Thursday, February 10

Challenge: Atheism essay 3

Continuing the challenge, I turn now to the third section of George Smith's Atheism: The Case Against God (previous essays here and here). In this section, Mr Smith, in his mind having disposed of the Christian faith, turns to other "natural theistic" theories, although still mainly concerned with Christian theology, because there hasn't been a lot else in the last dozen or so centuries. Interestingly enough, some of his arguments are mirrored on blogs today (here and here).

One of the primary objections he has to a Creator, is deciding who created the Creator. Now Mr Smith almost certainly looks down his nose at the Angelic Doctor's predilection for counting how many angels can fit on a pin, but he falls into the same trap (that of being mesmerized by his logic). For no irrespective of arguments of how the creator was created, it still remains however, that given the wonder and beauty of the universe in all its facets, that rejecting the idea of an intentional Creator remains more of a leap than not. Furthermore, taking the famous turtles all the way down phrase to capture his idea of the "regression" of who created the creator, and who created the creators creator and so on. This can be dealt with. Take the stack of turtles, we call the stack the Creator. Certainly logicians such as Mr Smith have discovered infinite sets, but perhaps since that wouldn't help the argument this is ignored.

The final objection he comes to in this section concerns the design not as in Intelligent Design, but of the Universe. Mr Smith says for example
to admit the existence of order is to eliminate the need for a god. When the French astronomer Laplace was asked by Napoleon why he did not mention God in his writing, Laplace replied, "Sire, I have no need of that hypothesis." And neither does anyone else
In a world in which the theoretical physics community have been trying very hard for the last 35 years to avoid the fine tuning of a multiplicity of parameters required by the Standard Model, one might take Napoleon's reply as perhaps someone did some of that fine tuning. The modern Cosmologist's anthropic principle could be re-interpreted in a theistic context as well. That there might be a design and designer puts more (not less) urgency to the drive to understand how the universe works.

Update: The Challenge started here and my three essays on the first book are here, here, and here. The other three essays (of mine) are here, here, and here. Jim of Decorabilia wrote three essays on the Challenge of Jesus which can be found here, here, and here.