Crotch Examined 03
Why the “odds” favor the existence of a creator
The above assertion is an article written by Al Serrato, contributing author on CrossExamined.org. When I first shared this article with some friends, the reaction I got to it was one of bewilderment. They called it "cringy" and nonsensical…and this description fits my own reaction as well. The author tries to defend the likelihood of the existence of a Creator of the universe. Given that the author is writing for a Christian ministry website, our assumption is that Al is alluding to the gods of the Christians.
Al Serrato has a law degree and worked as an FBI special agent before dabbling in Christian apologetics. We presume therefore that someone like Al would be interested in a bit more evidence for the existence of his god than a “philosophical” argument. He tries to show that the existence of a creator is more probable than the absence of a creator of the universe. It is somewhat a surprise that Al is recycling an argument that has been debunked many times over: the “Fine-tuned universe” argument.
Al makes a lot of assumptions and his article is rife with fallacies. He is attacking atheists without understanding what atheism is and the “logic” he applies to build his case is so flawed that the idea that he is a (former?) FBI agent actually becomes somewhat scary.
The utter weirdness already starts with his first sentence: “With each passing year, science is providing more evidence that the universe is exquisitely fine-tuned to support human life”.
Uh…okay? So, does science need to prove that we exist? Are scientists investigating whether human life is possible in this universe? Doesn’t the fact that we exist not already kind of proves that humans are living on this planet? Did he ask the scientific community if there are currently any studies being conducted to find out if there is life on this planet? And what are the odds that humans exist? Well, if you are talking about odds as probability, then the odds that humans exist are 1 (because we do). It is just such a weird “premise” to build an argument on.
Who are the scientists he consulted? As it turns out: none! The sources he used for his article are:
Frank Turek, Christian apologist with a Master of Public Administration
J. Warner Wallace, Christian apologist and homicide detective
Antarctica: designed for human life?
The Sahara: perfectly designed for human life?
Another assumption that is made in the opening statement is that one would already agree that the universe is fine tuned for life, before even contemplating that it was specifically designed for human beings. In other words, is it finely tuned for life? I will question that a bit later on, but first take a look at some other sneaky misrepresentations in Al’s article.
“After decades of Darwinism giving them false solace, atheists face a serious problem making sense of these discoveries, which challenge the wisdom of believing in random self-assembly over a long period of time as an adequate explanation for the magnificent complexity of the life we find on Earth”
Explaining the theory of evolution to the above pastors of Christianity is a waste of time. But why does Al equivocate atheism with “Darwinism”? What has one got to do with the other? Is he aware that the vast majority of Christians accept the reality of evolution? Does he even know what atheism means? And what is the atheist’s worldview he is referring to right before the above quote? What solace do atheists find in Darwinism if any, and solace for what? Do all atheists accept the theory of evolution as the best explanation for the diversity of life? Why are his credentials omitting his degrees in biology, astronomy and physics? Where can I find the scientific papers he published in these fields? And what discoveries is he repeatedly referring to? He doesn't state any.
Al devotes an entire paragraph to refuting the atheist claim that there is nothing noteworthy about our universe or its extraordinary nature; but who is saying that it isn’t? I am not a Christian, I don’t believe in Al’s false god, but I think the universe is amazingly beautiful, wonderful, awesome and worth investigating. I don’t think I would survive long on Mercury or Saturn however. Why would appreciation of anything be dependent on whether it was designed or a product of natural processes? The Armenian genocide was designed for a specific purpose. Should I therefore stand in awe of it and applaud it?
His article doesn’t get any better. Al uses the example of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. He rightly points out that the hundreds of systems working together to successfully complete this mission could not have been a product of chance, but were intelligently designed by intelligent designers to do what they do.
“The Apollo mission was fine-tuned for success.” Therefore: god?
So what about the Apollo 13 mission? Intelligently designed to fail? Therefore: no god? Or the Challenger Space shuttle disaster? Intelligently designed to kill 7 people?
Uranus, where billions of Christians live happy lives?
“If the universe shows signs of similar fine-tuning, then we can logically conclude that it too bears the marks of an intelligent designer. […] the truth – the universe is exquisitely fine-tuned to support life because it was designed that way.”
And that’s it. That’s Al Serrato’s argument that leads to the conclusion that the odds are in favor of the existence of a creator. Or: the design of the universe is similar to the design of the successful Apollo 11 and failed Apollo 13 missions. Therefore, the universe is finely tuned to support life... and prohibit life.
