I stumbled upon an article today with the title “Scientific Evidence for the Existence of God” written by Peter Guirguis. I was immediately interested because when apologists claim to have scientific evidence for the existence of God, I can play one of my favourite games. It’s called: “Spot the fallacy”. Want to play?
The Scientific Evidence for God
So what is the scientific evidence for the existence of God? Why, it’s DNA obviously. The article gives three reasons why.
1. DNA is a language.
So here’s fallacy number 1 already. DNA is not exactly a language in the way that English is a language. DNA is more like a code or a set of instructions. For a full explanation of why DNA isn’t a language, see here. Let’s follow the rest of this argument to see where it leads us.
If you were to open up a book and you found meaningful words that were put together in grammatically correct sentences, what evidence would you need to know that there was an author who wrote the book, even though you never met him or her?
The answer would be the linguistic sentences in the book are evidence that there was an author who wrote it.
Similarly, the language in DNA is evidence that there was an author who wrote the book to life.
Well, since we have just seen that DNA isn’t a language, there’s no reason DNA must have an author. While DNA is still an impressive and very complex molecule, it goes too far to suggest something as outlandish as a creator deity as the best explanation. There is evidence that the building blocks of DNA could have formed in outer space under natural conditions, making it a more simple and thus more elegant solution because it doesn’t need a god as “explanation”. So this is fallacy number 2.
2. DNA is an Instruction Manual
Just like a nightstand has a manual to help you assemble it, DNA acts as a manual to help assemble the cells in your body.
The answer [to how you know the manual had an author] would be that the manual itself is evidence that someone wrote it. You don’t need to meet the author of the manual to know that there was someone who wrote it.
This would undoubtedly be true, if DNA was indeed a printed manual that said things like “fold flap A into slot B”. DNA is not a printed manual. A printed manual is something that is put together using artificial means. We’ve already seen that this is not the case with DNA. While it does act like a sort of computer program, with its instructions being ‘interpreted’, the ‘author’ of this so-called manual is nothing but evolution. While we do not yet have a clear understanding of how DNA came to be used as it is, we do have some hypotheses of how this may have happened. None of these require a creator deity. It has been observed that complex biological molecules can form spontaneously under the right conditions, such as those that would have been present on a young Earth. No gods required here either, I’m afraid. That would make fallacy number 3.
3. DNA is Mathematically Perfect
Here, Peter Guirguis relies on the work of German engineer Werner Gitt, who writes at Answers in Genesis. For those familiar with AIG, that probably gives the game away already. And yes, Werner Gitt is indeed one of the leading creationists from Germany. While I am not a mathematician, I would contend that even if DNA is mathematically perfect, this does not necessarily mean that it was created by an almighty creator deity or that it was created at all. At the TalkOrigins Archive, there is a section dealing with Gitt and his work. The author of the page seems less than impressed.
Because mathematical perfection doesn’t necessarily imply a creator, this would be fallacy number 4.
At this point, Peter Guirguis rightly concludes that even if his 3 proofs above are correct, these still do not amount to scientific evidence for the existence of God, at least not the god of the Bible. Of course, this is where the entire article is going.
Right away, we fall into fallacy number 5:
We know that our universe had a beginning in time. That means that before the universe began, there was no such thing as space, time, or matter.
We know that the universe did not come from nothing. Please see my article for more information.
Therefore, the intelligent designer that created the universe must have had the following attributes
The assertions above do not conform with present day understanding of cosmology. The universe as we see it today, may not have had a beginning at all. It may be forever contracting and expanding, except we would not know this because we can not “see” beyond the current universe. There is also doubt that the “Big Bang” actually happened. We know from physics that absolute nothing does not exist and that even in “nothing” there is still potential. See my article on evidence for creationism to see why this is so.
However, even if the above assertions were true, it would still be a non-sequitur to assert that the universe must have an intelligent creator, much less an almighty creator deity as described in the Bible, so the list of attributes that follows is rather superfluous.
The intelligent designer has to exist outside of the natural world because nature itself was created at the same time when the universe was created.
True, if this intelligent designer did exist. Since we know of nothing that exists outside of the natural world for certain, this is a stretch of the imagination.
There was no such thing as space before the universe began. Therefore, the intelligent designer must exist outside of space because He created space a long time ago.
