Archives for January 2015

Thoughts on the movie American Sniper

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Bradley Cooper in American Sniper

Instead of watching President Obama’s recent State of the Union Address, my son and I paid some of our hard-earned cash to see American Sniper.

In retrospect, I’d have to say our money and time were wisely spent.

It’s probably a little too soon for me to write a full review of the film…to be perfectly honest, at the moment I’m tempted to declare it the best movie ever made in the history of Hollywood.

That degree of adulation may be a tad premature. Only time will tell, after the impact of watching the movie fully sinks in. I’d really like to see it at least one more time before going completely overboard with my praise.

It surely jaded my opinion that we were watching American Sniper in IMAX, which seemed to turn what would normally be just an emotionally draining ordeal into an absolutely surreal experience.

As of this writing, my emotions are simply still too raw.

If I may borrow a line from the movie, “I guess I just needed a minute” or more accurately in my case, a couple of days to recover.

Even so, I can offer a few of my thoughts on the film with anyone who might be interested.

For example, there is no doubt in my mind that Chris Kyle was truly an American hero. End of debate. The cruel irony that Kyle survived four tours of combat duty serving in Iraq only to be murdered by a fellow veteran he was trying to help recover from post traumatic stress disorder has been a bitter pill to swallow.

I can easily say that American Sniper may be the very best movie I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen quite a few over the years. I actually know a little bit about the art of filmmaking, having taken several courses on cinema in college.

American Sniper definitely bumped Saving Private Ryan and Patton from being the top contenders for best “war” movie of all time. Unbroken was excellent as well.

But those films simply don’t compare.

Right now I can already say American Sniper will fit somewhere in my list of the top five films of all time, ranked with true classics like The Princess Bride, Memento, and As Good As It Gets.

Furthermore, I can safely say that Michael Moore is a complete idiot.

However, I knew that a long time ago, when I watched his ridiculous faux “documentary” of revisionist history titled Fahrenheit 9/11.

Chris Kyle

Chris Kyle

To be brutally honest, Michael Moore doesn’t deserve to even be mentioned in the same article as Chris Kyle, but he opened his big mouth and described all snipers as cowards that shoot people in the back — and that merits rebuttal.

I would like to point out that Mr. Moore would not be able to denigrate the memory of brave soldiers if these men didn’t risk their lives to preserve our freedom. If Moore had actually bothered to watch American Sniper, he’d know that men like Chris Kyle have suffered when they have been forced to kill to save a fellow soldier.

They don’t take death lightly, nor do they take pleasure from ending the life of another human being.

But these men and women were sent to Iraq to defeat evil men known to brutally torture and murder innocent children using cordless electric drills.

Just try to wrap your mind around that incomprehensibly horrible thought for a moment. Think about that, and then try to remember it because that’s the exact same sort of evil our troops will be fighting against, when they eventually confront ISIS.

Before this article turns into an anti-liberal rant against Hollywood elitists like Michael Moore and Seth Rogenlet me just make a couple of brief observations about this cinematic masterpiece and be done.

First, let me say that my perception of Bradley Cooper as an actor has been completely reversed from his days in the Hangover movies, and light romantic fare such as Silver Linings Playbook — which I didn’t even bother watching.

He will never again be considered a lightweight actor with limited range that one typically expects to see in mostly forgettable, “fluff” movies, at least not in my esteem.

Cooper previously captured my attention in American Hustle, which starred Christian Bale at his very best and featured a stellar cast including Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Jennifer Lawrence.

But if it hadn’t been for a dazzling lip synch performance by Lawrence, Cooper would have stolen the movie, wearing his hair in curlers.

In a cast loaded with talented actors, Bradley Cooper’s performance in American Hustle stood out.

And now American Sniper will turn Cooper into a superstar, assuming he wasn’t one already. He absolutely blew me away.

People like me — movie goers who care more about talent than seeing a pretty face — will take Bradley Cooper very seriously going forward, as a lead actor not only capable of starring in a film, but carrying it if necessary.

I predict he’s about to become the one guy in Hollywood that you can’t wait to see in his next movie.

Second, the “controversy” over the fake baby used relatively early in the film is simply absurd nonsense. The not-very-lifelike doll was on-screen less than a minute, a few seconds at most. It’s much ado about nothing, really.

