Classical God Arguments

The Ontological Argument

Argument: The argument has many variations, but the general idea is that the nature of god is independent of experience and understanding, god’s nature implies its existence, and no greater good or perfection can be conceived, and since this perfection can be conceived in the mind, it exists in reality, but even greater. So if we can conceive of and think of a god then it exists, and it is an imperfection for that god not to exist, and since god is perfect it exists. Further, when someone denies that there is a god, they become a fool because by acknowledging the argument they make god’s existence real.

Rebuttal:

Theists and non-theists alike (can) agree that there is spatio-temporal, or causal, or nomic, or modal structure to the world (the basis for cosmological arguments); and that there are certain kinds of complexity of organisation, structure and function in the world (the basis for teleological arguments); and so on. But theists and non-theists are in dispute about whether there are perfect beings, or beings than which no greater can be conceived, or … ; thus, theists and non-theists are in dispute about the indirect subject matter of the premises of ontological arguments.

Things we imagine do not have to be greater in reality than in conception, they could be worse, and may not exist at all in reality, like the flying spaghetti monster. Is it foolish to deny the flying spaghetti monster or the god of any religion? The ontological argument assumes that believing in something will make it come true, and that existence is a property of an object conceived in the mind. We can dream up anything, and even a god greater than another god.

The anti-thesis to this argument could be could be conceived as well, and equally valid as it is also a priori: the most perfectly horrible and evil being such that none greater (or lower if you like) can be conceived. We could also conceive that a part of our god-dream is that whatever god we dream-up it does NOT exist in reality. We can dream of all sorts of beings and objects, and they needn’t exist in reality even if we wish them to be. Further, if nothing greater can be conceived, what is its real-world value? What would it mean to us? Would it not at matter at all because it was beyond our comprehension, thus rendering it beyond our grasp, and no different than being invisible and/or non-existent?

Design: The Teleological Argument

Argument: God created universe because the design and “architecture” observed in the natural world is evidence of a designer. Everything we see had to have a cause and a designer.

Rebuttal:

  1. If everything needs a cause and a design, how can god be a designer without a designer and a cause without a cause? Who made and/or caused god? Are we to assume god came as something from nothing? If so, the same logic can be applied to the formation of the universe. Lastly, at this time, who is to say that there never has been “nothing,” that the universe had no beginning, it just is and has always has been, and there was never a ‘vacuum’ or void of nothing?
  2. If a god designed the earth and all its creatures, how come they must adapt to it, and why does extinction happen?
  3. If god is perfect how come many of its biological “designs” are not perfect, or could be better? This is an imperfect world filled with imperfections, one being destroyed by mankind. What kind of designer would allow this or want it?
  4. If earth was made for us by a god, why do humans seem caple of destroying it, and why is the sun going to die out and eventually swallow earth as a red giant, or if not, potentially tidally lock and fry one side of earth?
  5. A god is not needed to explain that the planets of the Solar System (earth included) are the offspring of the Sun. Why assume the Universe is the child of a god?

Also see Cosmythology

Arguments to Design: A fresh look at an old family of arguments

by Anthony Flew

It is high time and overtime to take a fresh, open-minded, skeptical look at arguments to design. It has to be to not from because such arguments–which have been and remain the most widely employed and effectively persuasive of all arguments for the existence and activities of a creator God–are supposed to be arguments from experience. Given agreement that something is in truth an artifact, then the inference to a designer or designers becomes immediate and altogether compelling. It is precisely and only in so far as there is dispute as to whether objects of some kind are indeed artifacts that there is need for argument to settle the question; and, in particular, for argument from experience.

Consider, for example, the classic statement from William Paley’s Natural Theology; a treatise which Charles Darwin read during his student days at Cambridge:

Suppose I had found a watch upon the ground, and it should be inquired how the watch happened to be in that place, I should hardly answer that for anything I knew, the watch might always have been there. The watch must have had a maker, who comprehended its construction and designed its use. Every indication of contrivance, every manifestation of design which existed in the watch, exists in nature, with the difference on the side of nature of being greater or more, and that in a degree which exceeds all computation.

