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A case for rational belief in a creator?

I have an example of how belief in God would be rational and I would like your input. Here it goes:

Let’s say you or I are walking through a beautiful meadow, and a log cabin comes into view. Apparently the cabin was abandoned, and yet there is still some evidence that it was occupied at some time. Beautiful artwork is hung on the wall, and hand-crafted furniture is covered in dust. Now, wouldn’t be logical to conclude that somebody built the cabin, that some one painted the artwork, and that the furniture, now worn, was crafted by someone? So why couldn’t it be, that someone created this gorgeous earth, and this brilliant universe, both of which are infinitely more complex and shall I say, imaginative, than that old abandoned cabin. Wouldn’t that someone be greater than that which he/she/it built, just like the man or woman who built the cabin is greater than his/her creation?

Posted: March 22nd 2009

Reed Braden www

Can you really replace “heath” with “meadow” and “watch” with “cabin” and call it a rational case? (The wording is very Lee Strobel of you, I might add.) This argument has been around since William Paley penned it in Natural Theology in 1802, before Charles Darwin wrote On The Origin of Species, the first major rebuttal of this fatuous argument.

Since the early 1800’s, science has grown by leaps and bounds and continues to meticulously revise and update our knowledge of the process of evolution. It seems to me, as evidenced by your argument, that religion, in all that time, has only learned to use a thesaurus. After 207 years, the only thing that has changed in this argument, which you’re laughably presenting to us as an exciting new hypothesis, is the wording.

If you’re arguing that life is so complex that it requires a creator, you are stopping short of one of three obvious conclusions to that argument. I’ll concede, for the sake of argument, that your “case” is valid and that cabins and watches prove the existence, somehow, of a creator god. The argument continues in three directions here:

Because creations cannot be more complex than their Creator, Whatever (or Whoever) created God must be even more complex.

And whatever created that Creator, and whatever created that Creator, and so on, ad infinitum. You can either believe that life came from simple beginnings and worked their way up to present form gradually with the energy supplied to it by our Sun, or you can believe that the universe is completely stuffed and overflowing with magical creator gods, because if you believe life absolutely has to have a creator, why should the creator be uncreated? If the creator can be uncreated, what’s to stop nature from being uncreated?

Since life on Earth is so distressingly violent and much of what occurs in nature is so outrageous to our moral senses, whoever created Earth was either uncaring or malevolent.

It’s no secret that life thrives on death. All animals on this planet (and quite a few plants and bacteria) must kill other forms of life and steal their energy in order to live. We call this eating, and even vegetarians are guilty of it, just not in such an obvious way.

Any God who could purposefully design a system where life could not exist without slaughter is not a God that I could feel comfortable spending an eternity with, were I given that choice. How many gazelles have to die from the time a lioness is born to the time she births her last litter and finishes passing on her genes? How many cows, pigs and chickens must die for a single human to live comfortably from birth until death? In 2007, 271,685,000 turkeys were slaughtered in the United States in preparation for Thanksgiving, a day in which we are supposed to give thanks to the God who designed this system.

In this clip from the series Planet Earth, a fungus from the genus Cordyceps infects several insects and hijacks their mind, forcing them to climb to where they can be easily eaten and the fungus can attach itself to a new host. The God who designed your cabin also designed a brain fungus that causes insects to commit suicide.

Which God is it?

You’ve successfully proved to me that God, while he is somewhat of a jerk and is subordinate to an infinite amount of bigger Gods, is real. Congratulations. Now which God is it? I assume you’re going to try and tell me that it’s your own God, and hope that since you’ve already convinced me thusfar, you won’t have to do any more arguing. (It’s obvious you’re a lazy debater since you plagiarised Paley.) I’m credulous, but I’m not that credulous. You’ve only done half the job. Now plagiarise something that will convince me that this Creator God is your Creator God.

You really need to start thinking about where your arguments lead before you present them. Your question led to nothing but more doubt.

Posted: March 23rd 2009

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George Ricker www

In addition to the very capable answers already provided, here’s some more food for thought.

There is nothing about the state of the known universe that suggests it is the product of any sort of design process. There are many aspects of both biology and cosmology that are very poorly engineered. Consider just two.

What rational engineer would design a system of orbital mechanics that lead inevitably to some of the orbiting bodies crashing into other orbiting bodies with devastating consequences for the structure of each and any biological organisms that happened to occupy either one of them?

What rational designer would combine the functions of reproduction and the elimination of waste products in a dual use system that is akin to locating a maternity ward in a sewer?

Whatever design we find in nature is not the result of any sort of rational design process. Quite clearly, it is the product of undirected natural processes at work.

Posted: March 23rd 2009

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George Locke

In the case of the log cabin, two factors make it very reasonable to assume that a human was responsible:

  1. We know of an actual intelligent agent that occasionally builds log cabins.
  2. No other known process is capable of producing log cabins.

Without these two factors, there is no rational basis for assuming that an intelligent agent is responsible.

In the case of evolution and cosmology, each of these factors is false. There is no known intelligent agent capable of producing the diversity of life/the universe, but we do know of natural processes which could be responsible.

Posted: March 23rd 2009

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logicel

Before the scientific theory and fact of Evolution was established, it was much more reasonable to extrapolate man-made design onto a divine entity. With the fact of evolution, it is silly and inane to do so. It would be similar if people insist that the stork theory of reproduction is in the same league as the fact of sexual reproduction.

Your so-called rational approach is the discredited and thoroughly trounced watchmaker hypothesis—a watch maker makes a watch, thusly god makes us. Many more worthwhile people than the answerers at this site have more than adequately rebutted the watchmaker idea.

Evolution can be likened to a blind watchmaker. It is a natural process resulting in differing life forms through natural selection—a non-random but non-intentional (that is, blind) influence—and random mutation. When there are much better explanations available, it is not rational to deny them and continue to embrace obsolete explanations.

Posted: March 23rd 2009

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SmartLX www

Very Ray Comfort.

Yes, it would be rational to assume that the cabin and its contents were designed and deliberately built. The question is, why do we assume this?

Because they’re complex? No. When someone spills a can of paint from the tenth story, the pattern on the sidewalk is extremely complex (especially if the can lands on something moving) but there is usually no appearance of design.

Because they’re ordered? Maybe, but some order needs no intelligence. If you mix together five kinds of sand in a jar and then shake it, the denser particles will eventually make their way to the bottom and vice versa until the five kinds are partially sorted in vertical order of density. With oil and water, it’s a much quicker process.

The main reason the log cabin and its contents appear obviously designed is that they are artificial. The cabin is made of logs which have been sawn absolutely flat at each end, sanded down all over and perhaps painted with a chemical the original trees would normally never touch. The furniture might be covered with fabrics from plants and animals in different continents, or varnished with products which require industrial machinery to concoct. The paintings are held together with pieces of pure metal (nails, staples, braces), the like of which might only appear without coercion in the output of a volcano – and even then would never take such a shape.

This artificiality is the true indicator of design, and it’s this artificiality which we do not see in the universe. We watch animals develop from embryos to complete, fascinating adults without being shaped, and we understand why they are that shape. We watch the universe move, and predict where it will move next, and if we understand the underlying principles, it does what is expected.

In short, what you have there is a false analogy.

Posted: March 22nd 2009

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