Friday, 2 September 2011

Irreducible complexity - evidence AGAINST god

Creationists seem to use the argument of irreducible complexity as one of their lines of evidence to show that there really is a god.  Until you start to think about it, this might seem to be a reasonable argument.  But as I get older and the more I learn about the sheer quantity of complexity in the universe, the more I doubt this line of thinking and recognise it as a logical fallacy - the argument from personal incredulity.

The more complex we find things to be, the more unlikely it is that there was a single original creator with the capacity to deal with the complexity.  I think we have long passed the point of no return. 

The way I look at it is like this.  If god has been involved in the minutiae of the whole of creation it must have taken a lot of effort and thought, computation and clever planning.  OK - he's omnipotent apparently.  He could create the physical laws but suspend them long enough to work his magic all across the universe without having to break the light speed barrier.  (I never heard a creationist deny that the universe is large - but maybe some do.)

But could such a deity possibly be this omnipotent and still not be able to solve the 'sin' problem without having to send himself to earth, to torture and kill himself in a barbaric scape-goat ritual that befits the ignorant thinking of the bronze age more than the wonderful understanding of a super-intelligent all-powerful creator? 

Think of the intricacies of setting up the physics of the universe so that the initial physical laws are apparently just right for whatever was coming next.  Quite a bit of forethought would have had to go into this.  Then to split the universe into tidy chunks, the galaxies, then to structure each of them in subtly different ways just so that his 'ultimate creation', humans, have something to study and explore when they learn to build powerful telescopes.  After all, if it was not for this reason, what would have been the point of all that intricate detail?

Not only that, but he set the light going so that it got here just at the right time to make the universe look consistently 'old', when if fact apparently it is quite young.  On top of that he set off these photons in exactly the right place so that wherever you look from, consistent images are visible.  (In other words he deliberately lied to us.)

Then he orchestrated the detailed design of the solar system in this unremarkable galaxy, making one planet just right for life to thrive, but not skimping on the detail that is built into the other remote planets and their moons, the comets and the asteroids.  Even the way that the earth spins gives us day and night, warming and cooling just at the perfect rate.  The moon was put there to tell us when to celebrate Easter - and to cause the tides, introducing such a wide range of habitats along the shorelines.  He made it look different on the other side, leading to the latest ideas that the earth originally had two moons - for some inescapable reason.

Having made the earth just right, supplying it with exactly the right elements that were needed for biochemistry was quite a chore (because only the right elements will work together - and nothing works as well as carbon).  He then built all the micro-structure of life, including the amazing detail in the DNA of each separate creature and planted life almost everywhere.  The harder you look, the greater the complexity, but omnipotent god did it all, including planting the 'false evidence' for evolution (in copious quantities)!

We could go on, delving into atomic structure and all the physics that leads to the special features of the electromagnetic spectrum, enabling us, and only us, to identify the different elements from huge distances.  Those features obviously bring us back to the paragraph about the galaxies.  The details of emission and absorption bands just had to be there so that when his 'favourite creation' learned how to build telescopes and spectrometers they would be able to see the inescapable evidence for an old and expanding universe.

Knowing the myths of Genesis we would obviously suspect that god had been lying to us all along, and thus he could test our faith.

Or am I indulging in shallow thinking again?  Maybe there is some theologically sound reason why it is easier to create the complexity and beauty of DNA than to solve the problems of sin and suffering.

Maybe there was even a reason that he tried to pass off the bronze-age notion of the human scape-goat to an iron age audience.  But even if it was appropriate for the people of the time - perhaps it was - isn't it about time that he refreshed the message for us?  Interestingly this question might not seem logical to christians or muslims because they think they already have the answer.  Meanwhile the Jews are patiently waiting for an update on the notion of the nature of god.

I don't think I expect an update soon.


Small note: Thanks to JM for the interesting lunch-time conversation leading to the last paragraph but one!

5 comments:

Hilary said...

