by Richard Peachey
[Featured as an advertorial in Cascade News, University of the Fraser Valley student newspaper, Oct. 30, 2009]
An open letter to UFV philosophy instructor Peter Raabe:
In your recent letter to the editor (Cascade News, Oct. 9, 2009, page 2), you raised the issue of God’s existence, and you challenged me to “prove” the existence of God with “convincing evidence.”
Let me begin with a bold assertion: I don’t believe you genuinely need such proof. Deep within your soul, you are well aware that God exists. Indeed, every one of us is hard-wired with this knowledge; it’s because we were originally created “in God’s image,” made to have fellowship with our Creator.
In your letter you offered the following analogy: “To claim that the mere existence of the universe is proof of God’s existence doesn’t make sense. That’s like saying the mere existence of presents under the tree is proof of Santa’s existence.”
Let’s deconstruct that analogy a little bit. I think that we (as adults) will probably all agree on the non-existence of Santa. But surely the existence of presents under the tree indicates something, doesn’t it? Would it not point to the existence of (one or more) present-givers?
Supposing that our vast and magnificent universe is something like a present (following your analogy), wouldn’t it strongly suggest the existence of an extremely resourceful and powerful Present-giver?
The universe is currently regarded by physicists in general as being highly “fine-tuned” — which would seem, logically, to point us in the direction of a divine “Fine Tuner.” (Unless, of course, you propose to dodge such a conclusion by subscribing to the increasingly popular, but completely unsubstantiated, “multiverse” concept.)
And then, in addition to cosmic design, we are faced with plentiful (and hard to evade) evidence of biological design. As Nobel prizewinner and outspoken atheist Francis Crick once wrote, “Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved” (What Mad Pursuit: A Personal View of Scientific Discovery. New York: Basic Books, 1988, p. 138).
I have no doubt that you’re familiar with this line of reasoning, Peter, and perhaps your familiarity may allow you to dismiss it as unpersuasive “old hat.” But I’d be interested to learn what you think of the remarkable case of Antony Flew of Oxford, who for over fifty years was our planet’s most prominent atheist philosopher, but has now been turned around by just this kind of evidence.
In 2007, Flew published There is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind (New York: HarperCollins). His three main reasons for now accepting the reality of God include the existence of the universe, the laws of nature, and the amazing features of the DNA informational molecule. Regarding this molecule Flew wrote, “. . . biologists’ investigation of DNA has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements needed to produce life, that intelligence must have been involved” (p. 123).
Flew is not yet a Christian (last I heard) but, significantly, he does see Christianity as the foremost challenge to his current uncommitted state: “There is nothing [in any other faith] like the combination of a charismatic figure like Jesus and a first-class intellectual like . . . St. Paul, who had a brilliant philosophical mind. . . . If you’re wanting Omnipotence to set up a religion, this is the one to beat” (pp. 185f.).
So here’s my question to you, Peter: if a leading atheist philosopher became so impressed with such evidence for the Creator, why do you continue to dismiss it? I think the onus is now on you to explain why you disparage these powerful pointers to God.
Let’s return to the question of “the mere existence of the universe” (as you put it). Sartre asked, “How does it happen that there is something rather than nothing?” And it seems to me that the cosmos has only two possible explanations: either something came from nothing — or, something is eternal.
But is it conceivable that something might arise from absolutely nothing? That would seem to contradict the Law of Cause and Effect. Mustn’t anything that begins to exist have an adequate cause? (“Big Bang” theorists think that scalar fields pre-existed the cosmic beginning; they would not say that there was truly “nothing” prior to the Bang.)
The other alternative is that something is eternal — and that “something” could be either the universe itself, or God. Before the advent of “Big Bang” cosmogony, many scientists and philosophers preferred to believe the universe itself could have existed from all eternity. For example, Bertrand Russell argued in this vein — but as we all know, this is no longer the common view.
Furthermore, our material universe couldn’t have been around for an infinite amount of time, because if it had, it would now be cold, dark, and dead, as predicted by the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
We can’t wrap our minds around the concept of an eternal God, but what other live option is there?
In your letter to the editor, Peter, you attempted to forbid me from making my case by using either the universe (which we describe as God’s “general revelation,” since it’s accessible to everyone) or the Bible (God’s “special revelation”). If you insist on suppressing the evidence already available, why expect God to provide you with further evidence — which you would then proceed to also reject!
Paul, the brilliant philosopher (so Flew refers to him), spoke of “men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them” in the created order (Romans 1:18-20).
And concerning his fellow Jews who lightly esteemed the evidence of the Scriptures, Jesus advised, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if some one rises from the dead” ( Luke 16:31).
Toward the end of your letter, Peter, you ask, “What exactly is Mr. Peachey’s agenda? . . . Is he trying to convert science students to Christianity?” My answer is yes! most certainly — not just science students, but business, trades, and even philosophy students. Instructors and support staff, too!
For in truth, God does exist, and Jesus Christ is the only name given under heaven by which we must be saved. If we miss this reality, we will have missed the whole reason for our own existence.