The brand of theism preached by the churches of Armstrongism is different from mainstream theism in an important way. While most people who believe in God will readily admit they do so on the basis of faith, Armstrongists insist they can prove that God exists. But how special is this Armstrong-style theism really? Was it invented by Armstrong, or did he merely co-opt an obsolete ideology and put his stamp on it, as with so many of his other supposed innovations?
First let us establish beyond doubt that Armstrong’s god is indeed envisioned as a god whose existence is in doubt to such a degree that one must work to prove it, by an appeal to actual physical evidence. And let us keep in mind that a god whose existence can be proven, given appropriate evidence, is also a god whose existence, given a lack of evidence, may in fact fail to be proven.
Science Calls the Tune
Notice what PCG’s Mark Jenkins had to say in a relatively recent (2003) explanation of Armstrong’s brand of theism, taken from a Trumpet article titled after Armstrong’s booklet, Does God Exist?.
For most religious people, the fact that God exists is something to take on faith alone. To believe otherwise would be blasphemous. Most require no proof…
If you believe in God—or “Providence” or some “higher power”—and you base your belief on faith alone, I ask you to QUESTION it. After all, if you expect anyone to take seriously your claim that God exists, shouldn’t you be able to offer concrete evidence and proof?
By the same token, if you do not believe in a Creator God, I ask you to consider His existence, not based on the notion of faith, not based on invalid claims, but based on evidence—on rock-solid proof!
He goes on to elaborate just exactly what Armstrong taught on the subject…
Of course, as many of our readers will already know, this proof has been given before. Herbert Armstrong, author of the eye-opening booklet Does God Exist?, proved the existence of God many years ago… Mr. Armstrong summed up the proof that God exists this way: “CREATION IS THE PROOF OF GOD!” That does not mean that we simply look at the birds and the trees and look starry-eyed into the heavens, realizing from the mere existence of the world that there just has to be a God. The creation around you does provide scientific proof of its Creator, as we will show.
And there you have it. But this idea was not new when Armstrong was promulgating it. Not by a long shot. This form of argument is called in philosophy a teleological argument and it goes back all the way to Socrates (different god, of course, but the same form of argument). It is also known by a different name: argument from design. Arguments from design have been out of fashion for a long time now–they lost all academic and intellectual credibility long before Armstrong molded his sophomoric and self-defeating version of one.
But why did these fore-runners of the idiocy that is Creationism lose their luster and fall from the philosophical graces so fully? We’ll get to demolishing Armstrong’s specific supporting arguments (if one can call them that) shortly, but there is another reason besides logical flaws why arguments from design are not much in favor these days–even among (thoughtful) theists themselves. That reason has to do with the problem we touched on before: a god that can be “proved” can also fail to be proved. Some Christian theologians call this god “the God of the Gaps”, since it so often occurs that a particular teleological argument hinges on a gap in scientific knowledge: “phenomenon x cannot be explained–yet–therefore, god did it.” But then a scientific explanation is subsequently discovered, the gap closes, and the argument from design falls flat on its face. Theologians apparently got tired of dancing–and clumsily faltering–to science’s tune, so they abandoned the gaps and redoubled their faith. Armstrong, however, never got the memo.
A Matter of Faith
Continuing along, Jenkins tells us that Armstrong believed he could use science to prove that his god exists.
By studying radioactive elements, Mr. Armstrong learned that there had to have been a time when matter did not exist; that there has been no past eternity of matter. Every 1,590 years, for instance, half of the existing radioactive element radium disintegrates into lead. Eventually, there will be no more radium! If these elements had always existed, there would be NO radium left today. Yet, radium and other radioactive elements clearly still exist. Since these elements only exist for a set period of time, we know that there was a time when there was no matter. That means there was a time when matter came into existence.
Isn’t it amazing? Not really. What is amazing to me is that Armstrongists never bother to learn what their ideological foes actually believe. But what we shouldn’t sanction is this pretense that they don’t know about something called the Big Bang! Of course there was a time when matter came into existence! No one who knows anything about science will dispute that. How does this prove the existence of God, again? Well, of course, it does no such thing. (And Jenkins is smart enough to know it, too.)