If I spotted a watch under the heather in Wester Ross, then I should certainly recognize it as an artifact; just as Robinson Crusoe, if he had found a watch lying on the beach of his island, would also have recognized that as an artifact. But we could both have also recognized as artifacts objects requiring far less skill and knowledge for their manufacture than watches; archaeologists, for instance, are doing it all the time. For what makes an artifact an artifact is the fact that it was made: not that it is something of mind-boggling complexity; but that it is something of a kind which does not grow on trees, and is not to be found in untrodden territories.

It has been wisely and relevantly said that “the simplest and most psychologically satisfying explanation of any observed phenomenon is that it happened that way because someone wanted it to happen that way”.[1] All arguments to conclusions so satisfactory ought to be suspect as possibly self-deluding exercises in wishful thinking. And even before Darwin a straightforward, supposedly empirical argument to design should not have appeared well founded. Remember that such arguments are presented as arguments of natural theology. They are, therefore, supposed to be addressed to natural reason, unenlightened by any prior supernatural revelation of beings undetectable by human sense and of their allegedly all pervasive ongoings. Yet, of all the sorts of objects known to us absent any such prior supernatural revelation, by far and away the most complicated and sophisticated are in fact not products of human industry but the producers of those products.

Some lines from Uncle Tom’s Cabin are more revealing here than perhaps the authoress herself recognized. For, unlike the Yankee Miss Ophelia, poor Topsy had never been theologically indoctrinated by either parent or preacher. Yet she had had abundant opportunity to learn from rural observation what in my young day urban fathers used to reveal to school-bound sons as ‘the facts of life’. So it is Topsy who answers for unprejudiced common sense and common experience:

‘Do you know who made you?’ ‘Nobody, as I knows on,’ said the child with a short laugh. The idea appeared to amuse her considerably; for her eyes twinkled, and she added: ‘I s’pect I grow’d. Don’t thin nobody never made me.'[2]

Paley’s argument to design appears to proceed, as if this was a movement warranted by all our experience of nature: from the observation that organisms, and in particular human beings, which so far as we know are the most complex sort of objects in the universe, appear not to have been made but to have developed naturally; to the conclusion that these objects, and indeed all other sorts of objects also, must nevertheless have been made–must have been, that is to say, created supernaturally. A less popular, more technical, but equally unsound variation upon the same theme was developed centuries earlier by Aquinas. For the fifth of his supposed five ways of proving the existence of God takes off from:

. . . the guidedness of nature. An orderedness of actions to an end is observed in all bodies obeying natural law, even when they lack awareness . . . Nothing however that lacks awareness tends to a goal, except under the direction of someone with awareness and with understanding; the arrow, for example, requires an archer. Everything in nature, therefore, is directed to its goal by someone with understanding, and this we call ‘God.'[3]

I shudder to imagine Topsy’s reaction had anyone drawn her attention to this argument. For Aquinas is confidently offering all those apparently teleological phenomena which to all appearance proceed without “the direction of someone with awareness and with understanding” as premises from which to derive the contradictory conclusion that “Everything in nature . . . is directed to its goal by someone with understanding”. He too is taking as premises for his argument to (supernatural) design what ought instead to be seen-absent revelation to the contrary-as conclusions about what actually occurs, and hence what is naturally possible, without supernatural contrivance.

Aquinas, like Aristotle, maintained that “An orderedness of actions to an end is observed in all bodies obeying natural laws, even when they lack awareness”. This form of orderedness towards an end, which we call teleological, is something which scientists today discern primarily if not exclusively in the development of living things. So it would be prudent to point, less comprehensively and hence less controversially, to the familiar teleological phenomena studied by biology; to make it not “all bodies”, without exception, but only all living things. Aquinas, however, proceeds from his own unqualified major premise to his minor:

Nothing that lacks awareness tends to goal, except under the direction of someone with awareness, and with understanding; the arrow, for example, requires an archer.

