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God’s Existence: Bob Dutko’s Proofs Refuted
Radio host and Christian Apologist Bob Dutko has given ten proofs for God’s existence, which is five more than professional philosopher and theologian William Lane Craig gave!
But to illustrate where Dutko resides, and it can’t be on Planet Earth, Dutko not only believes that Christianity is the “Only True Religion” and therefore religions like Islam, Mormonism and the Jehovah’s Witnesses are false religions; but is anti-abortion and anti-homosexuality; believes life just cannot spring from a state of non-life; that biological evolution is impossible and that – wait for it – dinosaurs co-existed with humans and were present and accounted for on Noah’s Ark! What’s disturbing is that lots of people take him seriously.
So here are Dutko’s ten arguments for God and my rebuttal to them.
One: The First Law of Thermodynamics: Energy Can Neither Be Created or Destroyed
Since energy, hence also matter, can neither be created nor destroyed, how did the Universe come into existence? Since the Universe had a beginning, matter / energy had to have been created out of nothing, in violation of the First Law of Thermodynamics. The only possible agency that could do that would have to be God since either God created the Universe out of nothing or else the Universe created itself and of course something cannot create its own existence* so therefore God did it. Alas for that scenario, there is a third option. If matter / energy can neither be created nor destroyed, then matter / energy has always existed and thus there was a before the (our) Universe which we can call the wider Cosmos. If the Cosmos has always existed – of which our Universe is now currently a part of – then quite obviously there is no need for a creator God.
There’s also another line of reasoning why Dutko’s scenario is totally absurd. Dutko insists that since God created the laws, relationships and principles of physics – like the First Law of Thermodynamics – God can break His created laws, relationships and principles of physics and thus God can break the First Law of Thermodynamics and create something (i.e. – the Universe) out of absolute nothing. Take that sort of logic to its ultimate conclusion. If God can break the very physical laws that he created (i.e. – God can create something from nothing) then God can break the very framework of logic that He must have also created. Thus, it is logical that God can create a square circle!
*Since God Himself could not create Himself therefore God has had an infinite existence. But if that’s the case, why not just postulate that the Cosmos** has had an infinite existence and avoid the unnecessary causal step.
**The Cosmos has always existed even though our Universe had a finite beginning within that larger context, in the same way that you had a beginning albeit in the larger context of an overall human population that preceded you. The Universe was born of the Cosmos just like you were born from that wider reality which preceded you.
Two: The Second Law of Thermodynamics: Entropy: Order Into Chaos
If, in order to circumnavigate the First Law of Thermodynamics, one postulates a Universe which has always existed, well Dutko has an answer for that – the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Given the concept of entropy* – order into chaos as time goes by – an infinitely old Universe should be in a state of maximum chaos or maximum entropy and clearly this is not the case. Why? You guessed it – God!
As time proceeds from past to present to future, the overall order within the Universe should decrease and chaos should increase. The Universe should get messier as time goes by, much like a teenager’s bedroom. However, the Universe appears to be well ordered. Why? God done it and continues to do it.
Alas for Mr. Dutko, there are lots and lots of loopholes here which eliminate God from the Big Picture. Although pure probability demands that entropy or disorder increases over time, there is no requirement that pockets of order couldn’t arise just by pure statistical chance. Shuffle a deck of cards enough times and now and again you’ll randomly get a pocket of order, like all four Aces cheek-by-jowl. Further, there are three principles which acts against entropy. The first is gravity which pulls things together and this results in increasing order. The second is temperature. Heat tends to make matter more disorderly; cold operates in the reverse. So, steam is more disordered than water and water is in a state of greater disorder than that of ice. The Universe keeps getting colder as it expands. The Universe started off really hot, but then things cooled down and gravity did its thing. Finally, chemistry can operate against increasing disorder since various chemicals have greater affinity for some chemicals than for other chemicals. A uniform mixture of hydrogen and oxygen atoms is at maximum entropy, but that mixture can defy entropy and chemically combine. A uniform state of water molecules is more ordered than the uniform state of the mix of individual hydrogen and oxygen atoms, and when that uniform state of water molecules cools, order increases and entropy doesn’t increase. We don’t need God to explain the state of relative order and disorder in the Universe.
What Dutko is getting confused here is that he is assuming for the sake of his argument that the (our) Universe is finite and infinitely old and is the be-all-and-end-all of stuff. If that were the case then entropy would be at a maximum (although probability would still dictate random pockets of lower entropy here and there) which again is clearly not the case as Dutko points out. So our Universe can’t be infinitely old despite the First Law of Thermodynamics and therefore it had a beginning and therefore God did it.