And even if this argument from radiometric decay demonstrated something other than the brute fact that something like a Big Bang occurred, it would say nothing about the cause of it. Even if it did somehow point to an intelligent agent, though (and it doesn’t–how could it?), it would say nothing of the identity of that agent. But Armstrong and Jenkins pretend all of this isn’t so, and they hope we aren’t paying attention enough to notice.
If, then, we know that radioactive elements do not come from nothing, that they in fact disintegrate over time, then we know that there must have been a “first cause,” a “higher power,” or super powerful Being of some kind that brought these elements into being.
Incredible! Here we go from evidence of a Big Bang to the existence of a higher power, without the slightest bit of supportive reasoning between the premise and the conclusion. We will let slide the wholly unwarranted equivocation between “first cause” and “higher power”. But we won’t fail to make much of the fact that the “super powerful Being” Jenkins intends here is none other than Yahweh, warrior deity of an ancient tribe of Canaanites, and his quasi-Christian Messiah son-god Jesus. How does he justify such specificity? Oh, well, he doesn’t. Of course. Surely we are not expected to accept it on faith! Armstrong’s god forbid! We must follow the scientific evidence where it leads!
Merely a Theory
This brings us to Jenkins’ next elucidation of Armstrongian theism. It hinges on an attempted repudiation of evolutionary theory. As a matter of fact, apart from the aforementioned argument from radiometric decay, Armstrong’s teleological theism appears to be nothing more than an attempted argument against evolution, as though the only logical alternative to evolutionary theory was his excessively parochial Yahwism. We hope the reader can appreciate that Armstrong’s grim warrior god of the ancient Hebrews isn’t the only proposed supernatural Creator or Creators of life (and the universe). As a matter of fact, as any good “Intelligent Design” proponent will tell you, even if one could demonstrate agency in nature, that alone would say nothing of the identity of the responsible agent or agents.
We will start with the ever-present confusion on the part of all Creationists over what evolution actually is.
Most scientists have accepted the idea that the universe formed by spontaneous generation. Unlike some creationists, they do seek concrete evidence of their claims, yet such proof cannot be found. After all, if the evolutionary theory were proven, it would no longer be called a mere theory. Since evolution is unproven, scientists too must believe their theory with unseen evidence—what the Bible calls “faith” (Hebrews 11:1).
Oh, where to begin! First of all, the term “spontaneous generation” is not one that scientists use to describe the origins of the universe. This, like so much of Armstrongist propaganda, refers to “an obsolete body of thought”, and it had to do with the spontaneous generation of lifeforms, not of the universe. (We will return to this idea when we discuss the question of abiogenesis.) It is typical of Creationists to conflate theories about the origin of the universe and life with evolutionary theory. But they are not the same thing. Jenkins does this here when he goes from his statement about scientific ideas on the origin of the universe directly into a condemnation of evolution as “a mere theory” that must be taken on faith–“the evidence of things not seen”. But is this, in fact, the case? Do scientists accept evolution on the same airy basis as Jenkins did when he believed that some olive oil drizzled in his hair and a “laying on of hands” allowed a supernatural force to invade his brain by some undescribed mechanism? Is evolution, in fact, “just a theory”, or is there something more here?
First of all, nothing about a scientific theory lends to its being accepted on the basis of unquestioning trust of the kind meant by religious “faith”. What is the definition of a “mere theory”? Here is the definition given in the Wikipedia entry.
A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that is acquired through the scientific method, and repeatedly confirmed through observation and experimentation.
I don’t remember seeing anything like that in Hebrews 11. Do you?
Next we need to address this nonsense about evolution only being a theory, since it is “unproven”. Evolution, being the gradual change in the genetic makeup of organisms across generations, is not a theory. It is a fact. It happens. It can be and is observed. Evolutionary theory refers to the various ideas proposed as mechanisms by which evolution occurs. The most important of these, natural selection, is one of the most well-supported theories in the history of science. Only an ignoramus would call it “a mere theory”. It is converged upon by a multitude of independent lines of evidence from many disparate fields and has resisted the scientific gauntlet of attempted disproof for well over 150 years! Can you even think of another “mere” theory that has lasted so long and been so abundantly verified and vindicated? Try it! Let me know what you come up with. And if you doubt any of this, good for you (faith is for suckers like Jenkins). I invite you to research the scientific case for common descent. Incidentally, the fact gravity is also described by a theory makes the mutual attraction of massive objects no less an observable fact. In the same way, the fact descent with modification from a common ancestor is described by theory makes it no less an observable fact.