Certainly an arrow requires an archer if it is to be shot. But what about all those other teleological phenomena which can be observed in the progress of organisms through their life cycles? At any rate to all appearance, as Topsy would have insisted, living things just grow. Certainly there are in these cases no observable archer-substitutes. So to conclude from the two premises presented by Aquinas that “Everything in nature . . . is directed to its goal by someone with understanding, and this we call God” is to conclude, on the basis of evidence largely if not exclusively contrary, that always and absolutely everywhere. even where there seems to be no human or other natural direction, all development is nevertheless always completely subordinate to and dependent upon supernatural control. This argument constitutes a most gigantic begging of the question, and a begging of it in defiance of the evidence actually offered in support of the conclusion thus illicitly attained. Such a performance by the goy Aquinas demands a Yiddish-type response: ‘And that you call an argument?’

Presumably it is in part by equivocating in the employment of such terms as ‘teleological’ and ‘goal-directed’ that Aquinas and others have continued to reach the conclusion desired: in one understanding these terms entail conscious direction: and in another they do not. Those outside a Thomist tradition are perhaps more likely to reach the same conclusion–that all such teleological phenomena must be the products of conscious direction–in another way. For to many people it has seemed and still seems, as it did to Descartes, self-evidently necessary: not only that nothing can possibly come about without some kind of cause; but also that those causes necessarily have to be somehow proportionate and adequate to their effects.[4]

Descartes himself spoke of perfection, rather than of adequacy or proportion. But our contemporaries are more inclined to urge that consciousness, self-consciousness, the capacity for reasoning discourse, and various other characteristics. most of which so far as we know are the prerogatives of human beings, simply could not have emerged as the unplanned and unintended by-products of interactions between entities which could not themselves be significantly described as possessing any such characteristics. Such characteristics, it is sometimes added, cannot conceivably characterize anything purely and simply material.

But now remember Hume’s fundamental insight, that we do not and cannot know a priori that any particular thing or sort of thing either must be or cannot be the cause of any other particular thing or sort of thing. For anyone maintaining either that these characteristics cannot result from interactions between entities not themselves possessed of them, or that they cannot correctly be attributed to anything through and through material, the crucial question–as always absent special revelation–is how this is supposed to be known. For our only natural knowledge of such characteristics is obtained because, and in as much as, they are characteristics possessed by ourselves and by other members of that very special class of creatures of too, too solid flesh to which all of us belong.

Notes and References

  1. THOMAS SOWELL (1980) Knowledge and Decisions, p.97. New York, Basic Books.
  2. HARRIET BEECHER STOWE (n.d.) Uncle Tom’s Cabin, p.206. New York, Books Inc.
  3. ST THOMAS AQUINAS Summa Theologica, Part I. Question 2.
  4. These principles appear–as Axioms III and IV, respectively–in a very characteristic exercise included in Descartes’ replies to the second set of solicited Objections to his Meditations on First Philosophy: “Reasons which prove the existence of God and the distinction between the mind and the human body, arranged as geometry”. WILLIAM PALEY (1836) Natural Theology, 2 Vols. London. Charles Knight.

Antony Flew was formerly Professor of Philosophy at the University of Reading

“Arguments to Design” is copyright © 1996 by Antony Flew. The electronic version is copyright © 1998 Internet Infidels with the written permission of Antony Flew.

First Cause: The Cosmological Argument

The cosmological argument is less a particular argument than an argument type. It uses a general pattern of argumentation (logos) that makes an inference from particular alleged facts about the universe (cosmos) to the existence of a unique being, generally identified with or referred to as God. Among these initial facts are that particular beings or events in the universe are causally dependent or contingent, that the universe (as the totality of contingent things) is contingent in that it could have been other than it is, that the Big Conjunctive Contingent Fact possibly has an explanation, or that the universe came into being. From these facts philosophers infer deductively, inductively, or abductively by inference to the best explanation that a first or sustaining cause, a necessary being, an unmoved mover, or a personal being (God) exists that caused and/or sustains the universe. The cosmological argument is part of classical natural theology, whose goal is to provide evidence for the claim that God exists.

 

On the one hand, the argument arises from human curiosity as to why there is something rather than nothing or than something else. It invokes a concern for some… read more

Argument: All things in the world have to have a cause, and since it is assumed that there can’t be an infinite regression of causes, a god was the first cause of all causes to follow (that first cause created the universe etc.).

