A great many times I have heard an argument for the existence of a Creator God that, while very persuasive, is founded upon a glaring oversight of logic and what I refer to as the “metaphysics of physics.” The principle that my refutation of this argument is founded upon, is something which I generally call SolaEvidencia , or in more ‘proper’ Latin, Solum Testimonium — “The Sole Evidence”.
The argument begins something like this: anything which exhibits a high degree of order and patterning, which a creation would logically have, must therefore be evidence of a Creator. In other words, our world — being a highly patterned item — is much too logical and delicately balanced in its form and function, to be a product of sheer chance. Thus, there is a Creator. A God.
With the first part of this argument, I am in whole-hearted agreement. Our world is extraordinarily unique, with all things in balance and exquisitely fit together into a masterful jigsaw puzzle of life. Plants and animals feed off one another, the sun hits our planet just right, we have just the right balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide and nitrogen in the atmosphere, we are the perfect distance from the sun and the other planets. In short, our world is a pretty amazing little place. It abounds with patterns and things which just “can’t be coincidence,” so to speak. “If things were not so patterned,” argues our anonymous Theist, “we would not exist.” This is true, I respond. “So this is proof,” says the Theist, “of the Creator of the Pattern.” This, however, is not true.
What our Theistic friend fails to realize is that the world we see is the Sola Evidencia — the sole evidence of the many factors which may have influenced its creation. We see only the final product which successfully formed — we do not see the failed beginnings of life and amino acids which attempted to form when the seas were too hot, nor the wilted cells of primitive animals which were exposed to deadly levels of the sun’s radiation in early time. We see that we are the perfect distance from the sun, with the perfect combination of atmosphere — no, this is not so! We see organisms which adapted to a specific set of conditions, not conditions which are specifically adapted to the organisms. Were we to have grown on a planet which a 10 degree lower average temperature and a higher gravitational pull, then would we not see this as the perfect condition? Of course we would! It is the perfect condition for our growth, because we grew beneath these conditions. The failed experiments of life, the mutations which would have survived wonderfully in the conditions of another world with its 10 degree difference and added pull of weight, we do not see. It is said that the odds of this world appearing by chance are that of a print-shop explosion producing Webster’s Dictionary. Perhaps this is so — but you are not seeing, and indeed cannot see, the hundreds of millions of other explosions which have been swept away from site by Time’s firm hand.
Imagine, if you would, this other world. The world we mentioned earlier. The creatures on it are accustomed to what we regard as bitter cold — they view this as ‘mild’. The pressing of gravity makes our bones ache and joints throb in pain — they do not even notice it. “Look,” they say, “Everything on our planet is perfect, as if planned. We are just the right distance from the sun, we are just big enough to have good gravity, and we have just enough oxygen to breathe.” Yet we regard these conditions as imperfect for life and indeed hostile. They see perfection because they know nothing but these conditions — that is how they have always known it, and these conditions are what their species has spent millions of years adapting to live in. Bigger, better, stronger, more. When they look at us, they are horrified! This planet is much too hot to support life, and the atmosphere (having mostly floated away due to the very weak [in their eyes] gravity) is much too thin. If you didn’t die from suffocation, your blood would boil in your veins! Yet we regard it as perfect and patterned, because for millions upon millions of years, our ancestors have adapted to these conditions as best possible. Because they have never known anything else.
This is the trap of the Sola Evidencia — we mistake the cause for the effect, and the effect for the cause. We see the “now” as the “always was” — we see the patterns which survived and grew stronger, but not the countless failed experiments which have expired into obscurity. Of course the world is marvelously complex! Of course there are patterns in every nook and cranny, order in every tree and rock. The world functions as an exquisitely balanced and fine-tuned machine, because this is what has worked. What did not work, the not-so-successful patterns, the haphazardness which perhaps lasted for a while but then failed again, we have no evidence of. Our only evidence is that we exist. Our only evidence is but one grain of sand in the beach of history and happenstance.
We mistake the perfection in our adaptation and evolution as perfection in the environment. And quite possibly our adaptation is perfect, or nearly so — this is all that we see. For had we not adapted so perfectly, we would not have lasted long enough to debate if the world came to be by design or random chance. Had we not found our niche in the chaos around us, and thus contributed to the pattern as had millions of lifeforms before us, we would not exist at all. Our current ability to debate such metaphysics is entirely dependant on the success of our “patterned” evolution, to what we see as a “patterned” world.
We see perfection in our environment, because we have attained perfection in our adaptation to it. Had we not attained this perfection, we would not exist to see it. We are, ourselves, the sola evidencia.