Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Universe Is Rigged

Tonight I overheard my brother-in-law (BIL) explaining the role of science and the Bible in understanding the origins of the world to my 7-year old nephew.

The long and short of his explanation was that, well, yeah: science helps us understand things about how the world came about, but it isn't the same story we hear in Genesis (2 different times). But you know, that God is a clever God, and he could have set the world up to look like it was really, really old, such that there's not necessarily a conflict between science and the creation accounts. You know, God could have made Adam with a belly button, even though as the first man he naturally wouldn't have had one. Just for kicks or something.

That seemed to satisfy my nephew, who looked off into the distance, pondering it. Then nodded his head and wandered off to find his brother.

Later, out of earshot of the kids, I asked him about it. "I know God could have done it that way - I've heard that argument before - but why would God have done it that way?" I asked.

"Why wouldn't he?" was BIL's answer. Ugh.

So basically the argument is either that God is completely random and unpredictable, or that God could have purposely confused us, purposely set before us a lot of scientific evidence on which we spend a lot of time and energy, really just to f*** with us. To make sure we don't figure his ways out.

Yet I Cor. 14:33 begins "For God is not a God of disorder but of peace..." Of course the context of that verse has to do with speaking in tongues... but is it not appropriate to extrapolate from there to assume that God is not a God of disorder in other matters as well? ...such as, us understanding how the heck the world came to be? Why would God deliberately plant false evidence?

So the argument isn't really washing for me.

At the same time, my BIL did make what I thought was a decent point. He said: "Look, the universe is obviously rigged. No two ways about it: the odds of carbon-based life fluorishing on earth are like, what - what's bigger than a trillion, a quatrillion? Yeah, a quatrillion to one. It would be like me flying over the Pacific to China and al Qaeda blowing up my plane. I'm falling into the ocean, about to die a horrible death. It would be like me somehow falling onto an island, into a barcolounger, to find a margarita in my hand and a mermaid giving me a blow job. At that point, you gotta admit something is up. That kind of sh** just doesn't happen out of nowhere."

Which, of course, is the clock designer argument, though I must admit that I like my BIL's salty version of it better (I'm not too reverent, in case you can't tell). I think I am still at a point of believing there is a God of some kind behind the scenes. But I am confused as all get out as to who this God is.

4 comments:

Heather said...

** But you know, that God is a clever God, and he could have set the world up to look like it was really, really old, such that there's not necessarily a conflict between science and the creation accounts. You know, God could have made Adam with a belly button, even though as the first man he naturally wouldn't have had one. ***

My problem with this is that it doesn't make God come across in a trustworthy light. This means we can't trust what our five senses tell us about the age of the universe, or the earth. Could God do it? I'm sure. But if this physical evidence is deceptive, then what else is deceptive? Could the Bible be deceptive? After all, that's "physical evidence." Paul says that he saw a risen Jesus -- couldn't that be deceptive? After all, it's what his eyes were telling him.

Slapdash said...

I am with you, Heather. I don't understand how Christians can feel so clever about reconciling science and creation accounts in this way, given that it basically means that God is sowing confusion. If one of the big arguments in Romans is that God's existence is obvious through his creation, then why would he "stack the deck" of creation in such a way that it would lead most scientists away from belief in God, instead of toward belief?

HeIsSailing said...

** But you know, that God is a clever God, and he could have set the world up to look like it was really, really old, such that there's not necessarily a conflict between science and the creation accounts. You know, God could have made Adam with a belly button, even though as the first man he naturally wouldn't have had one. ***

This implies that God lies. It also makes the universe illogical, and everything we see a potential illusion. Why would God do such a thing? It makes no sense to me.

Slapdash - I read all your articles during my lunch break. Your experiences with Fundamentalist Protestantism, your exposure to catholicism, and your doubting and questioning God are all things I can really relate to. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences.

Steve said...

That God.... he's such a tricky little devil isn't he!