If the doll’s appearance hadn’t been blown completely out of proportion with a barrage of snarky public comments by media types, I seriously doubt I would have paid any attention to it during the movie — even in IMAX.

The explanations that have been offered why director Clint Eastwood chose to use the prop instead of a live baby more than satisfied me — according to some reports, stupid legal restrictions that would have adversely impacted scheduling when the infant hired to fill the role became sick and was unable to “work.”

Such snarky criticism smacks of desperation in those who look for something to complain about.

The anti-American Michael Moore

The anti-American Michael Moore

Finally, I should say one other thing about critics of the movie, or those who would impugn the character of Chris Kyle, which is this: If it weren’t for people like Chris Kyle bravely serving in our military, bloviating know-nothings like Rogen and Moore wouldn’t have the freedom to criticize our country that has allowed both of them to become wealthy men.

Ungrateful bastards.

In short summary, I haven’t said that American Sniper is the best movie of all time. At least not yet. Not until I’ve seen it again.

But I can most enthusiastically recommend that you go see it.

Then you can decide for yourself.

 

The court of public opinion

AP Photo

AP Photo

In the court of public opinion, Bill Cosby has already been tried and convicted of serial rape.

Now that more than twenty women have come forward to publicly accuse Mr. Cosby, apparently that is enough for most people to decide he’s guilty.

Before going any further, let me be crystal clear about something– rape is NOT even remotely funny. Rape is no joking matter.

Period. End of discussion.

The act of forced rape is a despicable crime committed by cowards, an act of violence that is usually perpetrated against women. Rape should never be excused or tolerated, no matter the identity of the accused, or the victim.

Convicted rapists and sex offenders should be punished to the full extent of the law, with no exceptions whatsoever.

I need to be very clear to say that I don’t know whether or not Mr. Cosby is guilty — only that if he is guilty of any of these horrific accusations and they can be proved in a court of law, that he should be tried, convicted, and sent to prison.

On the other hand, it’s very important to note that as troubling as these allegations may be, it is equally troubling to see his reputation destroyed without these charges being proved in court.

More than twenty potential rape cases couldn’t even find one prosecutor like Mike Nifong? Why has Bill Cosby been immune from prosecution all these years?

A preliminary investigation into the histories of the accusers of Cosby represented by attorney Gloria Allred suggests at least some of these cases are fraudulent.

However, if even one of them is true and can be proved in court, then Bill Cosby should be sent to prison. That isn’t subject to debate, in my opinion.

Except…why did these charges suddenly become a topic of conversation?

Well, a relatively obscure and bitterly jealous comedian named Hannibal Buress decided to make a name for himself by making references to the Cosby allegations into his stand-up comedy routine and media interviews.

This “comedian” has admitted that he despises Bill Cosby — not because he knows Cosby is guilty of rape, but because Bill Cosby has been known to admonish young black men for their sloppy dress and behavior, telling them to pull up their pants and to speak using proper English.

Bill Cosby has said that black men need to be part of the family and sharply criticized the welfare state mentality, identifying that as a significant part of the problem when it comes to violence involving young black people.

The enemies of Bill Cosby’s message are using the rape allegations to impeach his character. These people care nothing about getting justice for the accusers. They only care about destroying the reputation of Bill Cosby when they claim the rape allegations against him must not be ignored.

Meanwhile, yesterday former President Bill Clinton was honored to receive an award from the King Center for “inspiring youth.”clintonlie

He gave a speech denouncing the dangers of a “shame-based culture” — you know, the culture that Bill Cosby was describing as what we need to fix society, a culture where people are held accountable for how they behave.

Clinton, who was impeached for committing perjury, is a man guilty of sexual misconduct with a former intern that would have caused any other executive guilty of the same offense to face prosecution for sexual harassment.

And Monica Lewinsky was not the only victim.

Remember Paula Jones? Kathleen Willey?

Before you say the affair with Monica Lewinsky is different than the Cosby allegations because it was consensual, what about all the other allegations of sexual violence against Bill Clinton that weren’t?

Juanita Broddrick isn’t the only woman who claimed Bill Clinton raped her, not by any stretch of the imagination. In my opinion, about the only thing worse than raping an adult woman is the rape of a child. And evidence has surfaced in the last several days linking Bill Clinton to an alleged pedophile and domestic child sex trafficker named Jeffrey Epstein.

