5 Reasons Why Atheists/Naturalists Believe in Miracles
This post is long so it is divided up into many sections. I suggest reading the first paragraph after which pick whatever interests you.
A couple of quick points before I begin. The title of my last post shouldn't have been, "5 proofs God doesn't exist", rather "5 proofs of naturalism's existence." I consider the two terms to be nearly synonymous (atheism and naturalism), if not very closely related - please courteously correct me if I am wrong. So in essence, the burden of proof is on BOTH the naturalist and the theist. There really is no "default" view, both most be explained. I was also told that I set a negative tone from the first post, so I am trying really hard not to repeat that. Often times the tone of someone can be misinterpreted (especially when reading something they wrote). Please keep in mind that I am writing with the utmost respect and humility right now. I felt like I was being ganged up on for what people perceived as "snottiness" or whining and crying - only with only a few dissenting voices. Also, if anyone is curious about my religious beliefs, I believe that each religion presents some portion of the truth, but none of them are completely flawless. I am attracted to many Eastern religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism as well as transcendentalism and I believe that there is immense power in nature. I used to attend Christian church but was ultimately repulsed by the concept of hell and the inherent cruelty of such a God.
I figured I'd start a new topic and present new information to you guys (as well as word it much more carefully). I checked out some of your points - I want to thank MrRage, stuntgibbon and strafio for the links. No matter how much I read, I couldn't get over some fundamental weaknesses in the naturalist argument.
1. The very beginning - The Big Bang. I do not intend to claim to be a cosmologist or hold a PhD in astrophysics. Simply put, the naturalist explanation of the beginning of the universe (that it was the result of purely natural forces) causes me significant confusion. What caused it? There doesn't seem to be a natural mechanism that exists that could cause the singularity to essentially spontaneously explode. What are the prevailing theories and are they consistent with the other laws of physics? This requires somewhat of a faith in miracles. Yes, I used the "m" word.
2. The beginning of life - How did it occur from non-living matter? This is the thorn in the eye of the naturalist. After many years of scientific experiments we are nowhere near the answer (the Miller-Urey experiment was strikingly ideal for a supposedly random environment along with a number of other flaws). This website provides an interesting perspective: http://www.allaboutphilosophy.org/naturalism.htm (I do not necessarily agree with everything that the page links too, I haven't read the other articles).
"First, Miller started with the wrong materials. Miller assumed a reducing atmosphere: Methane (CH4), Ammonia (NH3), and Hydrogen. He purposefully excluded Oxygen, because as a biochemist, Miller knew that Oxygen would destroy any amino acids (the building blocks of life) that might be produced. Oxygen precludes any naturalistic evolutionary origin of life. Yet, as far down as we dig into the Earth's crust, we find oxidized rock, indicating the Earth has always had an oxygen-rich atmosphere. However, just suppose there was an Oxygen-free reducing atmosphere. Now we have a chicken and the egg problem. Without Oxygen there is no Ozone (O3). Without Ozone there is nothing shielding the Earth from the Sun's Ultraviolet (UV) radiation. The problem is Ammonia is decomposed by UV -- Ammonia can't exist apart from Ozone. To further cast doubt on the "reducing atmosphere" hypothesis, we should find Methane in ancient sedimentary clays and we don't. The geology appears clear: Earth never had a reducing atmosphere."
The next two points are probably more powerful. In short, point two states that the experiment was carried out with an engineer like precision and know-how as well as being laughably far from "random." Point three states that extremelly toxic chemicals were the major products of the experiment (tar and carboxylic acids).
"Evolutionist Robert Shapiro summed-up the experiment very well, "The very best Miller-urey chemistry, as we have seen does not take us very far along the path to a living organism. A mixture of simple chemicals, even one enriched in a few amino acids, no more resembles a bacterium than a small pile of real and nonsense words, each written on an individual scrap of paper, resembles the complete works of Shakespeare." (Robert Shapiro, "Origins - A Skeptics Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth," 1986, p. 116)"
Leaving all the problems associated with getting the beginning materials together to form the building blocks of life. Statistical probablities are the final nail in the coffin of the naturalist argument for life from non-life by random chance and natural phenomenon.
