Holy crap balls, Batman! Look at this!
God can be proven? Even without the bible????? The second I found this in my inbox I stopped watching football, dashed upstairs to my room, and curled up in the corner, eager to bask in the evidence I’ve been begging Christians to provide for years! Sure, all the rest had claimed they had evidence! But they either had excuses, some lame argument pulled off some apologetics site, or a conglomeration of the two. This, surely, would finally be the one that wasn’t just full of shit.
Reason #1: Genetics.
I feel like the poker player who just wants out of the hand but he’s already pot-committed. Ok, let’s do this.
A few years ago, one of the world’s most famous atheists, Professor Anthony Flew, came to the conclusion that God exists based on DNA evidence.
First, quoting what one non-biologist (Flew is a philosopher) said outside of peer review on the subject of biology and expecting us to take his word for it is lame. If the scientific consensus does not agree with the non-biologist you quote (which it doesn’t), then this is misleading, which is what it’s meant to be. So here’s the deal, Christians. Not only are they feeding you a line of misinformation, they are expecting you to swallow it without doing any responsible fact-checking (like reading up and trying to understand the science) and to spread the misinformation further. Most of you will not disappoint them. In short, they are attempting to play you like a cheap fiddle. This not only says a tremendous amount about them, it says a tremendous amount of what they think of you.
Second, they misspelled ‘Antony’s’ name, which should suggest the amount of scholarship that went into this. It also explains why they’re bringing up Antony Flew even though this issue has been dead for a while. Why has the issue been dead for a while? For a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that Flew retracted the DNA argument. In a letter to Richard Carrier, in his own hand, dated 19 October 2004, Flew wrote…
My one and only piece of relevant evidence [for an Aristotelian God] is the apparent impossibility of providing a naturalistic theory of the origin from DNA of the first reproducing species … [In fact] the only reason which I have for beginning to think of believing in a First Cause god is the impossibility of providing a naturalistic account of the origin of the first reproducing organisms.
Carrier rebutted, and in a subsequent letter dated 29 December 2004 Flew said…
I now realize that I have made a fool of myself by believing that there were no presentable theories of the development of inanimate matter up to the first living creature capable of reproduction.
He also retracted the DNA argument in a BBC Radio 4 Interview in 2005. The lack of awareness of these facts also goes to show the lack of effort that went into researching this article. This is almost always what happens when dealing with Christians: they take the first argument they believe confirms their position, regardless of where it originated and without doing any fact-checking, and throw it out. This suggests that their goal is not to investigate their beliefs, but to defend them by giving the impression that they desire to learn. I do not believe it can be argued that their religion, which we are told makes people better, is what has caused them to behave in this way.
Flew now rests on the assertion that no theory on the origin of life has been confirmed in order to support his deism. However, that’s just an argument from ignorance. We have a multitude of hypotheses from the discipline of protobiology, all compliant with what we know of the operation of the world, that could explain the origin of the first self-replicating molecule (the leading theory is the RNA World hypothesis, see the work of Jack Szostak). Any of these are more supported by the evidence than any idea of a god (which is supported by none), and therefore should be considered far more likely to be true.
They weren’t done with genetics though.
In his book The Case for a Creator, former atheist Lee Strobel writes: “The six-feet of DNA coiled inside every one of our body’s one-hundred trillion cells contains a four-letter chemical alphabet that spells out precise assembly instructions for all the proteins from which our bodies are made. Cambridge-educated Stephen Meyer demonstrated that no hypothesis has come close to explaining how information got into biological matter by naturalistic means” (2004, p. 282).
They do get turned on for former atheists, don’t they? And for the love of everything holy, they’re making arguments based on biology/chemistry, they’ve cited three people now, and in that time they’ve failed to quote a biologist or a chemist. I know, let’s have Michelle Bachmann comment on physics. What the hell am I supposed to take from this aside from the conclusion that no reputable biologist agrees with them? This alone is sufficient to leave any competent layman with no choice but to call bullshit on this article.
No hypothesis has come close to explaining the structure of DNA? Even if that were true, so what? Why does the answer become god rather than “I don’t know”? That bad jump of logic alone leaves me with no need to refute the rest.