A Theory of Yahweh?
Now, in the spirit of his article, I challenge Jenkins to put forth the Armstrongist theory of God. He should remember to make it “well-substantiated…acquired through the scientific method, and repeatedly confirmed through observation and experimentation”. I know, I know. This is a tall order. But let’s just see what else he’s got…
Something or someone brought matter into being. And yet, even if we do know that something brought about matter by special creation, where did LIFE on Earth come from? Many theories presented by scientists give possible scientific explanations that offer absolutely no proof, and, even worse, faulty evidence.
More god of the gaps reasoning: “if science can’t explain it yet, then god did it. Not your god, of course, but my god.” Please note, however, that dismissing one hypothesis out of hand (in this case, abiogenesis) does not by itself validate a different hypothesis (i.e., Creationism). For that, Jenkins would have to go beyond mere assertions “that offer absolutely no proof, and, even worse, faulty evidence.”
Now, however, we remind the reader of an irrefutable scientific law: the law of biogenesis—that life can only come from life! A rock can’t come alive. Not immediately; not in a billion years—it cannot happen. This law also states that living things can only produce more living things like themselves. In other words, horses don’t give birth to elephants. This is quite a sticky point for evolutionists. But there are no exceptions to this rule.
Mr. Armstrong pointed out that “No fact of science stands more conclusively proved today. Life CANNOT come from dead matter” (Does God Exist?). Much as the law of gravity guarantees that everything is held down, the law of biogenesis tells us that life comes from life, and not from anything else…
This scientific law requires a living Creator!
Notice. Still no evidence for Yahweh here.
Just What Do You Mean, “Biogenesis”?
But what of this claim about biogenesis? Is it in fact an inviolable law etched into the fabric of the cosmos by the Living Almighty Gawd, Creator of all life? Anyway, just what is meant by the term “biogenesis”?
Unfortunately for Jenkins, the word does not mean quite what he thinks it means. Practically the opposite. It refers to a disproof of a form of creationism called spontaneous generation (remember that term?), whereby it was believed that animals could appear fully formed from some non-living substrate. Common examples included mice from grain and maggots from meat, and the original creator of these spontaneously generated organisms was thought to be the goddess Gaia of the ancient Greeks. Louis Pasteur demonstrated that, as a matter of fact, fully formed organisms and organelles were not spontaneously generated by gods or goddesses from some non-living substrate, but that rather they were spawned, through reproduction, by pre-existing organisms.
If Jenkins wishes to adhere to the ironclad Law of Biogenesis, then he’d be hard-pressed to explain away his belief in Adam and Eve, who were (“theoretically”) spontaneously generated by a god from, respectively, the dust of the earth and an excised rib–nonliving material both. At least the Egyptian creation myth involves copious amounts of divine masturbation (Atum, it is said, was so virile a Creator that he ejaculated into his own mouth!)–that’s close to biogenesis, I guess.
So, as can be easily seen, the law of biogenesis was never intended to be marshaled against abiogenesis, the idea that some form of primitive life arose through gradual steps involving increasingly complex molecules. But how about those “many theories presented by scientists” on this question? Well, the best we can do so far are hypotheses, actually (but I wouldn’t expect an unschooled Creationist like Jenkins or Armstrong to know that–or to appreciate the difference). See this to learn more. And you should too, because it’s fascinating. The truth is always more interesting than propagandists’ pablum. And speaking of propaganda, Jenkins goes on to say that
evolution, on the other hand, does not even meet the qualifications for a theory…
Oh, really! So, it is “merely a theory” and not even a theory. Which is it, Jenkins? Someone certainly is confused. Remember the qualifications for a theory? Remember the 29+ evidences of macroevolution? Now, think for yourself and don’t let Jenkins beat you over the head with his dead guru’s farcical ignorance.
