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God, Santa Claus and the Nature of Reality

By Keith Cantrell
July 2, 2004

We can look at all the objects that we have invented and be amazed by their design. The two prominent factors that define design are form and function. In other words the best designs serve a practical purpose as well as being aesthetically attractive. However, no matter how well something is designed, there is always room for improvement. There is no such thing as a perfect door or a perfect house or a perfect car, or anything else because there will always be someone who doesn't like a particular characteristic of the object in question. There may even be a design flaw that the original builders overlooked until someone else pointed it out to them. Keeping all this in mind, let's turn our attention to the natural world. Since it was not designed by humans, can assume it is perfect?

This question is designed to be a leading one. I am purposefully setting you up to consider the credibility of the concept of "intelligent design." This idea was proposed by Michael Behe in his book "Darwin's Black Box." He goes to great lengths to demonstrate that the mathematical probability of the universe organizing itself into a viable system is too huge to have happened by chance. Behe and others insinuate that the universe and its contents are so perfect that they must be the product of intelligent design. Immediately this calls into question the character of the designer.

In human terms we can accept the fact that even the most brilliant inventor among us can make mistakes. After all, nobody's perfect. But can this trait be acceptable in a supreme intelligence? Can God make mistakes? A devout religious person would scoff at the idea. Theologians would shudder and pastors, priests and rabbis the world over would chastize anyone who even mentioned the idea. Yet the lack of perfection is not limited to human inventions. there is no perfect tree, no pefect mountain range, no perfect river, no perfect animal, no perfect star cluster, no perfect galaxy and we are certainly not living in a perfect universe. But if there is a perfect God, wouldn't his creations also be perfect?

This question leads to an inevitable conclusion. Since design is a direct reflection of the character of the designer, we know that there is no perfect design. This is also true of nature. If there were a grand, intelligent designer his character and credibility would be questioned by the imperfections of his design. Since no one is willing to accept the possibility of an imperfect God, we can only conclude that there is none.

The existence of anything is demonstrated by the evidence generated by that object. However, some people assert that the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. This faulty reasoning makes it possible to support a belief in literally anything our imagination can come up with. According to this theory, just because there is no evidence for aliens doesn't mean they don't exist. The same is also true of any mythical beings we can imagine. Angels, demons, fairies, elves, ghosts and even God can be said to exist if we are allowed to excuse the absence of evidence.

Given this description it makes more sense to believe in Santa Claus than it does to believe in God. The evidence for the existence of Santa Claus is everywhere. Beginning soon after Thangsgiving every year images of Santa Claus appear on lawns, in stores and malls, in newspapers, on television and radio. Songs have been sung about him and stories have been written about him. With all this evidence it must be obvious that he does exist. Or is it?

We find this argument to be ridiculous because everyone knows Santa Claus is only a myth. Yet there is far less evidence for the existence of God than for Santa Claus but the belief persists. What should be our response?

Well, first let's shift gears a little. I'll tie it all together in the last paragraph, but just bear with me for a minute. Remember your basic high school biology class? Or maybe a class on evolution you had in college? Remember that diversity is a driving characteristic of evolutionary biology. It ensures that every ecological niche is filled with an appropriate organism specifically adapted to that environment by natural selection. Diversity also encourages change by competition when the environment changes. When the environment changes the organisms that live there must also change or they will die. The most diverse and adaptable organisms are inveitably the ones that survive.

Okay, now think about this. Humans are the only organisms on the entire planet with the ability to alter their evolution. Since we are the most advanced and intelligent of all the biological organisms we alone can assume responsibility for the ultimate fate of the entire planet. Therefore it is in our bewt interest to eliminate characteristics that stifle our development. Now, be careful! I'm not advocating eugenics or genocide or anything so hideous as eliminating certain groups of people. That would not help our evolutionary progress. I'm advocating changing our behavior. Specifically, I think that religious ideas and concepts about supernatural and spiritual things have oulived their usefulness. Religion has become a liability rather than an asset.

Religion is the source of bigotry, hatred, prejudice, discrimination and all forms of intolerance. It serves no purpose except to divide us. The sooner we realize that we alone our responsible for our destinies, the sooner we can focus on improving our future. God cannot save us because there is no god. There is no heaven or hell that we will go to after death. There isn't a spiritual realm waiting for us where we exchange this body for another one. There is no Messiah waiting to come in clouds of glory to establish an eternal, godly kingdom. Jesus Christ is dead and will never return. There is no Nirvana, no Sheol, no Land of the Dead, nor anything supernatural or spiritual in all of the cosmos. We are alone and this present physical life is all we have.

Is this concept hard to accept? Is the truth too much to bear? How can we accurately determine the difference between fact and fantasy? We must if we are to survive until the end of the universe. In order to take control of our evolutionary destiny we must accurately identify the difference between reality and illusion. What we believe and what is true are not necessarily the same thing. What we believe cannot harm us if it is false. But, what we don't know can kill us if it's true.

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About the author: Keith Cantrell is a musician, artist and writer who lives in a small town in Oregon. He has worked at many different professions and currently is writing a book on the origins of the Bible entitled "The World's Most Dangerous Book." He has been a professing fundamentalist and is now struggling with atheism. His life has been spent searching for truth, and nothing but the truth. He loves comments, feedback and even verbal abuse if it is intelligent. He has 4 children and 4 grandchildren and loves everything about living in Oregon. Email: kwcantrell@yahoo.com

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