18
Jan

Why Reason Supports Believing in God

seti Many atheists refuse to consider the evidence for God’s existence, insisting that before they can accept God, we must first be able to explain where God came from, and how. They accuse Christians of relying “just so” stories, insisting that they, by contrast, rely on “science” to support their conclusion that evolution explains life on Earth. “Faith” and reason are opposites, they contend, and matters of faith and matters of science occupy separate and non-intersecting fields. Getting them to see the flaw in this thinking can be the first step in getting them to consider the truth claims of Christianity.

There are, indeed, many reasons to conclude that “someone,” rather than nothing, is there, from the evidence that has been left behind. Like footprints left in the sand, or a message spelled out using alphabet cereal, there are aspects of the universe and its contents that allow us to infer that something – someone – created it, and that the creator was intelligent. There is the exquisite order, fine-tuning and complexity of the universe, the presence of information embedded in life in the form of DNA, the existence of consciousness, imagination and intelligence, the recognition of moral rules, the universal language of music and math – all these bear witness to the Designer’s hand. But, the atheist objects, we already know people exist, so proving, for example, that someone walked in the sand, by his footprints, or left a message with the cereal, doesn’t really translate into proof that God exists.

But this challenge can also be met, by using an example from a modern scientific endeavor. All around the globe, radio telescopes are probing the distant reaches of space, hoping to pick up the telltale signals of intelligent life. Frequency ranges have be devoted to this pursuit by international agreement, so as to increase the chance that signal pollution from Earth bound sources do not interfere. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been have been committed to this effort to find what no one definitively can say exists – life in the cosmos. The effort is called SETI – the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence.

These are not religious fundamentalists at work; they are highly educated and trained scientists who know what so many in academia refuse to acknowledge – that reason can be employed to conclude that “something is out there.” What are these scientists hoping to find? Because they believe they can distinguish random noise – things naturally occurring – from signals that are specified and complex, they believe they can see the blueprint of intelligence in signals that are not random but instead designed to convey information. They look primarily for mathematical equations, trusting that universal laws will be knowable to any sentient being and will be a means to communicate, even if our spoken languages are different. NASA did something similar with its deep space probes Pioneer and Voyager; information encoded in the universal language of math and music even now hurtle further into the abyss, awaiting, perhaps, discovery by some advanced intelligence.

Now, let’s suppose that these scientists begin receiving a coded message. With effort, they eventually decode the language, finding that it consists of four letters. These four letters are arranged into billions of lines of code, which the scientists ultimately realize constitute a blueprint to build an extremely complex machine – a self-replicating machine with thousands of interdependent parts that must assemble themselves, correct errors as they occur and continue functioning in harmony decade after decade. Each of the subsystems, the scientists determine, is itself incredibly complex, and each must interact in unison with all the others, all following the commands of the blueprint. What if scientists could begin working with this code to make changes and to alter the machine’s construction or functioning? Would this not be enough to convince even the most skeptical that “something” highly intelligent and highly powerful was out there? That we are not alone?

So why aren’t more people convinced. After all, we already are the recipients of such directed intelligence. The four letter language that codes billions of lines of instructions to build a complex machine is, of course, DNA. In short, while the scientific community remains largely materialistic, that façade is starting to crack, as more is learned about the incredibly information-rich nature of DNA, as well as the fine tuned nature of the laws of the universe. Such information, and such laws, are not random. While some continue to insist that DNA evolved from lifeless matter, they have no mechanism to explain the beginning of DNA. Even the earliest single celled life form required such massive amounts of information that self-assembly is simply implausible.

We all know it intuitively: information requires a source. This alone does not prove the God of the Bible. But knowing that “something” is out there is not a matter of “faith.” Reason itself demands it.

There are none so blind as those who, despite the evidence, continue to refuse to see.
Posted by Al Serrato

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25 Comments

  1. zilch says:

    al, you say: “We all know it intuitively: information requires a source.”

    And evolution is just such a source. Where’s the source of God’s information?

    About the ultimate (if that means anything) source of anything at all, no one has a clue. God cannot be the source of Himself, can He? Again, the God hypothesis does no work, and is infinitely more complex than simply accepting that our Universe has order built in, while we continue to try to get closer to explaining the nature of that order.

    cheers from snowy vienna, zilch

    • User says:

      Evolution is natural selection acting on random mutation. Evolution is not a source of information at all. It only works with what it’s been given. It has no mind for creating, or making sense of, information. Evolution took mere matter and did this?????:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMtWvDbfHLo

      I don’t understand why you require the simplest explanation. Simple doesn’t necessarily mean true. Simple doesn’t necessarily mean realistic. Neither the theist nor the atheist has a simple explanation. Either way, the mystery is profound!

