I wrote the below reply to this blog post by Rick Warden, but I’m also making it available here in case anyone who missed it wants to chime in. We’re hoping to get Rick on the Fundamentally Flawed podcast soon.
Hello, this is Jim who emailed you earlier today following on from Alex Botten’s invitation for you to talk about this on our podcast.
This is an extremely long argument which makes some interesting points, but for fear of being overly simplistic, I have to ask what it has to do with proving the existence of a specific God from a specific religion.
It is perfectly true to say, for example, that the high entropy state of the universe infers that, at some point in the past, every-thing was highly ordered. Indeed the coming into being of the first fundamental particles which later coalesced into dust and gas, galaxies, planets and eventually DNA and RNA, remains one of the great unanswered questions in all of science.
Postulating a designer, or an instigating force of some kind, at this point, is a perfectly valid position to take. But that does not mean you are free to immediately suppose that the nature and character of that instigating force is a specific god of a specific religion. In fact, if anything, it undermines the idea of us having any understanding whatsoever of the nature and character of that designer — least of all that such things are explored with any degree of accuracy, in the musings of an ancient, tribal people who authored the allegedly holy documents at the foundation of monotheism.
I am constantly amazed as to the lengths religious people will go to, to understand the scientific position on a range of topics, only to abandon what they have learned completely, when the evidence begins to point to something far more interesting than the God from their religion of choice. It really is classic God of the gaps stuff to insist, on one hand, that “The foundation of cohesive logic appears to have been undermined by quantum physics.” and on the other insist that this somehow constitutes proof of the existence of the deity to which you happen to have a predisposition towards believing in.
You undo your own argument in this way, because it highlights your greater commitment to theistic chewing gum, than the nouvelle cuisine of evidence against all forms of inductive assumption.
For instance, what possible justification can there be to say that simply because one understands Pauli’s exclusion principle, rumours of a desert dwelling preacher immediately become true? How, in other words, do you get from a position where you accept the scientific evidence of, say, cosmological evolution, but refuse to see that the very deductive process which gave us that knowledge to begin with, also tells us there is something far more profound happening, than we can hope to understand in one lifetime.
If you’re offended by having what you actually believe read back to you, consider the offence we take at being told the only way to be a moral person is to believe in such things without question.
I also understand that you believe the ability of the atheist to behave morally, despite their non-belief in Yahweh, constitutes proof that — even in their denial of his existence — they prove His ability to exert influence upon even the hardest of hearts. But you misrepresent us in this way so as to cover over the fact you haven’t even begun to approach a proof of your basic truth-claim — and it stands out like a sore thumb.
Further, it assumes we are hardened to the astounding beauty of the universe and the precision by which we measure it, when in reality we are the ones who advocate such a view. In simply pointing out that you make the perfect argument against the existence of the designer you postulate as being Yahweh, every time you acknowledge the even greater profundity of what we can empirically ascertain about reality, in your view, we immediately sacrifice ourselves to “random chance” or “a universe without meaning” — when nothing could be further from the truth.
Moreover, you have talked yourself into this position, on a perfectly wrong understanding of what Quantum Mechanics actually is and what it actually tells us. Quote, “If quantum mechanics seems to dismantle a cohesive logical explanation of the universe, it is likely that there is a non-materialist explanation.”
Quantum Mechanics does not dismantle cohesive logic, it solidifies it. Your misunderstanding of what Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle actually is, doesn’t constitute a reason for other people to be similarly confused.
More to the point, even if it did undermine what we know about the physical world, by your own logic it would necessarily follow that a “non-materialist explanation” of what we observe, would be — by definition — one which you cannot measure, quantify or describe — thereby even further undermining your belief that Yahweh embodies a “non-materialist explanation”; since the validity of the truth claim that He reveals Himself to us as a physical presence, cannot be considered an objectively valid experience, since our description of that experience is by definition borne of our material understanding.
Q.E.D., metaphysical truth claims are meaningless for precisely the same reason any conclusion drawn from its own proposition is viciously circular.
So on points 1 and 2, you have undone your own argument. Which is amusing, but not in a “let’s all point and laugh at the fundamentalist” petty kind of “typical atheist on the internet” sort of way. But in an almost amusing “he’s just explained how small his God is without realising it” kind of extremely sad sort of a way. I genuinely pity your loss of perspective, in this regard.
Don’t take that wrong — I admire your mental acrobatics, but only because it speaks to the level of sophistication the scientific evidence has forced you into adopting, simply to continue believing in belief for belief’s sake.
I’m going to deliberately skip large sections of your argument on the afterlife and the hallucinations of Ernest Hemingway, in the hope you will accept our invitation to debate this on the podcast, and finish instead on your final statement, “IV. Materialism has failed to provide support for answers to foundational questions while theism has provided such support.”
Please describe an action of good which could not be performed by an atheist and only performed by a theist. Do not insult your reader’s intelligence by saying “prayer”. And consider, by analogy, the shattered body of a child, sent into a crowded subway packed with timed explosives, and ask yourself if her parents are religious, or secular humanist.