There is not a hope in hell,
Since hell does not exist.
There is no place for gods to dwell,
Just smoke and mirrors, mist.
The blind seek shelter in the night,
In mysteries of old.
The unexplained is their delight,
Thus, sceptics they will scold.
But reason cannot be undone,
And truth shall yet prevail.
Religion will be dead and gone,
And science be our sail.
On Network Norwich and Norfolk there is an article by a certain Mr James Knight in which the author claims to show that ‘there almost certainly is a God’.1 As becomes evident soon, however, Mr Knight is definitely mistaken. I shall have to make only a few remarks so as to show you why.
First, point (7) of Mr Knight’s article demonstrates his misconception of mathematics. Mathematics is not something found in nature. Instead, it is a tool invented by humans in order to describe processes. When we use it with respect to nature, we use it to describe certain natural phenomena; we do not find the mathematical descriptions in nature itself. Thus, while it evidently is a powerful and, more importantly, working tool, the processes which can be described in virtue of it can be pure fiction. As in any process of perception, one can be certain to have discovered a pattern, even though one is totally mistaken. In other words, the ability of discovering and recognizing patterns (epistemology) does not gurantee or entail that there are patterns in any objective sense (metaphysics/ontology).
Furthermore, while it is true that discovering and recognizing patterns necessitate a mind – in whatever sense – endowed with these capabilities, there is, contrary to Mr Knight’s assertion, no metaphysical necessity of a mind in order to bring them about – that is to say, a pattern-creating mind. By unwarrentedly introducing the notion of ‘sense’, Mr Knight – again unwarrentedly – switches from the concept of a pattern-discovering and -recognizing mind to that of a pattern-creating mind. He also fails to provide us with any concrete description of this pattern-creating mind’s nature. Is it a mind which can, despite its superhuman facilities, be described in natural terms, or is it rather a supernatural mind, which would itself require further proof as to its special nature and metaphysical necessity for want of evidence.
Second, with his remarks in point (9) on the science of physics, its discoveries, and what needs to follow from the theories based thereon, Mr Knight appears to claim to know more than any other human, including all phycisists. For otherwise, I cannot see how one could jump to the conclusion that a god – a supernatural non explicatur – behind all natural phenomena were the best explanation for what they appear to be instead of continuing to adjust our scientific theories in natural terms by future research results. Notice also how he suddenly switches from ‘a God’ to ‘God’, which, alongside the last sentence printed in bold letters beneath the article: ‘Meanwhile, if you want to find out more about Christianity, visit: http://www.rejesus.co.uk’, betrays his foregone conclusion.
Third, in point (12), Mr Knight writes of an alleged bias of the universe concerning mathematics. Needless to say, this is bad language use. The universe is not an intentional, emotional actor; therefore, it cannot be ‘biased’. ‘(The) Universe’ is an abstract term, originally used to include all entities, whereas now there are even physical theories about multiverses. There is, after all, no objective reason to suppose any purpose of or sense in any phenomenon in the (or our) universe. No phenomenon of real or apparant order requires, as it were, metaphysical mathematics.
Besides, ‘order’ and ‘disorder’ are epistemic terms. While the universe expands, as Mr Knight acknowledges in point (13), galaxies kepp drifting apart from one another, all kinds of objects collide with one another, stars become red dwarves and eventually black holes. Mr Knight waives these considerations in point (16), yet, nonetheless, what counts as order and disorder depends upon epistemic criteria, rather than upon metaphysical ones.
Fourth and finally, Mr Knight makes substantive use of the well-known argument from improbability from point (11) through point (19). On the one hand, yes, of course, it is highly improbable that under random circumstances, life (in whatever form) will appear. But on the other hand, no, this does not justify to jump to the conclusion that there need be a mastermind behind the curtain, as does Mr Knight in his final point (20). Notice his self-betraying language again:
I fancy that a universe without a designer would be nothing like the universe we see – it would be maximally disordered and we would not have ever been born to talk about it, because a physical regime where disorder is unconstrained by a mathematical bias wouldn’t produce any biological evolution at all.
For in my view the more closely we embrace science the more we see that the mind of God is the mind of a genius whose creative powers are on display for all to see.2
Thus, Mr Knight fancies how the world complies with his own views and wishful thinking. Now, I fancy that a better title for his article would have been ‘How to Make the World Comply With Your Own Wishful Thinking While Pretending to Be Reasonable and Scientific’. I assume, though, that this title would have been both too long and too complex. Moreover, it would have changed the article’s category and made it necessary to move it to the how-to section.
1. http://www.networknorwich.co.uk/Articles/305190/Network_Norwich_and_Norfolk/People/James_Knight/Why_there_almost_certainly_is_a_God.aspx. Notice that the author capitalizes the word ‘god’, although he uses the indefinite article.
2. Emphases by me.