    • William says:

      Hey Zilch
      Can I ask you a couple of questions? If there were such a thing of the biblical God (wich there is) can he be eternal or universally transcendent according to scripture? And if so, would he be a source in and of himself?

    • Jordan says:

      Zilch,
      What is spoken of here is not evolution, but abiogenesis. Evolution if it were true, might be able to increase information (yet no evolutionary process that truly increases information can be identified. Duplicate? yes. Alter, most often for the worse, yes. Decrease? most definitely. Not increase.) But avoiding that issue, abiogenesis requires the creation of complex machinery, the books and books of blueprints for its replication, the language system for encoding and decoding those blueprints, the machinery required for its replication, the books of blueprints for the machinery used to replicate, etc. all coming about simultaneously without the aid of anything but time, chance, random processes, and the laws of nature. Faith required for this belief? too much for me.

      • zilch says:

        Jordan- with all due respect, I think we’re at an impasse here until you learn a little more about what evolution can be demonstrated to do. You say:

        “Evolution if it were true, might be able to increase information (yet no evolutionary process that truly increases information can be identified. Duplicate? yes. Alter, most often for the worse, yes. Decrease? most definitely. Not increase.)”

        This is simply false. As I said here before, genes and sometimes whole genomes are very often doubled by mutations. This does not represent an increase of information, but now further mutations can happen in one or the doubled genes or genomes, and that most definitely is an increase in information.

        Happens all the time- for instance, our ABO blood types evolved originally from one gene that was duplicated and duplicated again, after which the duplicates were able to evolve separately from one another to create the obviously related but slightly different types that we have now. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. But you can google this yourself.

        cheers from vienna, zilch

        • Michael says:

          Mutations don’t increase information, unless my whole college career was a farce.

          • zilch says:

            Mutations alone don’t increase information, or only do so very rarely- but as I said, mutations plus natural selection can and do increase information. This can be modeled on computers- for instance, there are evolutionary programs which can aid in the design of things such as antennas, where there is most definitely an increase of information resulting from mutation and selection, without human intervention. This is well established.

    • Van White says:

      Zilch,
      How can you say that evolution is the source of DNA information? Without DNA to evolve, what is there to evolve into DNA?
      I fail to understand what you could possibly mean. Even the operating principal presumed to guide evolutionary progress, Survival of the fittest, requires something to already exist to compete for survival.
      Thus, you presume an irrational conclusion; rather than looking at the evidence to deduce a conclusion.

  2. Jordan says:

    Zilch,
    You insinuate that you will only ever believe in a simple god; one that is on or below you and thus able to be understood by you. Such a god is not a god at all, but is even less than man.

    We believe in the “I AM” of the Bible. By His very name, He is self-existent and eternal.

    “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord (the ‘I AM’). For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa. 55:8-9)

    The God of the Bible is the EXACT God you claim would have to be creator! And yet He is the EXACT God you claim inability to believe in? This confuses me Zilch.

    Science points to a creator God as in the Bible (a book that can be evidentially proven accurate). The Bible points to a God which matches with what is seen in science. That is a firm faith.

    • zilch says:

      Jordan- I’m not “incapable” of believing in God- I just don’t see any evidence for Him. As I’ve already said many times here, the God hypothesis doesn’t explain anything that materialism does not, and God is infinitely more complex than just the laws of nature plus matter/energy. I’ll stick with the simpler explanation until I see reason to believe otherwise.

      cheers from chilly Vienna, zilch

      • Michael says:

        I don’t see any evidence for abiogenesis. If you can provide it, collect your Nobel Prize. Until then, most of us who don’t support macroevolution will continue to not support it because we don’t have enough faith to believe in something without evidence.

  3. zilch says:

    User: evolution is indeed a source of information. Mutation can randomly duplicate genes or entire genomes, which then become new raw material for natural selection to work on. The result is a net gain of information through evolution. This is very well documented- you might want to google “information gain genome” for instance.

