Friday, 4 April 2008

Fundamental Complexity (part 3)

The picture of reality which atheists wanted to discover, i.e. of simple things building up into complicated ones, isn't what actually exists. "Primitive organisms", once analysed under the microscope, turn out to have the same order of complexity as the "complicated" ones. The most simple living things are not, as Darwin imagined, simple blobs of jelly, but the most fantastic machines more complicated than anything man has ever constructed.

It's not just the life where this phenomena exists, but throughout reality. The more we understand about various phenomena, such as language, the make-up of the solar system, the nature of matter, or "every-day" laws such as gravity, the more complicated they appear to be.

To take the example of gravity, in some important ways it could be said that since the last century, we actually understand it less than we thought we did. Isaac Newton's "law" is simple to understand, can be taught and learnt at a young age, and was once used by contemporary atheists to support their picture that the universe was a giant, orderly machine, crunching along with no outside intervention required. Now, though, we're pretty sure that Newton's law isn't a law at all. Einstein's theories of general and special relativity are instead our new working hypothesis, and involve many non-obvious ideas, such as that time is affected by gravity, or that a 20 metre pole can fit into a 10 metre room as long as it moves fast enough when entering, and the like. We now accept ideas of quantum theory, wave-particle duality and that matter can be transferred into energy and back (E=mc2).

In other words, the more we have discovered about the universe, the more and more complicated it has become - at every level. The more we have been able to describe certain phenomena, the less we have been able to account for those phenomena in terms of "simple things combining into complex ones".

You wouldn't get this impression by reading the works of contemporary atheist propagandists, but 20th century science evaporated the materialist's dream. The complex nature of reality has not been shown to be readily resolvable as they wished. The complexity of the universe, science has shown, is embedded at the most fundamental level that we know of. Hence the atheist apologists have mostly had to resort to switch-and-bait tactics as regards science. They'll point science's wonderful progress in describing the universe we live in, and hope that you won't notice (or maybe they don't themselves notice) the difference between describing the universe and accounting for it.

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