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Opposing Viewpoints

Reason to Believe

By Brad Wallace and Rachael Alexander
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 5, 1999
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By Brad Wallace

Let me begin with this disclaimer: I may be wrong. This is important. I was formerly a devout Christian, and then I was a devout atheist and now I'm agnostic. What this means, is that I reject dogmatic thought. Simply put, theists are sure there is a god, atheists are sure there isn't a god and agnostics believe that it's not possible to know either way. I'd like to add that I've simplified all of the above positions to a nearly idiotic level, and I look forward to all the hate mail that will doubtlessly pour in from all sides. They only give me so many words, folks.

My background is in molecular and cellular biology. Thus, I have been to hundreds of lectures, many of which I have even listened to, and I know a little bit about a word that causes terrible pain to theists and atheists alike: evolution. Evolution stands in the middle of the firing range, because it underlies much of our current understanding of the incredible, nay staggering, beauty of life. It also does not mandate the existence of God.

Let me explain. I think we can all agree that there are some short people and some tall people in the world. Now, imagine that tomorrow morning the invasion of the KILLER ALIEN ROBOTS FROM HELL occurs. These robots are incredibly lethal, equipped with lasers and big knives. They also can't bend their necks (being robots) and therefore can't see anyone under 5-feet 2-inches.

Finally, the robots get sad once there's no more killing to be done, and go home. The short people come out of hiding and eventually have sex and produce kids. Because the short folks have short genes, their kids will also have a tendency to be short. This is lucky for them, because KILLER ALIEN ROBOTS FROM HELL left a nasty note promising to descend again if anyone gets tall enough to ride roller coasters safely. The world is now safe only for the little people, and they at last will be dancing on us tall people's graves. This is also known as process of evolution through natural selection (here, rather unnatural) and it was thought up by a very bright fellow named Charles Darwin. There is no evidence that God did anything to help the short people, but there is room to admit his hand by making the robots KILLER ALIEN ROBOTS FROM GOD.

You can go either way here.

However, I by no means wish to imply that we understand evolution fully, and that everything fits together and is done. The situation is comparable to that of how Newton's Theory of Gravitation cannot explain quantum mechanics. It merely means that we have in evolution a viable, certified basis for further explanations. Scientists to this very day are yelling at each other about it, in the hopes that in the future we will understand more.

Now, forget all of the above. It doesn't have diddle to do with God. I am deeply indebted to a professor here, Dr. Martinez Hewlett who explained this to me. The scientific method is a wonderful tool for exploring the natural world. It has nothing to do with anything else. In my own words, attempting to prove or disprove the existence of a God via the scientific method is like trying to measure the color of the sky with a ruler.

The existence of God is a deeply personal issue, and critical examination of your values, your assumptions and your worldview are essential to achieving a position that best fulfills you.

Note the words I began the column with. I am perfectly willing to admit the possible existence of God. I merely hypothesize that based on my understanding of the world, and my personal experience, His existence is not for me. To me, humankind is not a deliberate creation of perfection, but a happy accident, perhaps the greatest accident of all time. We are not perfect, as any molecular biologist can tell you. Our genome is packed with mistakes, errors and downright dangerous adaptations. The fact that it works at all is in of itself, more incredible than anything in the universe. For me, this is enough.

For you, maybe not.

To wrap all this up, believe whatever you want. You are neither wrong, or right, as long as you have rationally and critically evaluated yourself. The bottom line is that you love life, treat others with love and strive always to be better than you are. For me, this does not include God. For others, it does.

By Rachael Alexander

Attempts to "prove" the existence of God have met an impasse because of an insistence that only the scientific method may be used to determine His existence. The scientific method states that if a concept cannot be repeated, then it cannot be validated. Yet obviously, there are many things that cannot be repeated, but are valid. Death cannot be repeated; does this mean death is just a perception? History cannot be repeated, does this mean that historical events never happened?

Certainly, no one doubts the conquests of Alexander the Great or the fall of Rome. So why do so many insist on applying the scientific method to the existence and resurrection of Jesus Christ? This is curious since there are many more documents that attest to the life and resurrection of Christ than that of other historical figures.

Evolution is used as a crutch by atheists to support their belief that God does not exist. It is a poor crutch, because even if evolution could explain the transformation of one organism into another, it still cannot explain the beginning of life. The respected scientist DuNouy determined the chance formulation of a typical protein molecule made up of 3,000 atoms is about 1 to 2.02 x 10 231, or practically nil. Furthermore, even if the elements were shaken up at the speed of the vibration of light, it would take 10,234 billions of years to create the protein molecule needed for life, and most scientists agree the universe itself is only 16 billion years old.

Evolution is full of so many impossibilities that even its most vocal adherents admit it cannot be proven.

"The more one studies paleontology [the fossil record], the more certain one becomes that evolution is based on faith alone," said Professor Louis T. More, a defender of evolution.

The universe is composed of electrons with an amazing degree of symmetry, and it seems odd that this symmetry happened randomly.

Not surprisingly, 90 percent of astronomers believe in God. Albert Einstein, initially an atheist, eventually acknowledged, "My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior Spirit who reveals Himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds."

When we see a watch, we don't assume that it just formed on its own, we acknowledge that a watchmaker must have made it. So why are some so insistent that our incredibly complex universe must have come into existence on its own?

Many have set out to disprove the existence of God. Sir William Ramsay, an Oxford educated atheist, spent his whole life as an archaeologist trying to disprove the Bible. After 25 years of excavating, Ramsay finally declared that the book of Luke (which contains the life of Jesus) was exact down to the smallest detail. Eventually he declared himself a Christian. Archaeologists have discovered over 25,000 sites that confirm the accuracy of the Bible.

The Bible contains over 3,000 prophesies; 2,000 of which have been fulfilled. The prophets of God are 100 percent correct, in contrast to the consistently inaccurate predictions of soothsayers like Jeanne Dixon or Nostradamus.

On the philosophical level, Blaise Pascal, 17th century French philosopher and scientist, wagered in his "Pensees" that it was more likely that God existed than not. His theory went like this: If you wager that God does not exist, and it turns out he does, you have more to lose than if you had wagered that God did exist and he really didn't. If you wager that God exists, you gain infinite utility, since you gain "an infinity of an infinitely happy life." Whereas wagering against God's existence, the most you could expect to gain is finite life, and if you were wrong you could lose big if there is a hell. Since rationality requires you to perform the act of maximum expected utility, it is more reasonable to believe in God.

How many destitute persons and prostitutes have had their lives changed drastically by atheism? How many people down on their luck have found humanism the key to lifting them up out of the gutter? How many dying people cry out to secularism for comfort?

It may seem intellectual to explain everything away using the limited scientific methods of the material world, but realistically, when people face death, there is nothing more the material world can do for them. Does this matter to you?