On Sunday, pastor Stephen Howard wrote an article for the Morrow County Sentinel, an Ohio-based weekly newspaper. His article was even featured on the newspaper's homepage.
In Howard's article, he writes about Stephen Hawking, Hawking's atheism, and he writes that atheism, apparently, is "genuinely flawed."
What leads Howard to say this? Some profoundly lame reasoning. The only genuine flaws I can spot in this article are not from atheism, they are in Howard's argument. But, as I have done a couple of times in the last month or so with other ridiculous articles, I wanted to take on Howard's article and show its flaws.
Howard tries to use a kind of fine-tuning argument, an argument from the laws of nature. The argument from fine-tuning focuses on the natural laws of the universe apparently being "fine-tuned" to produce life. The laws of nature argument focuses more on the laws themselves, and looks at their consistency and regularity as evidence for God.
Both of these arguments are deeply flawed, and yet this is all Howard argues with. Howard asks why are the laws of nature consistent? Why do they remain constant?
He answers this question by ascribing the reason to God, but there is his first problem. Why would laws of nature change? Howard fails to offer any explanation as to why the laws of nature would change over time without God's influence. He just assumes that God needs to intervene to keep the laws operating at a constant rate. But his only evidence of this is that he believes in God. Uh... that is not how science works, Howard.
Howard cites laws of nature laid described by Newton and Kepler, but those laws were conceived hundreds of years ago. Yes, it is true that those laws are still applicable in certain domains, notably in the motions of planets and other large bodies. But our understanding of the universe has also grown considerably since those laws were conceived.
General relativity and quantum mechanics, both coming out of the early 20th century, have helped radically alter our understanding of the cosmos and Howard flat out ignores them. General relativity showed that space and time are not fixed, they can be stretched and curved by the influence of gravity. Quantum mechanics has shown us that the universe is really a roiling sea of virtual particles that do not behave in the way that we would assume based on macroscopic behavior.
Howard at one point also tries to use the Bible in his argument when he says, "The laws of science were created by God. The Bible says, 'For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him' (Colossians 1:16)."
That argument also falls flat on its face. If God really existed and knew all the laws of nature and influenced the authors of the Bible, then why does that Bible lack any mention of germs? At the end of the Gospel of Mark, believers are told they can ingest poison and will be unharmed. That does not seem like a book anyone should look to for scientific insights on the nature of reality.
So in the end, Howard's argument is hollow. He begs the question, and tries to undermine science, but all he succeeded in doing was showing off his blind faith.