What’s left? Nothing right, that’s for sure.
Alternatively, consider that the presence of the human mind is proof of a mind superior to our own—proof of a supremely intelligent God!
How? He doesn’t say. Hard to argue with an unreasoned assertion. In any event, even if it could be argued logically that the human mind is somehow evidence of a mind superior to our own, that itself wouldn’t demonstrate anything like the existence of any particular being called “God”. So…we’re still far from any proof of God here, much less Armstrong’s Yahweh. Remember the kind of “proof” Jenkins is going for here: scientific. There is nothing scientific in making baseless metaphysical assertions and jumping to conclusions rather than arguing to them.
Mr. Armstrong asked, “Is it rational, then, to believe that any power or force lacking even human intelligence could have planned, designed, created, formed, fashioned, shaped, put together and set in motion the awesome universe we behold? The First Great Cause who created matter, then, stands revealed as the SUPREME INTELLIGENCE and ARCHITECT OF THE UNIVERSE!”
Ah, such grandiose nothingness. All this is is an argument from ignorance (and a circular one at that!): “I can’t imagine how this all could have been unplanned, how it could have come about if not planned by some intelligent agent, therefore it must have been planned by an intelligent agent! And, of course that intelligent agent just happens to be Yahweh of the ancient Hebrews. Who did you think I meant? A Creation demands a Creator!” Not exactly a piece of scientific evidence, floridly expressed though it may be.
Next we are treated to a section with the heading “The Watchmaker”. It is presented as though Armstrong thought up the analogy on his own (and how very clever he is!), but it is a classic and hoary canard most famously attributed to William Paley, who published his formulation of it in 1802. It went like this.
In crossing a heath, suppose I pitched my foot against a stone, and were asked how the stone came to be there; I might possibly answer, that, for anything I knew to the contrary, it had lain there forever: nor would it perhaps be very easy to show the absurdity of this answer. But suppose I had found a watch upon the ground, and it should be inquired how the watch happened to be in that place; I should hardly think of the answer I had before given, that for anything I knew, the watch might have always been there. … There must have existed, at some time, and at some place or other, an artificer or artificers, who formed [the watch] for the purpose which we find it actually to answer; who comprehended its construction, and designed its use. … Every indication of contrivance, every manifestation of design, which existed in the watch, exists in the works of nature; with the difference, on the side of nature, of being greater or more, and that in a degree which exceeds all computation.
Armstrong was rather more longwinded in his treatment, and, of course, arrogant and materialistic as he was, he had to talk at length about himself and his possessions.
“I needed an accurate watch with a very plain dial for timing broadcasts. The only kind that filled the need was a railroad watch. I have one—the very finest railroad watch made, a 23-jewel watch.
“But it does not keep perfect time. Once or twice a week I have to adjust it a second or two, if I want to be sure it is accurate to the second. I set it by the master clock of my city .… But even this clock does not keep perfect time. Once or twice a week it must be adjusted a second or two by the master clock of the nation, by telegraph, from the Naval Observatory, Washington, D.C. There at the Naval Observatory is the master clock of the U.S. But this great master clock of the United States is not perfect, either. It, too, must be adjusted and corrected occasionally.
“Yes, it is corrected by the MASTER CLOCK OF THE UNIVERSE—up in the skies—by astronomers! Up there in the heavens is the great master clock that NEVER makes a mistake—is alwaysON TIME—never off a fraction of a second—the heavenly bodies coursing through the skies!
“Now you, sir—my doubting friend! If I show you my fine precision 23-jewel railroad watch and tell you that it was not made in these factories after all—in fact, it was not designed, planned, put together, by any watchmaker at all—that it just sort of HAPPENED—that the iron ores just brought themselves up out of the ground, refined themselves, formed and shaped themselves into the delicate little cogs and wheels and other pieces; the silicon just came of its own accord out of the earth and turned itself into the glass crystal; the gold case just refined itself, shaped itself; the cogs and wheels and scores of little parts just assembled themselves together in that case, wound themselves up, and started themselves to running and keeping almost perfect time—well, if I should try to tell you anything like that, you’d tell me I’m crazy or a fool, would you not?