Yet Bill Clinton was honored yesterday.

The double standard shown by the media in the way allegations against these two public figures have been handled would be funny, if politics played no role.

Of course, no one who has been falsely accused of such a heinous crime would find it amusing — like Bill Cosby, for example.

As a writer, I find the irony of this sort of hypocrisy can be quite delicious. And if I were a liberal instead of a Libertarian, I would relentlessly accuse the Cosby denigrators of being racists, at this point.

The double standard by which these two men are being judged, however, is both galling and very offensive to me.

Mostly I’m sad for the victims, whichever of the actors in this drama they may prove to be.

 

More popular criticisms of my book Counterargument for God

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Writers need to have a thick skin when it comes to receiving criticism.

Personally, I value every review that any reader has posted on Amazon, whether positive or negative.

Of course, positive reviews help sell books. More importantly, negative reviews, if the author listens to his or her audience, can help make future books better.

For if we do not learn from our mistakes, we will be doomed to repeat them.

My philosophy is when anyone takes the time and goes to the trouble of writing a review of something I’ve written, I tend to pay attention, even more so to critique than praise.

As an example, even though my novel Secondhand Sight won a Readers’ Favorite gold medal for Fiction/Horror, I thought the comments on Amazon were very fair criticisms when some readers suggested the sections that described tennis activities intended to provide local color were too long.

Those lengthy sections really only served as plot devices that got the protagonist out of his house and could have been achieved with at least a thousand fewer words, to be perfectly honest.

It was Shakespeare who, as Polonius in Hamlet, famously said, “…brevity is the soul of wit.”

As a result of listening to those readers, in my novel titled Premonition that followed Secondhand Sight, my editors and I worked even harder to trim every scrap of unnecessary fat from the manuscript.

Our goal was to establish a steady pace that never lagged, increasing speed as we moved from start to finish, which I hope to have accomplished, thanks to the feedback from readers.

Once again, we will listen carefully as new reviews are posted for Premonition, wanting to learn from our mistakes. Our goal is to make every book better than the last. Premonition_eBook_Cover_Draft_variationB

On the other hand, not all feedback is created equal.

Call me crazy, but in my opinion, people can’t really provide fair or useful criticisms of a book in particular when they haven’t bothered to read it first.

Unfortunately, ignorance does not necessarily stop some people from publicly sharing their thoughts.

Strangely enough, of the six books I’ve written thus far, my book Counterargument for God inspires more of that sort of criticism than any other published work.

Writers aren’t supposed to respond to their critics, but since these are “generic” complaints and these critics aren’t actually members of my reading audience, I think an exception can be safely made in this instance.

The list of complaints enumerated below is not exhaustive by any means. Nor are they ranked in particular order.

Most of these criticisms come from people who have refused a free PDF copy of the book when offered to them. My responses to their complaints are in blue.

13. You aren’t a scientist.

So what? I conceded that fact in the first few pages of the book, in fact, when I wrote the following paragraph in the section titled “About the Author”:

I’m not a scientist. Nor do I claim to play one on television. All of the credit for the scientific research belongs to those scientists and intellectual giants on whose shoulders I stand. The blame for any flaws in my logic, conclusions, and opinions belongs only to me.

12. You don’t understand evolution theory properly.

The problem with that assertion is twofold.

First of all, esteemed biologist and vocal atheist Richard Dawkins wrote the following in an essay titled Evolution is a Fact:

“You can write it [a description of evolution theory] out in a phrase: nonrandom survival of randomly varying hereditary instruction for building embryos. Yet, given the opportunities afforded by deep time, this simple little algorithm generates prodigies of complexity, elegance, and diversity of apparent design. True design, the type we see in a knapped flint, a jet plane, or personal computer, turns out to be the manifestation of an entity–the human brain–that itself was never designed, but is an evolved product of Darwin’s mill. Paradoxically, the extreme simplicity of what the philosopher Daniel C. Dennett called Darwin’s dangerous idea. People have a hard time believing that so simple a mechanism could produce such powerful results.” 1

Furthermore, Professor Benoit LeBlanc had the following to say about my understanding of the basic fundamentals of speciation, also known as macro-evolution theory: “And your basic understanding of the process is sound: groups reproductively isolated from similar groups will eventually grow apart, genetically speaking, due to genetic drift, the accumulation of different mutations, and very likely different selection pressures.”

