Class Warfare Blog

October 30, 2018

#2 of the 10 Reasons to Believe God Exists

Yesterday I covered #1 on this list, so if you need to see where this list was posted and by whom, please consult that post. Here is #2!

  1. Designed Creation (Teleological Argument). Hugh Ross has argued that there are over 180 cosmological constants in the universe so finely tuned that if they were to be changed by the nth degree, life and the universe itself would not exist. Even the theoretical multiverse would need to be designed to such a degree that it would require a designer. I believe wholeheartedly that physicists will eventually find design attributes and constants in the quantum realm if they haven’t already. Design argues for a Designer.

Once again, this is not a new argument, variants of it having been made by Plato and Aristotle and even earlier philosophers. The scientific window dressing is new and also incorrect. (Hugh Ross* was wrong! Gasp!) For one, there are not 180 “cosmological constants.” What are being referred to is a much smaller set of fundamental physical constants. When this “fine tuning” argument was first made, it inspired a number of physicists to investigate if it were true (the criticism of the conjecture and criticism of science). It turns out that a fair amount of variation in several of the parameters is not at all destructive. We also don’t know if these parameters are fundamentally linked somehow that they all influence the others to make them what they are.

The fundamental flaw in the argument is, again, the powers and identity of any claimed designer are not inferable from the design. Arguments like “God must look like us because we were made in His image” are, of course, circular. So, again, our universe could have been created by a powerful alien, like the character Q in the Star Trek franchise, for example. The creation and the design are not necessarily from the same source, either. (Outside of space and time, there may be pre-packaged “Acme Universe Creation Kits” for all we know.)

All of that aside, there is something fundamentally wrong with this argument. The argument for “the existence of God from the evidence of order, and hence design, in nature” mistakes order for design. In fact, the “intelligent design” crowd has never been able to come up with a coherent definition of “intelligent design.”

Clearly patterns abound in nature. Many mineral substances create highly ordered crystals that can be found lying around on or in the ground. Ordinary table salt (sea salt, NaCl, etc.) forms crystals shaped like little cubes. With some encouragement, those crystals can grow to be large, clear, and quite beautiful. The reason those crystals appear and grow as they do is that they are made of sodium and chloride ions (Na+ and Cl–) arranged in alternating fashion in all three cardinal directions. Well, who organizes them this way? They organize themselves by the simple attraction and repulsion of their electrical charges. Each ion has six ions of the opposite charge above and below, to the left and right, and front and back, there is another set of ions that are repulsive because they are of the same charge, but they are 40% farther away and the rule of attraction is an inverse square law, with the distance being the thing both inverse and square, so the repulsions are fully twice as weak as the attractions. If you continue to study chemistry and biology, you will quickly see that nature is self-organizing, no Organizer™ needed. The organizing principles are simple physical behaviors described by simple physical laws. Complexities arise naturally when large numbers of different atoms and molecules get involved.

So, nature is literally steeped in patterns, and along we come. Our brains are clearly designed (by evolution) to see patterns. We see patterns when they are not even there (many optical illusions are based upon this). Why? Because our survival as individuals and, hence, as a species is enhanced by this ability.

So, patterns, patterns, everywhere is the structure of our environment. But patterns and designs are two different things. The touters of the teleological argument claim that all reasonably complex patterns are actually designs. They have established no criteria for how one can tell this, basically they are claiming this “because God.” (Note that the author claims that “physicists will eventually find design attributes.” Why? Because they have not yet been found. So, if “design argues for a designer” and there are no designs yet found, what would you conclude?)  Again, they have a presupposed solution and generate a problem to fit it. If you pick up an ordinary rock, does it look “designed”? If you pick up an extraordinary natural crystal, like a gemstone, does it look designed?

The theory of evolution, on the other hand, shows over and over and over how these patterns form in living things. It also points out flaws in the patterns from nature’s use of already developed genetic instructions that were easily modified and cause what happened, but resulted in actually hazardous designs. The argument from design has no such process other than “God did it.”

* “Hugh’s unshakable confidence that God’s revelation of Himself in Scripture and nature do not, will not, and cannot contradict became his unique message. Communicating that message as broadly and clearly as possible became his mission. He scouts the frontiers of origins research to share with scientists and nonscientists alike the thrilling news of what’s being discovered and how it connects with biblical theology.” (Source: A “Just Right Universe” by Hugh Ross, Ph.D.)

It seems Dr. Ross has a bias (“do not, will not, and cannot” aren’t scientific attitudes) he is willing to share.

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December 26, 2017

God, the Inspiration of Artists!

At this time of year I see many representations of artist’s glorification of the Christian god (including mundane Christmas carols that I have always loved). This treasure trove of art is used from time to time for justification (aka spin) of the existence of this or that god. “How could a god who does not exist inspire so many artists?” we are asked. “How could such great artistic expression come from less than the most holy?” (♫ Grandma got run over by a reindeer … ♫)

I think folks need to take a closer look at this. I just finished a book on the messages hidden in the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel by none the less than Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni. Michelangelo, who only wanted to sculpt, was given the commission to paint the ceiling of a huge chapel, a facsimile of the temple of the Jews (at least part of it—which was a huge insult as the Jews forbade any such replicas being built). This was an offer he couldn’t refuse and which cost him seven years of his life, his most productive years that could have been applied to sculpture, but. . . . His commission was to paint Christian scenes upon the ceiling and then later, the far wall. This was so inspired by God (and the Pope, his patron) that Michelangelo painted that huge fresco, still one of the largest frescos ever painted, without painting a single Christian figure on the ceiling. All of the figures Michelangelo painted were Jews. There were also several insulting messages for the Pope and other prominent people of the time.

This was not a new practice invented for the occasion, Renaissance painters often painted in such “messages,” including insults for their patrons. Artists were also not allowed to sign their works, so it was often the case that a figure in a painting carried the face of the painter. Michelangelo was so insulted when he unveiled the Pieta he sculpted because the viewers insisted that the sculptor must be Roman because no one from Florence had enough skill, that he broke into the site at night and hastily chiseled his name into the statue! Similarly his face and the faces of his lovers appeared in his frescos. One of the faces on the Sistine Chapel’s surfaces is that of his lover of the time (and yes, M was gay)!

Much of this art and music was commissioned at a time when the few rich people who could afford to commission such works were either Princes of the Church or were secular leaders who needed to overlay some religious sanctity atop their secular rule. So, many of these glorious works of art (sculpture, painting, music) were commissioned on religious themes.

To claim that religion inspired these art works is disingenuous at a minimum. The ability to paint or sculpt “on spec” was limited as artists were paid very little, so if you wanted to guarantee a sale, you had better cater to the prevailing “art market.” Since the rich were constantly sucking up to the religious elites, and vice-versa, it is no surprise that many, many glorious artworks were dedicated to such people. To make an argument for the existence of god from such inspiration shows either a complete lack of understanding, a lack of other credible arguments, or both.

I am really tired of the elites pissing in our glasses and telling us it is lemonade. I would find them more honest if they were to swing a pocket watch in front of our eyes, mumbling “You are getting very sleepy, very sleepy … when you awake, you will believe….”

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