Rebuttal:

  1. This begs the question: who caused god?
  2. If god is said to have always existed then we are equally justified in saying that the universe has always existed (its matter, current state, or pre-Big Bang) with or without a god. At one time the Cosmological argument was self-evident and obvious, but so were the “facts” that kings and queens had divine rights to do as they pleased, and that a flat earth stood still at the center of the universe.
  3. The first cause needn’t be a god.
  4. What do we conclude from this argument in regards to freewill and determinism, as well as the causes of evil acts if all causes are traced back to a god?
  5. The argument assumes there cannot be an infinite sequence, there are an infinite series of natural numbers, what if the universe is the same?
  6. If the universe is infinite then god is infinite. We could also say if the universe is not infinite then neither is god, or that god is outside of the universe and therefore infinite. It’s all a crap shoot no matter how you slice it.

Stephen Hawking’s Cosmology and Theism by Quentin Smith

Stephen Hawking has recently argued that there is ‘no place for a creator,’ that God does not exist. Yet theists have jumped all over this statement, claiming it blatantly fails as an argument for God’s nonexistence. Specifically, they have argued that even if Hawking’s physical laws are true, that fact does not entail that the God of classical theism does not exist or even disconfirm the classical theistic hypothesis. It seems to me that a case can be made that Hawking’s physical laws are inconsistent with classical theism. I shall develop an argument to this effect in the present paper. Although this argument is not explicit in Hawking’s writings, it is arguably implicit in or based upon his theory. I shall argue that that the proposition, “Hawking’s wave function law obtains,” entails the proposition that “God does not exist.” more

The Uncaused Beginning of the Universe by Quentin Smith

This evidence includes the Hawking-Penrose singularity theorems that are based on Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, and the recently introduced Quantum Cosmological Models of the early universe. The singularity theorems lead to an explication of the beginning of the universe that involves the notion of a Big Bang singularity, and the Quantum Cosmological Models represent the beginning largely in terms of the notion of a vacuum fluctuation. Theories that represent the universe as infinitely old or as caused to begin are shown to be at odds with or at least unsupported by these and other current cosmological notions.

My purpose in this paper is to argue that there is sufficient evidence at present to warrant the conclusion that the universe probably began to exist over ten billion years ago, and that it began to exist without being caused to do so. I believe accordingly that the positions held by many if not most contemporary philosophers concerning this issue are unjustified, for their beliefs typically fall into one of three mutually exclusive categories, (1) the universe is probably infinitely old, (2) the universe began to exist and its beginning was caused by God, and (3) insufficient evidence is available to enable us to decide about whether the universe began to exist or is infinitely old. more

More from Quentin Smith:

An Easy Way of Destroying Cosmological Arguments

by Horia George Plugaru

source

When theists propose one of the Cosmological Arguments (CA), they usually assert the following:

(a) there cannot be an endless regress of causes;
(b) an explanation which ends by postulating a brute fact (such as the universe simply exists uncaused) is not convincing;
(c) God is a person and he created the universe by a free act of will.[1]

I will show, however, that when theists present CA they are actually forced to deny at least one of the three aforementioned points. This will lead to the conclusion that CA are useless as an attempt to prove the existence of the theist God.

The first question is: why did God choose to create/sustain the world?

There are three possibilities:

(1) there was an endless chain of thoughts in God’s mind that ended with the conclusion “I will create/sustain the world”;
(2) the fact that God chose to create/sustain the world was not caused by anything–in which case it is a brute fact;
(3) the thought “I will create/sustain the world” necessarily existed in God’s mind.

If theists accept (1), then they are forced to deny (a).

If theists accept (2), then they are forced to deny (b).[2]

If theists accept (3), then the second question is: did God have a choice to choose not to create/sustain the world despite the necessary thought in his mind? If God did not have a choice, then (c) is denied. If, on the other hand, God did have a choice, then we should ask: why did God choose to put into practice his thought “I will create/sustain the world”? Again, there are three possibilities: an endless chain of thoughts, a brute fact, or a necessary thought such as “I will follow my thought ‘I will create the world.'”

The same points can then be made with regard to (a) and (b). And in case theists would answer that there was a necessary thought in God’s mind such as “I will put into practice my thought ‘I will create the world,'” then my question is: did God have a choice to choose not to follow this thought?