To be perfectly clear, Professor LeBlanc was not endorsing the conclusions I reached, just conceding that I understood the fundamental concepts of the theory as well as anyone who’d read Coyne’s book could be expected. In other words, according to Professor LeBlanc, I’ve reached the wrong conclusions about this idea that according to Dawkins is so simple it is difficult to believe because I don’t know enough about how the intricate details of the theory work to believe it.

Those two ideas simply don’t go together.

It all boils down to one simple thought: complex living organisms exist either by descent or by design. There is no third choice that would not require some combination of those two basic options.

If descent is true, then even plants and animals share common ancestry via sexual reproduction. The magic ingredient that allows this to occur is called deep time.

If design is true, the magic is called God.

One way to look at the existential solutions from which we have to choose, you’re going to believe in either “natural” or supernatural magic.

The problem with deep time as the solution of choice is that we must assume entities that only appear to be designed can based intelligent design on the undesigned organism.

To this day, the personal computer remains an inferior approximation of the human brain, the thing that the computer is modeled to emulate as much as possible.

It seems kind of silly to believe the design of an intelligent object can be based on the product on stupid luck, simply if allowed enough time for basically anything to happen.

11. The universe could have always existed.

Not true, according to an overwhelming majority of physicists, who have declared that redshift and cosmic microwave background radiation, also known as CMB, have effectively debunked the steady state universe theory in favor of Big Bang cosmology or some variation of a secular creation theory that attempts to describe the origin of this particular universe.

10. We don’t know enough about the universe to say it was fine-tuned.

Actually, physicists know a lot more about the composition of this universe than one might realize. Nor is fine-tuning “my” argument — I’ve merely accepted that the physicists who’ve suggested the universe has been fine-tuned make a compelling case for their argument.

In his book The Living Cosmos, physicist Chris Impey wrote this:

“Apart from hydrogen, everything else is just a trace element. Just how rare? Suppose a deck of cards represented randomly selected atoms in the universe. In one deck of cards, the aces would be helium atoms and the other forty-eight would be hydrogen atoms. You’d need thirty decks of cards before you’d expect to find one carbon atom. In the thirty decks of cards, there’d be a couple of oxygen atoms, too, but all the other cards would be hydrogen or helium. You’d need to search three hundred decks to find a single iron atom…How do we know what the universe is made of? Astronomers use remote sensing by spectroscopy to measure the composition of star stuff. Each element has a unique set of sharp spectral features that acts like a fingerprint, so by identifying that fingerprint in starlight, astronomers can measure contributions of different elements.”

9. We don’t know enough about probability to assess the relative probability of the universe or the origin of life.

The calculations on which my arguments are based have been credited to their authors. It was Sir Roger Penrose who calculated the probability of this universe occurring by random chance as something like 1 in 10 to the 300th power, based on the work of Sir Martin Rees.

Others have come up with values even lower. I think we can safely assume the probability of this universe has been determined by the experts to be extraordinarily low, which is why new theories such as multiverse have cropped up.

8. Careful conjecture by scientists who argue science has proved God is superfluous any explanation for our existence is superior to anecdotal evidence of supernatural phenomena collected by amateurs.

What may be nothing more than anecdotal evidence to a critic may be considered empirical evidence collected according to scientific method by the actual person who is actually investigating those claims. It’s a lot easier to dismiss something if you never seriously evaluate the evidence in support of it.

7.  Your work hasn’t been peer-reviewed. You haven’t been nominated for a Nobel Prize.

I hate to be repetitive, but so what? I’m not claiming my book is a science textbook. I never expected to be nominated for the Nobel Prize. I would say I don’t deserve the Nobel Peace Prize, but neither did Al Gore, and he got one. I would take the money that goes with it, no doubt.

But in particular, I’d like to note something else Richard Dawkins slipped up when he made this reference to modern peer review in the same article previously referenced:

“Even without his major theoretical achievements, Darwin would have won lasting recognition as an experimenter, albeit an experimenter with the style of a gentlemanly amateur, which might not find favor with modern journal referees.”2

Peer review does not determine what is and isn’t science–it only defines the means by which some prima donna academics who consider themselves absolute authorities can manipulate conventional wisdom, at least temporarily. Look no further than the influence of peer review on the Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction.

