Crap-Shoot of Weighty and Starry Existence


God Cannot be Derived from the Cosmological Argument or Argument from Design

JD, an intelligent Christian blogger I often come across online, ran by a quote which he found and put to me:

Why not consider the possibility that life is what it so evidently seems to be, the product of creative intelligence? Science would not come to an end, because the task would remain of deciphering the languages in which genetic information is communicated, and in general finding out how the whole system works. What scientists would lose is not an inspiring research program, but the illusion of total mastery of nature. They would have to face the possibility that beyond the natural world there is a further reality which transcends science. (Johnson, p.110)

Johnson, Phillip. Darwin on Trial, Washington, D.C.: Regnery Gateway, 1991.


This is a pro-Creationist quote, and nothing against the author, but it specifically asks to consider the hypothesis that there is an ultimate or divine artificer which is evidently the source for life, and therefore appears to be an intelligent designer behind it all. This is the crude hypothesis of Intelligent Design, which I’ve written about before, and which I find to be wholly lacking in support, and so is invalid and cannot be used. But the question isn’t asking us to review the hard evidence, which is all but lacking, however it asks us to suspend our skepticism long enough to simply consider the possibility.

Okay, let’s consider the possibility of a creative intelligence.

First off, I’d have to be critical of his so called “intelligence” since the design we find here on Earth appears to be a hobbled together, trial and error, tapestry stretching back to our cosmic origins. The formation of life from non-living matter, amino acids and proteins, via a complex process of chemical bonds and reactions has been well documented by the scientific community. This is the stepping stone to getting slightly more complex organisms and then natural selection takes over and evolution becomes an incontestable fact. But in all of this happenstance there is no sign or stamp of a handicrafter or divine intelligent creator of any kind. Life itself can arise naturally, and that’s the thing that puzzles people who have not grasped the more involved aspects of scientific understanding. 



I won’t go into detail about evolution, because there is enough we know about it to know that there is no intelligence behind it, and even though we can comprehend it well enough, the leftovers of evolution, the flaws and failures of trial by error processes, have left us with a slew of handicaps and useless vestigial traits which are themselves proof of the unguided and unintelligent influences which compel all living things to evolve. Evidence which directly disproves the Creationist hypothesis. So I must assume the question is referring to the idea that, perhaps, somehow, beyond our current understanding there is a deity of some sort that wrote the basic laws into the universe so that we can decipher it and see the hand-print of God himself. This is also known as the Cosmological Argument [already famously put into contention by thinkers such as David Hume and Immanuel Kant just to name a couple].

Cosmological Arguments and necessary existence all sound well and good, but here I must object. Because it is unclear of which God or gods we are looking for exactly. If the case be that we are looking for one universal, generic, entity with no religious affiliation except for it being an intelligence of some kind, either within or beyond the known universe, then the deist which looks for the signs of this sort of deity beyond the reality we know will be, in all likelihood, greatly disappointed. Any evidence for this sort of being can only be had in this reality and space and time.

Justifiably, we know that it is highly improbable, although, admittedly not altogether impossible, that such a being should exist at all. But the fact remains—we just can’t know of it if it should exist. Not because his signature couldn’t be deciphered and found in nature via the plethora of data we have available to us, but for the fact that all the data available to us precludes any possibility of an intelligent designer of any kind in the first place. A better understanding of the laws of physics will reveal, as it has to me, that we are faced with the serious possibility that the Big Bang was not a one off event, that parallel dimensions are very plausible, that dark flow suggests universes outside of the dark rim of our own infinitely expanding universe, that gravity may be shared between membranes, and that all of this may describe a time before the Big Bang. It also alludes to the fact the Big Bang was not the first event possible, but one of an infinite series of catalysts sparking one of an infinitude of possible universes into existence. Why don’t I think any deity is behind it? Because these quantum fluctuations which we call Big Bangs are described by Quantum Mechanics as being entirely random, and without a doubt, completely arbitrary.