Thus, there are three general options:

(1) there was an endless chain of thoughts in God’s mind, one causing the other, until he reached the thought “I will create/sustain the world”;
(2) God’s decision to create/sustain the world is a brute fact;
(3) the thought which led to the creation of the world necessarily existed in God’s mind, a situation which can either be reduced to the first two options or leads to the conclusion that God did not have a choice to choose not to create the world.

Theists might object, here, in the following way: they could say that the thought “I will create/sustain the world” existed necessarily in God’s mind because of his omnibenevolent nature so that even if God had no choice but to follow this necessary thought, this does not mean that he was not free. Indeed, although he acted out of necessity, this necessity was not imposed on him from the outside but rather is the result of his own nature.

According to this response, the reason God created the world was his omnibenevolence, which necessarily produced in God’s mind the thought “I will create the world.” But this maneuver does not take us too far for the reason that we can ask similar questions, this time with respect to God’s omnibenevolence. Why is God’s nature omnibenevolent? Did he choose it to be that way, or did this quality necessarily exists necessarily? If he chose it, then the three possibilities are repeated. If, however, God did not have a choice, then it seems that he followed out of necessity his necessary omnibenevolence. In this situation, however, it becomes difficult to see how God would have been free in creating/sustaining the world. As William Rowe says:

The absence of something outside a being that determines that being to act in a certain way does not imply that the being has the power not to act in that way. For something within that being may absolutely determine it to act in a certain way. And if something within a being necessitates that it act in a certain way, then, unless the presence or absence of that necessitating factor is within the being’s control, that being lacks the power not to act in that way … An action that an agent performs freely is an action the agent was free to perform and free not to perform; it was up to the agent whether to perform or not perform that act. If some external force or internal passion was beyond the control of the agent, and the agent’s action was inevitable given that external force or internal passion, then the agent did not act freely in performing that action.[3]

When we replace “internal passions,” in Rowe’s quote with “internal nature” or “internal omnibenevolence,” we see that indeed it becomes difficult to see how can God be said to have acted freely in creating/sustaining the world. Therefore, despite their objection, theists would be forced to deny (c) after all.

In conclusion, since I have shown that at least one of the three assertions theists make when they propose CA is faulty, and because all three assertions are required by most versions of CA, it follows that most versions of CA fail.

Notes:

[1] One reader said that he is not sure whether (c) “is actually a premise in the standard CA.” I think, however, that there are indeed good reasons to think that I am correct about (c). For example, William Craig, one of the most important contemporary proponents of CA, writes: “The only way to have an eternal cause but a temporal effect would seem to be if the cause is a personal agent who freely chooses to create an effect in time.” (William Craig, “The Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe,” Truth Journal, v. 3, http://www.iclnet.org/clm/truth/3truth11.html) Craig uses this assertion in order to show that the cause of the universe is a person.

In addition, another famous philosopher of religion, William Rowe, says, “In the theistic tradition, many thinkers have held that God is infinitely powerful, all-knowing, perfectly good and perfectly free.” [Italics mine] (William Rowe, “Freedom, Divine,” Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Version 1.0, London: Routledge.)

It seems then that the reader’s uncertainty is not very well-founded.

[2] Another reader said, “There is a crucial difference between the brute fact of God’s choice in (2) and the brute fact of the universe’s existence in (b); namely, God is believed to be an agent with free will. The CA argues that since the universe is not an agent with free will it could not have caused itself and therefore must have had a prior cause. It is mechanical causation that would have an infinite regress. A causation born of free will need not have a prior cause.”

This observation is based on the idea that brute facts do not (cannot) exist in nonpersonal contexts. Such a suggestion is, however, unconvincing. Not only that, but I do not see why postulating brute facts in “mechanical” contexts is incoherent or a priori implausible. In fact, many highly-respected contemporary physicists take the existence of spontaneous, brute facts in such contexts quite seriously. In any case, one who chooses to object by saying that the denial of (b) doesn’t follow from (2) for the aforementioned reasons will have to explain why, in principle, explanations that end with brute facts are possible and acceptable in the case of free will but unacceptable in any other case. After all, since brute facts are by definition causeless and unexplainable, it can hardly be said that a personal agent is somehow responsible for them.

