In June 2005 I delivered my lecture “If you can read this I can prove God exists” and posted it on my website.
Today, I have to thank a brotherhood of evangelical atheists for making it world-famous. It became the longest-running, most viewed thread on the largest atheist discussion board in the world.
They never successfully countered it.
A few months after I posted my talk, a gentleman named Rob sent me an email that said, “I see right through your sophistry and pseudoscience…” and an intense discussion began.
After a couple of weeks he got flustered, so he went to the largest atheist discussion board in the world, Infidels. He posted a link to my talk and basically said, ‘be nice to this guy while you rip him to shreds.’
I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t nervous. I was nervous. (Wouldn’t you be?) One of me, dozens of them. One slip of the foot and they’d eviscerate my sorry carcass like a pack of wolverines.
If you’ve spent any time on Infidels, you’ve seen – it’s not like those guys are real big on manners. The anger and hostility is so thick you can cut it with a knife. The Infidels website is six thousand pages of rage and spitting vitriol.
It’s do-or-die time. If there’s a hole in my theory, sooner or later these guys will find it.
And I really did fear that at some point someone would pin me down on some technicality. Or at the very least, that I would screw up or say something I didn’t mean and there would be some disaster I’d have to recover from.
Nope. That’s not what happened. What happened was actually a little surprising.
Let’s just say… they used to intimidate me. They don’t anymore.
I called their bluff.
Before this happened, I couldn’t have imagined that any group of self-respecting, educated men and women would actually try to tell me that DNA isn’t really a code. But that’s exactly what they did. (It is formally, scientifically and literally a code. See explanation here.)
They tried to tell me DNA was not a code – then tried to tell me a snowflake is a code – at the very same time!
They mocked me for taking science books and dictionaries literally. They called me every name in the book. One guy got so furious that the moderator had to delete his posts and ban him from the forum.
But after years of trying, they have not punched a single hole in the argument.
The argument begins with an open question “Did DNA come from natural processes, or was it designed?” and it goes like this:
1. The pattern in DNA is a code (by definition)
2. All other codes we know the origin of are designed (by observation)
Therefore we can explore five possible conclusions:
a) Humans designed DNA
b) Aliens designed DNA
c) DNA occurred randomly and spontaneously
d) There must be some undiscovered law of physics that creates information*
e) DNA was Designed by a Superintelligence, i.e. God.
(a) requires time travel or infinite generations of humans. (b) could well be true but only pushes the question back in time. (c) may be a remote possibility, but it’s not a scientific explanation because it doesn’t refer to a systematic, repeatable process. It’s nothing but an appeal to luck. (d) could be true but no one can form a testable hypothesis until someone observes a naturally occurring code.* So the only systematic explanation that is consistent with science is (e) a theological one.
3. To the extent that scientific reasoning can prove anything, DNA is proof of design.
That’s it. That’s the argument. It’s that simple.
It’s so elegant, it’s irrefutable. It’s airtight.
There is nowhere for the atheist to go, except to say “I don’t know.”
Which is the truth. We don’t know, we can only infer.
All these guys understand that once they admit they don’t know, I’ll say, “Congratulations. Welcome to the world of agnosticism. Honest inquiry is now possible.”
Die-hard members of Infidels are profoundly committed to their atheist beliefs. They are just as devout as members of any religious sect. They won’t go there.
So they just endlessly argue that DNA really isn’t a code…. or it’s only a code in our imaginations…. or that rocks and snowflakes and cosmic rays are codes. Or that it’s not permissible for rational people to draw these sorts of silly conclusions.
I spent five years answering every single question and addressing every objection. I posted an exhaustive Q&A summary at http://cosmicfingerprints.com/iidb.htm. You can click to six different pages that carefully address all the major arguments.
I noticed that one by one, the ‘smart ones’ dropped out. The moderator refuses to answer any of my questions, even though I’ve answered every single one of his.
One guy said, “If you quote Hubert Yockey one more time, I’m going to scratch your eyes out.”
One guy, screen name “Robert Webb” eventually showed up. He’s an atheist but he’s also a computer programmer and he called them on it. He said, “Perry’s definitions are correct, points #1 and #2 are right and you’re never going to prove him wrong.” They lashed out at him for saying that, and accused him of secretly arguing my side.
So far as I can tell, most of the ones who are still hanging in there haven’t actually read or listened to my presentation. They just go around in circles and call me names.
I stop by every few months and answer questions. Meanwhile this has become the most viewed, longest-running thread in the history of Infidels.
I have proven God exists, and… the place where this has been most thoroughly articulated is the largest atheist website in the world.
I love it!
God has a sense of humor, doesn’t He?
I’ve learned a lot from this. In no particular order, here’s what I’ve observed:
1. When people are backed into a corner and do not want to change their beliefs. They go into denial. No amount of logic, evidence, scientific findings or proof can change their minds. I guess somehow I had thought that if you put enough peer-reviewed, non-controversial textbooks, definitions and examples in front of them they would admit that I could be right.
Nope… not the case. If someone doesn’t want to believe something, there is nothing you can do to change their minds.
2. Most people do not know that science is based on inference. The idea that there is a law of gravity is inferred from 100% consistent observations. You can’t literally prove it. Belief in all scientific laws rests on faith in something you cannot prove: Namely, that the universe operates according to fixed discoverable laws.
