Tuesday, September 11

God in Science (Part 2)


The article entitled God vs. Science in the January 15, 2007 edition of TIME magazine, had this opening paragraph under the byline of David Van Biema:

“It’s an argument that has generated heat and light for centuries: whether religion and science can coexist. In the 4th century B.C., more than 2,000 years before Charles Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” theory took hold, Aristotle questioned the role of a supernatural deity. When St. Thomas Aquinas unveiled his “proofs” that God existed circa 1270, he inflamed, rather than extinguished, the debate. And although the rapid progress of scientific discovery has demystified much of the world, disagreement over the unprovable elements has only intensified.”

From Mr. Van Biema’s very title itself, God vs. Science as against that of mine, God in Science, it is immediately clear that he and I are on opposite sides of this never-ending but still most fascinating issue. And so our professor and author of The God Delusion (Houghton Mifflin), Richard Dawkins, was clearly Van Biema’s pre-selected champion in denying God’s role in creation during that January 2007 Time-orchestrated debate-interview of Prof. Dawkins against the eminent genome research pioneer Francis Collins.

Let me weigh in only on the following question posed by TIME because it is the least abstract and the only question posed whose various possible answers can be understood by most lay people without the need of expertise on philosophy or cosmology.

TIME: Professor Dawkins, you think Darwin’s theory of evolution does more than simply contradict the Genesis story?

DAWKINS: Yes. For centuries the most powerful argument for God’s existence from the physical world was the so-called argument from design: “Living things are so beautiful and elegant and so apparently purposeful, they could only have been made by an intelligent designer.” But Darwin provided a simpler explanation. His way is a gradual, incremental improvement starting from very simple beginnings and working up step by tiny incremental step to more complexity, more elegance, more adaptive perfection. Each step is not too improbable for us to countenance, but when you add them up cumulatively over millions of years, you get these monsters of improbability, like the human brain and the rain forest. It should warn us against ever again assuming that because something is complicated, God must have done it. (emphasis supplied)

COLLINS: I don’t see that Professor Dawkins’ basic account of evolution is incompatible with God’s having designed it.

TIME: When would this have occurred?

COLLINS: By being outside of nature, God is also outside space and time. Hence, at the moment of the creation of the universe, God could also have activated evolution, with full knowledge of how it would turn out, perhaps even including our having this conversation. The idea that he could both foresee the future and also give us spirit and free will to carry out our own desires becomes entirely acceptable.

Mr. Collins was side-tracked from proceeding with his reply by another question from the Time referee. And so if not for such interruption, here’s what Collins could have or I would have said further, in order to complete the refutation of Prof. Dawkins’ highly improbable conclusion on evolution.

Let me start with Prof. Dawkins’ admission that “the most powerful argument for God’s existence”, is the fact that “living things are so beautiful and elegant and so apparently (better yet, OBVIOUSLY!) purposeful, they could only have been made by an intelligent designer”. And so if Dawkins’ attempted refutation of St. Thomas will be proven to be a dud, therefore my favorite mystic-theologian’s some 737-year old argument should remain as powerful as ever.

Dawkins’ attempted refutation of St. Thomas was Darwin’s discovery that some but NOT all fauna and flora (actually just a few thousands out of hundreds of millions of existing species!) evolved over millions of years from “simple beginnings…to more complexity, more elegance, more adaptive perfection”.

If Darwin’s findings a million years hence, were the year-by-year performance of computer programs over the past 50 years, our present day software would surely also exhibit such a purposeful improvement over time. Today’s Information Technology experts would laugh contemptuously a million years later even in their graves, if a latter-day Darwin would theorize that probably these remarkable improvements all happened by chance, without any intelligent Microsoft or IBM or Filipino computer-program designer having had any role in it. And wouldn’t that be exactly the same illogical substance of Prof. Dawkins’ sophistry?

Actually, Prof. Dawkins himself shot down his own argument in the same vein, by adding this comment: “Each step is not too improbable for us to countenance, but when you add them up cumulatively over millions of years, you get these monsters of improbability, like the human brain and the rain forest.” (emphasis added!)

For true enough, the God-created human brain of my chess hero Gary Kasparov alone by his lonesome, would have soundly beaten the prior years-long collective efforts of a “Dream Team” of IBM-organized artificial intelligence and chess experts and computer-programmers equipped with and represented by IBM’s Deep Blue super-computer. If not for Kasparov’s uncharacteristic mental lapse in a simple end-game situation, Kasparov would have clinched the 5-game match in his favor. It would therefore be mindbogglingly more of a “monster of improbability”, for us to believe that hundreds of millions of living species, including homo sapiens itself, were capable simply by chance, of evolving into their present day “complexity…elegance…(and) adaptive perfection”.

And so I submit that contrary to Professor Dawkins’ opinion, it is far more logical to believe that it could NOT be mere random chance as the prime cause of any purposeful evolution, Darwinian or not, but a conscious super-intelligent BEING “who am” and whom we call God Our Almighty Father!

12 September 2007