“The first question smart gamblers ask is, ‘What are the odds?’ There’s good reason for it; playing the odds gives them the best chance at winning.
“However, the odds for many things we see in our universe coming into existence without any intelligent input or intentionality are so mind-numbingly improbable it requires an irrational dose of blind faith to even consider them.
“How mind-numbing, you ask? I’ll give just one brief example. Take living cells and the biological proteins that compose them. If we consider just one simple living cell consisting of only 250 short proteins, and those 250 proteins each consist of only 150 amino acids (they can consist of up to 30,000 amino acids), the odds that these 37,500 amino acids (250 proteins X 150 amino acids) could all arrange themselves into a sequence where the cell could actually function is only one chance in 10 to the 41,000th (that’s a one followed by 41,000 zeros.
“That’s a lethal problem for atheism. Even if the universe were 14 billion years old (that’s the oldest estimate even the most ardent atheists give it), there hasn’t been nearly enough time for 10 to the 41,000th attempts at anything. Not by a long shot! And that’s only one example out of countless others we could offer.” — Tom Hammond, What Time Is Purple, pps 16-17
Black and white, cats and dogs, Christians and atheists. These pairs are just about as opposite as it is possible to be. But there is one fact that is so basic, so essential to logic and clear-thinking, that Christians and atheists agree on it.
(As for the other two pairs, our black Lab Twister definitely prefers his color and the company of other canines to that of, you know, those arrogant, self-absorbed furrballs.)
NBC “Dateline” cold-case detective J. Warner Wallace — author of the highly recommended “Cold Case Christianity” — explains what that most basic fact is while responding to a probing question from a college student about how to explain the existence of a god:
Believe it or not, early in the decades following Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, burial and resurrection, His followers were considered unpatriotic atheists by the most powerful government in the world, Rome.
As Ryan Leasure writes on The Poached Egg on this Palm Sunday, Roman Emperors expected subjects to bow down to the Roman pantheon of gods in an act both of loyalty to Caesar and religious piety.
Christians — in a dramatic act of separation of church and state —refused to worship the Roman gods and were thus viewed officially and by many Romans as atheists. But there was also an economic angle involved, as Leasure explains:
Proponents of atheism like Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking and Sam Harris have become prominent public figures, thanks to their intelligence and debating skills, science knowledge and formidable public presences.
They are helping prompt the renewal of a much-needed public debate in the U.S. and Europe on the Theory of Everything (TOE) questions: Why is there something rather than nothing, why does the universe exist, why are human beings in it, and what happens to us after we die?
For all of our knowledge, there remains no definitive, testable, repeatable scientific answer to the question every person who ever lived asked themselves at least once: What happens to me after I die?
Science deals with the material world, cause and effect, the repeatedly demonstrable. But death, at least as far as we know from common human experience, is always and everywhere a one-way ticket (yes, I know there are folks who claim to have died and come back with vivid – but unverifiable- reports of what Heaven is like).
(The photo above is courtesy of Madison Grooms of Unsplash.)
Things, including people, tend to change over time and, according to the conventional wisdom of many of the top folks among the scientific and cultural elite, if you combine enough time with the right kind of matter and the phenomenon called “chance,” you get to evolution as an explanation of the origins of life on Earth.
Note that the phrase can either refer to theistic evolution, which God uses, or a-theistic evolution, which puts God entirely out of the picture. There is also an important distinction to be made between macro-evolution, which concerns the appearance of distinct species, and micro-evolution, which concerns the appearance of changes within species.
So why should anybody working on Capitol Hill care about this?