3. Many people also do not know that the core belief of science – that the universe operates according to fixed discoverable laws – was originally a religious idea. To the best of my knowledge, this idea was first introduced 3000 years ago by Solomon, who wrote “Thou hast ordered all things in weight and number and measure.” (Wisdom of Solomon 11:21)
4. People who are well informed about things like the inner workings of computer systems – hardware and software engineers, for example – almost never challenge me on Information Theory. When I gave three different lectures at Lucent Technologies / Bell Labs, for example (the company where Claude Shannon first developed information theory), nobody accused me of applying the theory incorrectly.
The ones who argue are science wannabes, not professionals. People who think that watching the Discovery Channel or the latest Evolution show on PBS makes their opinions scientific.
5. When people feel threatened they abandon facts and resort to name-calling and emotional tirades. They accuse you of practicing “pseudoscience” and they say that you’re an “idiot” and a “creationist”.
They quote passages from the latest Richard Dawkins bestseller as though it were a Holy Book.
6. The real reason some people believe that life was caused by random accident is they have a very, very hard time fathoming that an all-knowing God would allow the world to be so messed up. This is a moral judgment, not a scientific position. “Accidents happen, therefore it’s all an accident.”
This at least appears to relieve them of having to explain why there is evil in the world. (Perhaps that’s true. But the problem is, it leaves them with no objective definition of what is good.)
7. Theologians gave birth to science in the middle ages. People who believed the world operated according to fixed, discoverable laws, began to search for those laws. People like Newton, Galileo, Kepler, Copernicus, Mendel, Boyle, Maxwell and even Einstein saw science as a way of studying the mind of God.
Science itself got started in ancient Rome, Greece, China and in Islam – but it never went anywhere in those cultures. Why? I would like to suggest that none of those cultures had a theology that described a systematic universe. But Christianity did teach that the universe was systematic and discoverable and that’s why science succeeded in the West after failing everywhere else.
8. Because of my websites www.cosmicfingerprints.com and www.coffeehousetheology.com, I have had literally thousands upon thousands of email conversations with people about science, religion, morality, and all of kinds of deep questions. People from literally every single country in the world, every religion, every race and belief system you can imagine.
And I can assure you – NOBODY argues more stridently than the atheists. Nobody.
Militant atheism is most zealous form of religious fundamentalism in the world today. And yes, based on all my conversations and experiences I do classify atheism as an extremist religion. I’ve heard all the usual objections to that but I just don’t buy them. Modern atheism is not the least bit interested in discovering the truth, it’s only interested in making disciples.
A common stereotype of Muslims, for example, is that they are dogmatic and belligerent. But almost none of the Muslims I have ever encountered are actually like that! Atheists overwhelmingly are.
They’re combative and not only do they fail to show respect, they display burning contempt and derision for religious people. Atheists are more dogmatic about what they believe than anyone else I’ve ever encountered. Again, that’s my own experience from answering thousands of emails and debating in the Infidels forum.
9. Many people perceive science and religion as being in a war with each other. It’s a false war that has been largely invented and perpetrated by a tiny minority of extremely angry people. These people have perpetrated a lot of myths, too – for example they tell you that people believed the earth was flat until 500 years ago.
Wrong. People have known the earth was round for 2500 years.
You may not have known that prior to the mid- to late-1800’s there was far less hostility between science and religion. Yes there are the Galileo vs. the Church stories, but we have an exact reversal of that today: Scientists who are persecuted by secular institutions because of their religious beliefs. I predict that some day the present hostility will subside.
10. Atheists are very good at going on the attack. But they are astonishingly weak when they are called to defend what they believe (i.e. that life was a random accident; that the big bang happened for no particular reason at all; that there’s an infinite number of other universes somewhere.) I’ve found that when I press them for answers, they usually at some point suddenly vanish, never to return.
A very popular biologist, author and prominent atheist spokesman (he is referenced more than 200,000 times on the Internet and was a featured speaker at the 2010 World Atheist Conference in Melbourne Australia) subscribed to this very email series you’re reading right now. He sent me an email just the other day. He said:
“You’re insane, and you’re ignorant. You can stop sending me your foolish twaddle, your info is now in my filters.”
I kindly asked him if I could post his name and his comments on my website. No response.
That’s it. Total refusal to engage.
You know why?
Because he knows he can’t win.
I realize that I am not being terribly kind to atheism here (though I am not being unkind to anyone either). The atheist belief system needs to be punched in the face by people of all beliefs, and forced to account for itself. The infidels debate and this website www.cosmicfingerprints.com is an open challenge for atheists to provide evidence for the things they believe in.
Tossing around words like “rational inquiry” and “science” and “non-sequitur” is no substitute for sound reasoning, actual practice of science, and the use of logic.
If atheism is going to wear the robe of science and reason, it’s time for us to expect it to answer science questions, not evade them. We need to demand reasons, not non-reasons. Open factual discussion, not name-calling and childish behavior from anonymous cowards.
And… if the atheist doesn’t know, let’s allow him to admit he doesn’t know, and be kind to him when he makes that admission.
And once he is open to following the evidence wherever it leads, let us welcome him into the world of honest and rational inquiry.
P.S.: I used to say: “If you doubt what I am saying here – go to the Infidels site and see for yourself. Read every single post in the 5+ year thread.” (They took it down and refused my requests to make it public. Screen shot at http://cosmicfingerprints.com/dna-atheists/.) Read every reference you can find to this anywhere on the Internet. If after that you still think that my argument has been dismantled by the Infidels and I’m doing a cover-up job, then come back here and post your questions. Please read the FAQ first.
*P.P.S.: I have a multi-million dollar prize for Origin Of Information at www.naturalcode.org.