complexity of God make His existence improbable?
is an argument against the existence of God, lately championed
by Richard Dawkins, author of The
God Delusion, which basically goes like this:
being that could create life would have to be very complex, and
would therefore be highly unlikely to form by chance.
Because theism makes use of a higher complexity to explain a
lesser one, it is a much less probable explanation of the origin
of life than naturalism.
This is an agnostic argument,
based on probabilities. Agnosticism is more honest than
atheistic fundamentalism, for no man can know that
there is no God, unless he himself has the divine quality of
omniscience. However, theistic fundamentalism may not be
dishonest, for if God has revealed himself to a man, that man
can honestly claim to know that there is a God.
In particular, Dawkins is
seeking to discourage belief in the Judeo-Christian God, the God
of the Bible. If the God of the Bible exists, then there are
three great realms of reality:
light where God dwells. This is
mentioned in I Timothy and Isaiah:
alone possesses immortality and dwells
in unapproachable light, whom no man has ever seen
or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.” -
I Tim 6:16:
thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth
eternity... Isa 57:15a
God, who in relation to His
creation is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent [and in
relation to the eternal realm in which He dwells, since Christ
is called the Father of Eternity in Isaiah 9:6]. The
New Testament reveals in I Corinthians 2:10 that the mind of
God the Father is so great that God the Spirit must search it
out [the searches probably take place instantaneously]:
us, however, God has drawn aside the veil through the
teaching of the Spirit; for the Spirit searches
everything, including the depths of the divine nature."
This would include the “heaven of heavens,” perhaps consisting
of the highest dimensional realms (think of how a three
dimensional realm is higher than a two dimensional one), and
the physical universe (the firmament of heaven), including the
earth. These are
all mentioned in Deuteronomy 10:14:
the heaven and
the heaven of
heavens is the LORD’S thy God, the
earth also, with all that therein is.”
Dawkins' argument assumes that
God is either (1) a part of the physical universe, or (2)
that in the realm in which God dwells, complexity is just
as unlikely as it is in our universe. The Bible certainly does
not teach the first assumption, though Dawkins may not know the
Bible well enough to be aware of that.
But what about the second
assumption? If that is what Dawkins is speaking of, how could
the man possibly know such a thing? He has not stepped into the
metaphysical realm outside of the universe (or perhaps above it,
if it is a realm of higher dimensions) to examine it's
properties. So how could he possibly know that God is
improbable? Let's take a little time to consider what some of
the qualities of that metaphysical realm might be.
In our universe, which had a
beginning and is of finite age, time limits the number of
arrangements (such as life) that can form by chance.
But the realm where God dwells is not subject to time,
which is a created thing, so all of the possible arrangements
within that realm could occur instantaneously, in “no time” at
57:15 For thus
saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth
eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy
place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to
revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the
In our universe, the second
law of thermodynamics (the overall tendency of things to go from
order to disorder in time) greatly decreases the probability of life forming by
chance. But in a
timeless realm of the right properties, even those things which
are most unlikely to form in time could actually be bound
to happen. A supremely good, all-knowing, and all-powerful
Intelligence might be bound to arise. (This is because good
is a characteristic of the highest forms of intelligence.)
In such a realm, the arrow of thermodynamics would point in the
other direction, from disorderly to orderly.
Furthermore, are the most
basic structural components of God's intelligence as complex as
those of human intelligence? Although God is vastly complex in
intellect or mind, His foundational components could consist of
something very simple - quantum states of light, for instance.
To equate the complexity of his basic nature with ours is like
assuming that binary computer intelligence has the same
foundational components as human intelligence. Given simpler
foundational components, a complex intelligence could be much
more likely to arise by chance in a realm not subject to
We do not know the nature of the light in which God dwells, but
we can ponder and speculate. How can a being dwell in light?
Such a being would have to be unembodied (pure spirit):
John 4:24 God is a Spirit:
and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in
How would light interact in an
eternal realm not subject to time? We do know that the light in
our universe can carry signals, and we utilize this property in
fiber optic networks. Light particles, waves and beams can
interact, align, and even collide. These interactions could form
ordered arrangements of patterns.
Imagine, for instance, a realm
filled with a form of light particles, which, because there was
no time, transmitted instantly. Please keep in mind that cause
and effect can be conceived of to occur even where there is no
time. For instance, consider the logical flow of thoughts on
this white page. They are all present at once on this page,
though you must read them consecutively within time to
comprehend them. Once you have comprehended them, however, they
also seem to exist in your mind all at once. Now, imagine this
white page to have not just two dimensions, and not just three
dimensions, but even more: dimensions that transcend us.
