15 September 2009

Book Review: There is a god by Antony Flew - 2

In this post, I am dealing with Flew's second "card" - life.

Admittedly, origin of life is a favourite topic for theists to argue their case. Quoting
Andy Knoll, a professor of biology at Harvard and author of Life on a Young Planet: The First Three Billion Years of Life, notes:
If we try to summarize by just saying what, at the end of the day, we do know about the deep history of life on Earth, about its origin, about its formative stages that gave rise to the biology we see around us today, I think we have to admit that we’re looking through a glass darkly here. We don’t know how life started on this planet. We don’t know exactly when it started, we don’t know under what circumstances.

Jumping from "does not know the origin of life" to "god created life" is a huge jump and such logical argument flaw should not have been committed by a philosopher. Here I like to deal with the case in two parts: origin and purposefulness.

Before Darwin's evolution theory, there is no path leading from a simple molecule to complex life form. However, evolution provides an alternative explain to the god-placebo explanation. Complexity is the result of many small cumulative changes. The key is of course the word cumulative. Random changes do not lead to increased complexity because the next random change may have completely wiped out the 'advantage' of the previous changes. However, once a "memory" has been developed, the changes start to accumulate, instead of randomly cancelling out. The path to complexity has started.

No matter how improbable an event may be, given sufficient tries, it will happen - just like winning lottos. We cannot predict who will win which lotto, we are quite sure that every now and then, someone will win a lotto!

Flew describes the life as intelligently organized and purpose-driven is again a completely human-centric old idea. Different organism, plants and animals have adapted to their respective niche and to the pattern-demanding mind of human, the pattern looks organised. Pig's purpose of life is not to become meat for human! Again, it is a human construct to add purpose to life. A more humble and logical stance would be that we are just lucky to be on the more complex branch of the evolution tree and we have evolved to be able to use tools, hence got the upper hand, and mistakenly have messed up with the environment. If we are gone, the nature will just happily continue.

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