For David Warren, writing silly arguments in favor of God is like eating Lay’s potato chips: he can’t stop at just one.
I wrote on Sunday: “We can now roughly date the origin of our universe, and 15 billion years more-or-less is proving much too short a time for random processes to produce a non-random result. Fifteen billion times 15 billion years is still not nearly enough time.”
This, in a nutshell, is the insuperable problem with random mutation, and natural selection, so far as they are taken not as factors in an evolutionary development, but as the determinants of it. There is simply more to nature than that. You may grasp this by looking into the eyes of any animal (Redmond O’Hanlon advises against trying this with a gorilla), or at the lilies of the field, that neither toil nor spin. They are purposeful. They are not purposeless.
He got at least one thing partly right: there is more to nature than random processes. In fact, if he were to actually study real biology, he would find that, while many processes such as mutation behave in an apparently undirected manner, this is not the same as saying they are random. Whether or not the problems with “random” mutation are insuperable, actual real-life mutation is much more commonplace, and follows some complex but statistically predictable patterns.
Like so many armchair supporters, however, Warren can’t be bothered with all that. Ordinary mindless superstition is plenty good enough for him. Is there something in nature that strikes him subjectively as being particularly meaningful? Well, let’s all give credit to some invisible and indetectable Designer, then. It’s a superstition, so of course we cannot document any real-world connection between our purported Designer and the end result He is supposed to have produced. We can’t even give a reasonably specific description of what such a connection would be if it could be documented. We can’t even say for sure what it is we would even be looking for, if we were looking for it. Which Warren isn’t, needless to say. He just assumes that if he needs a thing to be true, it is simply true.
The “God thesis” is a slam-dunk, incidentally. Before any born-again Christians had arrived on the scene, Aristotle had adequately demonstrated the basic concept.
Right. Never mind the fact that God never seems to actually show up in the real world. Warren needs for God to be true, so voilà, Aristotle proved that God exists, just by thinking about cause and effect. Remarkable, isn’t it? Aristotle goes inside his own head, rummages around amongst the philosophical speculations, and there, tucked in among the rest, is Warren’s God. That certainly explains why He never seems to show up in the real world: He’s been in Aristotle’s head all along.
What Warren fails to grasp is the fact that the “unmoved mover(s)” of the cosmos are the laws of nature themselves. He even observes this to be true, though he does not give his observations full credit:
For the universe unfolds in a way that is not “random.” It is rather shaped, and governed by law — and has produced in the course of ages, creatures conscious of themselves, including one that is sentient, when it wants to be.
These laws, including the laws of cause and effect, are themselves uncaused causes. In fact, the law of cause and effect must itself be an uncaused cause, because how could you cause the law of cause and effect? If the law of cause and effect does not exist, you can’t cause it to come into existence, because that would be a cause and an effect obeying the law of cause and effect, and if the law does not exist, then it cannot be obeyed.
Warren, of course, is not interested in exploring the implications of his observations. He’s already picked out the superstitions he likes best, and as far as he’s concerned, the rest of the evidence has but one purpose: to prove that his superstitious beliefs are correct.