Monday, June 01, 2009

Eternity

I wrote an entry at Telic Thoughts (Leaning on Your Own Understanding) which I'll reproduce here. In it Richard Dawkins is quoted as referring to a question thought by atheists to be a telling criticism of theism. It's a variant of the who created God question. But atheists have their own problems with eternity, beginings and ends. So they have no alternative which avoids a causal dilemna. For believers in God his eternal existence adaquately explains creation, namely, the universe and all properties of it. But if all things need a prior existing cause then atheists have their own dilemna and need not be hiding it while asking who created God. Who created matter and energy? Do they have eternal properties? If that is the claim then Dawkins cannot avoid tarring atheism with the same charge he levels at theists.

The link for the Telic Thoughts blog is here. The TT blog entry:

I was reading a paper authored by Dembski and Marks when I came across a quote taken from Richard Dawkins' book The Blind Watchmaker. The quote:

To explain the origin of the DNA/protein machine by invoking a supernatural Designer is to explain precisely nothing, for it leaves unexplained the origin of the Designer. You have to say something like "God was always there," and if you allow yourself that kind of lazy way out, you might as well just say "DNA has always been there," or "Life was always there, and be done with it.


Dawkins' is expressing a sentiment echoed in the thread PD instead of ID by at least one commenter. But Dawkins is drawing a conclusion supported by an artificial demarcation made in a time/causal pathway depicting the origin of the universe. Specifically, he is drawing our attention to a point in time at which prebiotic earth exists and then posing questions about life's origin. In doing so Dawkins begs some very pertinent questions showing that he, like his theistic counterparts, is unable to present a comprehensive and coherent account running from A to Z. Perhaps this is because human minds are limited both in terms of their capabilities and their knowledge of what preceded them.

Dawkins does not say that God's existence precedes that of our universe. Indeed he thinks this foolishly avoids the question of God's origin. But he does not challenge another assumption inherent to Dawkins' own position namely, that matter and energy have always been there. Of course one might argue that whatever it was, that contained what is called the Big Bang and our resulting universe, was not matter and energy as we know it but that merely moves the causal goalposts back a step and illustrates a dilemna known as infinite regress. Pick your poison. Either matter and energy have always existed and no cause is attributed to this or a trail of infinite causes exists each one preceded by a prior but unidentified cause.

ID critics are fond of utilizing terms like magic to describe causal scenarios involving the action of a deity. Yet magic can be a very subjective term. It seems quite magical to me to assert that the basic components of our universe just exist and always have. Thinking that view is less "magical" than a theistic explanation, positing God at the begining of a causal series of events, is more a matter of personal preference than empirically grounded conceptions is it not? Yet for a theist, whose personal experiences indicate the presence of a deity, the choice between incomprehensible options becomes obvious.

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