Thursday, 3 April 2008

Fundamental Complexity

In the 19th century, campaigning atheists began to promote the following picture of reality. None of its elements were really new, but now it began to be promoted with increasing vigour. They were not in a position to show that it was true; but it was the story that they wanted to promote, and hoped would eventually be shown to be true in order to prove their case. It goes like this:
  • Science and religion are in conflict.

  • This conflict cannot ultimately be reconciled, but will increase as our knowledge increases.

  • The universe is ultimately a self-contained machine, where everything works out according to natural laws and forces. There is no outside intervention.

  • Ultimately science will be able to explain all of the phenomena occurring in the universe. Complicated things will ultimately be shown to be made up of lots of simple things.

  • Hence, ultimately the idea that an almighty, supernatural and infinite intelligence was necessary to cause the universe, will have to be abandoned. We'll explain everything, and show that no special outside input would be needed to make it.
Unhappily for atheists, there have been painfully few areas of science, as regards our origins, in which credible theories, conforming to the above requirements and which could survive much scrutiny have been forthcoming. To be sure, when examining the things that exist and are happening at the present time, science has been a wonderfully productive venture. In terms, though, of concocting theories about how things can be as they are, the cupboard has turned out to be bare. Today's atheists cling on to Darwin's hypothesis about how life could have developed from "simple" forms into more "complex" ones, because there's not much else to cling on to. As regards a theory of how any self-reproducing life forms could have begun in the first place, or how even more primitive proteins or amino acids could have formed, or how planets, solar systems, galaxies could form, pretty much all we have is "just so" stories that still await the evidence to back them up - and explanations for the mounds of evidence against them. Look out for the next story in the mainstream media about some new observation regarding a distant planet, or solar system, or the like. The key phrase to spot is the one that says something like "scientists hope that this new discovery will give fresh insights into the formation of our own planet." That's as near as the mainstream secular press, or the mainstream-funded scientists doing the research, will get to saying "we need these fresh insights, because after all this time we still aren't even close to explaining our origins in purely materialist terms - we're still living by faith!"

To be continued...

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