    William- I suspect that depends on how you interpret the Bible. I guess you could say that “I am that I am” would imply that God is eternal and self-explaining. But the Bible is not evidence that such a God, or that any God, exists.

    cheers from chilly Vienna, zilch

    • Jordan says:

      Zilch,
      I will google “information gain genome” but my objection is that “Information” does not equal “lines of code.” I can hand-copy a 3-page essay once a day for the rest of my life using the previous day’s copy to create the new one from, and yes I may accidentally write the same thing twice, change mother to brother because their similar, etc., but even if I copied for billions of years, I will never go from an 3rd essay on volcanoes to a 1000 page book on Einsteins theory of relativity.

      • zilch says:

        Jordan- Your copying the same essay over and over, and sometimes making mistakes, corresponds to replication and mutation. You’re right- random changes alone are not going to get to the Theory of Relativity from your three-page essay, or a human from a bacterium. But you’re forgetting natural selection, which tends to save the changes that are improvements and discard those that are disadvantages.

        • William says:

          Zilch I was only answering your question

          You asks”God cannot be the source of Himself, can He?” Yes. According to biblical understanding that is. As you stated “I guess you could say that “I am that I am” would imply that God is eternal and self-explaining.” This understanding is correct,and natural. GOD exist in and of himself. The funny thing is you know this in your own makeup.

          Suppose you think about putting God before the big bang. Let’s just say you played with that thought for one second. Wouldn’t this explain the iam that I am science of GOD? Wouldn’t anyone who lived before the big bang be eternal and self existent? Would that go against science? Wouldn’t he be I am that I am without conflicting with the science of the universe since he was here before the science of the universe?Wouldn’t he be GOD?

          • zilch says:

            William, you say:

            ” GOD exist in and of himself. The funny thing is you know this in your own makeup. ”

            I don’t “know this of my own makeup”, it’s just my interpretation of what the Bible says here. That doesn’t mean I believe it to be true, any more than I believe that, say, plants were created before the Sun.

            I do agree that the idea of God does not necessarily conflict with science. But the existence of God is not part of science, since God cannot be demonstrated to exist or not to exist by means of science. God is “unfalsifiable” as they say. As such, He cannot be the subject of science.

            cheers from chilly Vienna, zilch

  4. William says:

    I like you zilch! Your an honest atheist and that’s hard to find.

    You say” I do agree that the idea of God does not necessarily conflict with science” this is just my point zilch: God does not conflict with science because he’s greater than science! God is his own science.

    I could care less if you don’t see God in science this still doesn’t nullify his existence. The question is do you need science to believe in God? Obviously not since you say“I’m not “incapable” of believing in God” this implies that you could believe in him without science.

    You also said “But the existence of God is not part of science,” and “since God cannot be demonstrated to exist or not to exist by means of science.” If this concept is true why then do you subject God’s evidence to science If you know you can’t find him there? Why do you search for him in a place without evidence- meaning science? Shouldn’t you look for God elsewhere?Should you just lay back and say “hey since science doesn’t prove God maybe he doesn’t exist” should you say that? Would that be logic?

    Science doesn’t have the last debate on this argument since it has nothing to do with God according to your concept. If you want to know God you shouldn’t use science. Seeing how science is your weakness concerning God. You should search for God in other ways. At the end of the day just search for him without any biasness what do you have to loose?

    Im sorry for that zilch lol. I posted this post twice by mistake. I meant to post it in this column not the other one please forgive me lol

  5. zilch says:

    Thanks for the compliment, William. But you might be surprised how many honest atheists there are.

    As far as looking for God elsewhere goes, I have two answers. One- been there, done that. I’ve asked God to reveal Himself to me many times, I’ve read the Bible, I’ve been in churches and with Christian friends who prayed for me, and so far- nothing. I’m keeping an open mind, but trying not to let my brain fall out.

    Two- while science cannot disprove God, science can certainly cast doubt on particular gods or their holy books, if they contain statements that go against what we perceive. And the Bible is full of such statements, starting right off with Genesis 1. The Earth and plants were not created before the Sun, for instance. Reality doesn’t lie, but people do, or they can simply be mistaken.

    And of course the other thing is that people make up religions all the time, for various reasons, some of them probably well intended and some of them actually helpful. Muslims are just as convinced that Mohammad is the prophet of Allah as Christians are convinced that Jesus is the prophet of God (or God himself). So just the fact that people believe fervently is obviously not a guarantee of truth.

