God the Incompetent Tinker Gnome

The Catholic Church, along with many other Christian denominations & various other theistic groups accept that Evolution is true. They, however, believe that their god guided evolution as part of his Grand Creation process. They see it as a testament to his all-powerful nature. I think they are seeing it ass-backward due to their confirmation bias goggles.

Let’s do a super quick & simplistic review of what evolution is. It is, at its heart, natural selection. Organisms develop new traits due to random genetic mutation & some of these mutations, such a simple change in the pattern on a butterfly, might allow that organism to survive better than its brothers & sisters & thus be more likely to pass on this mutation. Over time and many generations, a series of these small changes can lead to an organism that has only a modicum of resemblance to its ancestors.

As environmental pressures change,  which mutations are beneficial change as well. What was once beneficial can suddenly become detrimental & that branch of the family tree could die out. Alternatively, an event, such as a natural disaster or even just migration of one part of a larger group, may separate a group of organisms into two or more groups. Each group may now find themselves facing completely different environmental pressures. Each group will find different mutations to be beneficial to their new environment & over time & many generations, you could have 2 or more groups of organism, each sharing a common ancestor group,  but looking completely different from each other.

Let’s say the group split into 26 separate groups that we’ll simplistically name B, C, D, E, F, & so on. Notice I left out A, that is because A is the original group that the five new groups split from. Group A might still be thriving in its original habitat where there haven’t been any major changes to its environmental pressures. It may also have died out in whatever event caused the split into the separate groups. For the sake of this scenario, let’s say these are birds that got separated during one of their migrations by a major storm & ended spread across islands throughout the Pacific Ocean.

In the present day, we find we now have six groups all sharing a Great x 103-grandmother. Groups B & D might still be close enough genetically to reproduce with each other & the original group A even though they haven’t been in contact for thousands (millions?) of years. Meanwhile, groups C, E, & F have had such drastic genetic drift that they are now new species that can only breed among themselves. Group C is now a flightless bird, E is a burrowing bird & F is a deadly bird of prey.

You’ll note that I haven’t mentioned Groups G to Z yet. That’s because they all died out. They were unable to adapt to the new environmental pressure or their mutations didn’t allow for long-term survival for any number of possible reasons. The point is, 20 of 26 groups were unsuccessful. 20 groups of these birds died out. That’s a 77% failure rate.

This video is the best representation of evolution in action I have ever seen:

In this experiment, the researchers created regions with every increasingly deadly environmental pressures. This represents changes in the natural world that organisms face on a regular basis.

What is striking to me about this video & evolution in general, is the sheer number of failures. For every mutant that manages to survive in the “new world”, there are millions of dead bacteria. Each time a new region is encountered, there are millions of “failures” to each success.

Now let’s look at this through the lens of a god directing this evolution. For the sake of this argument, I’m going to use the God of Classical Theism. That is an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good, atemporal, omnipresent deity. Or as apologists like William Lane Craig like to say, “A Maximally Great Being”; I’m going to use MGB going forward to save my poor fingers.

If MGB guided the creation of the universe & eventually the evolution of life to become what we see today, that means he either A) planned for trillions of failed life forms or B) relied on trial & error to find the right combinations of traits to continue surviving.

What do these two options mean? Let’s examine them.

A) MGB planned for trillions of failed lifeforms

We need to ask why? We could go with the old “Mysterious Ways” clause theologists are famous for using, or William Lane Craig’s more eloquent way of putting it, “Morally sufficient reasons”. I can’t speak for you, but I find this to be decidedly unsatisfying & reek of an ad-hoc justification to explain away what appears to be immoral actions.

Why would an MGB plan for trillions of failed mutations if he could just skip over them and go straight to the finished product? If you want to build a house, no one in their right mind would purposely build a hundred houses that they know will fall apart at the first gust of wind, or leak like a sieve at the lightest of rain. You build the best house possible the first time & avoid things you know won’t work.

This explanation simply defies basic reasoning that even a small child would get. By definition, the MGB would also need to be “maximally reasonable”, so surely it would able to see the ridiculousness of this plan if a small child could see it? Or is the MGB not “maximally reasonable”, thereby destroying the entire premise behind MGB?

Clearly, this explanation cannot be true.

