Five Atheist miracles
(or materialists believe in magic)
First published: 21 April 2016 (GMT+10)
Re-featured on homepage: 11 November 2021 (GMT+10)
Atheists often promote themselves as intelligent, logical, scientific, rational, etc. They even had a proposal to call themselves ‘brights’! The aggressive ‘new Atheists’, such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and company, like to portray those of us who believe in a supernatural Creator as irrational, unscientific, unintelligent, ignorant, or even ‘needing help’ (Dawkins). The entertainment industry often reinforces these perceptions by portraying ‘religious’ people (Christians particularly, and especially church leaders) as buffoons or hillbillies (almost never as a university professor, for example).
Reality runs against these perceptions. Isaac Newton, the greatest scientific mind of all time, was a Christian believer, as were other founders of modern science. Surveys have consistently shown that people with a strong adherence to the Bible’s authority are the least likely to be superstitious, in contrast to the average de facto Atheist.1 Indeed, one Atheist expressed his chagrin that “some of the most intelligent and well-informed people” he knew were Christians.2
There is much more to say. Atheists believe that everything came about by purely material processes—the universe, life, mind, and morality. However, do they have a rational, logical basis for this belief?
They actually believe in miracles without any reasonable cause for the miracles. That is, they believe in magic, or the occurrence of things without a sufficient cause. What we commonly call ‘magic’ is actually illusion. For example, a rabbit does not just appear from an empty hat; there has to be a logical physical explanation; a sufficient cause. Illusion needs an illusionist. Stuff does not happen without something to cause it to happen. Even young children understand this law of causation. Magic, where things ‘just happen’, is the stuff of fairytales—there is no such thing.3
Here are five major examples of materialists believing in magic (and there are more), or miraculous events without any sufficient explanation or cause for those events.
- Origin of the universe
Materialists (Atheists) once tried to believe that the universe was eternal, to erase the question of where it came from. The famous British Atheist Bertrand Russell, for example, took this position. However, this is not tenable. The progress of scientific knowledge about thermodynamics, for example, means that virtually everyone has been forced to acknowledge that the universe had a beginning, somewhere, sometime—the big bang idea acknowledges this (ideas like the multiverse only put the beginning more remotely, but do not get rid of the pesky problem).4
The big bang attempts to explain the beginning of the universe. However, what did it begin from and what caused it to begin? Ultimately, it could not have come from a matter/energy source, the same sort of stuff as our universe, because that matter/energy should also be subject to the same physical laws, and therefore decay, and it would have had a beginning too, just further back in time.
So, it had to come from? Nothing! Nothing became everything with no cause whatsoever. Magic!
“The universe burst into something from absolutely nothing—zero, nada. And as it got bigger, it became filled with even more stuff that came from absolutely nowhere. How is that possible? Ask Alan Guth. His theory of inflation helps explain everything.”
So proclaimed the front cover of Discover magazine, April 2002.
Physicist Lawrence Krauss, one of the loud ‘new Atheists’, has tried to explain how everything came from nothing; he even wrote a book about it.5 However, his ‘nothing’ is a ‘quantum vacuum’, which is not actually nothing. Indeed, a matter/energy quantum something has exactly the same problem as eternal universes; it cannot have persisted for eternity in the past, so all their theorizing only applies after the universe (something) exists.6 Back to square one!
Materialists have no explanation for the origin of the universe, beyond ‘it happened because we are here!’ Magic: just like the rabbit out of the hat, but with the universe, a rather humungous ‘rabbit’! ‘Stuff happens!’
There are other aspects of the big bang, the ‘mainstream’ model of the universe’s origin, that are also miraculous. The ‘standard model’ has a period of very rapid expansion called ‘inflation’ (which Alan Guth, mentioned above, invented). There is no known cause for the initiation of this supposed expansion, no known cause for it to stop and no physical mechanism for the extremely rapid expansion (many orders of magnitude faster than the speed of light). However, these three associated miracles must have happened or the big bang does not work because of the ‘horizon problem’. More magic!