What this means is, there is NO rhyme or reason behind them. The Big Bang precludes the possibility of a designer because 1) it was probably  a random event (and even if it wasn’t there is no reliable evidence of what the initial conditions were predating the big bang therefore the probability of it being caused by a “designer” is exactly the same of it not having been caused by a “designer” thus, once again, an intelligent designer cannot be assumed), and 2) although it is highly probable that a universe would pop into existence (since the laws of Quantum Mechanics dictates that it is, peculiarly enough, even more improbable that it wouldn’t have) is the fact that 3) this universe seemingly sprang from nothing (which we have good evidence for. See video below).

We might ask, where in all this is the fingerprint of a Creator? I, for one, simply don’t see it. An eager theist may posit that this aforementioned quantum complexity is the language of God, that Quantum Mechanics seems so impossible to unravel or understand because the Creator is that complex. But this comes from the same people who have posited that the Creator is intelligent, so could not an intelligence of such magnitude be capable of speaking precisely and concisely enough to be comprehended by those fledgling consciousnesses and growing intelligences which spring up in the cosmic garden of his so called creation? It would seem to me, assuming a supreme intelligent creator exists beyond the known cosmos, that he has hidden himself behind a series of haphazard and completely random events which camouflage any direct involvement whatsoever. If there is a God of this sort, we cannot discover it, and certainly we cannot know anything of it. And this leaves me with the distinct hunch that there is no such intelligent being of such a shy and reclusive predisposition. Deism of this type, although in the smallest degree imaginable is ostensibly feasible, the burden of proof is too demanding and it ultimately remains unverifiable, therefore becomes highly doubtful, and cannot just be assumed. Anything more than a postulation is special pleading and will not suffice.

In conclusion, it is my opinion that life does not evidently seem to be the product of any creative intelligence. Life is the strange consequence of an infinity of crap-shoots in which out of uncertainty there is so vast a number of chances that every once in a while we get the winning number—the crap-shoot of weighty and starry existence. I find the analogy of winning a lottery well suited when discussing such probabilities. Our lucky existence may turn out to be very much like a lottery. If it is played just once, the odds are unanimously against our chances of winning. But if our chances to win the lottery are infinite, and truly arbitrary, then odds are good that with an infinite amount of tries we’ll come out with a big win. In fact, with the possibilities of winning stretching into infinity and beyond, it is more than likely we will all win that lottery, and more than once. Which means it is more than likely that other universes do exist, as unbelievable as it sounds, it would be even more unbelievable if it weren’t the case.

So I have no qualms with going with what the real evidence depicts, and what it depicts is an exclusively natural world and existence with no traces of divine magic tinkering or supernatural involvement of any recognizable kind. But even if there was, if one day there should be real tangible evidence for a God, science will gladly begin to study that too. Until then, my atheism is vindicated by the knowledge and understanding of the scientific evidence we do have and can discern—all of which precludes the possibility of any such intelligent designer or God.


Since I was merely asked my opinion I have not cited every reference per every thought, so I’ll simply leave you with a list of recommended readings. Happy Investigating!

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16 comments

  1. Hmm… You've got a point there. Quantum mechanics are indeed non-determined, which is contradictory to the concept of "Intelligent Design".However, I don't really think this argument is valid enough yet. Quantum mechanics and relativity are both immensely accurate in their predictions, and yet everything goes wrong when we reach the point near the Big Bang. Both theories predict different scenarios, and either one of them are right, or both theories are actually problematic. Thus, before we get a theory that can replace both quantum mechanics and general relativity, it may be to early too say that the Big Bang was a random event. And what I know so far is that string theory is still unproved.

  2. JD? Intelligent? 2 points:1. Be careful when speaking of "Before the big bang" as time is a property of this universe.2. "Life is the strange consequence of an infinity of crap-shoots in which out of uncertainty there is so vast a number of chances that every once in a while we get the winning number—the crap-shoot of weighty and starry existence."You may be skating on thin ice here. We don't know enough (AFAIK) to say whether or not our universe is like winning the lottery (and certainly descriptions of evolution wouldn't work with this lottery idea either). The universe is – this much we know, but it's rather difficult to say how likely it is or isn't to have happened since we simply don't have enough data to make accurate probabilistic predictions.