    In any case, as I’ve said before, I don’t really care what people believe, as long as they behave nicely. If being a Christian, or a Muslim or whatever else, makes you happy and helps you be a better person, more power to you.

    cheers from chilly Vienna, and if you’re ever out this way, or in the SF Bay Area most summers, drop me a line, and lunch is on me.

    • William says:

      Im happy to know that you have an opened mind for truth as all of us does. You are actually what an atheist should be.

      I am sorry that your journey to find God has seemed to fell. But this is exactly what my father thought. He too struggled with God. My brother, sister and I would pray for him as children for years and nothing would happened. He went to church many of times throughout his lifetime and mother prayed for him on her knees for countless of hours and still nothing happened. It took 35 years later for him to except Christ. He opened his heart up to him and trusted him with his life regardless of his doubts. My father trusted in Christ and left all of the concequences up to God. And know he is a pastor. Im sorry for my life story lol. But I said that to say don’t give up and continue to search for truth. There’s a saying God may not come when you want him but he’s always on time.

      And far as genesis one is concerned there are two explanations. One was that Moses wasn’t really giving an actuall account of creation such as when God first created the universe. Many bible breathing christians do agree on an old earth concept rather than a young earth concept. I think this interpretation is rational. The one’s who holds to this concept believes that the genesis account wasn’t aactually a creation but rather a remodle or a renewing I should say. And God decided to remodel accordingly and not step by step since everything had already been created billions of years ago. Notice if you read the account it doesn’t say God created the lights but said “LET” the light be. And there are reasons why he said “let it be” and “not he created” but I wont go into that right know.

      I beg you zilch the things you don’t understand about the so called contradictions of the bible try reading scholars intake on it with an opened heart you’ll be surpised. There have been many of people in your shoes whos come to the faith after a serious change of heart. You my friend are not alone. Great debate zilch may you come to the truth of christ that changed my father. I believe you will:) oh and thanks for the offer I’ll do that.

  6. zilch says:

    Thanks for the kind reply, William. And I’m glad you are not a YEC- that show that you are willing to look at evidence from the real world, which is not true of many theists.

    But as far as reading what scholars say about the contradictions in the Bible goes- I have already done a great deal of that, and I’ve also read the Bible closely myself, often using Strong’s Concordance since my Hebrew and Greek are practically nonexistent. So far, I’ve come to the conclusion that while many seeming contradictions claimed by atheists are either figurative (“the four corners of the Earth”) or simply context-sensitive (the value of pi being three) there are still many passages in which the sense seems pretty clear and are simply either false (a worldwide Flood, for instance) or contradictory (the differing numbers of people in many parallel accounts, for instance). And since I, too, have a life to live, I can’t keep going over the same stuff over and over and over.

    Not to mention all the stuff I find morally reprehensible, especially in the OT. But I’m sure you’re familiar with these arguments and have already made up your mind.

    In any case, go well, and it would be a pleasure to meet you. Cheerio, zilch

  7. TC says:

    Evolution, of any kind, is not relevant unless there is something to act upon. Life requires a certain specified complexity. If it has not reached the point where it can self-reproduce, how can it evolve? If it cannot yet evolve, how an the information be due to evolutionary processes?

  8. Atheist says:

    What Christians seem intent on believing is that someone had to have created something as complex as the Human being. That someone had to have designed DNA. That someone had to have mentally engineered our existence.

    Nature has done all of that for us. There’s a reason Humanity has only existed for the last few thousand years out of the hundreds of millions since the Earth was formed. It’s taken nature THAT long to, step-by-excruciatingly-tiny-step, evolve us into what we are now. Even the unicellular “organisms” that we ultimately evolved from had giant strings of DNA, yes, but they weren’t the beginning. They themselves began as one microscopic sac of chemicals that just happened to collide with and join the right other microscopic sac of chemicals. These things grew and grew and grew, growing and changing so so SO much over many millions of years. We happened entirely by chance. That’s why we haven’t found anyone out there.

    Yet.

  9. al says:

    Atheist, you use terms like “collide” and “grow” which beg the question. By what mechanism could inanimate things, whether large or microscopic in size, collide in such a way that they form organized, functional living beings? The DNA in the human cell amounts to millions of lines of instructions on building and operting a highly complex and interdependent set of systems, including a brain that generates conscious thought. You think that random collisions and unguided “growth” could possibly account for that level of complexity?

  10. The Whyman says:

    Once again we have some excellent insights marred by a prejudicial and/or poor understanding of what it entails to be a “fundamentalist”

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