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). This is not magic, because God, who is eternal and omnipotent, is a sufficient cause for the universe. And He can exist eternally (and therefore has no beginning) because He is a non-material entity (God is spirit, as the Bible says in many places).
- Origin of stars
According to the big bang, the ‘only game in town’ to explain the origin of stars, there had to have been two phases of star formation. Phase 1 involved the formation of hydrogen/helium stars (which are called Population III stars7). Here is the first problem: how do you get gases formed in a rapidly expanding primordial universe to coalesce together to form a critical mass so that there is sufficient gravitational attraction to attract more gas to grow a star? Gases don’t tend to come together; they disperse, especially where there is a huge amount of energy (heat).8 Hey presto! Cosmologists invented ‘dark matter’, which is invisible undetectable ‘stuff’ that just happens to generate a lot of gravitational attraction just where it is needed. More magic!9
However, we have countless stars—like the sun—that are not just hydrogen and helium, but contain the heavier elements. Phase 2 supposedly comes in here. Exploding stars (supernovas) from phase 1 produced sufficient pressure to force hydrogen and helium together to make new stars that made all the heavier elements (which astronomers call ‘metals’), including the elements of which we are made. These stars are called Population I and II stars.
Now here is another problem: how do exploding stars, with matter flying at great speed in all directions, cause stars made of all those new elements to form? There has to be a coming together of the elements, not a flying apart. Pieces hitting one another would bounce off rather than coalesce. Most hypotheses involve multiple supernovas from phase 1 in close proximity, such that sufficient material collided together to form enough of a proto-star with sufficient gravity to overcome the tendency to fly apart and attract more matter and so grow a normal star. However, supernovas are not common events, especially multiple ones at the same time in close proximity. Thus, this scenario requires a huge number of very improbable events to account for the vast numbers of the heavier stars.
This is more magic; miracles without a miracle worker.
God made the sun and the stars on the fourth day of Creation Week. Again, this is not magic or superstition, because God is able to do such things.
- Origin of life
Astrobiologist Professor Paul Davies said,
“How did stupid atoms spontaneously write their own software … ? Nobody knows … there is no known law of physics able to create information from nothing.”10
Not only must the DNA code be explained (how can a coded information storage system come about without intelligent design?), but the incredible machinery that reads the information and creates the components of life from that information has to be explained as well.
Former hard-nosed English Atheist philosopher Antony Flew abandoned Atheism/materialism because of the growing evidence for such design in living things. He said,
“It now seems to me that the findings of more than fifty years of DNA research have provided materials for a new and enormously powerful argument to design.”11
“has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce (life), that intelligence must have been involved”.12
That is, only an incredibly intelligent designer could account for the information systems in living things.
Well-known American Atheist philosopher, Thomas Nagel said,
“What is lacking, to my knowledge, is a credible argument that the story [of cosmic evolution] has a nonnegligible probability of being true. There are two questions. First, given what is known about the chemical basis of biology and genetics, what is the likelihood that self-reproducing life forms should have come into existence spontaneously on the early earth, solely through the operation of the laws of physics and chemistry?”13 (See later for discussion of his second question.)
The scientific knowledge of life grows daily, and as it does the prospects of a naturalistic (materialistic/atheistic) explanation for its origin recede into the distance. The origin of life is another miracle.14 ‘Stuff happens’? More magic.
The origin of life demands a super-intelligent cause, such as the Creator-God revealed in the Bible.
- Origin of the diversity of life (Design? What design?)
The origin of life is only the beginning of the problem for the materialist. Along with other atheistic biologists, Richard Dawkins has spent his life trying to deny that living things exhibit supernatural design. In the book that ‘put him on the map’, he wrote,
“Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”15
The diversity of life is a huge problem. How did a microbe change itself into every living thing on earth, ranging from earwigs to elephants, from mites to mango trees? For almost a hundred years, mutations and natural selection, the mechanisms of ‘neo-Darwinism’, or ‘the modern synthesis’, have been said to explain this diversity of life. However, with our modern knowledge of living things, this has proved useless as an explanation.