  3. Darren-You're right, they do predict different initial states. That's one of the gaps we have in our understanding. Cosmologists are busy working away at finding a unified theory to have the two harmonize. But this much we know, one is likely correct, or perhaps both, or both may be wrong. My point was–whatever it may be–there is no room to superimpose an intelligent designer–as it is not a prediction of any known physics.GCT-JD actually has potential. He's just reading the wrong material and he's rough around the edges. If he'd push his scholarly attributes and try a more academic approach he could go far. How far, I can't tell. But I can't blame him for being overpowered by his religious convictions… I too was that way once.And I don't think I said we know everything before the big bang, but we know that there was a "time" before. Space-time, according to the general theory of relativity, is confined to this particular universe, yes. But whatever anthropic existence pre-dates this universe, we now have indirect evidence for, and that's a start into figuring out how the onset of this universe was initiated and it might even give us new insights into the past (period of "time," just for analogy's sake, before this universe's existence).And the lottery is meant to explain how life could arise in this universe. The fact that a universe exists with the parameters is has is, in fact, exactly like a lottery. Of any potential universes which could exist, this one is capable, at least in this period of cooling, to clump matter together in such a way that we get life. But that also relies on random factors and so precludes the possibility that an intelligence designed the universe just to have life for a few seconds (on the cosmic scale) only to watch it be snuffed out again just as quickly. In fact, knowing that this is how the case is, this predicts either no designer at–or an evil designer, which again is precluded by the random variables, because even this "evil" designer would need to have intelligence which just is not accounted for in the information we have and so cannot simply be assumed. Low and behold, we're here! Jackpot! And we shouldn't take that for granted. So that's why I find cosmology so fascinating, as I feel it is the only place where we can discover the clues as to why life exists in the first place. NOTHING else can begin to reveal our origins in the same way. Even if ID became an official "theory" it would still be dependent on the findings in cosmology and modern physics–but it never gets to that point because it denies all the relevant information it doesn't agree with so that it can posit a deity, so I.D. disproves itself before it can qualify its premise.But, predictably, those who offer the fine-tuning argument need to realize it is void, not just because most physicists know enough to brush it off as pseudoscience (there was no fine-tuning), but because fine tuning argument itself doesn't explain how things work in our favor unless you posit an intelligent designer. Rather, there is no pre-destiny implied, fine-tuning is an illusion, for science the universe is described how the universe is!If more Christians would understand this, then they'd know, that the universe simply functions as she is!!! No intelligence required.But as Lee Smolin has suggested, if there is an inbuilt purpose for our specific universe, it's not to sustain life, but for black hole generation. And that's an eye opener in itself.

  4. I took some of your guy's advice and amended some of my language usage.I changed the part about the big bang being random to it 'probably having been random'.Although I left in the lottery bit as is, because although GCT is right in reminding us that we don't have enough data to say for certain, depending on whatever model or accepted theory we choose to use in theoretical physics, all of the main ones do predict other universe before, as well as after, this one. So I still feel the analogy is valid, even though the theories are still theories.One of the peculiarities of physics is that often times even unsupported or undeveloped theories get proven true! I'm not saying anything is certain, but I think we have to leave room for the possibility. It's true, theories rely on evidence and data, but there is nothing in the evidence which suggests there can't be more universes. In fact, the mathematics of multiple contending theories states it is highly probable, if not necessary. The same cannot be said of God, however.Besides, if there were no other possible universes then we know this much: life will come out ever time… because this is the only possible universe… lucky us! That's like winning a lottery every time! But there's just no reason to suppose this, since the math predicts multiple universes and more than one possibility for the probability of existence.

