Virgin birth. Abiogenesis. Resurrection from the dead. Random mutations producing the raw material for new organs. Intelligent creation ex nihilo. Eternal matter. Eternal mind. Heaven. Multiverses. Speciation by unguided, natural selection. Hell. Natural DNA information generation. Adam. Panspermia. Angels. No immaterial soul. Miracles. Space aliens. God. No God.
That is the introduction Roddy Bullock used in his post of the same name: Everyone Believes Something Unbelievable. Bullock points out that everyone’s theory of origin for the universe or life itself requires a belief in something seemingly unbelievable. “Everyone” here includes both atheists and theists. He goes on to cite the faith that some atheists have in abiogenesis. He writes:
Take abiogenesis, for example. There is no evidence–just a lot of “must-have-happened-because-we’re-here” certainty among the atheistic faithful in need of such belief; and believe they do. Ironically, the atheistic faithful like to think they are free of faith and suppose others to be, well, full of it. But in fact faith abounds on all sides with only two things certain: everybody believes something unbelievable and only certain unbelievable beliefs can actually be true. In fact, certain unbelievable beliefs must be true, and others must be false.
So which is true: abiogenesis (life from non-life without intelligent intervention) or some kind of creation by a preexisting intelligent being?
I think answering the origin of life question must come after one attempts to answer the origin of universe question. You can’t have life coming from non-living chemicals without those chemicals first existing. From where did they come? Are chemicals self-existing or is there something outside of chemicals that is self-existing?
This takes us back to the bedrock truth that there must be an uncaused First Cause (there can’t be an infinite regress of causes). That uncaused First Cause is either the universe or something outside the universe. (Note: whichever it is, asking who caused the uncaused First Cause is a logical category mistake and thus a meaningless question). For reasons we’ve cited earlier on this blog and in the book (the Big Bang, the Second Law of Thermodynamics, Kalaam Cosmological Argument, the Teleological Fine-Tuning Argument), the uncaused First Cause is not the universe. The best evidence points to an extremely intelligent, personal First Cause that is outside of timespace and matter (i.e. is timeless, spaceless and immaterial).
In light of this, when it comes to the question of the origin of life, who is believing something more unbelievable? Abiogenesis proponents believe that no one created life from non-living matter. Intelligent design proponents believe that someone created life from non-living matter, most probably the intelligent being that created matter itself. It seems to me the atheist belief in abiogenesis requires more faith because it lacks explanatory scope and power. It lacks any explanation for the origin of the universe and the four natural forces, and then it lacks the power to explain how those repetitive forces can create the information and engineering found in life.
By the way, these are not a God-of-the-Gaps arguments for the universe or life. There can be no natural cause for the universe because nature itself was created at the Big Bang. Thus, the cause must be beyond nature (i.e. supernatural). With regard to life, it is not just that we lack a natural explanation for life, but that we have positive empirically-verifiable evidence for an intelligent being. We only know of minds that produce the empirically-detectable characteristics of life (digitally-coded instructions and information, irreducibly complex and engineered components– see Signature in the Cell for more). We can falsify this by finding natural forces that can create such characteristics. Given the repetitive nature of natural forces and the fact they tend to bring things to disorder rather than order, that seems highly unlikely. Thus, the most reasonable conclusion is that intelligence is responsible. (This doesn’t necessarily mean the intelligent cause of life is supernatural, but in light of the evidence for an intelligent supernatural being, I think the cause of life is most probably that same being.)
I’ve covered a lot of ground here from 30,000 feet. There’s more detail in the book and in other posts, but I’ll summarize. Most atheists and theists believe in creation– few deny there was a beginning to the universe and life. What we disagree on is who or what did the creating. Since the universe requires an intelligent cause cause beyond itself, and life, as Francis Crick put it, appears to be “almost a miracle,” what is the most reasonable conclusion? Atheists and abiogenesis proponents have faith that “miracles” can occur without a miracle worker. Theists follow the evidence where it leads. So while atheists and theists both believe what appears to be unbelievable, someone creating is a far more believable than no one creating.