However, IMHO, our Universe is just a part of the infinitely larger Cosmos in which occur lots of Big Crunches and lots of Big Bangs, the transition of one into the other restores that part of the Cosmos back to factory settings, like low entropy. But can Big Crunches and resulting Big Bangs go on forever? Yes. You see Dutko is forgetting about the power of gravity to influence and disrupt any uniformly even distribution of stuff (the state of maximum entropy). Even in an infinite Cosmos at maximum entropy, gravity would still operate drawing together clumps of matter eventually resulting in a localised Big Crunch with an immediate phase transition into a Big Bang and a resurrection back to a state of low entropy in that particular region of the infinite Cosmos. No need for God.
*A state of maximum entropy basically is a uniform distribution of matter in random motion and thus at an overall average temperature consistent with that overall random motion. If you put a hot water bottle into a cold closed box, heat will leak from the bottle and transfer its energy to the air molecules in the box thus speeding up the average motion of those molecules. The water molecules in the hot water bottle cool down and thus slow down. At maximum entropy the motion (temperature) inside the water bottle equals the motion (temperature) inside the rest of the entire box. Now some things are not subject to entropy. These are gravity, magnetism, electric charge, spin and related. These characteristics do not disperse equally throughout the box but remain concentrated in whatever source has been placed in the box – like a magnet. Further, they will remain concentrated within their source for all eternity. They are the gifts that keep on giving, and giving and giving.
Three: The Origin of Life: Life Cannot Come from Non-Life
As to the origin of life, that’s a transition – life from non-life – that is still unexplained. But something currently unexplained doesn’t of necessity translate into forever and ever unexplained. The history of science is full of multi-thousands of events once unexplained that are now taught as fully explained to even elementary children.
Once upon a time it was established ‘fact’ that you couldn’t generate organic compounds from inorganic compounds. Then urea was synthesised. Highly complex organic chemistry, chemistry part and parcel of the life processes, has now been routinely synthesised under what we believe were natural conditions. There is no biochemical or organic chemical contained within living systems whose chemical pathway cannot be traced back to the foundations and fundamentals of inorganic chemistry. Against all expectations, highly complex organic molecules have been discovered in interstellar space.
If you take the vast amount of real estate that the cosmos presents itself has having, coupled with those most abundant of elements in the cosmos, elements that just happen to form the backbone of life (hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen), coupled with billions upon billions of years for reactions to happen in, coupled with the concept of panspermia, well I believe a natural explanation for the origin of life is way more a realistic explanation than a theological one. Just saying “God did it” is just too easy an answer, and an answer that in and of itself hasn’t been demonstrated as established fact. That God created life is as much a theory or a hypothesis as is abiogenesis, only the latter is subject to scientific investigation / experimentation. The God hypothesis is not falsifiable.
We may not have THE answer to the origin of life in our lifetime, but perhaps in a 100 years, 1000 years, any school kid might be able to create life in a test-tube as part of their biology class. Once the answer is actually known, it will probably seem obvious.
Four: Alternatives to God and the Burden of Proof: Explaining Life, the Universe and Everything
Two points here. Firstly, there are thousands of other religions, theologies and deities that all manner of societies and cultures have envisioned as explaining life, the Universe and everything. Collectively, that’s one heck of a lot of alternatives. God is actually quite a late-comer and so you’ll find God towards the back of the explanatory line.
Further, science itself has done a marvellous job of coming to terms with explaining life, the Universe and everything especially considering how young the field of what we would term ‘modern’ science actually is. Now that’s not to say there are not unknowns yet to be explained and competing ideas in some areas yet to be resolved, but then too Rome wasn’t built in a day.
As to the burden of proof, the proof of any pudding lies with the person or agency or institution that claims something is so, as in God exists. There is no burden of proof on anyone claiming that something is not so. In fact it is impossible to prove the negative. So the burden of proof that God exists lies with Bob Dutko, and from his ten examples of ‘proof’ given here, he fails miserably.
Five: Logic, Commonsense & Reasoning: Intelligent Design vs. Natural Selection
How do you explain the Egyptian Sphinx; art works like paintings; and mechanical things like alarm clocks? It’s obvious according to Dutko that these are works of an Intelligent Designer, and this is entirely true. The trouble for Dutko is that these examples of his are not living things and therefore not subject to the laws, principles and relationships that have influence over living things. It’s a fallacy to compare chalk with cheese.
Biological evolution by natural selection / survival of the fittest has been amply demonstrated. Laboratory work, especially with fruit flies has amply demonstrated the concept of biological evolution via genetic mutations – in this case usually induced. As another obvious example, consider the natural selection for antibiotic-resistant bacteria and DDT resistant bugs. Evolution by unnatural selection can be speeded up drastically. The unnatural element is the human species who have drastically altered your basic species and created multi-dozens of unnatural varieties of same. Consider all the breeds of cats, dogs, horses, cattle, goldfish, roses, corn, and wheat – and on and on it goes. Mother Nature could have done the exact same albeit taking a lot longer to accomplish it. If you can change the basic nature of a species, like creating breeds within that species, that’s evolution.