  5. @GCT Tristan has a little more compassion for JD because he has empathy for him. Something that I lack. Although, I think that you are a little too hard on yourself. Tristan, even when you were like him, you were probably a little more critical than he is.

  6. Wow! The nearly famous TV wrote a blog entry about something that I posited. I feel like Steve Martin's 'Navin R. Johnson' character in the movie The Jerk when he fist saw his name listed in the phone book. I AM somebody!Hey Copernicus, next time you reference me, give me a heads up and I'll join the discussion in a more timely manner.Here is (IMO) the relevant part of the quote from Johnson…"Why not consider the possibility that life is what it so evidently seems to be, the product of creative intelligence? Science would not come to an end, because the task would remain of deciphering the languages in which genetic information is communicated, and in general finding out how the whole system works."For example, let's just say that a discovery is made next week that strongly suggests a Creator and the vast majority of scientists in different fields concur that it's fairly conclusive. Would scientific endeavors just dry up and not be persued at all?

  7. As for the quote:I'm glad you noticed I was being unfair on purpose.The reason is because he unfairly portrays science as something that is dependent on their being an intelligent creator in the universe. This is not how science works, and because the question is unfair, so too must my answer be.If he would have stated it another way, "If there indeed turns out to be an intelligent creator then what does the role of science become…" I could address that question.But to reverse his position, if there is no God, then science works as it always has, then I don't see his point as being worth arguing. Science works because it works. If God existed then the laws of science would yield to that beings authority, even if it so choose to break the laws of science it created, and there would be no use for science.

  8. Hmmm,I still object to the idea of the lottery. Winning the lottery denotes a certain feeling of luck. We are "lucky" the universe is the way it is because it is improbable – is the implication behind that. We simply don't know that though. With the advent of multiple universes, it could be that with countless other universes out there that we simply happen to have arisen in one that allows for life, but it wouldn't be a stretch to think that one would allow for life. IOW, the probabilities would decrease the more random universes you throw into the mix.Or, if the universe has emergent properties, then there may only be a few ways the universe could turn out to begin with, meaning that we'd be "Winning the lottery" simply by picking heads or tails and getting it right.I also still disagree with saying that someone who argues as JD does should be considered intelligent or having potential. He's already banned me from his blog for arguing that god isn't interested in morality, and lied about my argument in order to do it (claimed that I said that JD was not interested in morality and even that I claimed he approved of raping little boys). Now, he's trying to link regulation of salt to being gay to being a liberal to being a Nazi as well as trying to link atheism to anti-semitism. He also believes that Obama was born in Kenya – despite all the evidence to the contrary, as well as some other incredibly outlandish things.Well, I take it back…he might have potential if he takes some meds to counteract the paranoid delusions he has and bring some sanity back to himself.

  9. I can't comment on JD because I don't know him all that well. He's rather sane compared to some of the young earth Creationists I have debated and certain Evangelicals I have come across in the Bible belt. And the lottery analogy only works if we consider the universe is truly random… which I believe it is. It may not be the best analogy, but it is one many people can relate to without getting too technical in such a short space. If I got technical I'd be trying to explain why the quark and gluon spins are important for establishing reality as we perceive it! And then I'd start referencing math, and all my readers would run away. It would be very sad.@TinkYou may be giving me too much credit. I was Christian apologist before I became skeptic. So I had my fair share of defenses lined up and ready to counteract any silly atheist argument I ever came across. My critical eye didn't actually begin to see the faults in my faith until I stopped reading crappy Christian apologetics and started reading what real historians were writing. When I started to get into the history of it that's when my skepticism started to increase exponentially. It seemed every question I had was only met with shaky answers which raised even more questions than before.Eventually this multiplying began to seem absurd, and I just had to keep investigating. Big mistake, right? Well, maybe it's the best mistake I ever made.

