Tuesday, November 22, 2011

An Orderly Explosion on O'Connell Street

Some months ago I spoke to a chap on O'Connell Street intent on curing me of my atheism. He opened with:
"I could never be an atheist. Give me one other example of an explosion leading to order."
As luck would have it I could think of a few.

  • C6H12O6 + O2 -> 6C02 + 6H20: One I remember from my biology days. It's an explosion that started two and a half billion years ago and has been growing in force ever since then. It's happening inside you right now - the burning of glucose in the presence of oxygen to produce energy, water and CO2. 
  • Ever hear the phrase we are all made of stars? Hydrogen and helium are the only 'naturally' occurring elements. Everything else was formed inside stars. When they burn out they explode, scattering the elements. Everything you see, touch and feel was born of a dying star.
  • The moon is the result of a celestial body colliding with our planet, ripping off a chunk and the dust and debris settling in orbit, later forming into a solid body due to gravity. From this we get tides, night time illumination and a changed length of day. 
  • Volcanic eruptions spread fertile ash and create new islands. Iceland is relatively new and was formed by eruptions.
His enthusiastic expression did not change. There was no pause, no flicker of doubt before he replied:
"And with so many examples of explosions leading to order, how can you still be an atheist?"
We'd moved from confirmation of God's existence due to the absence of order-inducing explosions to confirmation of God's existence though the preponderance of order-inducing explosions. He may as well have flipped a coin and said that God exists because the result was either heads or tails. If every potential result proves you right you're not doing a proper test.

I haven't mentioned his branch of theism as I don't feel it's relevant - you're welcome to guess in the comments.


Jonny said...

could be anyofem! my response to THAT kind of evangelism is opposite to yours... i say, whoaa! maybe you're right, you look very clever, but it sounds like nonsense to me, so if you ARE right then I'm not smart enough to join your faith. Is you#re faith only for clever people who realise that you are correct? or do you want me to believe something even though most other smart people i know/read disagree?

Did you catch Julian Baginni's exercise in defining the essentials of religion in yesterday's guardian?


Geoff said...

I'd missed that one - thanks for reminding me! I've just added a few Guardian RSS feeds. It'll be interesting to see what sort of responses Julian gets.