6. NDEs are nothing more than euphoric hallucinations caused by chemical reactions in a dying brain.

Actually, there is scientific evidence known as corroborated veridical NDE perceptions that, if true, clearly and completely debunks that argument.

5. Corroborated veridical NDE events defy the laws of physics.

The problem with that assertion is the claim that accurate new memories can be formed by an individual while separated from his physical brain can and has been investigated. Rather than being debunked by having the evidence investigated and proved false, investigations have allegedly been able to corroborate many examples of this “impossible” evidence that would seem to defy “laws” of physics as they are currently understood. Refusing to look at evidence such as the Pam Reynolds memories apparently created outside her physical body during her famous “Operation Standstill” surgery, an extraordinarily well-documented medical procedure in which her physical condition was being carefully monitored by scientific instruments and medical observers while the events in question occurred.

4. Your book is nothing but quote mining. You’ve taken experts out of context and twisted the intended meaning of their words.

Quote mining has been defined as the deceitful practice of taking a quote out of context to make it appear the author of the quote agrees with your position.

In my book, my practice has been to quote various scientists verbatim to illustrate their obvious bias toward atheism, but I’ve never pretended any of them agreed with me.  I’ve merely used their own words, properly referenced and attributed to each source, and used the exact words of these atheists posing as scientists to expose the fallacy of their logic. One particularly persistent critic insisted that one quote in my book from George Wald was quote mined, apparently because the talkorigins website said as much.

However, the context in which the quote was used did not attempt to twist the meaning of what Dr. Wald was saying in order to deceive the reader. Dr. Wald and I were agreeing that in his context, the word “impossible” was changed to mean “highly improbable” and not the literal interpretation of the word.

My argument was to show how the quote illustrated how the atheist/scientist deliberately created a bias toward his atheistic worldview by attempting to redefine impossible to mean something else.

This particular critic seemed to be worked up that the phrase “It will help to digress for a moment to ask what one means by “impossible” had been omitted from Wald’s quote but that utterly fails to negate the point I succeeded in making in my book this critic refused to read.

As a writer who depends on the English language, let me be clear in saying the meaning of the word “impossible” is not open for negotiation.

The word impossible simply means “not possible”, as in “can never happen.” It doesn’t mean “highly unlikely”, unless that interpretation is being deliberately used in a deliberate attempt to create confusion by the quote’s author.

It seems the only time that atheists use the word ‘impossible’ and actually mean it is when they claim it is impossible to believe in a supernatural God.

Only then do they sincerely mean ‘not possible.’

Because I was not twisting, but in fact reinforcing the intent of Wald’s words with my specific usage of the correctly cited example, my book will not require any retractions or corrections due to its usage.

3. Evolution is a fact. No scientist agrees with you.

Evolution is not even a scientific theory — those are called speciation and natural selection. Evolution theory is an atheistic philosophy formed by an interpretation of scientific evidence that assumes descent rather than design as the only possible explanation for modern life, which is absurd.

Until Darwin wrote his book, the only person who might have been said agreed with him about his theory of natural selection was Alfred Russell Wallace.

And Galileo failed his peer review. As long as it is assumed evidence of something cannot exist, that evidence will successfully be ignored until the alternate theories all have failed completely.

2. The Earth cannot be/must be 6,000 years old. You aren’t a “real” Christian.

On some issues, it truly seems impossible to please anybody.

Apparently, I can’t get away with just saying “I don’t know, and I don’t really care.”

But it’s true; I don’t. It isn’t critically important to know, I don’t think.

I have referred to myself as YEC-agnostic, which means I really don’t know how old the Earth is. Scientists have estimated the age of the Earth as approximately 4.54 billion years, I am aware of that much. Evangelical Christians may reply that according to the calculations of Bishop Ussher, the Earth is only 6,000 years old.

The only thing I know with absolute confidence is the Earth is older than me. Above and beyond that, I’m not sure how important it is to know the precise age of Earth when it comes to answering our existential questions, to be perfectly honest.

While recent discoveries of soft tissue in dinosaur fossils lends credibility to the argument at least some dinosaurs may have survived the Cretaceous extinction, but I’m not quite ready to declare it is likely that dinosaurs co-existed with humans in the past.