“Certainly! You know that the presence of that watch is RATIONAL AND POSITIVE PROOF of the existence of a watchmaker, or watchmakers, who thought it all out, planned it, formed it, shaped it, put it together and started it running.
“But then you, Mr. Skeptic—you look up into the great vast sky at the MASTER CLOCK of the universe, which never misses a second—the perfect watch by which we must constantly set all our imperfect man-made watches—and you tell me, ‘That all justHAPPENED! There was no Great Watchmaker! No Master MIND thought out and planned that vast universe, brought it into being, set each star and planet in its own exact place, and started the myriad heavenly bodies coursing through space, each in its prescribed orbit, in its orderly precision. No, it just fashioned itself, put itself together, wound itself up, and started itself running. There was no Intelligence—no planning—NO CREATION—NOGOD!’
“Do you say that to me?
“If you can, I answer that I do not respect your intelligence. And the God I acknowledge replies to you, ‘None but the FOOL hath said in his heart, There is no God!’ (Psalm 14:1; 53:1).
“If you can look about you, and observe how intelligently PLANNED and executed is everything in nature and in plant and animal life—everything we see except the bungling, botching, polluting of God’s beautiful handiwork by the clumsy hand of God-ignoring-and-rejecting MAN—and then say you doubt the existence of an All-wise, All-knowing, All-powerful Creator GOD, then I do not have much faith either in your rational processes or your sincerity as a seeker of the TRUTH!”
Oh, that Herbert. He does go on. As a matter of fact, though, his “master clock”–or, rather, “MASTER CLOCK OF THE UNIVERSE”–is not the apogee of perfection that he thought it was. That honor goes to atomic clocks, which are the most accurate timepieces known and are used, among other things, to show that the rotation of the earth, for example, is slowing. This is due to tidal forces, which are at work in any situation where one body revolves around another. The moon, for its part, is tidally locked with the earth, meaning that one side of the satellite faces its host planet at all times. This, of course, was not always the case. The time taken for a body to become tidally locked is described by the following equation.
Now that’s science. Can Armstrong do that in defense of his apparently defenseless god? At any rate, what this demonstrates is that Armstrong’s cosmological timepiece, like his bling 23-jewel railroad watch, could benefit from some occasional winding.
Oh, and still no proof of the existence of God or gods here. The watchmaker analogy was refuted by the philosopher David Hume on several grounds even before it was elaborated so famously by Paley. His criticisms included the following from the Wikipedia entry:
His first objection is that we have no experience of world making…with a watch we know it has to be created by a watch-maker because we can observe it being made and compare it to the making of other similar watches or objects to deduce they have alike causes in their creation. However, he argues that we have no experience of the universe’s creation, or any other universe’s creations to compare out own universe to, and never will therefore it would be illogical to infer that our universe has been created by an intelligent designer in the same way in which a watch has.
The second criticism Hume offers is about the form of the argument as an analogy in itself. An analogical argument claims that, because object X (a watch) is like object Y (the universe) in one respect, they are therefore probably alike in another, hidden, respect (their cause i.e. having to be created by an intelligent designer). He points out that for an argument from analogy to be successful, the two things that are being compared have to have an adequate number of similarities that are relevant to the respect you are analogizing them with. For example, a kitten and a lion may be very similar in many respects, however just because a lion makes a “roar” it would not be correct to infer a kitten also made a “roar”, because the similarities between the two objects are not similar enough and the degree of relevance to what sound they make is not relevant enough. Hume then argues that the universe and a watch also do not have enough relevant or close similarities to infer that they were both created the same way. For example, the universe is made of organic natural material however the watch is made of artificial mechanic materials. He claims that in the same respect, the universe could be argued to be more analogous to something more organic such as a vegetable (in which we can observe for ourselves does not need a ‘designer’ or a ‘watchmaker’ to be created). Although he does admit the analogy of a universe to a vegetable seems ridiculous, he says that it is just as ridiculous to analogize the universe with a watch.