Ah yes, shallow thinking indeed - and I take issue with:
"Not only that, but he set the light going so that it got here just at the right time to make the universe look consistently 'old', when if fact apparently it is quite young. On top of that he set off these photons in exactly the right place so that wherever you look from, consistent images are visible. (In other words he deliberately lied to us.)" as I do not believe that this is what He did, and I also take issue with;
"including planting the 'false evidence' for evolution (in copious quantities)!" as evolutionists have simply interpreted the evidence that way instead of interpreting it in the far better way of a young Earth.
Now, back to the shallow thinking; seems abundantly clear to me, if we are able to perceive the complexities of life, of the cosmos, etc then why would it be a problem for God as Creator to create it all? However, it then has to be appreciated that the problem of sin is not mere solving some sort of complex crossword puzzle, but it is a relational problem. Let's take a very practical example - 2 people get married and have kids, why don't they just buy a couple of robots...program them and hey presto - no hassle, a life of peace, no nappies, no teenage rebellion, etc etc...why want actual people with feelings and minds of their own and opinions...etc
we're not simply beings on one level, we're beings on many levels...and humanity has the same potential now to be as barbaric as when men and women first peopled the Earth - we also have the same potiential to willfully care for our neighbour... just like children have the choice to love their parents or turn away from them...would a parent not die for their child? I think the answer to that is a resounding YES that no matter how badly their child had treated them, the mother and father would give their lives...we are made in the image of God - our Creator :)

Plasma Engineer said...

I'm not sure that a superficial answer about the detail in the universe gives any evidence for why the thinking is shallow. There is just far too much detail for the universe to have been created. Even without questioning whether he *could* have done it, the question is *why* would he bother with all that detail in the hope that people with free will would find a way to discover it. They might have chosen a life of introspection and it would all have been wasted.

Incidentally, analogies are a good way to teach people when you know that the answer is much more complex but know that the student will not understand. Analogies are not evidence of anything at all. But addressing this one analogy - I think the evidence of Genesis suggests that god did in fact kill almost everyone in the flood.

Hilary said...

To take your second point re Genesis yes I think that analogies only can go so far, but the point remains that humans have free will. C.S.Lewis quotes: "If God thinks this state of war in the universe is a price worth paying for free will, then it is worth paying". I believe there are many many things we don't understand, I don't mean matierial things, but things we can only see from our perspective and not God's. Why should we be able to have the mind of God?

When the flood came, as I believe it did, then yes, it was devastation. In that case, as Genesis says, the heart of man was continuously wicked...but Noah found Grace in the eyes of the Lord...I think this marks a time of total depravity of mankind...like the world was full of Hitler type people as evil...

...and your first point, the Universe was made by, through and for Jesus Christ, much of it, for sheer joy of creativity, God knew that mankind would only ever see a fraction of it...so does everything God makes have to have us as being able to find it out, discover it, etc...I think not... it is all for the Glory of God.

I guess we are just coming from two completely different viewpoints and therefore think totally differently about all these things :)

RosaRubicondior said...

Of course, if we follow the IDist argument that 'irreducible complexity' proves a creator/designer then their creator god's irreducible complexity 'proves' it too was designed/created.

No doubt they suspend their own logic when it becomes inconvenient.

Or perhaps it's just turtles all the way down...

Anonymous said...

Well what can I say? Only one thing God Created everything good but man complicated all the good things God made with sin. Yes God could solve the problem of sin by destroying all and creating all new again he has the power to do that but he picked the way of love he took matters on his own hands, he would do it either way, and paid our debt with him he saved us sin because of love.
Yes he did almost destroy humanity in the flood and I believe the story in Genesis but it was because that people got to a point in which they would not come back to him. They gave up on God, God had no choice but give up on them even when he loved them. And let me tell you if today someone is answering to you, it is probably because God has not yet give up on you. He love you and is waiting for you to give him a chance to work in you.