My Big Picture equation has no variable or constant to represent the age of the Earth. Because I don’t care. It won’t affect my worldview.

1. If God truly existed, evil would not exist. There would be no suffering in the world.

Ah, what truly seems to be the last gasp of desperation from an atheist desperately seeking any excuse to reject the logic that has been applied to the scientific evidence available for answering the existential questions in my book.

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Michael Ruse by phone. We were discussing the Cambrian Explosion and the ability of various organisms to identify things called “environmental niches” these creatures were subsequently able to mutate in form enough to occupy. I wanted to understand how this process might have worked in the absence of any supernatural forms of intelligence to somehow manipulate DNA so these organisms would be better suited.

Apparently Dr. Ruse assumed my question was leading to the possibility a deity of some sort might exist, because he asked if God could create organisms perfectly suited for various environmental niches, why would this omnipotent entity allow evil to exist in the world? Why did God allow pain and suffering? He then brought up the subject of the devastating earthquake that had just occurred in Haiti.

I don’t remember how I responded to Dr. Ruse. I do remember how surprised I had been at the abrupt change in subject, going from asking specific questions about how evolution might have worked to the more abstract and completely unrelated question about the motives of God.

Today my answer to Dr. Ruse would be that God has given us three great gifts: the gift of reality, the gift of life, and the gift of free will.

Reality is the material world. We all have assets and material goods of some sort, no matter how poor we might be in comparison to others.

Life is self-explanatory. If you’ve been able to read and comprehend this article until now, you know what it means to be alive.

Free will is the least obvious of these gifts. We can choose to marshal our resources and try to help each other with humanitarian aid when a catastrophe strikes like the earthquake in Haiti or Hurricane Katrina, or we can selfishly hoard what we have been blessed to receive.

If God exists, and I believe He does, and if this supernatural form of intelligence created the universe as I believe, then He can be described as omnipotent, or all powerful. Therefore, it would certainly be within His power to destroy Satan at any given moment in time. However, in the absence of evil, we would not really be able to enjoy free will and choose between good and evil.

After completing this list and checking the word count, obviously I still need to work on my brevity.

Just remember, this list represents the most commonly heard criticisms of my book from people who haven’t read it.

Conversely, those who have actually read my book Counterargument for God and posted a review online have had complimentary things to say, for the most part.

 

Cited sources that weren’t from my book:

1. Gerdes, Louise. Intelligent Design Versus Evolution. Page 41. Detroit. Greenhaven Press. 2008. Print.

2. Ibid. Page 45.

The probability problem

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe fallacy in Paley’s famous Watchmaker analogy was not that the Watchmaker was blind, as Richard Dawkins has suggested.

The problem is that Paley’s analogy assumed the rock could have always existed in an eternal universe, whereas if physicists are correct and the Big Bang created our universe, we can safely assume the rock has not.

No one is certain why a prehistoric civilization built a monument that we call Stonehenge, but we know this peculiar rock formation exists, because we’ve all seen pictures of it and can easily visit the physical location.

Was it a temple to worship the sun? A giant calendar? An ancient medical center?

Nobody knows who built Stonehenge, or why it was constructed. We can rather safely assume that someone built it, though.

Or can we? What makes us so certain that Stonehenge isn’t merely a natural rock formation somehow created miraculously by the vagaries of Time?

Because if you listen to Richard Dawkins explain the probability problems associated with our existential questions, he seems to be saying that as long as something is theoretically possible, it doesn’t really matter how improbable the event in question might be.

What makes us so sure that Stonehenge is not a naturally occurring rock formation? Well, it is extremely unlikely, no matter well how you craft any alternate explanation.

The rocks that form Stonehenge appear to have been quarried from a location several miles away.

The rocks that form Stonehenge shouldn’t be where they are — unless humans put them there. The rocks shouldn’t be stacked and apparently organized in alignment with constellations, if they don’t mean anything and served no purpose.

The much more feasible alternative to Time and luck  to explain Stonehenge is to say that even though we have no idea how they managed to figure out how to lift tons of rock without the aid of cranes or other heavy construction equipment, for whatever unknown reason, human beings must have created the monument.

It simply isn’t logical or rational to assume the rocks managed to form such an intricate pattern by accident. Please remember that thought as we proceed.

