We’re in the home stretch! Three-quarters of the 28 Quick Shots now have responses. I hope these condensed replies to popular Christian arguments have been useful for you.
Summary of reply: There is neither direct nor indirect evidence for the case for God’s existence; science has the track record in answering questions about reality, not Christianity; and a non-biologist’s critique of biology is irrelevant.
(These Bite-Size Replies are responses to “Quick Shots,” brief Christian responses to atheist challenges. The introduction to this series is here.)
Challenge to the Christian: There is no evidence for God’s existence.
Christian response #1: There is both direct evidence (testimony of those who saw Jesus’s miracles, including the Resurrection) and indirect evidence (clues from modern science that point to God).
BSR: Testimony? What we have are copies separated by centuries from the originals. And those originals contained fanciful supernatural stories unlikely to be history. And those stories had been oral history for decades before they were written down. So, no, we don’t have reliable testimony. That doesn’t prove that the Jesus stories we have today at the end of that long process are false, but it’s scant evidence that they’re true. And it’s preposterously flimsy evidence with which to support Christianity’s massive supernatural claims.
Let’s move on to the indirect evidence, science’s clues to God. The Christian argument mentions (1) the universe coming from nothing, (2) the fine tuning of the universe, and (3) the origin of life.
(1) No, science doesn’t say that the universe came from nothing. That might be true, but science has no consensus on the question. In fact, not even Genesis says that God created the universe from nothing.
(2) The multiverse is predicted by cosmic inflation, for which we have good evidence. With 10500 possible universes in the multiverse, it’s not surprising that one might appear fine tuned.
(3) Science doesn’t have a consensus theory of the origin of life. Maybe in twenty years it will. Christianity also doesn’t have a well-evidenced explanation for the origin of life. And it still won’t in twenty years. Or ever.
No, we aren’t forced to hypothesize a supernatural Creator.
There is neither direct evidence (reliable eyewitness testimony) nor indirect evidence (clues from science) that God exists. [Click to tweet]
Christian response #2: How can you accept naturalistic explanations for information in DNA, fine tuning, the appearance of design, and more when there isn’t sufficient evidence to support such claims?
BSR: Where’s the problem? Where science doesn’t have an answer, there is nothing to accept. Science and laypeople just say, “We don’t know.” Unanswered questions aren’t embarrassing to science. They help focus research.
Christian apologists like to raise questions, but they’re just repeating questions that they got from science. Attacking science by raising unanswered questions neither attacks science nor argues for God. A supernatural explanation wins only when it explains things better than the natural explanation, and when that natural explanation is the scientific consensus, it explains things very well. Christian apologists often imagine that pointing out an unanswered scientific question (such as, where did life come from?) advances their position, but an unevidenced “God did it!” will never replace a scientific hypothesis.
This argument distills down to, “Science has unanswered questions; therefore, Christianity.” Making this non-argument, even with bravado, only highlights the fact that Christianity has never taught us anything about reality. Let’s instead go with the discipline with the track record.
A popular but pointless Christian argument is “Science has unanswered questions; therefore, Christianity.” This is just embarrassing. [Click to tweet]
Christian response #3: Philosopher Antony Flew was famous for his arguments against God, but when he examined DNA as evidence, he concluded that its information couldn’t be explained without an intelligent Creator.
BSR: Who cares what Antony Flew concluded about DNA? He wasn’t a biologist! His critique is worth nothing.
DNA is a sloppy mess. It (more or less) gets the job done and it’s very complex, but complexity doesn’t mean designed. A Rube Goldberg machine is deliberately complex, and the reason they’re amusing is that designers don’t actually design that way. In particular, DNA doesn’t look like how a human programmer would do it. Of course, God might have his own way of doing things that isn’t at all how human designers work, but then the Design Hypothesis, which states that DNA looks designed, fails.
You don’t seek complexity but rather elegance when looking for the clues of design.
BSR 20 looked into DNA more closely, so I’ll just summarize that argument: human DNA has 20,000 nonworking pseudogenes, it has genes that code for vestigial structures and atavisms, and eight percent is made of virus fragments. No designer would put this junk in DNA; therefore, it doesn’t look designed; therefore, the Design Argument fails.
Antony Flew was a famous atheist philosopher. He turned from atheism after misunderstanding biological arguments. Sorry, Dr. Flew, but no one cares how a non-biologist critiques biology. [Click to tweet]
(The Quick Shot I’m replying to is here.)
Continue with BSR 23: Moral Truths Are a Matter of Personal Opinion
For further reading:
- New Testament Manuscript Reliability Less Than You’ve Been Told
- God Created the Universe From Nothing—Or Did He?
- Frank Turek’s Criminally Bad C.R.I.M.E.S. Argument: Fine Tuning
- Stupid argument #44: Time’s up! Now answer all the fundamental questions of science.
- The Curious Case of Atheist Philosopher Antony Flew
- Argument from Design BUSTED!
- BSR 7: If God Existed, He Wouldn’t Be so Hidden
- The Design Hypothesis, DNA, and Dysteleology
- “DNA is a Program, and Programs Demand a Programmer”: a Response
Religion doesn’t know anything.
— Aron Ra
Image from Joe Beck, CC license