed for the first time. Perhaps it formed on a lattice
of silicon laid down in a river bed. Perhaps it formed
after some unlikely catalyst like a lightning strike
on some primordial soup. How it formed, while being
a fascinating question, has little impact on the question
at hand - why believe in God? If life cannot be formed
without pre-existing life (a creator), who created the
creator? If the creator can exist without anybody creating
him, why not just skip a step? Is it not more believable
that a bit of goo could turn into a simple living organism
that it is to believe that an all powerful, all knowing
God could pop into existence all by itself? None of
this is evidence for the existence of God.
Dr. Robert Jastrow, founder of NASA's Institute
for Space Studies, says that the Big Bang theory offers
scientific evidence for a biblical view of how the
universe began. This respected scientist says that
"science has proven that the universe exploded
into being in a certain moment." He further explains
that this sudden explosion points to a truth found
in the very first sentence of the Bible: "In
the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."
Dr. Jastrow is indeed a respected scientist, but to
my knowledge (and some extensive Google searching) he
has never published his "findings" in any
peer reviewed scientific publication. I suspect it's
because he made these remarks while "preaching
to the quior" as it were. When you expose your
ideas to criticism (as is required by science), you
need to be able to support them with more than a vague
quote from a book of unknown origin. Also, which version
of Genesis did the good doctor pick? There are several,
after all, and the order of events (and the events themselves)
differs in each.
So we see that current scientific evidence for
the Big Bang theory points toward a Creator God. And
it affirms something King David wrote several thousand
years ago: "The heavens declare the glory of
God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands"
Huh? Wait... where did we see the evidence? So far
you have some vague quotes with no evidence to back
them up whatsoever. I love it when these things boil
down to Bible quotes, as they almost always do.
Another evidence for the existence of God, says
Christian writer C.S. Lewis, is that people everywhere
in the world believe in some idea of right and wrong."That's
my seat. I had it first! Suppose I did the same to
you! How would you like it? Come on, you promised.
… " These daily arguments show that there
must be some law or rule of fair play or morality
built into us.
Absolutely, and there is an enormous amount of evidence
that this sense of morality has its origins in our evolution.
Ask any anthropologist who has studied apes in the wild
about morality and they will tell you wonderful accounts
of the human-like sense of fair play amungts apes. Capuchin
monkeys, for instance, can often spot when
another monkey is lying to them, or when they're trying
to cheat them out of their fair share.
Two plus two will always equal four. And just
as there are math "laws" that can never
change, the same is true of moral law.
Wow. That's quite a statement. So, is killing always
immoral? What about if it is in self defense? What about
in times of war? What if the death of one will save
many others? What if that person has killed many people
and their death is punishment? The fact of the matter
is that the moral choice depends on the circumstances,
just like the answer of four depends on the two numbers
you're adding together. My morals don't come from God,
they come from reason and logic.
Yes, there is Somebody behind the universe. He
has put a moral law within us, and he is intensely
interested in right conduct—in fair play, unselfishness,
courage, good faith, honesty and truthfulness.
How does that follow? Because you are unable
to justify moral behavior without the fear of eternal
hellfire, that means that there is a God who cares whether
or not I look at a nudie magazine or if I covet my neighbor's
goat? (Hey, not that kind of covet, you sicko!)
Wow, that's a BIG non-sequitur.
Even though there are many things in nature—even
human nature—that point toward God, we could
never know conclusively from nature that he is or
what he is like. But God has taken the initiative
to reveal himself. He has lived among us. He has made
his full invasion into human history in the person
of Jesus Christ.
Actually, there are plenty of things in nature that,
if God does exist in accordance with the Bible, he would
have had to explicitly created to fool us into thinking
that he doesn't exist. For instance, we know
that the universe is a least 14 billion years old. We
know this because we can figure out how far away stars
are (through techniques such as heliocentric
parallax), and we know how fast light from
those stars travels, so we can figure out how long the
light from those stars has been traveling to reach us.
If the universe really was only a few thousands years
old, God would have had to create the light from those
stars "en route". In effect, he would have
had to trick us. Doesn't sound like the kind of God
I want to worship, thank you very much.
The author then goes on some kind of rant about God
becoming and ant or something. I really lost interest
at that point. He continues to use the Bible as his
only source of "evidence" for all the claims
he is making, which, by the way, are themselves also
all from the Bible. (Another
logical fallacy! How many does that make?)
This article might actually be kind of funny if it
wasn't designed to help indoctrinate helpless kids into
their religion. Almost everybody who is religious inherited
their religion. Much like drug dealers, they go after
them when they're young to get them hooked. Once they
start, it's hard to stop.
I'm going to start my own child welfare ad campaign
in the tradition of Nancy Reagan. I've already come
up with my slogan. "Just say no to religion".
 Why Believe in God?. (April, 2000). Christianity
Today. Retrieved March 21st, 2004 from the World Wide