Not necessarily. There is such a thing as the multiverse theory, which postulates that there may be more universes besides our own. If correct, an intelligent designer could have come from another universe. Also, it is not certain that the universe actually had a beginning. I see we’ve already arrived at “He” by this time, so spaceless though this creator is, we’ve already managed to determine its gender.
The intelligent designer must be immaterial because He created matter.
That would mean it must be energy, since we know energy can be converted to matter. If energy, then what sort of energy would it be? If something else, how would it fit in with current physics?
The intelligent designer must be powerful because He created something (this universe) out of nothing.
The designer must be intelligent because the universe was designed to sustain life and all of its complexities.
The fact that the area of the universe that we inhabit, can sustain (intelligent) life, does not prove that it was designed to do so. Rather, it could be the opposite: we can ponder design because our area of the universe happens to support intelligent life. There is no reason it must do so, it just happens to do so. This is known as the Anthropic Principle. Fallacy number 6.
The intelligent designer must be personal because it decided to convert a state of nothing into something. Impersonal forces don’t have the ability to make choices.
That is just wishful thinking at this point. We’ve not seen a single compelling reason there should be an intelligent designer to our universe and even if our universe were somehow started by some divine being, that would still only take us so far as a deistic position, not a theistic position. So we’re still nowhere near the God of the Bible. However, this is the conclusion Peter Guirguis now arrives at. Since all the attributes can be assigned to the God of the Bible, He must have done the deed. Fallacy number 7.
It should be obvious that by postulating a creator deity, we are not actually solving any problems. Instead we create an additional problem: what is the nature of this supposed creator and where did the creator come from? And if this creator is itself without a beginning, why must the universe have a beginning? Wouldn’t it be easier to simply say that the universe is eternal so we would not have a need for its creation and thus for its creator? Fallacy number 8.
Answers to counter-arguments from atheists
Helpfully, Peter Guirguis already counters some of our arguments before we can even make them. Let’s see which arguments he expects and how he counters them.
1. Evolution is Responsible for DNA
Yes, I would agree that evolution is the best answer we have for how DNA got the role it now has in most living creatures. So what is the reason that this can’t be true?
According to Guirguis, there is no intelligence behind evolution and that is why it can not be responsible for DNA. True, there is no guiding force behind evolution that we are aware of and yet, the theory of evolution serves us very well in answering questions about how species have changed and developed over time. We’ve also seen that DNA could have arisen from earlier, simpler molecules and then evolved.
Peter Guirguis refers to DNA as a language and even a database which would suggest a creator, but this is just not correct.
He then goes on to name a level of mathematical improbability (10 to the power of 60) for evolution being responsible for the complexity we see in the universe. These kinds of numbers are often quoted by creationists but they are grossly inflated, as explained here.
He also claims that evolution may be responsible for micro-evolution but that macro-evolution has never been proven. This is an example of intellectual dishonesty, since lost and lots of small changes (micro-evolution) over a long enough time would lead to major changes (macro-evolution). I’ve explained this in more detail here.
2. An unknown intelligent designer is responsible for DNA
To paraphrase really succinctly: it’s the aliens who did it. Frankly, I am with him in dismissing this explanation, precisely because it suffers from many of the same problems as the creator deity explanation. Where did the aliens come from, etc.
It’s just ironic that while Guirguis is willing to admit that saying “aliens did it” is a stall tactic, the same is pretty much true for saying “God did it”. Both explanations don’t actually explain anything but instead add complexity to an already complex question. It’s funny how he can apply logic correctly in the case of aliens and not in the case of God.
Guirguis concludes that DNA is scientific evidence for the existence of God but, he says, there will still be atheists who won’t be convinced.
It’s not because atheists know that God doesn’t exist. The bottom line is that deep inside atheists know that there is a god, but they’ve suppressed the truth in their unrighteousness. (Romans 1:18-19)
How does he know this? Well, Guirguis was once a Christian, then an atheist and now a Christian again so he knows what he’s talking about. Well, I was once an agnostic, then briefly a Christian and now an atheist. Does this prove anything other than the fact we’ve both changed our minds? It just saddens me that he has drawn the wrong conclusions along his journey and this last statement about atheists just suppressing the “truth” is really in poor taste.
It is especially in poor taste since we’ve not been presented with scientific evidence for the existence of God but instead been presented with a display of fallacious understanding of science, logic and how evolution works, sprinkled with some wishful thinking. At least I got to play “spot the fallacy” though.