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Some doubts about atheism

 

Atheist criticism of a religious text is senseless. The two views proceed from entirely different sets of axioms. Neither can analyze the other. They may be joined in a sense with the well-known chain: Who created A? B. Who created B? C. And who created C? and so on. Without a prime mover, the chain becomes infinite. Infinity, although tolerated by science, is as much a non-evident abstraction as the primal cause. Thus, God may be either the initial creator or the eternal system which does not require him.

God, the primary cause, is not external. Its manifestation is the world, as we know it. The world is as detached from God as sunbeams are detached from the sun—far less, in fact, since the world does not drift from the primary cause as light does from a star.

Jewish tradition says the world and the laws that govern it were created simultaneously. The world develops according to the laws of nature without divine intervention. Buddhism’s doctrine of the Way is similar, that is, the natural sciences describe the world adequately. Theology describes the beginning of beginnings.

The existence of God. That a fantastic chain of fortuities resulting in DNA formed from a primordial organic molecule is less realistic than the queerest theosophy of the most distant tribe. What set of chances explains the creation of the still incomprehensible three-dimensional organisms patterned after the DNA code?

Life could not originate from a single organic molecule. Myriads of them had to appear and evolve strictly by chance into viruses and cellular organisms. The fantastically complex DNA mechanism was conceived strictly by chance and by chance became universal for everything living. If live organisms developed simultaneously from many molecules in the primeval ocean, then why are all living forms structured exactly alike, in the sense they are all based on DNA?

            The mechanism of protein synthesis arose by accident. Accidentally the protein molecules started to coil in a particular way. Accidentally living organisms acquired the control mechanism, coiling the newly made protein molecules and uncoiling the “wrong” ones for another try. Accidentally hemoglobin appeared, its iron atom oxidizing in lungs and releasing oxygen to each cell of the body.

Somehow or other in the course of several hundred million years the few living cells underwent an enormous number of mutations, quadrillions of useful mutations alone, an inconceivable number, impossible even in billions of years. The emergence of unimaginably complex life forms and body organs through even a long chain of accidental mutations is not only implausible: its mathematical probability is nil. Evolution may account for minor adaptations in species but not for their origin.

Why now, when a gigantic quantity of species live in the inhabited zones, do new species not continuously arise? If evolution created millions of species as recently as fifty million years ago, how many more are being created in the teeming Amazon forests? But new forms appear only in viruses, and they are not stable.

A host of planets hundreds of millions of years older than the Earth inhabits space. Because human scientific progress is so fast, changing the world in a mere ten thousand years, if there is intelligent life on any of the older planets, its development must be unimaginably higher than ours. Only a few thousand years separate us from the cave men. How miraculous would any civilization look after millions more years of evolution! Yet the absence of any trace of organized life in the cosmos leads to the conclusion that humanity is unique.

Modern science sometimes grudgingly confirms what theologians have known a long time. Geneticists believe that humanity evolved from no more then seven females and even fewer males. There is no plausible explanation for that other than the story of Eden. Linguists finally agreed only a short while ago to what is essentially the Tower of Babel scenario, namely that almost all languages originate from a common source or a few. Sumerian, the language of the tower’s builders, is perhaps the only language[1] with no modern analog.

Talmud says, “Before Enoch’s generation, the faces of people were like apes’ faces.”[i] According to Jewish tradition, Enoch was the first modern human being, all his predecessors being of a different race. How did the ancient rabbis know that?

We believe the universe was created reasonably, not by chance. Atheists claim that the universe evolves according to certain laws and therefore possesses multiple signs of the highest organization— the complex structure of space, the movement of celestial bodies, and organic life. Yet they cannot explain the origin of the laws of nature without a primary cause.

Atheists must suppose that the laws are a part of the universe. They postulate the existence of eternal matter with the attributes of reason, the laws of nature, precisely the qualities of the Spirit. Why is that approach better than theosophy? Modern atheism is only the struggle to formulate theosophical concepts using scientific terms instead of using the word God. Centuries of preaching corporeal deity make this urge to abandon theology understandable. But the God of Judaism is as abstract as an energy field; a caring abstraction, perhaps.

