THE FIVE FACES OF ATHEISM, Part 6

May 2, 2010

As we have seen, the earliest forms of modern Atheism can be traced by to the French Philosopher Rene Descartes in the early 17th century. Although holding to a view of a creator God Descartes merely promulgated of philosophy which brought doubt to the forefront.

Others since then, most notably Thomas Hobbs left the final unexplained conclusions and answers to questions the possibility of God's existence and His work in nature. From Immanuel Kant in the late 18th century to Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel in the early 19th century philosophy isolated faith from reason and created a divide through which modern Atheism entered.

In the second, third and fourth parts of this series we looked at the five people who brought Atheism to the forefront through all the main categories of philosophical and scientific thought and disciplines.  In the last article we saw how these five persons influence every realm of society and all disciplines today.

With this article, I present an argument and ask that you draw the conclusions. It is hoped that you will see that there can be but one possible outcome to this civilization should atheism prevail. That is, that man is merely an animal, or as one Christian philosopher puts it, "Man is non-man, a machine" and society collectively will dictate who gets to thrive and who gets to die, i.e. the Survival of the Fittest.

Psalm 19:1 says: "The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows His handiwork." Then, the Apostle Paul tells the Christians in Rome that "ever since the creation of the world, His invisible nature, namely His eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made" (Romans 1:20). Astronomer Fred Hoyle, one of the first proponents of the "steady state" hypothesis and an atheist came to accept what has become known recently as the "anthropic principle," which states, in his words, "A commonsense interpretation of the facts which suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with the laws of physics."

One who believes in the steady state of the universe accepts the conclusion that the universe is infinite and eternal and remains in balance or on an even keel - no changes, no possibility of intervention by some outside source, no possibility for the laws of physics to be altered.

Atheist physicist Freeman Dyson in his book, "Disturbing The Universe" said "The more I examine the universe and study the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe in some sense must have known we were coming." Even Astronomer Owen Gingerich writes that the anthropic principle "means accepting that the laws of nature are rigged not only in favor of complexity or just in favor of life, but also in favor of mind.  To put it dramatically, it implies that mind is written into the laws of nature in a fundamental way."

The anthropic principle has provoked a huge debate today. In this debate there are only three possible positions one could hold. Dinesh D'Sousa calls these the "Lucky Us," the "Multiple Universes," and the "Designer Universe." 

The "Lucky Us" view says the fine-tuning of the universe is attributed to incredible coincidence.  In the words of physicist Victor Strenger, the universe "is an accident." The problem with this view is simply the fact that one cannot explain an improbability of this magnitude by simply pointing to our presence on the scene to ponder it. There is still a massive improbability that needs to be accounted for.

The anthropic principle, when carried to its logical conclusion does not say that, given the billions of stars in the universe, it's remarkable that life turned up on our planet. Rather, it says that the entire universe with all the galaxies and stars in it had to be formed in a certain way in order for it to contain life at all.

Philosopher Antony Flew, long a champion of atheist literature has concluded that the fine-tuning of the universe at every level is simply too perfect to be the result of chance. "To go where the evidence leads," he says, "ends up with God." Flew says that the anthropic principle requires a better explanation that "Lucky Us."

Consequently, many atheists have fled to the second explanation for the anthropic principle: Multiple Universes." The presumes that multiple universes operate according to each universe's set of laws. Consequently one universe may have an inverse-square law of gravity and another may have an inverse-cube law of gravity. Indeed, under conditions of true infinity, we would expect that every physical condition, every possible arrangement of matter and energy, is realized. Everything that can happen does happen. 

There are various versions of the Multiple Universes theory. Three of the most widely accepted are the oscillating universe variation which says that through an infinite number of cycles, in which big bangs are followed by crunches that a particular combination will be realized by chance to produce the universe in which we live today. I call this the "casino slot machine." Every once in a while, a winning combo comes up and, voila - "life begins!"

The second version is that the Big Bang spawned multiple universes, each with its own set of laws. The third version, sometimes called the parallel worlds theory, holds that at each act of quantum measurement the world splits into a series of parallel universes. The universes are said to be disconnected from each other and that we only have access to our universe.

There are other variations of this last version too like the one advanced by Lee Smolin which says that our universe emerged from a black hole in a previous universe and even now black holes in our universe are generating other universes.

What is one to make of all this? As with all scientific theories, we begin by asking for the evidence. You ask what empirical evidence is there for oscillating and parallel and multiple universes? Actually, there is none. It is worthy pointing out here what Harvard astronomer Owen Gingerich seems to be the first to have noticed: anyone who can believe in multiple universes should have no problem believing in heaven and hell. Just think of them as alternate universes, operating outside space and time according to laws that are inoperative in our universe. Even the atheist should now be able to envision a realm in which there is no evil or suffering and where the inhabitants never grow old.

To accept the idea of multiple universes violates a principle of logic known as Occam's razor. This means that when there are a variety of possible explanations, go with the one that requires the fewest assumptions.  In other words, if you are trying to get from point A to point B try to avoid the zigzag route. Those who adhere to the multiple universe variation invent a fantastically complicated set of circumstances to explain a single case when there is a much simpler, more obvious explanation at hand.

That leaves us with the Designer Universe side of the anthropic principle. This says, quite simply, that our universe is designed for life because someone designed it that way. This approach or view has this benefit: you don't need to make up the idea of a hundred billion universes that you know nothing about in order to account for the only universe you can possibly experience.

Whether we believe in imaginary time and multiple universes or not, those are only concepts. Even if they describe our universe, they do not explain why there is a universe in the first place. As physicist Stephen Hawking once asked: "Who put the fire into the equation? Who made it, as it were, come to life?" Moreover, the atheist viewpoint cannot explain the profound lawfulness of nature itself. Paul Davies writes: "If the divine underpinning of the laws is removed, their existence becomes a profound mystery. Where do they come from? Who sent the message? Who devised to code?"

The atheistic left with questions. As Victor Stenger asks: "So where did the laws of physics come from? They must have come from nothing." I grant that this is an answer, but what kind of an answer? Even scientists who are not religious believers are nevertheless awed by what one biologist called "the sacred depths of mature."

So, the argue the Apostle Paul's point from the Roman letter, all that we need to know about God can (at least in the Atheist's mind) be explained with the complexity of the universe within the realm of the laws of physics. To the simple person's mind, all one needs to do is look around nature.

Here we are. And what are we to do to answer the prevailing winds of atheism in our world? First, if you are a Christian, or at least adhere to a Judaic-Christian consensus, then we need to approach the above problems positively. It is imperative that we educate a Christian world life style.  Education begins in the Church and is to be believed out by the Christians.

1.    Being a Christian is representing God in this world.

2.    Being a Christian is committing one's life to the ultimate vindication of God's promise and purpose for His creation.

3.    Let us not witness throughout the 21st century, or until He comes, with a not much, not yet, or not enough mentality. Witness with all we got. Study and educate yourself and be willing, with a lifestyle that reflects your belief, to take that stand for a Creator-Redeemer God.

My philosophy professor in Seminary once wrote that we are living once more in a Dionysian age where we exist - Sentio-Ergo-Sum:   Therefore, unbelief is a problem fit for God.   The Church in its present spiritual and educational condition cannot effectively respond it to.  Revival is imperative.   Preparing and equipping every saint in every congregation for service is a sine qua-non for a Christian response to contemporary unbelief.

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