There are many examples I could give to counter the very idea that the universe is finely tuned for life, let alone the human species. I will list some below. Let’s revisit the Fine-tuned universe argument in one billion years, when planet Earth will no longer be able to sustain any life. Christians will be extinct long before that and with them the Fine-tuned universe argument as “proof” of the three-headed god. Meanwhile, you could take a look at the “odds” and very easily observe how they lead to the exact opposite conclusion: the universe does not favor the existence of humans. Following Al’s own argumentation, that would lead us to the conclusion that the odds do not favor the existence of god.
Our G2-star aka the Sun composes 99.86 % of the total mass of our solar system. This 99.86 % is unfit for any life. Jupiter and Saturn together compose 0.13 % of the mass of our solar system. We have not yet detected any life on these planets. Earth composes approx. 0.000242 % of the solar system’s mass. Life on earth is primarily reduced to its surface area, the “Earth’s crust”, which is less than 1 % of Earth’s mass. Less than 12.50 % of that surface area is suitable for human life (with our current technology). Rounding off, we can state that only 0.0000003025 % of the solar system produced human life. If these are the odds (and they become literally astronomically smaller on a galactic, let alone universal scale) with an outcome of human life, then inversely the odds of the solar system not producing the human species were 99.9999996975 %. If the 0.0000003025 % chance is the probability of humans emerging and therefore god existing, then the probability of god not existing is 330.58 million times higher. I wouldn’t exactly call those odds favorable.
On a final note, I just wonder what Al Serrato, together with equally cringe worthy apologetics from Ryan Leasure, Frank Turek et al., is trying to achieve with this kind of argumentation from ignorance. Are they trying to convince us that all the scientists who don’t believe in their god are wrong in their fields of expertise? Why are they calling more than 1.2 billion Christians atheists? Why do they assume that atheists find nothing noteworthy about anything in or about the universe? Or are they simply catering to a shrinking audience that already agrees with the lazy assertions they keep regurgitating? You can blame a skeptic for being skeptic all day long, but mashing some unrelated concepts together and then ask that your flawed construct should be accepted on your self-declared authority will only add to the justified skepticism you are trying to eradicate.
Richard Dalet PHD, June 20, 2021
Corona-virus: perfectly designed to disable human life?
Cancer: perfectly designed to cause pain, suffering and premature death?
Human physiology: perfectly designed to naturally abort between 2 to 3 million “babies” every year?
Why can’t we just freely walk to the top of Mount Everest without oxygen tanks and protective clothing? Isn’t this planet supposed to be perfectly designed for humans?
What if we dropped Al Serrato without clothing, food or water on the South Pole? Would he still think the universe is perfectly designed to sustain human life when he freezes to death within 30 minutes?
If the universe is perfectly designed, then why is it changing? Doesn't change contradict perfection? Or is the expansion of the universe part of the unfinished plan to create more human life? I doubt it, because if the universe does not stop expanding at one point, all life will become impossible.
Al Serrato, “Why the “odds” favor the existence of a creator”, Saturday, February 13, 2021, CrossExamined.org, https://crossexamined.org/why-the-odds-favor-the-existence-of-a-creator/
Les Denham, geoscientist, on “How long could you survive naked in Antarctica?”, Quora, consulted on Sunday, June 20, 2021, https://www.quora.com/How-long-could-you-survive-naked-in-Antarctica
NASA – Climate Kids, “Which pole is colder?”, consulted on Sunday, June 20, 2021, https://climatekids.nasa.gov/polar-temperatures/
“List of religious populations”, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_religious_populations
“Denomination of the Christian population worldwide by major traditions in 2010”, Statista, Society > Religion, https://www.statista.com/statistics/214718/denomination-of-christians-worldwide/
“Apollo 13”, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_13
“Space Shuttle Challenger disaster”, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Shuttle_Challenger_disaster
“Future of Earth”, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Future_of_Earth
“Ultimate fate of the universe”, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultimate_fate_of_the_universe
“Solar system”, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_System
“Planetary mass”, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planetary_mass
“Earth”, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth
Linda Rowan, “Endless expansion?”, Science 18 Aug 2000: Vol. 289, Issue 5482, pp. 1109, DOI: 10.1126/science.289.5482.1109b, Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 316, L41 (2000), https://science.sciencemag.org/content/289/5482/1109.2
Sahara photo retrieved from: Rachel Ross - Live Science Contributor, “The Sahara: Earth’s largest hot desert”, January 26, 2019, https://www.livescience.com/23140-sahara-desert.html, image credit: Shutterstock
Antarctica photo: British Antarctic Survey / AFP / Getty Images
Uranus photo: taken by Voyager 2, NASA, JPL-Caltech, retrieved from: DW.com, "Scientists discover what Uranus smells like", https://www.dw.com/en/scientists-discover-what-uranus-smells-like/a-43517814