On what grounds, then, are we justified into saying that uncaused, nonnecessary facts are not surprising in the context of free will but are so in another context? As far as I know, this has not been done and it is difficult to see what arguments could be given in support of such a thesis.

[3] “The section entitled “The first view and its chief difficulty,” William Rowe, “Freedom, Divine,” Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Version 1.0, London: Routledge

The Second Law of Thermodynamics

source

Another favorite argument for God’s existence put forward by theists are those concerned with what is called the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

Before going into the two main forms of the arguments we must first familiarize ourselves with this Law as understanding it is the key to seeing the inadmissibility of these arguments for God’s existence.

The two forms of fundamentalist arguments using the Second Law are:

As we can see below, ultimately these attempts to use the second law to prove God’s existence fail.

The Second Law of Thermodynamics

The Law involves a thermodynamic quantity called entropy. This quantity, for a system, is derived from the ratio of the heat energy of a system to the highest temperature object within the system. In its very basic form entropy measures the availability of useful energy to do work. The lower the entropy the more useful energy available. Thus, to borrow a good metaphor by Philip Kitcher, entropy tells us how much energy is “locked up” or unusable in a system. [1] As the heat energy say a glass of tap water can never flow into a cup of hot coffee placed next to it, we say that the energy available in the tap water is “locked” up. Alternatively, entropy can be viewed as the measure of disorder in a system. In this case, a lower entropy implies a more ordered system . Thus a salt crystal with their atoms neatly arranged has a lower entropy than a disordered system such a gases where the atoms and molecules fly about chaotically. [2]

Having given a rough idea of what entropy is, we will now proceed to introduce the Second Law of Thermodynamics. This law states that the entropy in any closed physical process or system will always increase. In other words, a closed system will always tend to get more and more disordered over time, with less and less useful energy available. Thus a hot cup of coffee will eventually cool down to the temperature of the room, where the room and the coffee is considered a closed system. And water without any external energy (such as from a pump) will always flow downhill. A closed system is a system in which there is not energy exchange between itself and the environment surrounding it. [3]

Note the second law is not applicable to an open system; where energy exchange between the system and the surroundings occurs. An obvious example is the cooling of a room by an air-conditioner. By itself, the room will not begin to get cooler than the surroundings. The air-conditioner pumps heat out from the room allowing it to cool. If we take just the entropy of the room, we will find that the amount of heat in the room will decrease resulting in an entropy decrease. But the room is an open system since there is an exchange of energy with the outside, namely the energy that is fed into the air-conditioner. To form a closed system we must take the air-conditioner, the power supply to it and the room together. The increase in entropy caused by the conversion of energy to feed the air-conditioner will outweigh the decrease of entropy within the room. Thus when all the appropriate components of a closed system are taken into account, there will always be an entropy increase.

Similarly, the sustenance of life in itself is an example of an open system where the living being actually becomes and stays highly ordered. This is, of course, only made possible because living beings, such as human beings, have an external energy source, i.e. food, to keep it’s internal system in a highly ordered (or low entropy) state. Of course, if we consider the food, it’s energy source (ultimately the sun) and the human being, which is a closed system; the total entropy will increase with time.

_______________

The Anti-Evolution Argument

Now what does all this have to do with God’s existence? In its first form, the theistic entropy argument states that the Second Law of Thermodynamics does not allow evolution to happen. An if evolution could not have happened, then God must have created all the living things on this world. [a] According to them, evolution is a process where more and more ordered forms of life processes are generated, in direct contradiction to the Second Law which states that things tend to move from an ordered to a more disordered state.

The diligent reader will easily see the fallacy of this argument. True, organic evolution does imply a decrease in entropy. But the biosphere is NOT a closed system. There is a constant input of energy from the sun that had energized the chemical and biochemical processes on earth for billions of years allowing order to form. Now, if we take the sun and the earth’s biosphere together, we would get a closed system. And the increase in entropy caused by the thermonuclear processes in the sun outweighs the decrease in entropy resulting from evolution. Thus the second law is not violated by evolution.

