Can one believe in atheism and science at the same time?On June 22, 2020 by Usama
One of the main “pillars of atheism” is the idea that order can emerge without a divine entity being the cause. The argument rests on probabilistic assumptions about how orderliness might occur if there were to be interactions at random between units that can react with one another. The argument is simply that “even if there were only a miniscule chance that something may happen then it still counts as likely”. The argument is then “fixated” by adding indefinite amounts of time in order to even out the odds.
The way the argument may play out is that an atheist might argue that once we consider the possibility of the existence of a large number of “earth-like” planets then it may not seem so absurd to view life on earth as a fortunate example of “self-arranging” chemicals having come together into a neat order. Similar arguments can be made to make the cosmos comply to atheist perceptions of how it came to be – the math can be tweaked by suggesting “multiverses”.
The classical theist objection to atheists “tweaking the numbers” is that atheist thought is drifting into metaphysics and using belief as a place-holder for desired conceptions. Although this is a good argument, I believe that a far better approach is to debunk the whole mathematical fix to begin with. The argument I am about to present is an argument that makes a lot more sense in the 21st century than it has ever made before. Some aspects of the argument require scientific progress that was not available even 10 years ago.
We are living at a time when synthetic biology is becoming increasing advanced. Within the scientific community we are with certainty convinced that an intelligent creature like ourselves can start off being shaped by its environment until it reaches a point where it can decipher its own biological blueprint and start making adjustments at will. The same technology would be one which allows an intelligent organism to make adjustments in lesser life forms. Furthermore, it ought to be entirely possible to use such technologies to operationalize the building blocks of life to such extent that an intelligent life-form can create new subordinate species. That superior life-form would have the ability to encode severe yet amenable flaws into the genetic make-up of the lesser organism such that the lesser organism would be subjugated into obedience in order to access a remedy for its flaws.
The scenario mentioned previously might sound outlandish but remember that from an atheist vantage point it is just a portrayal of a likely developmental trajectory for the reach of synthetic biology.
Atheists are through science willing to believe that in some near future it would be entirely possible for human beings to create a sentient organism that doesn’t necessarily have direct evidence of our existence yet can be left with instructions for its betterment. The argument for an “attained omnipotence” of an early intelligent being doesn´t require a mathematical fix to explain the emergence of life because once it is considered likely that an organism can enter an exponential developmental trajectory (attained omnipresence) it becomes increasingly likely that life in general would emerge due to that beings actions rather than remaining the outcome of a random meandering through odds that are extremely unlikely. In other words, it only takes the emergence of a sufficiently advanced life form in order to bypass the continued implausibility of life emerging on its own.
As a matter fact adding worlds or universes to “fix the math” of life emerging without a cause only ends up doing the exact opposite – in makes any theory of “attained omnipotence” even more likely since whatever the number of worlds or universes it remains the case that any emergent life-form that can decode its building blocks and achieve an exponential leverage towards its environment will gain a sudden increase of momentum that is likely to supersede the rate of orderliness being put together at random.
It only takes slight modifications in the wording of the previous argument in order to make it a case for our species being the creation of something else. Religions suggest that we indeed are creatures and that we have imperfections built into our “fabric” but that these imperfections can be managed. An atheist would agree that of all the above might be true if only it didn’t apply to mankind. There is a type of arrogance in accepting the framework of the argument yet making oneself (and mankind by proxy) an exception to any notion of subordination. Rather than emancipating and empowering mankind those objections might be a case of giving in to ones primordial inclinations.
What we do seem to accept through science is that there are means for creation even though the scientific community isn’t fond of having our species situated underneath a creator. When the Quran asks: “52:35 [Or do they deny the existence of God?]. Have they themselves been created without anything [that might have caused their creation]? or were they, perchance, their own creators?”… it leaves us with a historic fact about our species – even if we were to tamper with other life-forms we are still quite certain that we did not create ourselves. From there on religion asks us whether we know of any entity besides “God” that has informed us of our place in the cosmic gallery. Finally religions then offers to fill the gap in our knowledge of a creator for ourselves.
About the content
Modern societies are a noisy mess composed of the intersections between a plurality of needs, instincts, desires and hopes. Within this shared space people of all varieties seek ways of settling their differing outlooks – the outcomes are often to the benefit of some and the detriment of others. The texts on this blog are my personal effort of trying to make sense of the friction within human society.