"In the last 30 years a number of prominent scientists have attempted to calculate the odds that a free-living, single-celled organism, such as a bacterium, might result by the chance combining of pre-existent building blocks. Harold Morowitz calculated the odds as one chance in 10^100,000,000,000. Sir Fred Hoyle calculated the odds of only the proteins of an amoebae arising by chance as one chance in 10^40,000. When you consider that the chances of winning a state lottery every week of your life from the age 18 to age 99 is about one in 4.6 x 10^29,120, the odds calculated by Morowitz and Hoyle are staggering."
If you ask me - life by random chances is the most amazing miracle that I've ever heard of.
3. Pure probabilities - if you look at the probabilities of each physical law, arrangment of the Earth, the Solar system, the Sun, the galaxies, the universe etc. occuring as it does naturally, well let's just say the odds ask for a miracle. This site contains an immense amount of information. http://hometown.aol.com/silence004/god.htm Don't doubt the veracity of its claims due to the fact that the author is a Muslim and includes quotes from the Quran, I wanted to balance out religion from the equation (the last site's authors were Christian). This does not detract from the scientific validity of these points (if there are flaws please indicate them). This is to show that the counter arguments against naturalism can be applied irrespective of one's view of God.
''The more we advance on the road to science in all directions, micro and macro, the arguments in favor of an intelligent designer become increasingly eloquent. The origin of the "laws" of nature and the precise values of the "constants" necessitate intelligent design. The precision in the "mix" of constants that were necessary preconditions for the universe to evolve and for life to emerge provide mathematical evidence in support of the "God" hypothesis. The odds of obtaining these "constants" without putting "intelligent design" in the equation is one out of 10,000,000,000 to the power 124. To see how impossible it is, compare this number to the total amount of subatomic particles in the whole universe, which has been calculated to be 10 to the power 80 (Hoyle, Wickramasinge 1985)."
Take for instance, the precision of the gravitational constant. If a ruler were stretched across the entire universe (as estimated by scientists) and marked in inches, deviating by a mere inch in either direction would either make gravity far too strong or too weak for it to be properly balanced with electromagnetism and for the Big Bang to occur properly. Now multiply this by the perfection of the cosmological constant (dark energy I believe, correct if wrong), the nuclear forces, neutron/proton/electron masses, the plank constant, the speed of light, etc. etc. etc. etc. Making a chart and then multiplying them all together, as stated above and below:
Roger Penrose in his book, The Emperor's New Mind (1989) states: "This now tells us how precise the Creator's aim must have been, namely to an accuracy of (1010)123. This is an extraordinary figure. One could not even possibly write the number down in the ordinary notation: it would be one followed by 10123 successive 0's. Even if we were to write a zero on each separate proton and each separate neutron in the entire universe- and we could throw in all the other particles for good measure- we should fall far short of writing the figure needed"
4. Morality and Ethics - I know that this has been beaten to death, but I still struggle with the naturalist explanation. Morality is said to have evolved. The problem is that love and altruism don't seem to mesh so well with a survival of the fittest mentality. What is my motivation to do good thing for others when there is no benefit to me? Why do people love each other? How are we born with a conscience that determines what is right and wrong? According to naturalism there are no universal wrongs and rights. Why should I even worry about being a good person and instead think only of myself? It is all relative. Isn't that odd for such a fundamental part of our character to be determined by a changing paradigm.
5. Fallacy of the Argument that Atheism/Naturalism is the base position - I believe that it is a fallacy to state that your stance is the "base" position. Your attempts at proving a naturalist origin of the universe and life force you to make a number of claims. As I said before, the burden of proof is on BOTH the atheist and the theist. You often fall back on the "prove it to me" logic when faced with a debate. You yourselves fall into the logical trap that you say theist fall into. You say - there is insufficient evidence for X therefore X does not exist. This is not better than me saying that there is insufficient evidence against X therefore X exists.
Thank you for your time and I look forward to a productive and courteous debate.