Six reasons atheism is dead wrong

(Centennial Fellow)There is a growing intensity among atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens (the four horsemen of the new atheism) and others who believe that materialism is the ultimate reality. Their writings are passionately opposed to promoting theism and specifically, Christianity.

Philosopher Alvin Plantinga states there are three reasons why philosophers accept materialism. “First, some materialists argue that dualism (the thought that a human being is an immaterial self) is incoherent. Second, naturalism entails that there are no immaterial souls. Third, materialism will ordinarily endorse Darwinian evolution.” [1]

This essay will examine the failures of materialism to simultaneously explain creation, the Anthropic principle (necessary for a life-permitting universe), the origin of life by chance, the origin of information by chance, the appearance of morality through chemical or biological evolution, and the prophetic evidence for the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. The joint probability of these events occurring by chance is less than one divided by the number of atoms in the universe.

I. The universe had a beginning.

Atheists believe that the universe is eternal. We see from Edwin Hubble’s work at the Palomar Observatory (on Mt. Wilson near Los Angeles) that the universe is expanding. This expansion is confirmed through observation of the “red shift.” In physics (especially astrophysics) redshift happens when light seen coming from an object that is moving away is proportionally increased in wavelength, or shifted to the red end of the spectrum. Albert Einstein traveled to see Hubble’s work and famously said “I now see the necessity of a beginning.” Since the universe is expanding, it follows that reversing the expansion would ultimately lead to a contraction or what physicists call “the singularity” known as the beginning of the universe. The Kalam Cosmological argument (widely accepted in professional philosophy and logic communities) states that:

  1. Everything that began to exist, has a cause.
  2. The universe began to exist.
  3. Therefore, the universe has a cause. [2]

Time and space came into existence at the singularity. Since there was a cause to bring the universe into existence, it has to be a cause that is outside of time and space. As a result, the cause is both immaterial and transcendent. This is God.

II. A life-permitting universe requires that cosmology and physics are exactly tuned to support life.

This concept is called “the Anthropic Principle.” We currently understand that there are about 35 parameters that are perfectly harmonized to support life on our planet. These parameters must all be set within a very narrow range to support life. The probability of these 35 attributes being set at the correctly to support life is less than 1 in 1040 [3] equating to essentially zero probability. Some examples of these parameters include:

  • The unique properties of water
  • Earth’s atmosphere (nitrogen, oxygen, and small amounts of other gases)
  • Earth’s reflectivity or “albedo”
  • Earth’s magnetic field
  • Earth’s place in the solar system
  • Our solar system’s place in the galaxy
  • The color of our sun
  • The force of gravity
  • The density of matter must equal the critical density needed to prevent the Big Crunch
  • The earth must be angled in its orbit perfectly to prevent temperature extremes.
  • Our moon must be its exact size to support the earth’s orbit.
  • The rate of universe expansion (cosmological constant).
  • This fine tuning requires a fine tuner. This is God.

III. The origin of life did not arise by chance.

There are 20 individual amino acids that are used in building proteins. Most proteins have a combination of approximately 450 amino acids. There are about 600 proteins in the most elementary cell. There are a total of about 30,000 proteins. [4]

Darwin thought the cell was a globule and did not understand cell complexity. If you calculate the probability of individual amino acids combining to form one protein you would multiply (since sequence matters) 1/20 x 1/20 x 1/20 (for each protein) all the way out to 450 amino acids (an average protein length) equating to a probability of essentially zero. A protein that is 150 amino acids in length has a chance probability of 1 in 10145. There is zero probability that the origin of life came about by chance. When one adds the additional complexity of DNA (which goes beyond the complexity of amino acid formation), we must further reduce the probability of chance creating life. Dr. Francis Crick, Nobel Laureate and co-discoverer of DNA, acknowledged that chance played no role in creating DNA.[5] He was a philosophical atheist so he supported the idea of Panspermia (that life originated elsewhere in the universe and was transported through interstellar systems by some unknown space aliens.) Scientists agree that chance alone using matter alone has a zero probability of explaining life. The sequence hypothesis (DNA nucleotides) confirms this.

The origin of life requires both design and an animating force based on biogenesis. This force is God.

