Life from Dead Matter–Part 2
Miracle #2 – Living Organisms from Dead Matter
Part 2 – Complexity Produces Life
This is the second of four “miracles” of atheism. They were identified a few years ago by Clayton Kraby on his blog “Reasonable Theology.” These miracles are impossible, illogical assumptions. They are required or atheism does not work as a belief system. Thus, atheism is founded on four illogical assumptions. They are:
- Existence from Non-existence
- Living Organisms from Dead Matter
- Order from Chaos
- The Immaterial (Transcendent Categories) from Materialism
This essay discusses the atheist explanation of complexity and life.
Spontaneous generation makes atheists look foolish. They need to abandon it. But how else can they explain life? They use another old atheist’s trick—if you can’t defeat or destroy a metaphysical truth, then just deny its existence.
This is what they do. Atheists deny the existence of life! How can they deny that life exists? I mean, hey, I’m alive! How can you deny that?
Pretending to be “scientific” in their outlook, atheists must explain why they refuse to believe the obvious works of God in this world. God shows Himself to the world through nature and through His Word (Jesus Christ and the Bible). But when atheists look at nature they see only science and materialism. They also reject God’s Word. They call Jesus Christ a myth—just another man. The Bible, for them, is “just another story book.”
Regarding nature, God reveals Himself through the power and glory of nature. We see the wonders of nature—from an intricate, frail butterfly wing to the glorious strength of a mountain range. We don’t have to understand nature to appreciate God’s glory. The marvels of nature reveal the glory and power and majesty of God. We understand this through simple faith compounded exponentially by the wonders of nature and life.
Atheists believe that life and the incredible complexity of nature “just happened.” Their belief is not supported by science. Thus, atheists must develop a new way to examine nature.
How Atheists Examine Nature
God’s creation of complex systems is not so easy to dismiss. So atheists use a process to examine complex systems. They seem to think that if you can take something apart, examine it, and successfully put it back together, then you know everything there is to know about that something. Remember, atheists are materialists. Their understanding of nature is deconstructionist and mechanistic in outlook. What do these terms mean?
- Materialists—the physical world is all that exists for atheists. When an atheist examines a complex system, he ignores or denies the evidence for any and all metaphysical, emotional, or spiritual entities. When an atheist studies a complex entity, such as the weather, all that exists is clouds, wind, rain, and thunder. He also studies the role of the sun. These all work together to produce weather. He does not believe in storm gods or gods hurling thunderbolts.
This process works for non-living, inorganic systems. But life is far more complicated. When an atheist studies a human body, he denies the existence of a soul, or a mind, or sometimes even emotions. The feeling of love between two people is the result of chemical reactions, nothing more. The physical world is all that exists.
- Deconstructionists—atheists love to tear things apart. They believe the best way to study a complex system is to break it down into its component parts. The atheist La Mettrie did this for the human body. Another atheist, Derrida, tried to do this for language. Once a system is deconstructed, each part can be studied separately from the others.
In the early days of science this may have been a good approach. It helped scientists understand physical systems like weather, earthquakes, changing climate and its effects, and dozens of other systems and cycles of nature. But as science progresses the focus changes. The interaction of component parts is difficult to predict—like weather. Science has matured. Science is starting to realize that nature, even inorganic nature, is more than its component parts.
But deconstructionism serves the atheist agenda. If the body has been totally deconstructed, according to atheists, we should be able to find the organ that houses the soul. According to La Mettrie, “Our only way to discover the true nature of man is a posteriori, i.e. on the basis of empirical evidence, trying to isolate the soul, as it were disentangling it from the body’s organs.” When the body was deconstructed, no soul could be found. La Mettrie concluded, “Thus ‘the soul’ is an empty term, with no idea associated with it; a good mind should use it only to refer to the part of us that thinks.”
This part of their technique did not work so well with life. Atheists were forced to deny that life exists. If this is so, why do animals, plants, and humans only appear to be alive? Atheists claim you and I are not alive. There is no organ in our bodies that houses “life.” Well, if we are not alive, what explains our ability to move and work and grow and play? This brings us to the third part of the atheist’s explanation—we are only machines.
- Mechanists—the beginning of a mechanistic understanding of the universe usually is attributed to Isaac Newton. Newton was a strong believer in Jesus Christ. This scientist demonstrated the presence of universal laws that govern the universe. The cosmos is like a big machine that was wound up and placed in good working order by God.