B) MGB relied on trial & error to find the right combinations of traits to continue surviving

This explanation seems to inherently destroy the whole premise of MGB. The MGB is by definition the “Greatest conceivable being”. If I can conceive of a being that doesn’t need to rely on trial & error to achieve its final design, then a being that does require trial & error cannot be the greatest conceivable being & therefore is not “Maximally Great”. I mean, there are humans that nail their new invention on the first go, ergo, an MGB must be able to nail every invention on the first go.

By saying MGB relied on trial & error where his success rate is in the single digits, & maybe even lower,  you’re essentially reducing MGB to being an incompetent Tinker Gnome fiddling with his gadgets until he manages to come up with something useful. What kind of “Maximally Great Being” fails trillions of times for every success?

Once again, this explanation defies basic reasoning & so clearly it cannot be true.

I have only touched upon Evolution so far. If we expanded the view to the whole universe & considered the number of uninhabitable planets, moons, etc, plus the number of planets, stars, etc that have been destroyed or failed to fully form, the number of failures in the MGB’s tally sheet goes to incalculable levels.

I know, I know, who are we to say what’s a failure & what’s not. This is simply reverting back to the “Mysterious Ways” cop-out to avoid having to face the rational explanation.

On a side tangent, I find the whole idea of the MGB having “morally sufficient reasons” to be hilarious. It’s not saying his reasons are “perfect”, just that they are “sufficient” or “good enough”. That doesn’t seem “Maximally Great” to me.

Saying God “directed evolution” is saying that God works in ways that look exactly as if he doesn’t exist. Evolution is completely unsurprising in a naturalistic world & would be completely surprising in a world with an MGB.

To put it another way – Evolution is a fact & the Theory of Evolution explains this fact. The fact of evolution does not fit into a universe that includes an MGB. The fact of evolution does, however, fit perfectly into a world without an MGB.

Until next time, keep drinking the Kool-aid & be nice to one another.

 

 

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20 thoughts on “God the Incompetent Tinker Gnome

  1. silenceofmind

    This is a great post; it is very thorough and delightfully informative.

    Nevertheless, it still based on the usual atheist oversights:

    1. The existence of God is not contingent of him conforming to any behavioral regulations.
    The atheist cannot logically wink God out of existence because he doesn’t act or think a certain way.
    2. The theory of evolution still has some big holes in it:
    Namely the existence of man. How can natural selection select for a creature that becomes independent of nature and able to be master of nature itself?
    3. The theory of evolution isn’t about the quest for perfection.
    Therefore, one cannot use the theory of evolution to blame God for not creating perfection in the first place.

    Consequently, if the atheist wishes to use science to refute the existence of God, the scientific premise of an argument against God must be rock solid.

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    1. Eh Post author

      1)I explained why him acting a certain way would be completely irrational. Is god irrational? You do realize your response here was nothing more than another variation of “Mysterious Ways”, right?
      2) Science has done a very good job of explaining how man evolved. Natural selection selected for intelligence because that allowed for better survival. Becoming “independent of nature”, if you can really say we are, is a simple byproduct of selecting for intelligence.
      3) I agree. Why would MGB aim for imperfection? Try to answer without “Mysterious Ways” as you did with #1.

      I’m not using evolution to blame god for anything, I’m explaining why evolution doesn’t fit with a MGB behind it.
      I’m also not trying to use science to refute god. I’m using logic. Saying a MGB is behind evolution is illogical.

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      1. silenceofmind

        Eh,

        In item one, my refutation was based on the what atheists routinely establish an arbitrary standard for God and then wink him out of existence because he doesn’t adhere to that arbitrary standard.

        My refutation has nothing to do with “mysterious ways.”

        It everything to do with the understanding that the theory of evolution is a model with big holes in it and that it doesn’t make any rational sense to refute the existence of God with a scientific model that isn’t yet complete.

        And in item 2, the theory of evolution does not at all explain how man’s intelligence evolved to outstrip nature itself.

        Man is unique among living creatures. We master the laws of nature to create civilization.

        We create art, music, technology, all of which are completely out of the realm of the natural world and completely useless with regard to procreation.

        In fact, you are using the theory of evolution to explain the “mysterious ways” of man.