IV. The origin of information did not arise by chance.

Information is the immaterial foundation of all biological life yet it requires material to transmit through. Information requires an intelligent source. We saw this in the formation of proteins and DNA. How much does information weigh? It is a nonsensical question because information has zero weight since it has no physical properties. Highly intelligent people Don’t weigh more than others because they have more information. According to information scientist Dr. Werner Gitt, DNA is billions of times more densely packed information than is our most sophisticated technology. Darwin was ignorant about information coding. Neo-Darwinists believe that natural selection and mutation explain the advancement of new species. However, a new species requires new information. Mutations by definition are the loss of original information, not the creation of new information. Microevolution has existed for centuries (adaptation within a species, a.k.a. “breeding”). Macroevolution, one species creating a new life form, is without example in the fossil record (the Cambrian explosion showed a sudden appearance of all current life forms without transitional forms.) Darwin tried to use microevolution to explain macroevolution. His philosophical descendants today try the same trick. This deception is widely perpetrated throughout the American education system.

Information, by definition, requires a transmitter or source. There are 1080 elementary particles (electrons, etc.) in the known universe. The oldest estimate of the age of the earth is 1016 seconds[6], thereby creating 1043 number of particle interaction possibilities or 10139 maximum event probabilities in the history of the universe. [7]

The intelligence behind the information that created the enormous but finite universe, the 30,000 proteins, the complexity and wonder of DNA, and life itself is called God. There is no naturalistic/materialist explanation that can fit within the event horizon of probabilities. Information requires intelligence. This intelligence is God.

V. Morality did not evolve physiologically by chemical or biological evolution. Morality requires a transcendent measure.

Atheists pretend that God does not exist by using the intellectual arguments of science while the root cause of their opposition to confessing God’s existence is moral. By pretending that God doesn’t exist, the atheist deludes himself into thinking that he is not morally accountable to the God that created him. Evolutionary ethicists state that there is no free will; we are the products of time and chance. There is no concept of right or wrong or ought in DNA. If our morality is evolved, who can say that torturing children for fun is wrong? Who can say that the Nazis were wrong in killing Jews? Evolutionists must say they are just doing what their genes programmed them to do. If evolutionary ethics were true, how do you explain acts of courage, valor, and sacrifice that appear noble but would not lead to reproduction (they die in battle for example.) If evolutionary ethics and morality were true, the biggest, strongest, and smartest would do anything to advance their cause. This has happened occasionally with horrors such as eugenics, Nazi Germany, and other examples of genocide, etc. If everyone chose their own morality, there would be chaos and evil rampant with no punishment and no justice. Necessary conditions for moral objectives are:

  1. A transcendent standard of measurement
  2. A human free will or freedom to choose
  3. The belief that humans have intrinsic, not instrumental, value

Moral evolutionist/relativists can not ascribe right or wrong or the word “ought.” They can’t complain about justice or evil. Everybody would do just what their genes programmed them to do, based upon chemistry and evolution. The contrasting reality is that humans are free will creatures who recognize moral right and wrong and therefore are free to choose beyond their genetic endowment. This is clearly indicated in the economic and social mobility of classes and individuals who operate as moral agents. This moral awareness comes from God.

VI. The life, death, resurrection, and fulfillment of prophecy by Jesus of Nazareth requires theism.

The life and impact of Jesus is corroborated through the eyewitness testimony contained in the Bible. The biblical manuscript evidence attests to its authenticity. Extra-biblical sources, e.g., Tacitus, Thallus, Pliny the Younger, Suetonious, Phlegon, Lucian, and Josephus are just a few examples of those that wrote of the historical veracity of Jesus’ existence. The evidence for the crucifixion, the empty tomb, the post-resurrection appearances, and the transformation of the early church all best explain the circumstances surrounding the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Finally, there are approximately 100 prophecies in the Old Testament that relate to the first coming of Jesus. Mathematics professor Peter Stoner, author of Science Speaks, assembled other mathematicians to calculate the probability of one man fulfilling 48 of the 100 Old Testament prophecies. The resulting probability was estimated at 1 in 10157[8] This miraculous fulfillment is from God.

Conclusion The cumulative weight of evidence from cosmology, physics, biology, information science, ethics, and fulfillment of prophecy clearly establishes that God is the best explanation as the creator of the universe, of life, of information, of morality, and as the one who transcends time and space, thereby fulfilling prophecy without error.