Believers say that God has always existed beyond time. Atheists say that before the Big Bang, when the universe was compressed into a point, time did not exist.

Believers say that before the creation of the world there was nothing but God. He was all spirit-energy-matter and all space. There was nothing beyond him. Atheists say the world was coiled into an indefinitely small point which contained all matter and all space. There was nothing beyond it.

Believers say the world was created as a manifestation of God but God did not dissolve into the world, but continues to exist. Atheists say that after the Big Bang the world developed from a point. But that point did not cease to exist, it is still the center of the universe.

The methods are identical. Believers recognize God by watching his creation and his manifestations in the world. Atheists recognize the laws of nature by analyzing the actions they cause.

Both God’s existence and his absence are empirically improvable. Atheism needs faith in God’s absence as much as religion needs faith in his existence.

Many scientific claims have no empirical proof. What was there prior to the Big Bang from which the universe sprang, and what is beyond the universe or a cluster of universes? What did this universe do to be born, and where did the energy and principles of its evolution come from? Is not the answer to these questions he who is called God? Neither theists nor atheists can answer those questions with empirical proof. That inherent ambiguity gave rise to agnosticism, the philosophy of the impossibility of ultimate knowledge, but such knowledge is not necessary for any practical purpose. Whatever terms we use, whether God or field or dense matter, we imply the phenomenon which gave rise to creation, the laws of nature, and a sequence of empirically acknowledgeable events, which may be perceived as immensely wise or as a complex of incomprehensible natural laws.

Atheists observe the laws of nature, such as gravitation. Believers observe the commandments which are laws of social interaction: natural, not arbitrary.

The unity of God. If we accept that God is not isomorphic, we must suppose the existence of some connection, intercourse, and interaction between those parts or gods. Such a connection could change, adapt, and improve. Extrapolating back, we must suppose that at some moment no effective bond was available. At that moment, there existed some set of isomorphic, disconnected parts of God. Then something had to cause interconnection, a process similar to a separate driving force creating a world, God proper. Alternatively, had the bonds between the gods always been unchangeable, the continuum would appear uniform, changeless, an eternal object, something which we habitually call one God.

The Jewish understanding of God. Mythical accounts aside, the description in the Torah seems to be the most reasonable: an abstract God without a face, not in direct contact with human beings and staying above their affairs. 

Take two perfectly identical people with exactly the same information in their brains. Each is quite aware that the other is not he, though physically they are identical, information included. That unique I which is not identified with physical substance, not copied but somehow distinguished, I call the soul.

Reconciling dualism with monotheism requires intellectual acrobatics. Even though every phenomenon in the world occupies a place between two extremes (for example, human behavior runs between absolute good and absolute evil), that reasoning is inapplicable to God, who is beyond extremes, of good and evil, in this example.

Nuclear physics deals with elements which can be manifested differently and possess features of both wave and particle. Sometimes, they change those characteristics in response to external conditions, while God cannot be influenced since nothing is external to him.[2] Spontaneous transformation, however, is similar to free will that God certainly possess.Nuclear physics changed theology considerably, rendering many proofs obsolete, especially those concerning the principal impossibility of dual and triune nature of basic elements (ancients called them atoms) which could not be compound. That refutation of Gnostic views, ironically simple and obvious, now appears to be incorrect, creating the need for a new argument or a considerable revision of the old one. A new refutation of trinity may be that even the wave-particle is always manifested in one form only and does not exist simultaneously in two forms. By analogy, we can imagine that a single God is perceived sometimes as good and sometimes as evil (dualism) but not that he exists simultaneously in two or three distinct forms.

Particle physics introduces many other concepts usually reserved for divine such as absence of time (immediate collapse of wave), absolutely free will (probabilistic uncertainty), and abstraction (shapeless and possibly weightless objects).

 


[1] Other candidates, like recent undeciphered discoveries in the Hindu valley and Aymara in Latin America, are not studied enough to draw conclusions.

[2] This view if often labeled pantheist, but it is not: God pervades the world, but surely every stone is not divine because it does not include God completely—only infinitely small part of him. The orthodox opinion that everything is external to God suggests that he is finite and has boundaries, or at least is limited to another dimension than our three or four.


[i] Bereshit rabbah 23:9