Your email address was given to me by a friend of mine recently. He said that you'd be willing to respond to questions. I have regarding faith in God and creationism. I am sending this message in hopes that this could be the case.
I was raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. However, two years ago I began to question the relevance of the church itself. A few months ago, I came to adopt atheistic beliefs. I currently don't believe in God and, therefore, have no interest in the LDS church. When I stated this belief to my friend he gave me this email. He claims that God can be proven scientifically, and has told me I should send this email listing certain questions I have directed toward your church. Assuming you are the person to go to, I have come up with the following questions:
- If God can be proven scientifically, why wouldn't more scientists globally be theists?
- Why is it necessary that a God created the Earth? The Earth is flawed, there are natural disasters and diseases that make it difficult for people to survive. Is that God's Earth?
- Are humans the creations that are given an afterlife? If so, why would humans be selected specifically? Why would God give us a mortal life?
- Why do we need to follow commandments? What good does that do God or the individual who follows them?
I'm sorry to say that I am a very skeptical individual and obviously any relationship I may have had with God is no longer present. I am, however, willing to look into a new faith if I see a logical reason to do so. After my encounters with the LDS faith, I have found I have a lack of trust in regards to religion.
Science, by its nature, can only deal with that which is measurable and repeatable. Technically, pure science cannot state how the world came into being because it was a one-time event that cannot be measured after the fact nor repeated. However, this doesn't mean we can't reason whether God exists.
There are several proofs regarding the existence of God. Some get quite complex and deep, but let me present a brief summary of a few:
The Kalam Cosmological Argument
This is based on the recognition that there are two types of infinite numbers: potential infinites (also known as abstract infinites) and actual infinites (also known as concrete infinites).
A potential infinite is a series with no apparent end. A potentially infinite collection of books can always have more books added to it. But a necessary attribute of a potentially infinite number is that it has a current value. It just has the potential to accumulate more.
An actual infinite is a fixed concept. Suppose I had an infinite set of numbers. I can't add another number to it because if the infinite set didn't have the number already, then it is not truly infinite. Thus, ∞ + 1 = ∞. An actual infinite cannot be changed, nor can it have a current value. You can't quantify the amount in an infinite.
There are no actual infinites in nature. There are some extremely large numbers of things, but there is still a fixed count (say the number of stars in the universe, or the atoms in the universe). Potential infinites always have a starting point. Actual infinites cannot be divided and get less than infinite, so they do not have a starting point.
Time has a current value: now. Thus, it must be a potentially infinite number. We can add one to today and get tomorrow and seemingly continue forever. But potentially infinite numbers always have a starting point. If time has a beginning, then something started it -- an uncaused cause that is not a part of time.
Since there are no actual infinites in nature, every effect has a cause. But it also means that there must be an uncaused cause that started everything. It has to be outside of this universe and not a part of it. The uncaused cause must have the ability to create something from nothing in order to begin everything. But this also means it must have the will to create as well.
This doesn't prove what this uncaused cause is, only that it must exist in order for what we currently have to exist.
Thomas Aquinas' Cosmological Arguments
Aquinas argued that motion requires something prior it to set it in motion, but the series of prior motions cannot be infinite. There must be an unmoved mover to set the series in motion.
Second, nothing can bring itself into existence. Something else must create it. But again, the series of creation cannot be infinite. There must be a self-existent creator to set this series of creations into existence.
One answer for this initial cause is an initial explosion. Edwin Hubble proved that the universe is expanding. Thus, it is theorized that there must have been an initial starting point.
One alternative is that the universe expands and contracts like a monstrous rubber-band. But the Second Law of Thermodynamics states that everything settles down to an equal low energy state. In infinity, expanding and contracting would eventually stop. Since we are currently expanding, there cannot be an infinite series of expanding and contractions (the Kalam argument again).
Therefore, there must be a starting point and something outside of everything started the expansion.
The Design Argument
William Paley argued that if you found a watch while walking through the forest, you would not assume the watch naturally formed by random events. It's clear design and purpose shows that it was made by some intelligence. In fact, the design gives hints as to the nature of the designer.
When we look at the world, we find evidence of design. I was reading an article the other day about how Artificial Intelligence is improving by examining the brain and imitating features discovered there. In this case, it was talking about the noise factor in biological systems actually helps in the classification of objects. But think about it, we, with purposeful intent, create an Artificial Intelligence that can only do a small fraction of what the human brain does, but our computers take up large rooms, consumes large amounts of energy, and must be constantly maintained. But the human brain takes up less than three pounds, uses very little energy, and is self-repairing to an extent. So why do people want to say the brain is the result of random events and not a purposeful design?
Irreducible Complexity Argument
When we look at designed systems, there is a point that removing something leaves a non-functioning system. Consider a simple mousetrap. If you remove any piece: the wood platform, the spring, the catch or the trigger, you will no longer have a functioning trap. It is irreducible as a trap.