The new atheists have to climb a formidable mountain of improbability to assert that there is no God. Not only is it impossible to assert a “universal negative” that there is no God but the joint probability of the foregoing events is less than one divided by the number of atoms in the universe (estimated at 1080 ).[9] Clearly, the probability is overwhelming that God exists. It was over 350 years ago that the great French mathematician Blaise Pascal formulated “Pascal’s wager”. It posits that there is more to be gained from wagering on the existence of God than from atheism, and that a rational person should live as though God exists, even though the truth of the matter cannot be incontrovertibly proven. The evidence presented herein confirms that Pascal was perspicacious. The question before the reader now is what will be done with what we know to be true?


[1] Plantinga, Alvin “A New Argument Against Materialism.” Philosophia Christi. Vol.14 No.1. 2012 p.12

[2] Craig, William Lane The Kalam Cosmological Argument. Eugene, OR. Wipf and Stock Publishers. 2000. p.63.

[3] Meyer, Stephen. “Does God Exist” TrueU. Focus on the Family. 2009.

[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amino_acid

[5] http://www.panspermia-theory.com/directed-panspermia/

[6] http://www.strangehorizons.com/2001/20010402/biggest_numbers.shtml

[7] Gitt, Werner. In the Beginning was Information. DVD. Answers in Genesis. 2010.

[8] Stoner, Peter Science Speaks. Moody Press. Chicago, IL. 1969. p.110

[9] http://www.universetoday.com/36302/atoms-in-the-universe/

3 thoughts on “Six reasons atheism is dead wrong

  1. Bishop E. Bernard Jordan

    Hi.
    Thanks for this great post on Six reasons atheism is dead wrong.
    I really enjoyed this blog.God created man for the purpose of dominion. He was to rule over creation. There is a law of dominion: anything over which a person does not have dominion has dominion over that person.

    Reply
  2. gary

    Which of these two stories has a higher probability of having occurred:

    Jesus of Nazareth is crucified in Jerusalem in circa 30 AD. As he draws his final breath, the entire earth goes dark for three hours, a violent earthquake shakes dead people awake in their graves, and rips the Temple veil down the middle. Jesus’ body is taken down off the cross and placed in the tomb of Joseph of Arimethea, a member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish governing body which the previous night had voted unanimously to execute Jesus. The tomb is sealed with a large stone and Roman guards placed in front of it. Three days later, a second great earthquake shakes Jerusalem, causing the dead who had been shaken awake in the first earthquake to now come out of their tombs to roam the streets of Jerusalem and reconnect with old acquaintances; an angel (or angels) comes and rolls away the great stone in front of the tomb, causing the soldiers to faint and testifies to one, several, or many women that Jesus’ tomb is empty; that he had risen from the dead. Jesus later appears to the Eleven, and eight days (or forty days) later, ascends into heaven from a mountain in Bethany (or Galilee, or from the Upper Room in Jerusalem). The resurrection appearances of Jesus so emboldened the previously easily-frightened, doubting disciples that they now boldly preach the gospel of Jesus in the temple, Judea, and the world, dying martyrs deaths, refusing to recant their eyewitness testimony that they had seen the resurrected, walking/talking body of Jesus. These same disciples soon write the Gospels and several epistles that would soon become the New Testament of the Bible. The Gospel of Jesus spreads like wildfire, even though furiously persecuted by both the Jews and Romans, to become the dominant faith of the Western World for two thousand years.

    Or, is this what happened:

    Jesus of Nazareth is crucified. He dies. His body is left on the cross for days, as was the Roman custom, to warn any other “King of the Jews” pretender to think twice about stirring up trouble. After a few days have passed and the birds, dogs (Roman crosses were low to the ground), and other carrion ravaged the body, the remains were taken down at night and tossed into an unmarked common grave—a hole in the ground— with the bodies of other criminals executed that week. The location of this common grave is known only to a few soldiers, as the Romans do not want to give the “King of the Jews” a proper burial nor do they want a known grave to become a national shrine where Jews could later come and pay homage to their “King”, possible inciting more trouble. Jesus disciples who were already in hiding, go home to Galilee to take up their prior professions—fishing or collecting taxes. The small band is devastated. Their beloved leader is dead; their hopes of reigning over the New Kingdom on twelve thrones with Jesus are dashed to pieces; there will be no overthrow of the hated Romans after all. All hope seems lost. Then…months or a few years after Jesus’ death…a couple of women disciples see a man in the distance, at sunset, and in the silhouette of the fading sun…he looks like Jesus. Is it Jesus? He turns to them, waves with his hand, and then disappears behind a hill. “It was Jesus!” they exclaim. They run and tell the disciples. Soon other disciples are “seeing” Jesus. “He is risen, just as he said he would!” The disciples are thrilled! They WILL reign in the New Kingdom after all! They begin to preach the Gospel of Jesus, telling everyone how he has risen from the dead, as he promised.

