It seems to be taking me an obscenely long time to read through Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion. One reason for this is the fact that shortly after starting the book, I began to realize how utterly ridiculous Dawkins’ arguments were against theism. They were riddled with double-standards and self-refuting ideas.
There is one particular thing that I would like to draw attention to that is in his book. It is also an argument that I have heard much about and seen many blog posts, magazine articles, debates and so forth discussing. And in all of these, there seems to be a crucial oversight, it seems to me.
The argument that I am referring to is regarding the statistical probability of extra-terrestrial life. Dawkins discusses this in his book in reference to what is known as the “Goldilocks Zone.” This is a term used to describe the conditions found on a planet that contribute to that planet’s ability to sustain life. There are several factors, such as temperature, number of moons, size of moon, location within the solar system, path of orbit around the star of its solar system, etc.
The statistical probability argument asserts that, given the number of galaxies, solar systems and planets in the universe, there are likely a fair number of them that find themselves in a similar “Goldilocks Zone.” From there, the speculation is, with that many planets that are likely to have the ability to sustain life, statistically one could presume that there is a good chance that life has developed on those planets as well.
We could argue back and forth about such speculations, but it seems as though there is one glaring issue at hand here. There is an underlying presupposition that undermines any argument we might make if we address this claim directly. That is, this assertion assumes a random, chance occurrence for the origin of life rather than any kind of creation.
Whether you’re a young-earther or an old-earther, orthodox Christianity teaches that God created Man in His image. These two camps may disagree on God’s time table, but they agree on the fact of creation and that God made each kind of living thing specifically and originally. While there are some who fall into the theistic evolution camp, most Christians do not believe that all living things originated from a single life form that begin in some primordial ooze and eventually evolved into all the varied life forms we see today.
So, by arguing for life on other planets based solely on the statistical probability of other planets having life-sustaining properties, we ultimately disregard creation out of hand. It simply assumes an evolutionary view on the origin of life and that, therefore, these other planets could have had the same thing happen there that happened on Earth. Ironically, Darwin himself was at least honest enough to admit that, with regard to the origin of life, he did not have an answer. His theory sought only to explain the variety of living things, not their origin.
We need to be careful about what assumptions are being made when people argue for any given position. If we don’t know what those assumptions are, we may unwittingly be led down a path that will undermine our own understanding of the world. This could result in an unraveling of our own worldview. If our worldview is wrong, there may be nothing wrong with that. But, we should never abandon a worldview unless there is sufficient reason to do so. What I’ve described does not seem to be an adequate reason to abandon a worldview because it is based on unchallenged assumptions that, if we were careful, we may have avoided to begin with.
Grace, love and peace.