Questions for Francis Collins’ Accomodationist Slideshow
Slide 1: “Almighty God, who is not limited in space or time, created a universe 13.7 billion years ago with its parameters precisely tuned to allow the development of complexity over long periods of time.”
If God is not limited in space and time, how can Francis Collins even know that? Collins would also have to not be “limited in space and time” to verify that claim. The reason he says the parameters are “precisely tuned to allow the development of complexity over long periods of time” is that he IS a complexity that developed over long periods of time. This is the anthropic argument poorly veiled. We might also suggest that a bacteria would say the parameters were “precisely tuned” to allow it to flourish in human hosts. A triangle would say the parameters were “precisely tuned” to allow it to have three sides and 180 degrees.
Slide 2: “God’s plan included the mechanism of evolution to create the marvelous diversity of living things on our planet. Most especially, that creative plan included human beings.”
The dinosaurs have more of a right to say that the creative plan “most especially” included them. They appeared earlier, in more diversity, and lived on Earth hundreds of millions of years more than modern humans. Beetles also have this right, considering that there are 350,000 species of them. Bacteria cover almost every surface on the Earth – there are billions of individuals in a square millimeter of soil. What shall we say of extraterrestrial life? If they had written their own Bibles, their ancestors might have thought the universe was for them, too.
Slide 3: “After evolution had prepared a sufficiently advanced ‘house’ (the human brain), God gifted humanity with the knowledge of good and evil (the moral law), with free will, and with an immortal soul.”
If God is omnipotent, why should he make himself wait for a “sufficiently advanced ‘house'”, and just create one out of thin air? Who is he trying to impress? If he was all-loving and all-good, why did he allow centuries of religious wars and torture to happen because different human communities had competing versions of his supposed “moral law”? Is that the mark of an all-good God?
All knowledge about existence is subject to scientific scrutiny, so what scientific evidence does he have for his “immortal soul”? What are the properties, structure, and functions of the soul he says he has? It is curious to see how the idea of the “soul” changes as science advances.
“From the third century to the late Middle Ages many theologians emphasized the full and literal resurrection of the body after death. Tertullian, for example, following a stoic metaphysics, not only believed that resurrection meant the full reassemblage of the body but also that all reality is corporeal, and therefore even the soul is composed of fine material particles,” reads the Oxford Companion to the Body. Later on, “However, such ideas gradually declined, and by the later Middle Ages Aquinas’ view that the soul is an individual spiritual substance was becoming predominant (though it did not go unchallenged) and eventually received wide acceptance amongst many branches of Christianity. For Aquinas, influenced by Aristotle, body and soul together form the human unity, though the soul can be separated from the fleshly body, as happens at death, and continue to exist.”
Now, on to the problem of free will. If the laws of physics were made to govern the universe, and matter and energy can neither be created nor destroyed, how can there be free will if all that is happening now is both an effect of some previous cause and a cause of future events? Is Collins suggesting we can be our own causes? If so, he would be breaking the laws of the universe.
Slide 4: “We humans used our free will to break the moral law, leading to our estrangement from God. For Christians, Jesus is the solution to that estrangement.”
Why would an all-loving God ever let us break HIS moral law? If God is omnipotent, and the author of all things, how could anyone ever offend him? From that question there is no escape. Why didn’t Jesus appear to all humans instead of some benighted Iron Age people on the edge of the Mediterranean? Would not that have spared many from breaking the moral law? Does that mean the vast majority of human beings both living and dead are damned? How could an all-loving, all-good God allow such a thing to happen to his beloved creations?
Slide 5: “If the moral law is just a side effect of evolution, then there is no such thing as good or evil. It’s all an illusion. We’ve been hoodwinked. Are any of us, especially the strong atheists, really prepared to live our lives within that worldview?”
Collins runs into the Euthyphro Dilemma of morality within a theistic context. This is the dilemma:
If Divine Command Theory is true, then we have two options :
1. Are things good because God says they are good, or
2. Does God says things are good because they are good ?
If 1 is true, then morality is subjective, and God can change moral facts in whatever way he wants. If 2 is true, then morality is a standard applied to God or by God, and morality does not need God to exist at all. Also, if God gave us a moral law to follow, that means we have no moral responsibility. Because, according to Collins’ definition, God is the author of all things, all-good, and all-loving, whatever we do is actually God’s will. (Spinoza realized this.) Therefore, everything we do must be good since it was all caused by an all-good God. Nothing bad can spring from something that is all-good. That surely means there would be no such thing as the dichotomy of “good or evil.” Are any of us, especially evangelical Christian Francis Collins, really prepared to live our lives within that worldview?