Since giving my talk “If You Can Read This I Can Prove God Exists” in 2005, my thinking has evolved tremendously.
This continues to be one of the most hotly debated talks on Origin Of Life on the web.
It sparked a 7-year debate on Infidels. At the time, Infidels.org was the largest atheist website in the world. This went on to become the longest-running, most-viewed thread on the site.
No one overturned my argument. Eventually Infidels did their best to make the whole episode disappear.
“If you can read this” has been pounded hard by thousands of skeptics. Every scientific detail and technical fact still stands intact today, more than 10 years later.
However I must be clear:
I did not prove God exists. What I proved is: There is a vast gap in our knowledge. A gap for which the only known solution is some form of intelligence.
A gap that an awful lot of people (especially atheists) prefer to sweep under the rug.
To the extent that science can prove anything (which is inference not proof), the genetic code proves there is a design principle in biology. Perhaps it’s woven into the very fabric of the universe itself.
Nobody has solved the design problem in biology. Not Charles Darwin, not David Hume, not Richard Dawkins, or anybody else. Nobody knows how to get a code without designing one.
Yet I have grown leery of “God of Gaps” arguments, because they have a long history of eventually failing.
Now what is seldom mentioned is that every time one of these gaps gets filled, the universe shows itself to be even more amazing and elegant than we thought it was before. More orderly. More precise. More capable of taking care of itself. More ingenious. More subtle.
Have you noticed? Every answer science provides us only raises three more questions. The questions never end. And the demand for an ultimate explanation never goes away either. The quantity of “luck” skeptics must invoke to explain it all rises with each passing year.
In the years since I gave that famous talk, I have realized that science cannot deal in ultimate explanations. Science can only peel the onion one more layer.
Which is precisely what we pay scientists to do. No scientist ever gets to say “God did it, that settles it, let’s take a 3-martini lunch.”
To scientists, God-of-gaps arguments give them and their profession the finger.
Many religious people have a hard time understanding this. It doesn’t compute. Often they chalk it up to arrogance or hubris on the part of scientists. But the way most creationists approach the subject grates on scientists. It’s disrespectful to their paychecks and careers.
Theology should never give a scientist an excuse for being lazy.
Frankly, creationists AND atheist fundamentalists like Richard Dawkins, with his “Life is a happy chemical accident” pronouncements, BOTH give scientists an excuse to be lazy.
Which is to say Origin Of Life is a valid field of inquiry. It’s not been very successful thus far, mind you, but it is a necessary science.
To solve this, I have established a $10 million dollar technology prize. I organized a company, Natural Code LLC, a Private Equity Investment group. We seek a solution to Origin Of Information.
As Peter Diamandis proved with his X-Prize for space flight, technology prizes are ideal for Big Problems that government grants have been unsuccessful in solving. Also problems like space flight, which government does solve, but at too much cost.
In creating this prize, I have given up my “god of gaps” argument in exchange for an opportunity to uncover more secrets of this amazing universe we live in.
“God did it, that settles it, let’s take a 3-martini lunch” is not science.
“Life emerged from a warm pond and lucky lightning strike” is also not science.
All we can do is speak the naked truth about what we know. And what we don’t know.
I’ve concluded that the only approach to Origin Of Life which is science, is a large prize. And plenty of of recognition for the person who can solve “Chemicals to Code.”
If somebody solves this, they haven’t eliminated God. What they have done is prove the thesis of my book Evolution 2.0: “Darwinists underestimate nature. Creationists underestimate God.”
May the best man or woman win. And may these silly wars between science and religion stop blinding us to mysteries that beg to be solved.
Photo by Perry Marshall: Dunmore Head overlooking the Blasket Islands in Coumeenole, Western Ireland.