It is noted that there are many irreducible functions in nature. Blood clotting takes a sequence of 17 chemicals. Any one chemical missing will mean blood will not clot. There is no step by step sequence that creates clotting. Thus, to get to the current state, you have to explain how life existed without bleeding to death from small scrapes so that all 17 steps could come together at once and in the right order.
Or consider the complexity of the human eye. There is no step-by-step list of small changes that keep a functioning sight system and arrive at the human eye. There are different types of eyes in nature, but each work differently. One is not a subset of another.
Like the watch, these systems that take many parts that must be just so in order to create a functioning system. It means there must be a designer behind irreducible complex systems.
The Information Argument
Communication is the transfer of information from one mind to another. A rock found in nature has a shape, but it contains no true information. But a statue shaped by an artist transfers ideas from the artist to the viewer. The stone of the statue is not the information, the information is imposed by the design of the statue.
My kids have blocks with letters on them. You could toss them on the floor and once in a while, you might say, "Oh, look! It spells 'bat.'" But that isn't actually information. It is the viewer imposing their knowledge on an event. There is no transfer of knowledge. The blocks are not trying to warn you that a bat got into the house.
The DNA found in every cell contains information. There is a design to the sequences that relay ideas necessary for the cells to function and, in complex life forms, information for how the cells to work cooperatively. In order for this to work, something had to design the "language" of chemical sequences to store and transfer this information. It can't come into existence accidentally.
Science has tried to purposely create simple DNA sequences from chemicals, but try as they might, they can't get random chemicals to form information, just as you can't toss rocks and expect to get a statue. Even if they managed to get some DNA sequence, it would not prove anything because it was thinking scientists who set the conditions and then imposed their knowledge on the result (just like the blocks).
What we know is that information comes from intelligence and it is used to communicate intent. DNA contains information; therefore, intelligence designed it and uses it for a purpose. "Neither algorithms nor natural laws, however, are capable of producing information" [William Dembski, Intelligent Design, 1999, p. 153].
None of these arguments prove that the God of the Bible is this uncaused first cause, but the God described in the Bible fits the attributes perfectly. However, these arguments do eliminate that blind random chance that lacks purpose could have been the force that resulted in this well-designed world.
Why Aren't More Scientists Theists?
Pew Research found in 2009 that 51% of scientists believe in God or some sort of higher power. 41% didn't believe in either. 7% refused to answer. In comparison, 95% of the general public believes in God or some sort of higher power. ["Scientists and Belief", Pew Research Center, 2009]. A part of this difference is that the educational and publishing industry exerts extreme pressure to deny the existence of God. It has been shown repeatedly that a scientist who expresses belief in God has a harder time getting a position in education.
Then we return to the fact that science is about the measurable and the repeatable. God, the uncaused cause, is outside this universe and so doesn't lend Himself to be measured by the universe He created. Nor is the first cause repeatable. Thus, the idea of God is really outside the realm of science. In truth, science is an attempt to discover what God did. The very fact that science searches for the rules governing this universe show that they start with a belief that there are rules and order in this universe.
How Could a Perfect God Create a Flawed Earth?
If you will allow me to cite what the Bible states, the earth started out perfect. "Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good" (Genesis 1:31). However, God also did not create robots. He desired a creation that served Him because they wanted to do so. But once someone is given choice, there are going to be those who chose wrong. Thus, sin entered the world and with it decay from its original perfection.
God has allowed this to continue because He still desires people who chose to serve Him (II Peter 3:7). He laid out a way for people to be saved from their sins, but the world continues to decay so that we will desire a better place. It is the decay of this world that allows us to long for a better world that God is offering those who chose to follow Him.
Why Are Only Humans Offered an Afterlife?
Of all that was created in this world, only humans were created after the image of God. "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them" (Genesis 1:27). We are not like the rest of the animal kingdom. The animals follow their instinct -- their programming. In a sense, they are far advanced robots. But humans have the ability to override their instinct. We are capable of making a true choice.
Why only humans? God didn't tell us, but given the problems we've caused for ourselves, one high-order species on this world was probably enough.
Why Do We Have Commandments?
I've noticed that when I purchase something, I generally appreciate it when it comes with an instruction manual. I might not always read it, but when I get stuck, I know where to get information to move on.
God didn't put man on this world and left them to figure it out on their own. He gave them instructions, the commandments, to guide them. "For the commandment is a lamp, and the law a light; reproofs of instruction are the way of life" (Proverbs 6:23). As Moses told the Israelites: "And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the LORD's commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?" (Deuteronomy 10:12-13). Through the law, God explains what works and how to live life to its fullest. He also warns us what happens when we break the laws and we see that His warnings come true.
The laws aren't for God's good, they are for man's good.
- Doug Powell, Holman QuickSource Guide to Christian Apologetics, 2006