I just finished reading an article my friend shared titled “Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God”. It was written by Eric Metaxas and published by the Wall Street Journal. Within the article, Metaxas submits good ol’ “fine tuning” points and arguments. To say that his article is a casual cliff notes version of what science has uncovered regarding planetary discovery as well as the parameters necessary to support life, may be too generous.
I’d like to first express my disappointment in our ideas and interest in science. Firstly, it may seem to many of us, and especially the religious, that science is some large institution with a chairman at the head of the table that dogmatically enforces an anti-god philosophy. This may be an easy and safe compartment to store ones thoughts about science. I know, because I lived in the “compartment” of Christianity for over half of my life.
One of the byproducts of religious indoctrination, as I have discovered, is separating worldviews into unique little compartments. I remember going to church every Sunday morning and Wednesday night to learn why our compartment is good and other compartments are bad. The truth of the matter is that in leaving the faith, there is an option to not reside in a compartment at all. One can comfortably view the whole chest of drawers and examine the good, the bad, and the ugly of all of the compartments. This is where science comes in. Again, science is not a philosophy, it is a method. True science is an unbiased process to discover the nature of reality wherever the evidence leads. True scientists publish peer-reviewed papers and journals and celebrate when they are wrong or corrected because the interest is in the truth – not the preconceived idea. It brings to mind to wonder, are the “scientists” in which you quote or listen to unbiased? I ask you to consider, how do they handle correction?
Secondly, I’m disappointed in our general interest in the sciences. This is not just the religious I’m gunning for. Our overall obsession with the Real Housewives of whatever, the dress she wore to the thing, and who he’s sleeping with now, have somehow crept to the top of our interests. They seem to be the first articles we tap on for real news. I often use the Google news app myself and if one scrolls down a few swipes, there resides news related to science. There’s a whole category for it that will provide you news from many disciplines of science. I invite you to explore, enjoy and experiment for yourself!
Now I’ll take aim at the religious. I imagine the last time those of the faith have explored a scientific article was because there was the word “God” in the headlines. I haven’t a problem with that quite yet, as I also will search for topics that I enjoy. When reading the science section I tend to be more interested in astronomy with a sprinkling of biology news articles. I don’t know why, I just seem to be more interested in those topics. What the religious and I do with the information is quite different. I do not read these articles to shore up a preconceived idea I have about the universe. I’m simply interested in the evidence that has been uncovered and if it has any meaningful use in my daily life, I may experiment with employing it. I will sometimes search to see if the scientists quoted have published any peer-reviewed papers or if the author himself has an agenda.
This habit the faithful have of ignoring or condemning thousands of scientific articles that are devastating to the underpinnings of religious belief and their holy books, only to champion the few articles per year that might cautiously state “There may be a God…possibly not the one you’re thinking about…but somewhere out there…maybe…” -This type of article seems to satisfy and satiate those of the faith. It’s what Sam Harris describes as “Playing tennis without the net”.
As far as this Christmas day article published by religious Metaxas, he provides false information about planetary discovery from sources that aren’t necessarily as close to the subject as you’d like to believe. His quote from Peter Schenkel, “In light of new findings and insights, it seems appropriate to put excessive euphoria to rest . . . . We should quietly admit that the early estimates . . . may no longer be tenable.” Though Schenkle has written books about extraterrestrials and certainly holds an interest in space, he’s not an astronomer, he’s a retired political scientist.
Schenkle also limits his opinions about the discoveries in space in regards to SETI who’s focus is on picking up intelligent communications from the cosmos, not the discovery of habitable planets.
In an article by Alan Neuhauser from April 17, 2014, NASA’s Kepler telescope had recently discovered the Earth-like planet Kepler-186f and what’s more, NASA has discovered 1,855 planets in 1,164 planetary systems including 473 multiple planetary systems as of December 22, 2014. Around 1 in 5 sun-like stars have earth sized planets in the habitable zone. Don’t believe me, look it up.
I have nothing against Schenkle or his views on the matter, but they are clearly specific to the search for extraterrestrials and not the amount of habitable planets we’ve discovered. Nor does anything he states in his article have to do with the existence of a God. In the same paper he will go on to confirm evolution by referencing the timetable, “Though first primitive life forms on Earth, the prokaryotic bacteria, evolved relatively rapidly, only about 500 million years after the cooling off of Earth’s crust and the end of the dense bombardment of meteorites and comets, they were the only lifeforms during the first two billion years of Earth’s 4.6-billion-year history. Mammals-including apes and man-developed much later, only after the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. The first human-like being, the Proconsul, emerged in the Miocene Period, just about 18 million years ago. The Australopithecus, our antecessor, dates only 5 to 6 million years. In other words, it took almost 4 billion years, or more than 96 percent of the age of Earth, for intelligence to evolve-an awfully long time, even on the cosmic clock.”
Do you creationists still want to hitch your wagon on?
Metaxas in his “Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God” article seemed to enjoy throwing out large and unlikely probabilities and quoting those who stated those probabilities. I’ve got a fun one for you. What are the odds that you are who you are today? Author Ali Binazir quantifies the probability beginning with your dad meeting your mom and moving to your family lineage being unbroken to this point in history. Any guesses? It’s 1 in 10 to the 2,685,000. That’s right. 10 with 2,685,000 zeros behind it. What are you doing right now? Are you doing the impossible with 2,685,000 zeros behind it? Does it somehow mean you’re impossible? Pinch yourself- it happened. There is an estimated 370,000 babies born each and every day in this world. Every one of them has the same probability attached to them, 10 with 2,685,000 zeros. We witness the seemingly impossible every day. This is exactly what’s wrong with attaching a probability to something that has already occurred. The numbers make it sound spooky. Think of this the next time you hear or read someone spouting off numbers. Ask yourself, Is this person trying to move me away from facts using numbers?
The fine tuning drum that the faithful have been beating as well as Metaxas in his article has been countered for years and gains continued strength as time goes on in favor of the non-believer. A simple trip to Wikipedia will outline both sides of the argument for you to explore yourself.
In conclusion, it should seem an attack on your intelligence that Metaxas would wheel out a dusty argument with some out of context quotes seasoned with scary probabilities to produce an article like this on Christmas day. It caters directly to the scientifically ignorant culture we’ve crafted for ourselves and even with this fragile tapestry he’s created, his best conclusion is that some intelligence may have created us. If I granted all that he wrote to be true, I’d have to follow up with the question, which God then created us? There’s nothing in the article indicating that it’s your God or a caring God or even a God that’s alive anymore, let alone a personal God who after creating us cares very deeply about what we do while naked.
I invite you to explore for yourself and consider if you’ve got a little confirmation bias on your own operating system.