Sunday, January 9, 2011

Insignificant numbers

Phillip Adams is a noted Australian author, film maker, and atheist. He is author of Adams versus God:
“I believe and have always believed that life is totally meaningless and that we have no destiny, no purpose, no author. We just are. For a while, anyway. Then we aren’t.”
He often invokes scientific knowledge to justify his atheism. For example, he states
“I believe, I know, that we live on a minor planet in an off-Broadway solar system on the edge of the Milky Way and that, in the final analysis, we’re as significant as the eighth billion grain of sand beyond the final palm trees in the most distant oasis in the Sahara. . . . Consequently, I believe it’s absurdly vain to see ourselves as echoing God’s image and just as silly to anthropomorphise, to Disneyfy, the concept of God into anything vaguely human. Like the hippopotamus and the hedgehog, humans are simply an evanescent expression of the life force, as destined for oblivion as dodos and dinosaurs.”

I do not find this a particularly persuasive argument. Just because an object is one of many does not mean that the object is not of significance.

Our DNA consists of thousands of genes. They all are comprised a base pairs involving G, A, T, and C. One cannot argue that a particular gene is of no particular significance. A mutation in just one gene can lead to a deadly disease.

One could say that Barack Obama is just one of six billion people on the planet. But that does not accurately reflect his significance, importance, or influence. Mahatma Gandhi was just one of a billion Indian's who have lived. Yet he had great significance and importance.

This post was stimulated by hearing Ray Galea contrast this Adams quote to the positive view of man's significance in the universe in Psalm 8. Ray was speaking at the Queensland CMS Summer School. The talk is also chapter 2 in his book, God is Enough, which has an exposition of ten different Psalms.

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