  10. TV, let me deal with one of the intellectually underdeveloped before I go on.GCT, I wrote…"I at NO point stated that it's OK to go out and commit sin and that it's all good. You only have to believe in the right things…ever. GCT, we are at an impasse. Either….A. Retract your statementB. Show me where I stated that it's OK to go out and commit all manner of sin up to and including child rape and it's OK as long as you believe the right things, orC. Go away." This was from the 2/11/2010 entry in my blog. either show where I stated you can do whatever you like, as long as you believe the right things or retract your statement. You did neither and thus remained banned. Bravo. if there is no God, then science works as it always has, then I don't see his point as being worth arguing. Science works because it works. If God existed then the laws of science would yield to that beings authority, even if it so choose to break the laws of science it created, and there would be no use for science.But I din't understand where you are coming from. Couldnt a Creator utilize scientific priniples that mankind is now beginning to understand in his process of creation? The only thing that would be different would be the very beginning of the process, how things initially came about. Acids would still be acids. A base would still be a base. Solids would be solids and liquids would be liquids. If anything, it would show that the Creator (or "God") was quite methodical in His creation process. (IMO)

  11. JD-Yes, assuming a Creator utilized specific scientific laws in his process of creation, then hypothetically we should be able to detect these laws and learn to understand the process of creation. However, this is assuming we have proved God and that there is tangible scientific evidence which somehow shows us the signature or stamp of his divine creating consciousness.But my quote was directed at the understanding the God is all powerful, and if the Creator has the capacity to rewrite these laws arbitrarily then science loses its value because it becomes irrelevant. What use then is science to it (God)?On the other hand, if a Creator being could not change the laws he put into place, then he is not omnipotent, and therefore could not be the Christian God, or any god I know of except for perhaps a vaguely Pantheistic deity of some form–a Deepak Chopra sort of conceptualization. But then this idea of a "god" has become so nebulous that most theists would deny it as being worthy of creation status in the first place.This is all to say that I find the quote already stamped with the preconceived notion that the Christian God is real, therefore these other possibilities are irrelevant. That's why my response to the quote did not involve these other possibilities. I felt it was clearly in reference to the Christian god alone… that deity I feel can be largely disproved by what we know of history, philosophy, and science as well as human experience.As for a vaguely Deist sort of entity, some higher consciousness that might exist beyond our understanding, on that I must remain agnostic. I just don't see any evidence either way for that sort of being. However my skepticism compels me to highly doubt it.

  12. JD,You shouldn't be throwing stones from your glass house. You don't even realize why what you demanded was so idiotic as to be ridiculous.Nowhere did I claim that you personally advocated "that it's OK to go out and commit sin and that it's all good." How am I supposed to retract something I never said? And that is why you are lying about my banning. When I explained this to you, you simply deleted me and claimed that I was accusing you of this fantasy accusation that you've trumped up. You're a liar…and by necessity because your theology is shite and you don't have the ability to defend it.Also, note how quickly you turn to personal attack. It's because you know you can't defend your theology, you know that I'm asking questions and raising objections that you have no answer for, so you have to lash out and attack me since it's easier to do that than to actually think for yourself. Then, you delude yourself into thinking that attacking my person somehow defeats my arguments. It doesn't. It only serves to make you look ridiculous and like an intellectual coward. In the one venue where you can control the content, you silenced me to avoid your embarrassment. In other venues you obfuscate and personally attack me in order to do the same. You should be ashamed at yourself.

  13. JD-GCT-As your host and moderator here, I would appreciate it if you could be a little more civil with each other.I know you both want to clear up some things, however, I don't feel this is the place to continue hashing on about some things said which, apparently, the both of you seem to be a bit fuzzy about.I will allow your discussion to continue, but less ad hominems and more citing the actual quotes would help establish what's going on, and perhaps this might allow other readers to chime in with their opinions as well. If the argument turns into a flame war, however, I will be forced to lock down this comments thread.

  14. I'm not fuzzy about anything. I know what happened, JD made claims that he should back up but won't. It's as simple as that. Honestly, I don't really care. What he does on his blog is his deal. I only care that he's lying about it after the fact and personally attacking me because he has no answers and can only fling poo.

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