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      2. Eh Post author

        So #1 is a strawman that has nothing to do with my post. Got it. There’s nothing arbitrary about what I laid out. It’s based on reason & logic.
        Evolution is the best understood scientific theory there is. There are gaping holes as you put it. The gaping holes would be in your understanding of evolution.
        Yes, it does. Like I said, evolution selected for intelligence. The fact that intelligence got to the level it did and we did what we did with it doesn’t refute evolution.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. silenceofmind

        Eh,

        You applied the incomplete understanding the theory of evolution as a specific standard by which to judge the behavior of God.

        Consequently, that is not a straw man argument but a dagger driven into the heart of your argument.

        And no, the theory of evolution is not the best understood theory in science. The theory of evolution is hardly understood, but much misunderstood.

        The theory of evolution is simply a story.

        You have shown in your post that you don’t even understand it yourself. All you’ve done is tell a story about speciation that comes from the much outdated work of Charles Darwin.

        Evolution is the transmission of genetic information from one generation to the next as you say but your story of speciation is only a story.

        It doesn’t fully explain how mixing up a limited set of genes taken and isolated from one species can produce an entirely new species from common genetic material.

        You simply conclude that it must be so.

        There is no conclusive record of evolution in the fossil record and evolution cannot be reproduced at will in the laboratory or with any living system or creature other than the most primitive.

        The theory of evolution is only demonstrated in Prokaryotic life.

        Evolution has no first cause or final end and no mathematics with which to define it or model it.

        Since the theory of evolution is but a story, it cannot be used as a logical, scientific argument against the existence of God.

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      4. Eh Post author

        My argument was that it makes zero sense to claim god directed evolution. You’re arguing that evolution isn’t true, so therefore my argument is false. My argument was never intended to be directed at or convince evolution deniers. It was for people that understand and accept evolution but claim god directed it.

        The genetic record is the smoking gun of evolution. Fossils are icing on the cake.

        Genetic Mutation over X number of generations is what causes enough genetic drift to cause speciation. When X becomes high enough, there can be major changes that lead to new species that look nothing like their ancient ancestors.

        But in all honesty, I’m not interested in debating evolution. Neither of us are experts in biology, I understand it well enough to “get it”, but I could never do it true justice in a debate.

        Please don’t say I was “indoctrinated” to believe evolution. I don’t even recall learning about it in school. I researched it myself as an adult and found the evidence convincing.

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      5. silenceofmind

        Eh,

        I like the theory of evolution as far as it goes.

        I tried to argue that because of its incompleteness it is not a good way to challenge God’s existence.

        Science is based on the laws of nature.

        The theory of evolution is more a narrative or explanation then it is a description of the laws of nature.

        In other fields of science, the laws of nature are expressed through mathematics and witnessed through experimentation.

        The theory of evolution is not scientifically rigorous enough to be a standard by which to challenge the existence of God.

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    2. essiep

      2: mankind is not independent of nature. Man is part of nature, inside and out. We cannot exist without nature, we rely on bacteria in our gut to digest food. Etcetera.

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      1. silenceofmind

        essiep,

        Which animal creates civilization, music, and technology.

        If we were “part of nature, inside and out” there would be no global warming, government, cities, roads, technology or science.

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      2. essiep

        Many different examples, too many to list. Ants, termites, bees, whales, wolves, apes? Birds and apes use tools, blah blah….

        We are made of the same stuff as animals, we share genes, proteins and hormones with all animals and even plants.

        Do I really need to list these, seriously?

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      3. silenceofmind

        Esseip,

        If you can’ see the difference between bees and human civilization then you are beyond any reasoning.

        What I have explained to you is purely obvious.

        Nevertheless, we do know that like man, cows contribute to global warming so maybe you are on to something.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. silenceofmind

        Essiep,

        Surely we are at liberty to think anything we want.

        But the obvious is true because it is self evident and easily understood.

        If you disagree with what is obvious, than what you believe in is by definition, false.

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      5. essiep

        I’m tempted to question those two tenants. Our narrow window of the senses means stuff that is not evident can be true too. Our senses easily deceived, you know: optical illusions, personal bias, or just perception as a result of our life experience. Don’t forget the influence of the subconscious (for want of a better term).

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      6. silenceofmind

        Essiep,

        One of the keys to effective argumentation is to find common ground.

        If you can’t see what is obvious to most people then you are not equipped to have even the most simple of conversations.

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