"You believe in an invisible, all-powerful God? Absurd. How very unlikely!"
Your friends have never met Barack Obama, but they believe in him. ... because people talk about him, we've seen pictures, we've heard of things he's done. But they don't believe in your God. No-one's ever seen him. And where's the evidence? And anyway, it's so unlikely - it's like a fairy tale!
How do you answer that? And what is this whole probability thing?
200 years ago Paley said if you find a watch, ticking, you don't assume the atoms and molecules got together by accident! You say "Ah, someone's making watches". The existence of living creatures, wondrously complex, is evidence for a Creator.
Just 25 years ago, Fred Hoyle (originally an atheist) calculated the chances of life appearing by chance from the "primordial soup". It's hugely unlikely - like a tornado in a junk-yard accidentally assembling a Boeing 747 in full working order! He reluctantly admitted it must have been designed.
Modern materialists have found four ways to avoid concluding from God's handiwork that He exists. Your friends will hit you with all of them, especially if they've been reading books by Christopher Hitchens! Let's take them in turn.
(1) "Yes yes, creatures are amazingly complex, but it's all done by evolution! It's built up over millions of years from simple algae."
Actually, no, not possible. If you read the science of evolution, you'll find that it can't START life. There has to be growing, self-replicating, chromosome-endowed life first, before evolution can start to work improving it.
(2) "Well yes, spontaneous life is unlikely, but hey - God is even more unlikely! A Creator would have to be WAY more complex than his own life-forms, so there's even less chance of him existing. It's easier to believe in amoebae than a mystical God."
This looks sensible - until you stop and think. We're talking about the probability of life STARTING by random chance - when there was no life before, just carbon atoms. If you're talking about the probability of God STARTING, by chance, from nothing - yes indeed that's even less likely.
But no-one has ever suggested that God started! By chance, or any other way. Nor will they, ever.
Go back to Paley's ticking watch. Could anybody really argue that "Oh well, the probability of a watchmaker existing is even less likely than the chance that this watch came together by accident"?
(3) "Well, it's true that this universe does fit our needs amazingly well. But perhaps there are actually countless billions of different universes, totally outside our universe (so we can never detect them in any way), all with totally different atoms/molecules/whatever. So the chance of ONE of them suiting us would be quite high, eh?"
This theory (of a "Multiverse" of universes) requires ENORMOUS faith! There is no evidence for it whatever, people haven't talked about it before, and it's totally impossible to prove or disprove. Perhaps it's harder to believe in than God?
Its only advantage, and what makes it attractive to atheists like Richard Dawkins, is that it avoids God ... so we can continue to think we're the most important beings in the universe.
(4) "Well, the anthropic principle explains it all. It had to happen, otherwise we wouldn't be here talking about it!"
Like multiverses, this is another new idea - its inventor is still alive - and it too is bizarre. The name is meaningless - it simply says "the Principle of Man". It runs like this:
Imagine you're sitting on a tree-branch looking proudly down on your well-kept garden. You might think to yourself "How fortunate that the tree has a branch just here! Otherwise I would fall down."
The anthropic principle says something like this. "You're wrong. The tree HAD to have a branch just there, otherwise you wouldn't be sitting there thinking this. So it's not a lucky coincidence - it was necessary. Or, put another way, if the tree had had its branch somewhere else, you'd be sitting there instead."
But this principle is being totally abused! For its inventor (an astro-physicist) it was quite useful - it means we can expect, from our own existence, to find conditions in our Universe that suit us, e.g. on other planets. Yes indeed. But it says nothing about WHY this all happened. It doesn't tell us why the "Big Bang" (another term invented by Fred Hoyle) occurred and started us all off.
If no trees ever had branches, you would not be sitting looking down at your garden. But does that tell us why trees have branches?
Maybe, just maybe, trees were CREATED to have branches so we can sit on them and enjoy the beautiful world?
The GodOrNot Team