Book Plunge: Atheist Universe Part 6

Is there order in the universe? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We move on now to chapter 4. Again, Mills has the problem of not citing any sources. He just makes grand pronouncements about what these people thought without citing any of these people. In the first case, he pictures in ancient Greece a hunter firing an arrow.

Citizens of ancient Greece were quite perplexed by the observed flight of such an arrow. Which god, they wondered, kept the arrow moving toward the target? The bow obviously provided the initial propulsion, but once out of direct, physical contact with the bow, why didn’t the arrow instantly fall to earth? Which god, they pondered, kept the arrow aloft, at least temporarily? Which supernatural Being was responsible for the arrow’s continued forward motion?

Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (pp. 87-88). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

Someone wanting to really show what the Greeks thought would have cited ancient sources. There were more than enough philosophers that could have been mentioned. Nope. Not a one. Mills can’t be bothered to actually document his claim. It was just “God did it” until Newton came along and science finally saved us.

Of course, this relates to “creationism.”

Creationists argue that the regularity and predictability of planetary orbits are evidence of supernatural governance of the universe. In other words, creationists believe, in direct opposition to Newton’s first law, that constancy and regularity of motion are evidence not only of an external force, but of a supernatural external force. I submit to you that this creationist claim—of a miraculous Power guiding the planets—is identical in every sense to the ancient Greek belief in god-propelled arrows or god-assisted plunges to the bottom of a cliff. Let us recall that “regularity or constancy of motion denotes the absence of an external force.” If gods are unnecessary to explain the continued motion of a hunter’s arrow, then the gods are unnecessary to explain the continued motion of celestial objects. If gods are unnecessary to explain the hunter’s downward plunge off a cliff, then they are unnecessary to explain other gravitational fields as well. For, as Isaac Newton discovered, the same gravity that pulls an apple (or a hunter) to the ground is the same gravity that holds the moon and planets in their orbits. There is no difference—except perhaps to those who, for emotional reasons, strive to see miraculous visions and omens in the night sky.

Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 92). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

Call Oz. Someone took their straw man.

First off, saying that planetary order is explained by God does not mean we cannot understand scientifically how He does it. That does not oppose Newton at all. Mills is really arguing against an Islamic understanding where God is the direct cause of everything going on, whereas most Christians have no problem with God using secondary means to bring about order in the universe.

Second, the idea of no God being necessary is really begging the question. How do we know we don’t need a God to establish order and maintain it? Well, we have our universe and we can explain it just fine scientifically. And how do you know God isn’t a reality in this universe? Because we can explain it scientifically.

I contend that the fact that we can explain the universe scientifically actually does show that there is an orderer behind the universe. If the universe is a brute fact that is an accident, why should we expect any order? Why should there be any consistency?

Creationists of Fundamentalist persuasion disagree vehemently that planetary motion is a wholly natural phenomenon. It’s far more intriguing and emotionally inspiring for them to believe in “Divine Watchmakers” than to accept the mundane, mathematical explanations of science. A minority of creationists, however, raise few, if any, objections to the conclusions drawn thus far in this chapter. This minority will readily accept that inertia and gravitation are not supernatural forces, and that routine planetary motion is simply the merging of gravity with inertia. Put another way, a small group of creationists do accept (in this instance, at least) the scientific principle known as Ockham’s Razor, which states that the simplest reasonable explanation is usually the most accurate.

Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 93). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

I know many creationists and I have never met one who would have a problem with this. Of course, Mills doesn’t cite any of them. I still don’t know then who these people are he is arguing against.

Later, Mills talks abotu Kepler:

It is interesting to note here that Kepler was a deeply religious man, striving for years to prove his theory of “Divine Geometry” in which the planets moved in perfect circles around the sun. Finally, Kepler was forced to abandon his theory because the observed motion of the planets contradicted the theory’s predictions. Three hundred years later, “modern” creationism still maintains that the solar system obeys Divine Geometry.

Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (pp. 96-97). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

Mills should not study medieval science if he doesn’t want to realize that the majority of scientists were deeply religious men. As for this theory of divine geometry today, again, who are these creationists? Also, the system that was set up of divine geometry was not from the religious originally, but from people like Ptolemy. This was the best theory at the time and it did work in predicting where the planets would be.

Creationism maintains that God created Earth primarily as a home for mankind. For what purpose, then, did God create the other planets and stars? Creationists sometimes respond that God created the heavens to attest His majesty and to provide man with a beautiful night sky. Such an argument—already highly dubious—disintegrates further when we consider that all planets and stars visible to the naked eye are located within our own Milky Way galaxy. Of what benefit to mankind are the other hundred-billion galaxies?

Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 98). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

The problem with this kind of thing is that Mills raises the questions, but he never seeks any answers. There are plenty of scientific minds in Christianity that can address this. Mills doesn’t bother. It’s saying “I don’t know, therefore there isn’t a reason.” It’s strange since these are the same people who say science is all about exploring the questions.

He also talks about how some people used Hawking’s A Brief History of Time to show Hawking was arguing for the idea of a divine creator. In great irony, Mills says:

Science illiteracy is so ubiquitous, and religious dogma so firmly ingrained, that legions cannot read a well-written science book without hallucinating the supernatural on every page.

Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (pp. 101-102). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

And many atheists cannot read any data that disagrees with them and are highly illiterate of the views they argue against. (Just off the top of my head, imagine if someone can’t get the first cause argument even right!) Does the public need to learn how to read science books well? Yes, but sadly that’s because the public largely needs to learn how to read ALL books well. Mills does not set a good example in that he speaks on material that anyone who has done reading on the subject can see he is uninformed on.

Finally, in summing up all his data, what does Mills say?

Why do I find these obscure facts so convincing? Because these are the facts that we would expect to observe if the solar system formed naturally.

Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 102). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

To which I wonder how does anything form naturally from nothing? If something is eternal, how does it continue in existence? It is as if MIlls takes this as a given to be formed naturally. The problem is we don’t have any other universes, at least ones we have access to, that we can do a comparison of, and if theism is true, those universes would also find their existing based on God.

Next time, we will discuss life on Earth.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)





Support Deeper Waters on Patreon!