In July 2008, 16 high profile evolutionists met, by invitation, in Altenburg, Austria. They had come because they realized that mutations and natural selection did not explain the diversity of life, and they had come together to discuss this crisis in evolutionary biology. The only consensus was that there is a major problem, a crisis.16
Thomas Nagel (continuing from the earlier quote) put it this way:
“The second question is about the sources of variation in the evolutionary process that was set in motion once life began: In the available geological time since the first life forms appeared on earth, what is the likelihood that, as a result of physical accident, a sequence of viable genetic mutations should have occurred that was sufficient to permit natural selection to produce the organisms that actually exist?”17
Think of the supposed origin of humans from a chimp-like ape in six million evolutionary years. Modern comparison of the genomes shows such large differences (of at least 20%) that this is just not feasible, even with highly unrealistic assumptions in favour of evolution.18 Actually, it was not even feasible when the difference was incorrectly trumpeted to be about 1%.19
Materialists have no sufficient explanation (cause) for the diversity of life. There is a mind-boggling plethora of miracles here, not just one. Every basic type of life form is a miracle.
Genesis 1 tells us that God, the all-powerful, all-knowing Creator, made the various kinds of life to reproduce “after their kind”. Here is a sufficient cause, but even the description of the nature of living things to reproduce according to each kind has been confirmed with every witnessed reproductive event (billions of humans alone), and also in the fossil record where the transitional forms are missing20 and ‘living fossils’ testify to consistent reproduction ‘after their kind’ in thousands of species.21
- Origin of mind and morality
The origin of mind and morality from energy and atoms has long been a problem for the materialist. It is a major theme of philosopher Thomas Nagel’s book, Mind and Cosmos, already referred to.
A fig tree produces figs, not apples. That seems obvious. Likewise, physics and chemistry produce physical and chemical outcomes. However, mind and morality are not just matters of physics and chemistry. Sure, creatures that are physical and chemical have mind and morality, but how did such non-material things arise from the material? This is a serious problem for materialism, and the Atheist Nagel candidly admits it, to the extreme annoyance of his atheistic colleagues.22
The famous (and reluctant) convert from Atheism to Christianity, C.S. Lewis, put it well when he wrote,
“If the solar system was brought about by an accidental collision, then the appearance of organic life on this planet was also an accident, and the whole evolution of Man was an accident too. If so, then all our present thoughts are mere accidents—the accidental by-product of the movement of atoms. And this holds for the thoughts of the materialists and astronomers as well as for anyone else’s. But if their thoughts—i.e. of materialism and astronomy—are merely accidental by-products, why should we believe them to be true? I see no reason for believing that one accident should be able to give me a correct account of all the other accidents. It’s like expecting that the accidental shape taken by the splash when you upset a milkjug should give you a correct account of how the jug was made and why it was upset.”23
The Atheist has no sufficient cause to explain the existence of mind and morality. Magic happens!
Why do apparently intelligent people resort to believing in magic—uncaused events—at so many points? By not believing in God they have put themselves into an irrational philosophical corner. Romans 1:21 in the Bible says that when people deny that the Creator-God exists, they end up with ‘futile thinking’. We have discussed plenty of that in this article. Richard Lewontin admitted that (leaving God out of the picture), “We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs … ” (he confuses ‘science’ with materialism).24
Where to from here?
God made man “in His image”, a creature with a mind and morality (Genesis 1:27). As such, we are able to think about God and ‘know’ Him. That is the very reason for our existence. Isaiah 1:18 records God speaking to the people of Israel who had turned away from Him,
“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”
Trying to live life as if God does not exist is the ultimate rebellion (sin), and the ultimate folly. The good news is that God is in the forgiving business for those who will admit their error and seek Him:
“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” (Isaiah 55:6–7).
