God and Science
Traditionally, a belief in God was attractive because it promised to explain the deepest puzzles about origins. Where did the world come from? What is the basis of life? How can the mind arise from the body? Why should anyone be moral? Yet over the millennia, there has been an inexorable trend: the deeper we probe these questions, and the more we learn about the world in which we live, the less reason there is to believe in God. Start with the origin of the world. Today no honest and informed person can maintain that the universe came into being a few thousand years ago and assumed its current form in six days (to say nothing of absurdities like day and night existing before the sun was created). Nor is there a more abstract role for God to play as the ultimate first cause.
!is trick simply replaces the puzzle of “Where did he universe come from?” with the equivalent puzzle “Where did God come from?” What about the fantastic diversity of life and its ubiquitous signs of design? At one time it was understandable to appeal to a divine designer to explain it all. No longer. Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace showed how the complexity of life could arise from the physical process of natural selection among replicators, and then Watson and Crick showed how replication itself could be understood in physical terms. Notwithstanding creationist propaganda, the evidence for evolution is overwhelming, including our DNA, the fossil record, the distribution of life on earth, and our own anatomy and physiology (such as the goose bumps that try to ﬂuﬀ up long-vanished fur).
For many people the human soul feels like a divine spark within us. But neuroscience has shown that our intelligence and emotions consist of intricate patterns of activity in the trillions of connections in our brain. True, scholars disagree on how to explain the existence of inner experience—some say it’s a pseudo-problem, others believe it’s just an open scientiﬁc...
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