    …and forty years later, after Jerusalem has been destroyed and most of the disciples are dead, a Greek speaking Christian in Rome writes down the story of Jesus. However, the version of the oral story that this man hears circulating in Rome tells of an empty tomb, the tomb of a member of the Sanhedrin, …so “Mark” writes down the story. A decade or so later, “Matthew” in another far away location and “Luke” in another, write down the story of Jesus. They borrow heavily from “Mark’s” story, from another common source (Q), and from other sources that they do not seem to have shared. For instance, “Matthew’s” story contains incredible supernatural tales, such as an earthquake occurring when Jesus died, causing dead people to come back to life…but they don’t come out of their graves until three days later! One wonders what they were doing in their tombs for three days!

    And two thousand years later, every Christian on earth believes that the stories written by “Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John” are the historically accurate accounts of the life and death of Jesus, when all they are are legendary stories. No one lied. No one made anything up. It’s a legend. Now, dear Christian, how many supernatural events such as dead people coming out of their graves and walking around town have you seen in your life? Not many, have you? And how many times have you seen a simple story about a car accident or someone’s mysterious death, turn into the wildest tale, with all kinds of miraculous claims, develop in just a matter of days?

    So, honestly, friend: Which of the above two stories about Jesus is much more probable to be true?

    Reply
    1. Brad

      Thank you for your comments. I appreciate both the time you took in your response and the passion in which you hold your convictions.

      Your comments demonstrate the classical flaw in many probability assessments, that is, a failure to both enumerate the list of possible outcomes and the lack of explanatory power and scope regarding events that happened. Extra-biblical sources (Tacitus, Thallus, Pliny the Younger, Phlegon, Lucian, Suetonious, Josephus, the Talmud, et.al. constitute a significant, albeit incomplete, list of sources that confirm something extraordinary happened related to the events you describe. There are almost no significant history scholars that attribute these events to legend. No reasonable scholar or historian will attempt to dismiss the writings of eyewitnesses whose testimony was widely circulated among contemporary society both orally and textually. Further, the aforementioned citations from both solid historians and hostile witnesses constitutes a high bar to clear for skeptics. Even the most ardent skeptics have a difficult time with the Resurrection appearances, often attributing them to shared hallucinations (a phenomenon denied by virtually all professionals in the psychiatric sciences). Skeptics who pursue the discipline of historiography also have a difficult time explaining the conversion of Saul and James.

      The arguments against supernaturalism have been repeated with fervor since Hume, yet fail to provide any explanatory power or scope for the events corroborated by eyewitnesses. An argument against supernaturalism based on the question “Have you ever seen one?” is analogous to asking if George Washington ever really existed if you haven’t seen him with your own eyes. This argument fails because it does not properly consider the meritorious attributes of historiographical and archaeological science.

      Finally, as many historians have shown, legends usually require two to three generations between the occurrence of an event and its telling. Roman historian A. N. Sherwin-White is one of many who has dispositively examined this point. The fact is that 1 Corinthians 15 (the account of the Resurrection) was orally circulated within a few years of the Resurrection of Jesus and was textually recorded shortly thereafter. It was certainly written by Paul long before sufficient time elapsed before legend could develop.

      There is simply too much evidence from too many sources supported by too many historians (many of whom are not Christians) for any reasonable mind to accept the Jesus story as legend. This kind of argument is right up there with those that say we never landed on the Moon and it was all filmed on the back lot of a Hollywood set. Other significant proponents of legends such as Holocaust deniers, Elvis is still alive, etc. serve as a reminder why it is so important for a society to teach how to rigorously examine evidence, how to think, how to research, how to argue, how to use tools of history and archaeology, and how to use the laws of logic to arrive at reasonable conclusions.

      On this day, when almost 33% of the world’s population will be celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus, it is important to understand that many may not accept a risen Jesus of Nazareth, but to dismiss what happened there 2,000 years ago as legend, is not grounded in the discipline of historical scholarship.

      My hope is that you would use your gifts of cognition to examine the work done by Dr. Gary Habermas on these issues. You can find them here: http://garyhabermas.com/. My best wishes to you in your search for truth.

      Reply

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