This is the process atheists use to study complex systems. First, the physical world is all that exists. Second, complex systems must be deconstructed. They are easier to study when broken into smaller bits. Also, deconstruction removes troublesome metaphysical ideas such as soul or mind or presence of God. Finally, you put it all back together and explain that it runs like nothing more than a big machine.
Is Life a Machine?
This mechanistic understanding of the universe fit hand and glove with deism. Webster’s Dictionary defines a deist as a person “who believes in the existence of a God or Supreme Being but denies revealed religion, basing his belief on the light of nature or reason.” At this time deism was gaining ground in Europe.
Deists believe in a universe controlled by a system of laws. This universe does not need God. God set up this system to function like a big machine. Deists believe God created the machine (the universe), flipped the switch to turn it on, and walked away. God no longer needs to bother Himself with us. If God abandoned us, as deists say, we do not need to bother ourselves with Him.
Atheists , of course, go one step further. Julien Offray de La Mettrie compared the human body to a machine. He stated in his book Man, A Machine, “I am not mistaken; the human body is a clock, a huge and complex and finely designed clock.”
Atheists are surprised to find such order and precision in the system but they fail to give praise to God, the source of this complex, orderly system. They liken the system to a machine. Every part does its job with precision. That must be the secret. The complex system is just a machine. But when they take it apart and put it back together, they can’t quite make it work.
Like an Angry Child
Their reaction reminds me of the following scenario: Imagine a young boy who is fascinated by life. “What is life?” he asks. “Where does it come from?” The boy walks down to the creek that flows near his house. He catches a frog. The frog is alive. Perhaps if he dissects the living frog, he will discover more about life.
The boy uses a little ether to put the frog to sleep. He cuts into the living frog. As he cuts he looks for life. Where is it? The frog’s heart is beating. The boy knows the heart is not the organ of life. The heart just pumps blood. Yes, the heart is essential to life but his grandpa had a heart transplant a couple of years ago. Grandpa is still alive. The boy leaves the frog’s heart alone and moves on to the other organs.
What’s this organ? The frog’s liver fills much of the thoracic cavity. The boy pokes around the liver. Where is the organ of life? Under the liver? He accidentally punctures the frog’s heart. The frog’s body quivers and slumps. Life is leaving its body. Before the boy can find the source of life, the frog dies. Life departs.
“Where did its life go?” asks the boy, “Its life did not wait for me to find it. Why?” This is not the first frog to die at the boy’s hands. It’s just another sacrifice on the altar of scientific curiously.
But wait. These organs resemble the components of a machine. The boy has an idea. He uses a little bit of glue and plugs the hole in the frog’s heart. Then he gets some thread and sews up the incision in the frog’s tummy. There! The frog is as good as new! But it’s not alive. That dumb frog just lies there. It refuses to share the secret of life. How rude!
How frustrating! The boy is so close to the answer. He knows it! Angry words fall from his mouth. “That frog was never alive. Life does not exist. Life is only an illusion.” The young scientist is gone. He’s replaced by an annoyed little boy.
That’s one frustrating aspect of the “life-as-a-machine” theory. Once the machine is broken and life is gone, there is no way to get it back. What is the secret of life?
Let’s review. Atheists believe materialism is all there is. There is no higher power. There are no unseen forces. Everything can be explained by materialistic science. But when science searches for the cause of life, she comes up empty. There is no scientifically discovered force or form of energy that can explain life.
Life is Complexity
For an atheist, materialism is the answer to everything. If there is no materialistic explanation for life, then life does not exist. But our world is full of life. It’s not easy to deny the obvious. It takes a lot of faith to be an atheist.
Atheists deny the existence of life. This only leads to new problems. How can one explain the existence of higher mental abilities such as consciousness and self-awareness? These special qualities seem to be missing from lower animals. Why do higher animals, man in particular, possess these abilities?
The atheist thinks for a long time. The lightbulb goes off in his head. “I know!” he shouts triumphantly, “These special qualities—such as consciousness and self-awareness—seem tied to complexity! Perhaps when a system becomes more and more complex, these special facilities somehow appear.” (Is the ghost of spontaneous generation rising from the dead?)
Our atheist becomes more excited, “As our brains ‘evolved’ (to use a term from the atheist belief system), they became more and more complex. Consciousness, abstract thinking, self-awareness and other higher mental abilities are the result of greater complexity, nothing else.”
Complexity from Computers?
