How Do We Explain Our Story?

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Would you ever expect to find the complete works of Shakespeare printed, collated, and bound by an accidental explosion?

But this is exactly what we have. An explosion that not only gave us the complete works of Shakespeare, but a bunch of bipedal units to act things out, crowds to weep and moan, and an industry of Shakespeare criticism that spans centuries. But the explosion didn’t stop there. It also gave us Kafka, Russian architecture, solar panels, Jeffersonian democracy, Christianity, and ivory poaching.

We are bits of the flying flotsam, spinning away from the eye of the Great Disaster. Anything we do is attributable to Chaos, for we are its children, carbon-based shrapnel with sensitive nerve endings, a problem with self-importance, and a taste for pizza.

I see your painting. It’s by Pollock. But where is your story? What is the plot? Who are the characters. What are the rules?

In this story, the Darwinian device that moves action is called (hail, the conquering hero) natural selection. But it has no purpose, no goal at all. Survival is the result for some and death for others, but there is nothing in this story to show that one is actually to be preferred over the other. Survival as good is just one of the axioms that’s been adopted by the faithful. The characters? What do you mean? There is only a strange impersonal trinity—Time, Chance, and Matter. Matter exists, and it is shaped by chemical reactions as Time and Chance act upon it. You have no soul. You are simply a combination of chemicals. What you call “death” is nothing more than a transition out of one combination and the beginning of another. Welcome to the leaf pile—you as mulch is no better or worse than you as man. When you begin and end is a pointless question…

The truth is that very few atheists will try to maintain that atheism is pleasant. It has been pitched as a hard truth, and those squinty-eyed atheists are the brave ones (the “brights,” according to Richard Dawkins), the ones willing to peer into the burning bosom of reality, see absolutely nothing, and write best-selling books about their experiences (and to convince us of our own soullessness). They preach this hard, chemically fatalistic doctrine like a bunch of Victorian Calvinists unable to understand why the populace won’t simply bow their heads and come along quietly.

Because it is nonsense. (And you can keep your tenure. I’d rather have a ping-pong table.)

― N. D. Wilson,
Notes From The Tilt-A-Whirl

How Do We Explain The Fibonacci Spiral?

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Ever heard of the Fibonacci sequence? It is a sequence of numbers where each one is the sum of the previous two numbers. The sequence runs 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, and so on. What’s fascinating about the Fibonacci sequence is that when you make squares the size of the numbers, it creates a beautiful spiral image.

The “Fibonacci spiral” is found everywhere. It is to be seen in plant leaves, pine cones, seashells, pineapples, ferns, daisies, artichokes, sunflowers and even galaxies. It’s in the arrangement of seeds on flowers. It’s in starfish. It’s in the cochlea of your inner ear, which is not simply a spiraled shape, it’s the actual Fibonacci spiral, with the exact number sequence. There is a mysterious intricate embedded order, intelligence, and design in nature. What is behind this mind-boggling sophisticated artistry?

We are told that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Similarly, extraordinary design requires an extraordinary designer. You are free to believe that all of this magnificence is simply the result of unplanned fortuitous collisions of molecules—a belief that requires faith of an extraordinary caliber. Or you can accept a more sensible explanation—this artwork is the work of an Artist, the work of a wise and skilled Creator. But please don’t parrot the notion that theists are people of blind faith. Blind faith is exercised remarkably well by skeptics.

–J. O. Schulz

How Do We Explain Complexity?

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“I now believe there is a God…I now think it [the evidence] does point to a creative Intelligence almost entirely because of the DNA investigations. What I think the DNA material has done is that it has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which which are needed to produce life, that intelligence must have been involved in getting these extraordinarily diverse elements to work together.”

― Antony Flew (1923 – 2010)
A prominent philosopher and atheist who changed his mind

A Spectacular Sequence

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Ever heard of the Fibonacci sequence? It is a sequence of numbers where each one is the sum of the previous two numbers. The sequence runs 0, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, and so on. What’s fascinating about the Fibonacci sequence is that when you make squares the size of the numbers, it creates a beautiful spiral image.

The “Fibonacci spiral” is found everywhere. It is to be seen in plant leaves, pine cones, seashells, pineapples, ferns, daisies, artichokes, sunflowers and even galaxies. It’s in the arrangement of seeds on flowers. It’s in starfish. It’s in the cochlea of your inner ear, which is not simply a spiraled shape, it’s the actual Fibonacci spiral, with the exact number sequence. There is a mysterious intricate embedded order, intelligence and design in nature. What is behind this mind-boggling sophisticated artistry?

We are told that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Similarly, extraordinary design requires an extraordinary designer. You are free to believe that all of this magnificence is simply the result of unplanned fortuitous collisions of molecules—a belief that requires faith of an extraordinary caliber. Or you can accept a more sensible explanation—this artwork is the work of an Artist, the work of a wise and skilled Creator. But please don’t parrot the nonsense that theists are people of blind faith. Blind faith is exercised remarkably well by skeptics.

–J.O. Schulz

The Books Have An Author

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I am not an Atheist. I do not know if I can define myself as a Pantheist… We are in the position of a little child, entering a huge library whose walls are covered to the ceiling with books in many different tongues. The child knows that someone must have written those books. It does not know who or how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child notes a definite plan in the arrangement of the books, a mysterious order, which it does not comprehend, but only dimly suspects. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of the human mind, even the greatest and most cultured, toward God. We see a universe marvelously arranged, obeying certain laws, but we understand the laws only dimly.

–Albert Einstein

Underlying order

Stephen BarrThe overlooked point is this: when examined carefully, scientific accounts of natural processes are never really about order emerging from mere chaos, or form emerging from mere formlessness. On the contrary, they are always about the unfolding of an order that was already implicit in the nature of things, although often in a secret or hidden way. When we see situations that appear haphazard, or things that appear amorphous, automatically or spontaneously ‘arranging themselves’ into orderly patterns, what we find in every case is that what appeared to be amorphous or haphazard actually already had a great deal of order built into it.

In fact, we shall learn something more: in every case where science explains order, it does so, in the final analysis, by appealing to a greater, more impressive, and more comprehensive underlying orderliness. And that is why, ultimately, scientific explanations do not allow us to escape from the Design Argument: for when the scientist has done his job there is not less order to explain but more.

–Physicist Stephen M. Barr,
Modern Physics and Ancient Faith

A frivolous exercise in intellectual contempt

David BerlinskiHas anyone provided proof of God’s inexistence? Not even close. Has quantum cosmology explained the emergence of the universe or why it is here? Not even close. Have our sciences explained why our universe seems to be fine-tuned to allow for the existence of life? Not even close. Are physicists and biologists willing to believe in anything so long as it is not religious thought? Close enough. Has rationalism and moral thought provided us with an understanding of what is good, what is right, and what is moral? Not close enough. Has secularism in the terrible 20th century been a force for good? Not even close, to being close. Is there a narrow and oppressive orthodoxy in the sciences? Close enough. Does anything in the sciences or their philosophy justify the claim that religious belief is irrational? Not even in the ball park. Is scientific atheism a frivolous exercise in intellectual contempt? Dead on.

― David Berlinski
The Devil’s Delusion:
Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions