Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Where's the Logic In It?



In America Atheism seems to be on the rise. A recent Pew poll found that about 3% of Americans describe themselves as Atheists.  Another 4% describe themselves as agnostic. Those would be folk who believe that there is no God or who believe it is not possible to know.  I would call them intellectually lazy because the logic is greatly on the side of there being a Mind behind the universe. 

               We’ve all heard the debates. If you poke around Internet sites like YouTube or read the comments following any semi-religious topic on news websites, you know that there are a lot of vocal opponents of religion or belief in God.  Most of the talk is simply mindless trash talk. Though occasionally someone puts forth a reasonable argument. But often the argumenters are simply debating the details. Few get to the core of the issue.

               The core of the issue is this: Either a Mind exists behind the universe or there is only mindless matter/energy. And that Mind or mindless matter/energy must be eternal. There does not seem to be any other alternative.  What is the logic? 

There has to be something that is eternal for there to be anything.

               Some years ago I was conversing on the topic of God and science with several guys on a New York Times website. I brought up the simple observation that nothing comes from nothing. That reminded them of Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music, and they all had a big laugh.  But the observation is not funny. It has been around for a good long time, at least since Parmenides in the fifth century B.C.. And it is still valid.

               Some today argue differently, of course. What fun would we have if we all agreed? Physicist Lawrence Krauss, for instance, argued in a recent book that the universe might have come from quantum fluctuations in empty space. But as mathematical physicist Amir D. Axcel counters in his book Why Science does Not Disprove God, space is something. Space is not empty, and quantum fluctuations are energy waves. They are something. Anything that comes from quantum fluctuations comes from something.

               Others have been suggesting that this present  universe came from a prior universe and perhaps that universe from an even more distant prior universe. But anyone with any sense can see that only leads to an infinite regression of universes. And that still supports, if it were true,  the proposition that something, be it matter or energy, is eternal. 

               Or the Mind we call God is eternal. 

               I sometimes hear people say if God made the universe, where did God come from. Let's put that to rest. Something must be eternal for there to be anything.  Where did God come from is as unanswerable as where did matter/energy come from. 

               Those are the two choices.  

               Which is the more reasonable? 

               The Atheist must say that it is more reasonable that matter/energy is the ultimate reality. And logically we must admit that is a possibility. But is it reasonable given the evidence? 

               The universe we know is an amazingly complex interactive thing.  It operates on consistent principles we call laws. It is described by complex but entirely logical mathematics. It is predictable and understandable.  That is what makes science possible.

               Is it reasonable to conclude that this universe is the product of mindless matter and energy? Okay, that is still possible, but it does stretch the boundaries of the possible. How could such complexity be the natural product of what is essentially the most non-complex thing we know of? That would be the singularity where all energy and undifferentiated matter was concentrated in a single very small point?

               But there is more. The earth we live on is even more complex than the universe beyond.  

               Is it reasonable to conclude that the world we live on, with its complex and interactive systems and with the life that teems upon it, is the product of mindless matter and energy? 

              Regarding life, there have been many debates. Could life come from non-life when entropy rules the universe? And entropy moves from organization to chaos. Could the sun’s energy drive the evolution of life and reverse the process of entropy? Maybe. But evolution is only a small component of the system that is our earth. We know now that not only is energy essential but the placement of our earth in the solar system, the placement of our solar system in the galaxy, as well as many dozens of other conditions must pertain before the energy of the sun could possibly have any influence on the product that is our world and all the living things upon it. Is it reasonable? That stretches the definition of possible to the breaking point. 

               There is still more. We ourselves are at the apex of complexity. The DNA in every cell of our bodies is the most complex thing in the universe, and yet it is readable by our science and understandable by our minds.  Is it possible that we, the earth on which we live, and the universe that contains it all are the product of mindless matter and energy? At this point logic leads us to the conclusion that such is fantastically impossible.  

               The evidence for a Mind behind the universe, on the other hand, is an irresistibly compelling and exceedingly simple answer.  Only a mind can put together such complexity.  It would be irrational to conclude otherwise.

               At this point someone always brings up Occam's Razor and complains that we are adding entities unnecessarily. I like that. It makes sense. But in this case the operational word is unnecessarily. An eternal, mindless matter/energy entity is not sufficient to explain the universe. But a Mind is sufficient, and we can stop right there. No other entity is required.

               The greater puzzle is that minds that can think logically would choose to believe in the irrational.  It would seem to make more sense to use the power of the mind to discover the nature of the Mind that must be behind it all. Perhaps theology really is the Queen of the Sciences after all. And Wisdom her sister.

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