The creationists have a standard answer to this explanation. I will quote here from the creationist R.L. Wysong’s book The Creation Evolution Controversy (1976):

If the decreased entropy and high orderliness of life is accounted for solely on the basis of open system thermodynamics, you might ask why other open systems don’t likewise experience such ordering? [sic] In other words, why don’t battered Volkwagons [sic] in junkyards order themselves into shiny new Cadillacs? A junkyard is an open system. [4]

This objection is really not a valid objection at all, for it misunderstood completely that the discussion on systems and energy transfer must be dependent on the physico-chemical systems involved. In their own way, the creationists are actually asking why the air-conditioner doesn’t work when it is fed with a burger as an energy source and why a human being works even worse when it is fed with energy in the form of an electric current! Air-conditioners require energy in the form of electricity, human beings require energy in from of food which ultimately derives from the sun. Organic forms, the ones that evolve, having similar physicochemical makeup to human being, requires the same kind of energy a people do. Thus we find that the first form of the entropy argument represents a misunderstanding of the applicability of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. As an argument against evolution (and for God’s existence) it is of no worth.

_____________________

The Intelligent Design Argument

The second form of the argument involves the whole universe. If the universe consist of everything and all the energy there is, then it must be considered a close system. If this is the case, then the universe must have a constantly increasing entropy. Like an old mechanical clock, it is slowly winding down. Extrapolating backwards, there must be a time when the universe had the lowest possible entropy. The question then is: who wound up the universe? The answer, the theist says, is God. Thus God is defined in the second form of the entropy argument as the “Great Winder Upper”. [5]

This argument while is more sophisticated than the first form is also, ultimately, unconvincing. Here we are at the cutting edge of modern cosmology. Physicists are still trying to figure out what actually happened at the origin of the universe. The answer may be near, but at the moment we still do not know. This represent an actual gap in human knowledge. It is no accident that the modern theist postulate his god as the one who “wound up” the universe. This had always been a well known modus operandi of the theist: namely, whenever you find a gap in human knowledge, that’s where you hide your god! Thus, when our knowledge of life’s origins was lacking, the theistic postulate their god as the creator of life. That gap has been filled by the discovery of the process of organic evolution: the true explanation for the multifarious life forms on earth. When it was not known what caused the sun to shine; the theist say it is kept in such a state by God. The discovery of quantum mechanics in the twentieth century has shown that stars, our sun included, burn due to nuclear fusion in their cores. One more gap has been closed. As George H. Smith observed:

[T]he theist posits a “god of the gaps”, a god who allegedly fills in the gap of human knowledge. But gaps of knowledge eventually close, leaving god without a home. [6]

However, there are by no means any lack of suggestions and hypotheses as to the actual origin of the universe; none of which need the assumption of the existence of a great “entropy reducer”. One such hypothesis is that suggested by the Cambridge physicist, Stephen Hawking. He combined the General Theory of Relativity with Quantum Mechanics to suggest what is basically an oscillating kind of universe, where upon reaching its maximum limit of expansion, the universe begins to contract. This contraction would cause entropy to actually decrease. Thus when the universe is completely collapsed -the “Big Crunch” – entropy is once again at its lowest point. [7] The universe then re-expands into the next cycle. In this model there is no beginning and no end, just an endless and infinite cycles of oscillations between the Big Bang and the Big Crunch. Thus, even here the gaps for the theist’s god is closing fast.

In summary, the second form of the entropy argument is simply a postulation of an unknown entity that could somehow put the universe in a low entropy state. This is completely unfounded by any evidence and definitely not the only hypothesis available for the entropy problem.

Notes

a. This part of the reasoning is also fallacious. For evolution and creation are not the only two exclusive explanations for the origin of species and life. Proving evolution false does not automatically imply that creationism is true.

References

1. Kitcher, Abusing Science: p90
2. Pagels, Perfect Symmetry: p58
3. Kitcher, Abusing Science: p90
4. Quoted in ibid: p94
5. Smith, Atheism: p256
6. Gribbin, In Search of the Big Bang: p391
7. ibid: p386

Comments are closed