Atheists use examples involving computers to blur this line between dead matter and life. Does complexity somehow lead to life? Will computers someday become so complex that we can say they are alive? Science fiction has contributed to the discussion through books and movies such as The Matrix, War Games, Terminator, and Bicentennial Man, to name a few. Our society’s definition of life one day may revolve around a complex entity’s consciousness.
Consciousness is a quality of the mind that has been described many different ways. These descriptions include words such as creativity, intentionality, and self-awareness. Consciousness also may be designated by a person’s will or emotions. According to atheists, all this arises from dead matter.
David Bentley Hart in his book Being, Consciousness, Bliss exposes a huge error in this atheistic perspective. Hart reminds us of the one fallacy of materialism. Materialism teaches that everything that exists—all matter—is without purpose, order, or intentionality. Matter does not think or feel. Hart writes . . .
Somehow, the argument goes, a sufficient number of neurological systems and subsystems operating in connection with one another will at some point naturally produce unified, self-reflective, and intentional consciousness . . . This is probably just another hopeless attempt to overcome a qualitative difference by way of an indeterminately large number of gradual quantitative steps.
Atheists claim that at a certain point dead matter just “comes alive.” Lifeless, purposeless, chaotic matter transforms itself into a living being that has life, purpose, and order. This happens through a series of tiny steps that result in life through . . . spontaneous generation. But this will never happen. Hart concludes . . .
There is an absolute qualitative abyss between the objective facts of neurophysiology and the subjective experience of being a conscious self, and so a method capable of providing a model of only the former can never produce an adequate causal narrative of the latter.
Dead matter will never produce a living being. It’s like planting a rock in the ground and expecting a harvest of tomatoes to grow from it.
Computers Do Not Have Life
An example of this was shown in the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation and the movies that spun-off from the TV show. One of the permanent crew members on the show was an android named “Data.” This android (the name for a human-shaped robot) was very advanced. His brain was so advanced that, after his scientist-creator died, no one in that highly scientific future could duplicate it.
Despite his advanced brain, Data always wanted to be human. As the series progressed, Data came closer and closer to his goal. In one episode he dreamed. In another episode he got emotions. But he was never alive. He was better than human in every category—he was self-aware, possessed a formidable consciousness, and could think and calculate with the speed of a computer. But he missed that one last step. He was never completely human. He was always just a machine; never a living being. There never was a moment of spontaneous generation for Data.
Atheists always return to spontaneous generation of one sort or another. Why can’t atheists leave it alone? For one simple reason—they cannot. They have no other way to explain the qualitative leap from dead matter to a living organism.
Life has only one source. That source is God. Sorry, atheists, that’s just the way it is.
God is the Only Source of Life
Life is a mystery. On the one hand, life is so powerful that it overcomes the second law of thermodynamics. Life produces growth. It organizes dead matter and makes it capable of self-movement and reproduction. Life transforms matter. It gives purpose and meaning to materials that are chaotic and irrelevant. This wonderful power is a gift from God.
Life is one of the most basic and important qualities of God. God and life are paired throughout the Bible. The first chapters of Genesis identify the tree of life as growing in the Garden of Eden. Genesis 2: 7 states that God breathed life into mankind:
Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.(NAS)
How can God give life to people and animals and plants and everything else that has life? The Bible says both God and Jesus Christ are life itself. They don’t have life; they are life. John 1: 4 says, “In Him [Jesus] was life, and the life was the Light of men.” (NAS)
In John 5: 26, Jesus makes an even more amazing statement:
For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself (NAS)
Jesus Christ IS life. God the Father IS life. They do not depend on anything else for life. Philosophers would call them necessary beings. They are self-existent. God is life and the source of life for the entire universe.
Our life on earth is temporary. Life is as soft as a whisper and as fragile as a wisp of smoke in a wind. The Bible relates this in James 4: 14.
Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. (NAS)
The Psalmist asks God to remind him of the transient nature of his life; to remind him that his hope is in God.
LORD, make me to know my end
And what is the extent of my days;
Let me know how transient I am.
Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths,
And my lifetime as nothing in Your sight;
Surely every man at his best is a mere breath. Selah.
Surely every man walks about as a phantom;
Surely they make an uproar for nothing;
He amasses riches and does not know who will gather them.
And now, Lord, for what do I wait?
My hope is in You. (NAS)
God is the source of life and the basis for hope after our life on earth ends.
That’s just the way it is, Mr. Atheist.