In this timeless,
multidimensional realm of light with the property of cause
and effect, all of the things that could possibly happen in it
would exist simultaneously. Were you to follow this chain
of cause and effect in linear order, an arrangement of the
highest order can be conceived of as emerging - a
multidimensional, self-conscious, self-organizing being who
simply "is." Following the chain of cause and effect, we might
find that thought signals are carried by the states of the light
particles. Further following the chain, for companionship, this
great Mind could generate, radiate, or "begat" co-equal but
subordinate minds (the Spirit and the Son); and one of them (the
Son) might be given the task of creating entire
multidimensional "programs" (to use a seemingly
appropriate, but perhaps very crude analogy) of universes with
complete physical laws and time that run simultaneously.
How could time-bound beings
such as you and I exist within a timeless mind? Our conscious
awareness of the universe seems to be distinct from the flow of
time. Why do I say this? Because each of us is like a man
sitting on a tiny island in a vast river, watching the
succession of cause and effect events flow by. If our
consciousness has an element that is independent of time, then
certainly God's consciousness and self-awareness can exist
independently of time, too.
So perhaps we have been
barking up the wrong tree by thinking of time as an external
thing that exists independently of conscious awareness. Perhaps
it is simply a quality of consciousness. If so, then perhaps God
created time by creating beings who are aware of the succession
of cause and effect events around them as they occur in logical
Please do not take these ideas
as more than they are. They are only conjectures, thought
experiments intended to illustrate conceivable ways that God
could have sprung into existence, like an instantaneous
explosion. They are intended to help you see that God is not an
implausible idea at all. In fact, He may be the very best
explanation for our own existence.
Please do not take or teach speculations like this as fact. Out
of fear that someone might do just that, I was hesitant to write
this. As my wife put it, "God is like a beautiful flower. Why
not just enjoy the flower as it is? Why try to mentally dissect
it? If it weren't for men who challenge the existence of God,
you would not have to think about things like that." Perhaps she
is right, and these speculations are going too far or are very
incorrect. Let us not at all be surprised if the metaphysical
reality, and the nature of God, concerning both of which God has
revealed very little to us, are much more profound.
De 29:29 The secret things
belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are
revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we
may do all the words of this law.
Let's step onto more solid
ground now, and consider some of the things that God has revealed
to us about His nature. How does the Bible further describe this
vast God whom Dawkins, like a tiny Chihuahua yipping at a
patient Great Dane, has rashly pitted himself against?
God was not created, for there
was no God who existed before Him:
43:10 Ye are my
witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen:
that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before
me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.
The name He has chosen for
himself, "I AM" (YHWH) seems designed to teach us about his
timeless, uncreated, self-existent nature:
Exodus 3:14 And God saith
unto Moses, ‘I AM THAT WHICH I AM;’ He saith also, ‘Thus dost
thou say to the sons of Israel, I AM hath sent me
He created all things
(including time and space):
4:11 Thou art
worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou
hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and
He is greater than all of His
6:18 But will God
in very deed dwell with men on the earth? behold, heaven
and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much
less this house which I have built!
68:33 To him that
rideth upon the heavens
of heavens, which were of old; lo, he doth send out his
voice, and that a mighty voice.
In fact, all of creation is
contained and held together within Him!
1:16 for it was
through Him [the Son] that everything was created in heaven and
on earth, the seen and the unseen, thrones, dominions,
principalities, authorities; all things have been created
through Him and for Him.17
So He existed before all things, and through Him all things are held together.
17:28 For in
him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also
of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
Consider this synopsis of a
short story I once wrote:
Suppose that one day, man
will be able to create simulated human beings who live in a
software universe with virtual physical laws like our own. Imagine
that a "programmerist"
- a virtual man who believes in a programmer, and an
"aprogrammerist" - one who does not, are concluding a
conversation. The aprogrammerist says,
“How can you believe that
there is a programmer? If there were such a being, he would
be much more complex that you or I, and therefore highly
improbable. I think that you, my friend, are deluded, for he
almost certainly does not exist.”
All the while, the aprogrammerist
is unaware of any reality outside of his own, incognizant of
why or how the physical laws in his software universe exist,
and of course, living life as though he is not being watched
and listened to by his programmer at all.
In summary, in the eternal
realm where God dwells, complex order may be probable, since
this realm is not subject to time or the time-based second law
of thermodynamics. In that realm, innumerable cause and effect
arrangements, including One of the highest order and complexity,
could occur in "no time" at all.
The Bible reveals that the
nature of God and the eternal realm in which He dwells is not
the same as the nature of this universe or the human
intelligences within it. In light of these scriptural
revelations, Dawkins' argument that the God of the Bible is
improbable is exposed as sheer conjecture. If Dawkins wants to
challenge the existence of the God of the Bible, he
must take into consideration more of what the Bible teaches
regarding His nature.
Rusty Entrekin is a theology
graduate of Louisiana College. He and his wife Julie have
seven children, with four still at home, and four
grandchildren. Currently, he resides in Kennesaw, GA. He
writes apologetic and theological articles to help people
come to know Christ and grow closer to the Lord. If this
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