Logic and rational thought are crucial elements in my Counterargument for God.

Recently, an atheist friend challenged something I said on Facebook in reference to the alleged fine tuning of the universe — a theory proposed and supported by a rather impressive collection of experts in the field of physics.

The problem with that complaint is I’m not the one who claimed the universe was fine tuned both to exist and support life in the first place. Fine tuning isn’t my theory. If anyone should be asked to defend the idea of fine tuning, it should be Sir Martin Rees.

In his book Just Six Numbers, Rees described six values, which he claimed any of which, given the slightest variation from current value. it would cause the universe to collapse upon itself.

Rees himself said,

These six numbers constitute a ‘recipe’ for a universe. Moreover, the outcome is sensitive to their values: if any one of them were to be ‘untuned’, there would be no stars and no life. Is this tuning just a brute fact, a coincidence? Or is it the providence of a benign Creator? I take the view that it is neither. An infinity of other universes may well exist where the numbers are different.

For the record, these six cosmological “constants” are as follows:

  • omega (value=1) to represent the amount of matter in the universe.
  • Epsilon (value=0.007) represents the degree to which atomic nuclei are bound together.
  • “D” is the number of dimensions (value=3).
  • “N” is the strength of electrical forces that bind atoms, divided by the force of gravity:(value=1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000).
  • “Q” is a number that represents two fine-tuned fundamental energies (value=1/100,000).
  • Lambda (value=0.7) represents a measurement of anti-gravity in the universe.

If Rees is correct and the universe is indeed fine-tuned to the degree Sir Roger Penrose has calculated, the relative probability that the Big Bang would have produced this universe from absolutely nothing is approximately 1 in 10 to the 300th power, which is an astronomical small fraction of a single percentage point.

Furthermore, it’s very important to note that the probability problems of an atheistic worldview merely begin with creation of the universe.

One might attempt to argue that separate and apart from the “improbability” of the Big Bang is the improbability of inflation, and I wouldn’t quibble the argument too long. There are simply too many compounded improbabilities to consider that prohibit the focus our attention to be on just one or two of them. Stephen Hawking described the sensitivity of the inflationary period immediately following the Big Bang thusly:

First, why was the early universe so hot? Second, why does it look the same at all points of space and in all directions? Third, why did the universe start out with so nearly the critical rate of expansion to just avoid recollapse? If the rate of expansion one second after the big bang had been smaller by even one part in a hundred thousand million-million, the universe would have recollapsed before it ever reached its present state. On the other hand, if the expansion rate at one second had been larger by the same amount, the universe would have expanded so much that it would be effectively empty by now. Fourth, despite the fact that the universe is so uniform and homogenous on a large scale, it contains local lumps such as stars and galaxies. These are thought to have developed from small differences in the density of the early universe from on region to another. What was the origin of these density fluctuations? The general theory of relativity, on its own, cannot explain these features or answer these questions.

Now I won’t pretend to know a specific statistical value to assign the improbability that inflation would so precisely manage to begin and end so conveniently from our perspective, but it should be safe to say the odds of a fine tuned universe produced by the Big Bang would be extraordinarily low and were not improved by the fact the first event required this expansionary period for success.

In other words, the success of this universe required both fine tuning AND inflation.

The Big Bang could have occurred without inflation, but this universe would no longer exist. Conversely, inflation could not have occurred without the Big Bang, and the need for inflation to create this universe.

The extraordinarily cynical atheist might ask why God didn’t get the Big Bang right in the first place? Why was the  inflation period even needed to get the universe to proceed according to plan?

My reply to such a query would be if you have a problem with Hawking’s analysis of inflation, you should address those concerns to him. Likewise, if you have issues with how God orchestrated the origin of the universe, you should ask Him.

However, if you have questions about the probability problem as described, specifically how the calculations of much smarter people are being utilized, those questions may be addressed to me and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Our probability problems haven’t ended with the fine-tuned Big Bang and inflation.

We also have the problem of abiogenesis, the origin of life, and then its diversity.

Two-time Nobel Prize-winning chemist and physicist Ilya Prigogine suggested that the probability of abiogenesis could be due to random chance was zero. Personally, though, I don’t like extreme values that imply certainty or assert knowledge lacking facts in evidence.