But refute it, I shall. The article calls DNA replication precise, but the process is not that precise. When scientists first really looked at the genome, they found that a lot of it was non-coding DNA: DNA that was not transcripted to RNA. That was a very surprising finding (“Scientists were baffled” would be the line hack reporters would use). Some of our non-coding DNA has functions other than coding for a protein or RNA strand. For example, it could be a binding site for a repressor protein or a promoter protein that controls the expression of a coding gene. But much of non-coding DNA is junk, merely dead genes that were once coding DNA, but then were mutated out of functionality. Most of it is just plain ol’ junk.
Our analyses indicate that RNA sequencing appears more reliable for transcripts with low expression levels, that most transcripts correspond to known genes or are near known genes, and that many transcripts may represent new exons or aberrant products of the transcription process. We also identify several thousand small transcripts that map outside known genes; their sequences are often conserved and are often encoded in regions of open chromatin. We propose that most of these transcripts may be by-products of the activity of enhancers, which associate with promoters as part of their role as long-range gene regulatory sites. Overall, however, we find that most of the genome is not appreciably transcribed.
This makes sense if our present DNA configuration is the product of natural forces, but it’s utterly bizarre if a god had anything to do with it.
Around 98% of the DNA in our bodies is non-coding DNA (once actually referred to as junk DNA). In 2004 there was a study done with mice in which gene deserts, completely non-functional portions of our non-coding DNA, were removed from the genome and still the mice developed normally. Some non-coding DNA does have a function, but much of it could be removed and we’d be fine. This messy, unorganized system does not look like anything a god would create. Even intelligent human beings can perceive these flaws and would fix them if they had the means (and one day they will have the means). That a god would fail to notice flaws perceptible to mortals makes no sense on the god hypothesis.
But even the few functions of non-coding DNA point to natural processes rather than a god. Natural selection doesn’t give a shit about death and suffering (kind of like the god of the old testament). If a mutation confers an advantage that outweighs its costs, it is going to be selected for. Case in point, sickle cell amnemia and thalossemia. These diseases are caused by mutations in hemoglobin that confer resistance to malaria in carriers of the mutation. Therefore, they are more prevalent in families who trace their ancestory to places where malaria is prevalent, such as southeast Asia. This is what we’d expect on evolution.
However, while the laws of nature are apathetic to our grief, a loving god who cared about his creations would have access to better ways to protect people from malaria. At best, you could say that god was being inelegant for no apparent reason, but in doing so he would be making a creation that looks precisely like what we’d expect to see in a godless universe. What conclusion can we take from this other than that god either does not exist or that he does not want us to believe in him after examining the structure of DNA?
Lastly, the entire process of DNA replication itself is clunky and flawed. It is prone to all kinds of errors which result in things like mental retardation (a cruel thing for god to do). Did you know that cancer is also the result of a flaw in DNA replication? That’s the god this article (and anybody else making this argument) is defending – one who can’t put together a system that isn’t full to the brim with mistakes and the one who created a system that produces cancer. The god defended in this argument is a malicious idiot.
Third, no biologist talks about information getting into DNA. They talk about increased complexity, which is very much explained. If you have three different factors in place, increased complexity will always be the end result. Those factors are…
And we have all three.
They wrap up with…
So there is no logical explanation as to how this incredibly extensive, exquisite code inside the cell could exist without a supremely intelligent Being having designed it. Microsoft founder Bill Gates noted, “DNA is like a software program, only much more complex than anything we’ve ever devised” (The Road Ahead, 1996, p. 228). It is absurd to think that nobody designed such a complex code—that it is simply a result of time, chance and mutation.
Well tarnation, there is a logical explanation for how this incredibly extensive, exquisite (but not too exquisite) code could exist without god. In fact, all the errors make mindless forces acting upon inanimate objects the best explanation for it. Since the absence of such an explanation would mean god does exist (forgetting for a moment that “hell, I don’t know how that happens” is also an option), then the presence of such an explanation must mean god doesn’t exist. Hallelujah! And all it took was five minutes on google.
Also, way to quote Bill Gates, who is an atheist. Tomorrow at noon I’ll move on to the second way you can prove god (out of five from this article) without the bible and hope it sucks less than this one.
Big thanks to Sid Fisher for co-authorship of this piece.