Further criticism from the same entry:
In The Blind Watchmaker, Dawkins argues that the watch analogy conflates the difference between the complexity that arises from living organisms that are able to reproduce themselves (and as such may change to become more complex over time) and the complexity of inanimate objects, unable to pass on any reproductive changes (such as the multitude of parts manufactured in a watch). The comparison breaks down because of this important distinction…
It stands to reason that a watch is just as much a product of evolution as its creators, since it, like them, was not “designed” and manufactured ex nihilo, out of nothing, all at once and fully formed, but was the end result of a long series of innovations, each one building on those that came before and incorporating or discarding various forms and functions on the basis of trial and error, with the best in terms of “environmental fitness” succeeding at leaving the most commercially viable “offspring”. Today’s watches are not those of Paley’s time, and who can say how many failed prototypes are buried and forgotten under the stones and shrubs of his apocryphal heath.
Rabbits in the Precambrian
Now, we have given Jenkins’ attempt at scientifically proving the existence of his god far more than the level of attention it deserves. We have left nothing he has presented unanswered (the link to the article is right there for our readers to click on and check–here it is again). Nothing like scientific proof or evidence is there, nor does Jenkins offer so much as a logical argument in favor of any god’s existence. The best he has done in parroting Armstrong’s ideas is to cast aspersions on scientific theories and hypotheses he doesn’t understand and hasn’t bothered to investigate (Armstrong’s claims to the contrary notwithstanding–his demonstrated ignorance speaks much more loudly than his vociferous rhetoric, regardless of how much he utilizes all-caps). In doing this, he has evidenced nothing but contempt for facts, logic, and honest inquiry–truth, in other words. To conclude, he reiterates his absurdly hypocritical and self-defeating claim that those who have the integrity to follow the evidence where it leads are doing so on “faith”.
Despite the proofs presented here, many will still hold to their “faith.” It surely takes a tremendous amount of faith to believe that the entire physical universe sprang from nothing, that life came from non-life, that intelligence came from non-intelligence, and that the intricacy we see around us is not intricate at all—but random.
The concepts he slurs here by declaring them faith-based are in fact not “believed” in the way he himself believes, without question and unprovisionally, say, British-Israelism, or, for that matter, his own version of theism! We have seen what kind of nonsense passes as “proof” for Jenkins: that is to say, no proof whatsoever! No evidence, not even a good argument! And he has the nerve to use the word “faith” as a pejorative! The lack of self-awareness on display here is mind-boggling.
No, scientists and those who are thoughtful about scientific concepts do not “believe” those things the way Jenkins believes in his totally unsupported god hypothesis. Instead they accept, on the basis of good evidence of the kind that withstands years and years of scientific scrutiny, well-supported theories provisionally, that is–until disconfirming evidence comes along! This is how science proceeds: by constantly working to disprove those ideas that are put forth in its name. Scientifically-minded people look at the evidence and work to fit their beliefs to what they see there. By contrast, theists like Jenkins take their pre-conceived beliefs for granted and cast about trying to find “evidence” to confirm them. Is it any wonder the quality of the Armstrongian “proof” is so laughably poor?
Central to this dichotomy between the pre-conceived belief of theists (and thus their idea of what constitutes “proof”) and the provisional acceptance of scientists is the philosophical concept of falsifiability. The question was once put to biologist, J. B. S. Haldane, what it would take to convince him that evolution did not happen. His answer became famous as a perfect encapsulation of the concept we’re discussing here: “Fossil rabbits in the precambrian.” This is to say that the discovery of anything as evolutionarily “advanced” as a mammal in a strata of rock that evolution predicts should not contain it would have to be counted as evidence against evolution. Of course, no such disconfirming evidence has ever been found. And, as we have shown, the evidence for evolution is various and overwhelming.
The Science of Armstrongism
As for Armstrong’s god, all the content of this website stands as evidence against its existence. Yet, what would you, wise reader, suppose Jenkins would answer if questioned similarly to the biologist Haldane? What would it take to falsify, in the minds of believers, their claims of existence for such an entity as Armstrong’s Yahweh?