Conversely, if the probability of abiogenesis were claimed to be 100 percent, we should see incontrovertible and reproducible evidence that life can be artificially created in the lab–essentially proving that abiogenesis was only a series of chemical reactions that occurred due to random good luck. However, Prigogine was apparently saying just the opposite — that we’ll never be able to prove the origin of life was possible due only to good luck.

For the sake of argument, I would propose we accept a “low” value of probability to represent the improbability of abiogenesis. It should be greater than zero, so I would propose that the calculation result of Penrose could be borrowed. The probability of abiogenesis cannot be greater than the probability of the universe that facilitated an origin of life event. It’s probably much lower, but we’re already talking about some unbelievable good luck.

Physicists have proposed alternatives to supernatural creation of the universe such as multiverse theory that specifically attempt to address the grotesque improbability everything that has allegedly happened according to their theories and calculations has been by accident.

However, the multiverse only attempts to resolve the improbability of a fine-tuned universe, not even inflation or the subsequent, compounded improbability of life spontaneously generated in this highly improbable universe.

Nobel Prize winning biologist George Wald had this to say about the hypothesis called abiogenesis:

The reasonable view was to believe in spontaneous generation; the only alternative, to believe in a single, primary act of supernatural creation. There is no third position. For this reason many scientists a century ago chose to regard the belief in spontaneous generation as a “philosophical necessity.” It is a symptom of the philosophical poverty of our time that this necessity is no longer appreciated. Most modern biologists, having reviewed with satisfaction the downfall of the spontaneous generation hypothesis, yet unwilling to accept the alternative belief in special creation, are left with nothing…one has only to contemplate the magnitude of this task to concede that the spontaneous generation of a living organism is impossible. Yet here we are as a result, I believe, of spontaneous generation.

The problem with Wald’s comment is probability. His statement seems to be committing what philosophers would call a post hoc fallacy. Wald basically said our choices are that God did or did not create life.

The only alternative he can offer to the special creation of life is spontaneous generation, and he clearly seems be agreeing with Prigogine to say it’s impossible. Then he completely contradicts himself to say he believes in something he knows can’t be true, apparently only because of his atheistic worldview.

Wald apparently realizes the only true alternative to incredible serendipity is an act of deliberate intent in creation by a supernatural God.

It seems that most people approach the probability problem backwards, in part because the biologists who are atheists, meaning almost of them, have decreed that evolution is no longer a scientific theory, but a proved fact.

No sane person can deny that sexual reproduction of two members of the same species will not produce clones. The offspring will vary slightly in their genetic composition.

Indeed, when we compare humans to chimpanzees and bonobo apes, the appearance of common descent seems virtually inarguable. Genetically and morphologically speaking, humans appear to be fur-less apes.

The problem with that idea is extrapolation, taking Darwinian natural selection all the way back in time to abiogenesis. In doing so, we must accept, as Richard Dawkins has written, that:

Evolution is a fact. Beyond reasonable doubt, beyond serious doubt, beyond sane, informed, intelligent doubt, beyond doubt evolution is a fact. The evidence for evolution is at least as strong as the evidence for the Holocaust, even allowing for eyewitnesses to the Holocaust. It is the plain truth that we are cousins of chimpanzee, somewhat more distant cousins of monkeys, more distant cousins still of aardvarks and manatees, yet more distant cousins of bananas and turnips…continue the list as long as desired.

The problem with calling evolution a fact is that the only way we can be related as cousins to bananas and turnips is natural selection via sexual reproduction.

In other words, some living organism that was neither turnip nor human had sex with another member of its alleged species, and its offspring through many generations, mutated through sex into both plants and animals.

This alleged fact of evolution cannot be observed. Time is the magic ingredient that creates the great diversity of life, instead of God.

That is the argument from descent. The only conceivable alternative is that we are related by design. The funny thing is, humans created the concept of time.

So Time, the magical god of evolution, is truly a human invention.

What again would seem to be, at least on the surface infinitely more probable as an explanation to a universe produced by blind luck, inflation for no good reason, abiogenesis that seems impossible, and magical sex would be a form of supernatural intelligence far superior to any human intellect, even the collective of human intellect.

Like the atheist advocate of evolution theory, can I boldly claim that the existence of God is a known fact? No. That would make me a liar.

And I can’t even prove beyond all doubt that Stonehenge wasn’t accidentally built by Time.