Natural evolution is amply demonstrated in the fossil record. Consider the evolution of the horse (before human domestication and artificial selection). The gradual changes in size and other features (like toes) is extremely clear from the fossil record.
To make a very, very, very long story shorter, natural biological evolution is supported by the fossil record, by direct observation by the membership of the human species, and by known genetic mechanisms, all of which are in place to account for biological evolution by natural selection. As for Intelligent Design, you can go no further than the human being and human physiology itself to disprove Intelligent Design. For example (one of many), our red blood cells have a far greater affinity for carbon monoxide than for oxygen – a super, ultra, major screw-up if God did it. And if God doesn’t like foreskins, why create foreskins in the first place?
As for dinosaurs co-existing with humans (excluding their descendants, the birds) then young earth creationists need to document or provide or find a T-Rex skeleton that contains the eaten and well chomped-up remains of a human corpse inside. We’re not talking “The Flintstones” here.
There is by the way an excellent series of YouTube videos by Aron Ra explaining biological evolution by natural selection, or, of course, you could read relevant books by Richard Dawkins.
Six: The Origin of Life: A Mathematical Impossibility
As long as something is a mathematical possibility, however remote, there can be no such thing as that something being a mathematical impossibility, only a mathematical improbability. So, for example, if you shuffle and deal from a standard deck of cards, sooner or later you WILL deal out in one go a Royal Flush. If you live long enough, sooner or later you can toss a fair coin 1000 times and get 1000 heads up. Consider the quantum mantra – whatever can happen, will happen, given enough time.
When it comes to the origin of life, given the vast amount of cosmic real estate; the natural abundance of elements that life (as we know it) is made up of which mirrors the relative cosmic abundances (i.e. – carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen); the chemical reactions inherent in those elements; and billions upon billions of years of time for chemistry to do it’s chemistry thing – well whatever can happen (and life obviously can happen) will happen, given those four essentials – real estate; abundant elements; chemistry; time.
Seven: Science Confirms the Bible
Is the Bible compatible with science? Is science compatible with Biblical events? Nearly all professional scientists would take issue with the following Biblical tall tales.
What would a mathematician make of the data given in 1 Kings 7: 23? She’d calculate Pi as being equal to exactly three – no more and no less. Clearly the writers of 1 Kings failed Mathematics 101 (and God did a very poor job of proof-reading His own holy book).
Any astronomer worthy of the name would just have to barf at the notion that Planet Earth was created before the stars, or that stars could fall to Earth, or especially that the Sun and Moon actually stood still in the heavens.
And a physicist would have to throw up their hands in horror at the notion that any person could actually walk on water or that there could be a burning bush that wasn’t consumed or that you can create something from nothing (i.e. – that multiplication of those loaves / fishes).
Chemists will dispute that water could be turned into wine or that the human body can be turned into a pillar of salt.
Any meteorologist worth their salt would tell you that it couldn’t rain for 40 days and nights over the entirety of Planet Earth nor could just pure wind actually part the Red (or Reed) Sea.
A geologist would baulk at the idea that there actually was a global flood since there’s no evidence of any such an event.
Here’s one for the geographer. According to 1 Samuel 2: 8, the Earth is standing on pillars (not ‘floating’ in space), pillars created by God. I’m surprised that these pillars aren’t standing in turn on the backs of turtles; and that from there on down it’s literally turtles all the way down.
Any biochemist would dispute that a human male (Adam) could be created from just dust (and there is no such thing as the breath-of-life, something quite different in meaning as related in the Bible from what we’d call standard mouth-to-mouth resuscitation).
Any geneticist would take issue that a human female (Eve) could be created from a male rib. Eve’s genetic inheritance, solely via Adam’s rib, would have ensured she was a male. Jesus in turn would of have to have been a female getting ‘his’ sole genetics from his ‘virgin’ mother.
Zoologists would have a field day debating with True Believers the actual existence of a talking snake and a talking donkey as well as the existence of unicorns.
And what would a botanist make of talking trees and fig trees and bushes and brambles and vines (Judges 9: 8-15)!
Biologists are ROTFLTAO over any notion that a human (Jonah) could survive inside a ‘whale’ for three days or that spears / shafts turned into serpents / snakes. And what does the length of human hair really have to do with human strength?
Any medical doctor can tell you that you can technically perform a resurrection on someone technically dead for some rather short period after their technical death but the resurrection of Jesus falls way, way outside of those parameters, not to mention the lack of advanced medical technology that was available 2000 years ago.
Medical doctors will also take issue with the ‘fact’ that Biblical characters could live for over 900 years and that there was a virgin birth and that Sarah got in a family way at the age of 90 and that disease is caused by demonic or otherwise evil spirits.