Well, to answer that, presumably, we would just have to show that their “proofs” are in fact false. And we have done so! Let us finally get to the point and treat Armstrong’s hypothesis (since it clearly doesn’t qualify as a theory) the way he and Jenkins are asking us to–that is, as a scientific one. How does it hold up?
Behold, the Armstrongian Hypothesis for the Existence of Yahweh:
- The Argument from Radiometric Decay: If matter decays, then matter must not have always existed. If matter did not always exist, it must have been Created. If matter was Created, then, since a Creation demands a Creator, Yahweh. Matter decays, therefore Yahweh. Unfortunately, there are several unsupported assumptions embedded in this argument. First, it does not follow that the beginning of matter implies a special creation. Secondly, a special creation might demand a creator, but it certainly doesn’t demand any particular identity for that creator. The final argument in this syllogism then is revealed as circular, while the second one is a false dichotomy between a steady state universe or a special creation, excluding a third possibility: a big bang. The big bang theory enjoys an overwhelming abundance of observational support and handily explains the cosmology of the early universe. Theistic “first causes” are not needed, much less dusty warrior gods like Yahweh. Armstrong offers no other observational data besides the brute fact of radiometric decay and provides not even one equation in his “proof”, which is constituted entirely of fallacious argumentation.
- The Argument from Biogenesis: If life must come from life, then it could not have come from non-life. If life could not have come from non-life, there must have been a living Creator from which it came. Life must come from life, following the Law of Biogenesis, therefore Yahweh. First of all, there is no concensus among biologists or even philosophers as to how to define “life”. In any case, to qualify for such a distinction, the entity under consideration must, at least, actually exist! We don’t consider leprechauns or unicorns to be living things, do we, unless we already believe in their existence? This argument relies on an equivocation on the word “life”, then, that allows for the inclusion of propositional concepts like Yahweh. But what do we actually know about Yahweh that could possibly justify such an inclusion? Nothing. We know nothing about Yahweh, since we are here debating his very existence, the thing this argument is marshaled to demonstrate in the first place! How can Armstrong then presume Yahweh is alive in the premise of an argument for his existence? Of course, you can’t argue that something exists by claiming it is alive! Thus we see that this, too, is another circular argument, of the form “Yahweh is alive, therefore Yahweh exists.” After all, many more supposed “creators” have been created to fill the role Armstrong is claiming exclusively for Yahweh, so Armstrong should just get in that long line. Secondly, the argument is utterly dependent on a misapprehension of the concept of biogenesis, which in fact demonstrated observational evidence against the existence of entitites like Yahweh, who supposedly brought forth living things from non-living substrates. This argument too, then, is entirely fallacious besides providing no data beyond the brute observational fact that living things reproduce rather than being created, fully formed, from the dust of the ground like Adam and Eve were purported to be. Far from supporting the existence of Yahweh or demonstrating the impossibility of abiogenesis, biogenesis actually stands as evidence against the existence of Yahweh. Epic fail, Armstrong.
- The Argument from Astrometric Presumption: If the heavens are a perfect time-keeping machine, then, since we make watches, there must have been a watchmaker who engineered and manufactured the clockwork of the heavens. The heavens are a perfect time-keeping machine, therefore Yahweh. No, they aren’t. The periodocity of the movements of celestial bodies is variable and based on well-understood physical forces described in eminently supported theories of gravition and kinematics whose observational data do not call for the inclusion of hypothetical designers for their explanation. The overal entropy of the universe, in fact, proves that Armstrong’s proposed “MASTER CLOCK OF THE UNIVERSE” is winding down. This is an argument by analogy, which are rightly considered weak in general, and this analogy is particularly weak. It is not, in any sense, a scientific argument.
Case closed. Jenkins has demonstrated for us only that Armstrong’s arguments backfire. In attempting to make a scientific case for Yahweh, Armstrong refutes his own hypothesis. Besides there being no scientific evidence for Armstrong’s god, the very science he brings to bear on the subject puts the improbability of such an entity on display for any discerning person to see and scoff at.
So, all Jenkins and his fellow believers are left with is the faith he unwisely ridicules. How pathetic.
Surely scientists must find the religious argument absurd: Accept God’s existence because of faith in God—a circular argument if ever there was one.
No doubt about it.