Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday Quote: C.S. Lewis on Atheism

"Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning..."

- C. S. Lewis


Samuel Skinner said...

You'd be amazed the amount of self deception people are capable of.

Not to mention that according to Christianity, the whole universe exists entirely so God can teast us to see if we are fit for heaven or hell.

Compared to the universe having no meaning, that is simple.

Brian said...

Thanks for the comment.

Although I would disagree that Christianity would claim the universe exists for God to test us all, as you mentioned.

I find it difficult to believe that the entire universe could come out of nothing for no reason, uncaused. I find it more reasonable to believe that there is a cause behind the universe.

Samuel Skinner said...

I am not aware of any other purpose that theists have postulated that includes humans.

Purpose requires sentience. The universe has none.

Brian said...

"Purpose requires sentience. The universe has none."

I agree wholeheartedly. This makes me wonder how sentience can come from non-sentience. How can consciousness come from consciousness?

Brian said...

Typo on my last comment...

I meant to say, How can consciousness come from NON-consciousness?

It seems to me reasonable to look for a cause that is greater than its effect. For instance, you wouldn't expect a computer program with 2 lines of code to generate output that contains millions of lines of new information not contained in the original code. The cause requires more complexity than the effect.

Samuel Skinner said...

It is the miracle of jamming more software cards in. If you look at other animals brains compared to ours, that is quite literally what happened- you have layers dumped upon layers, with the first layer (reptile brain), second layer (mammalian) and third (the one for complex thought).

So, intelligence was a built up and gradual process.

First you have abiogenisis (unknown mechanism- see theories. Current- smoker vents or ice based). Than you have living things learning interdependancy and the develoment of photosynthesis and oxygen usage.

After that we get multicellular organisms 600 million years ago. Some are mindless (jellies and sponges). Pthers however have a simple system that tales stimulouses and responses with inbuilt instinct. Over time these become more complicated until, much later, we get learning, where instead of using instinct for everything responces are tailored due to effects they have on the environment. Eventually we reach the complexity of social groups which requires putting yourself in anothers shoes. This requires explanatory reasoning and provides a major benefit- it enables predictions and planning about the natural world.

Or, the short answer- we had 4.5 billion years. You'd be amazed at what evolution can do in such a long period of time.

Brian said...

"Jamming more software cards in"?

Let's consider how a living thing develops based upon DNA. DNA is basically an information code which supplies the plans/blueprint for a living organism. As Dawkins put it in the Blind Watchmaker, “There is enough information capacity in a single human cell to store the Encyclopedia Britannica, all 30 volumes of it, three or four times over.”

Now consider that we have your so-called first life form after your so-called abiogenesis... we have to get DNA, an information coding (AND DECODING) mechanism to produce living things that not only live and move, but they replicate themselves. And of course, then comes male and female.

Now if you have an organism with, let us posit, "5 lines of code", it must therefore, over time, through mutation (accidental degeneration of the information), create new and meaningful, helpful code that creates structures that benefit and improve the organism so that through natural selection it out-survives the previous versions.

Tell me, how can destructive mutations create NEW information in the genome? Keep in mind that there are a few different kinds of mutations to work with... those that accidentally duplicate information that is already there and those that remove information that is already there, and those that swap information into the wrong spots in the DNA. Where does the NEW information come from?

You will not be "jamming in more software cards," as you put it, but somehow coming up with a code language from 3 lines, to 4, to 5, to 100, 1000, etc... until we get to our current 3 billion lines. Remember, this DNA codes, decodes, and builds living organisms... that duplicate themselves...

So if we look at computer code that is 5 lines long... it doesn't matter how many times you degrade the information, it is going to continue to get more corrupt over time. It will not continue to improve and increase in quantity, order, and beneficial complexity.

Experiments with fruit flies, which breed very, very quickly, have shown that over generations and generations, they have failed to produce any beneficial mutations. And this is when scientists use radiation to help the mutations come about at an increased rate. They have calculated the number of generations they have gone through to surpass the amount of time that humans have been on the planet (counting by generations, remember).

Let me agree with you on something... I believe in evolution; that is, micro-evolution. Organisms do change over time. New species come about through natural genetic means. However, I DO NOT think there is any good evidence to believe in MACRO-evolution: dead molecules springing to life, then gradually going from single-celled, to multi-celled organisms, becoming male and female, developing new and better purposeful genetic code, and becoming conscious, sentient beings with emotions, feelings, dreams, and dignity. The mechanisms available to evolution (mutation and natural selection) simply do not allow for that kind of progress. It goes against laws of entropy. Things don't get more and more ordered... they get more and more corrupted with time. There is no hard evidence for MACRO -evolution... only an unwarranted extrapolation from micro- to macro.

If you want to experiment a little with some mutations, I encourage you to check out this web site. I think you will find it interesting.

So to go back to the ORIGINAL topic before we branched off to evolution somehow....
You said, "Purpose requires sentience. The universe has none."

If you agree with your own statement, then you would agree with me that it is reasonable to look for a sentient designer for all that we see that is purposeful. The universe has no sentience of its own... and as we can see from contemporary cosmology, the universe had a beginning. There is order and specified complexity all around us. There is beauty and purpose in nature everywhere. Things fit together wonderfully and we are in awe when we find the intricacies of the world.

Then again, it seems reasonable to me that God exists as the creator and designer of all that we see.

And according to your first commend in this thread, your perception of God is almost a sort of cosmic bully waiting to test and punish. I would disagree with that and say that according to the Bible God is creator who loves his creation. He is loving and just. He shows justice by punishing sin, but shows his immense love by sending Christ to die in our place - which is a free gift to whoever will receive it.

So I would say that although I cannot offer absolute proof (OF ANYTHING), I can say that I find it very reasonable and meaningful.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, Samuel. Although I don't expect to sway your opinion, I do hope that you understand where I am coming from.

- Brian

Karla said...

I love that quote.

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