Lastly, most historians / archaeologists would take issue with the historical / archaeological accuracy of nearly all of the major Biblical events related in the Old and New Testaments, like the Battle of Jericho or The Flood or the Exodus or the alleged events at Sodom and Gomorrah since no one can actually find Sodom and Gomorrah.
Eight: Non-Physical Human Characteristics
How can one explain those immaterial aspects of the human being without resorting to God? Dutko notes things like our immaterial emotions: love, hate, jealousy, premeditation, pride and on and on it goes. Collectively we can call all of this just the “mind”. Is the mind really immaterial? So where do all of the apparently immaterial parts of you – your mind – come from? It’s back to the something (your material body, brain and biochemistry) from nothing (your immaterial mind, spirit, soul, essence, psyche, personality, whatever) or rather more correctly in this case nothing originating from something on the grounds that you were a something before you had any immaterial mind, essence, personality, etc.
So again the paradox of the material something generating and influencing the immaterial nothing (and vice versa) can only be resolved by invoking the supernaturalism’s Top Dog – God done it and does it and continues to do it. But is there really a paradox that requires a “God done it”? The easiest and probably most correct answer or solution is that the material (body, brain and biochemistry) holds sway over the material (essence, personality, psyche, etc.) and vice versa (as in the Placebo Effect, etc.). So all of those supposed / alleged immaterial bits and pieces of you are actually rooted in your own body chemistry, your brain chemistry and your overall biochemistry, up through and including your cells, tissues, organs, physiological systems, etc. but especially centred in that brain thingy of yours – contrary to often popular opinion, the heart has nothing to do with romantic love.
The evidence that the mind / body – brain interface is just a material interface on both sides of the equation (often noted as the mind-body problem or dualism) is that material things like drugs and disease and injury can and do have a profound effect on your essence or collectively your mind and vice versa (having already noted the Placebo Effect). Or perhaps thinking ‘immaterial’ erotic thoughts that can produce notable material physiological reactions.
Sorry Mr. Dutko, there’s no requirement for God here.
Nine: The Existence of the Supernatural: Defying the Laws, Principles and Relationships of Physics
Regarding supernatural phenomena, assuming such manifestations are really real and not just all hoaxes, illusions and delusions, then all of those various supernatural are just bits and pieces of the natural world, Mother Nature’s world, not yet adequately explained by science. When science does come to terms with those supernatural bits and pieces, those bits and pieces jut become the natural; they join Mother Nature’s realm. There is a very, very long history illustrating this – comets, ball lightning and even normal lightning, the aurora, shooting ‘stars’, earthquake lights and how some animals can see in the dark (like bats and snakes) are all cases in point of the ‘supernatural’ morphing into the natural realm.
Further, if there really is a supernatural separate and apart from the natural, that does not automatically translate into proof of the Christian God. The Bible may be full of supernatural miracles but they can hardly be put under the microscope at this late date. What’s God done for an encore in more recent times? In any event, the ancient Greek world of the Olympian gods and goddesses was a supernatural world; ditto that of the ancient Egyptian pantheon; ditto the worlds of the ancient Aztecs, Mayans, Incas, and the North American Indians. Even E.T. qualifies on the grounds of Arthur C. Clarke’s Third Law – any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic to those not in possession of or in the understanding of such technologies.
So the supernatural has no be-all-and-end-all bearing on the existence of God or even qualifies as evidence for the existence of God.
Ten: The Life, Miracles and Resurrection of Jesus
Not all Biblical and ancient Near / Mid East historical scholars agree that Jesus even existed far less was divine. That alone given the thumbs’ down to Jesus as proof of God’s existence. There just isn’t any independent historical or archaeological evidence for the actual existence of Jesus outside of the New Testament. Outside of the New Testament, everything about Jesus is “alleged” as in this location is “alleged” to be his birthplace and this location is “alleged” to be his tomb. Should Jesus be just a fictional character, well humans have invented literally millions of fictionalised literary characters. Lacking independent evidence, why shouldn’t Jesus be treated as such? But if you believe in the actual existence of Jesus, why not also believe in the actual existence of Hercules? Hercules was also a man born of divine stock (i.e. – fathered by Zeus). Hercules performed numerous heroic and often seemingly impossible deeds, so much so that his success might even be termed miraculous. Finally, Hercules was murdered, but who then was resurrected from the dead to be at home with the gods. You say there is no independent evidence for Hercules. Well that equally applies to Jesus too.
In the final analysis, why postulate and assume here the Christian God? Why not one of the multi-dozens of other supernatural and creator deities that humans have worshipped over the aeons. Postulating the Christian God is just leaping to a conclusion without any reason to do so vis-a-vis all of those other options, one of which is of course, no deity at all.
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