Jesus Christ came into the world to make possible our forgiveness; see Good news!
References and notes
- Batten, D., Superstition vs Christianity, Creation 29(1):6, 2006; creation.com/superstition-vs-christianity. Return to text
- “I hope there is no God!”, Thomas Nagel quote; creation.com/nagel. Return to text
- There is ‘black magic’ where Satan is the sufficient cause for the events; for example, the Pharaoh’s magicians in Egypt, where they threw down their staves and they became snakes. Return to text
- Grossman, L., Death of eternal cosmos: From the cosmic egg to the infinite multiverses every model of the universe has a beginning, New Scientist 213(2847):6–7, January 2012. To say this we assume that the same laws of physics applied at the beginning, and that the Second Law applies to the whole universe (this is consistent with all experimental evidence). This is nothing more than the uniformity of nature in time and space, a foundational principle of science. Paul Davies said, “Yet the laws [of physics] that permit a Universe to create itself are even more impressive than a cosmic magician.” See, The singularity—a ‘Dark’ beginning. Return to text
- Reynolds, D.W., Godless universe untenable: A review of A Universe from Nothing: Why There is Something Rather Than Nothing by Lawrence M. Krauss, J. Creation 27(1):30–35, 2013; creation.com/krauss-review. Return to text
- See, Hartnett, J., The singularity—a ‘Dark’ beginning, July 2014; creation.com/dark-beginning. Return to text
- See, Hartnett, J., Have Population III stars finally been discovered?, 2016; creation.com/population-iii-stars. Return to text
- Bernitt, R., Stellar evolution and the problem of the ‘first’ stars, J. Creation 16(1):12-14, April 2002; creation.com/first-stars. Return to text
- Hartnett, J.G., Stars just don’t form naturally—‘Dark matter’ the ‘god of the gaps’ is needed, September 2015; creation.com/stars-dont-form-naturally. Return to text
- Davies, P., Life force, New Scientist 163(2204):27–30, September 1999. Return to text
- Habermas, G., My pilgrimage from atheism to theism: an exclusive interview with former British atheist Professor Antony Flew, Philosophia Christi, Winter 2005; illustramedia.com. Return to text
- Famous atheist now believes in God: One of world’s leading atheists now believes in God, more or less, based on scientific evidence, 2004, Associated Press; sciencefindsgod.com. Return to text
- Nagel, T., Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False, Oxford University Press, 2012. Return to text
- Batten, D., Origin of life, November 2013; creation.com/origin-of-life. Return to text
- Dawkins, R., The Blind Watchmaker, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, p.1, 1986. Return to text
- See ReMine, W.J., Desperate attempts to discover ‘the elusive process of evolution’, A review of The Altenberg 16: An Exposé of the Evolution Industry by Suzan Mazur, J. Creation 26(1):24–30, 2012; creation.com/review-altenberg-16. Return to text
- Ref. 13, p. 6. Return to text
- Batten, D., The myth of 1%, Creation 36(1):35–37, 2014; creation.com/1-percent-myth and Batten, D., Haldane’s dilemma has not been solved, J. Creation 19(1):20–21, 2005; creation.com/haldane. Return to text
- 1% difference still adds up to 30 million base pairs (chemical ‘letters’) difference, which is a huge problem for an evolutionary scenario of random mutations and natural selection over supposedly six million years. Return to text
- Bates, G., That quote!—about the missing transitional fossils: Embarrassed evolutionists try to ‘muddy the waters’; creation.com/pattquote. Return to text
- Batten, D., Living fossils: a powerful argument for creation, Creation 33(2):20–23, 2011; creation.com/werner. Return to text
- Nunn, W., Thomas Nagel—The atheist who dared to question materialism, March 2014; creation.com/nagel-materialism (and articles referenced therein). Return to text
- Lewis, C.S., The Business of Heaven, Fount Paperbacks, U.K., p. 97, 1984. Return to text
- Full quote Amazing admission, creation.com/lewontin. Return to text