For 27 years, I was an atheist. I thought, anyone who believed in a God or Gods was, well, supid—or uneducated—certainly naïve, gullible or into the gig for money, sex, or power, right? I mean, after all, everyone knows that religion is a psychological crutch for intellectual weaklings, right? I heard it all the time. So, what changed my mind?
Well, I tell the whole story in my book shattered, but for our purposes here on Prager University, I was simply challenged by my Christian teammates on the Cincinnati Reds to read some religious books, critique them, and then share with the guys where the authors were wrong, and why atheism is the only real and true outlook for anyone not deceived by fantasy, fiction or mythology.
I mean, for someone who wants to base their beliefs in values on evidence and argument, not emotion and tradition, I set out to disprove theism, which I didn’t think would take very long. But, I ran into some difficulties, like: Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas. I mean, in simple terms, I was confronted with the awareness that there are really four big bangs that have to be accounted for, not just one, and I had never even really considered that before.
We’re all familiar with the first big bang, right? It’s usually the answer given to the questions: "Why is there something rather than nothing?" It’s the idea that there was nothing, it popped, and—boom!-- there’s something. I mean, that time, matter and space all came into exitence in some great cosmological flash about 16 billion years ago. No gradual development, no transitional forms, just a binary flip—metaphysical, now you don’t see it, now you do. Fine, I want to follow the evidence wherever it leads.
However, astrophysicists tell us that the first big bang yielded only a handful of fundamental elements, and that it would take billions and billions of years for the nuclear furnaces of trillions of stars to yield the 118 elements of the periodic table.
But this theoretical cosmological first big bang, only yields matter and energy. It doesn’t even begin to address the origin of life. So, how do you get life from non-life?
Well, you’re going to need another something-from-nothing leap of faith, some kind of biological, second big bang. For all the mind-blowing advancements that we’ve made in physicis and chemistry and biology in just the past 100 years, we’re still no closer to making any of that happen. We don’t have a clue. The closer we look the wider the chasm.
I mean, sure, we’ve learned a lot about how to manipulate life forms, how to add and subtract DNA material, even map the human genome, right? But we have no idea how to literally create life from dead stuff. And remember, at this point we still only have physics, chemistry and some real basic biology, or matter, energy and some simple life forms, if you will.
But we still don’t have a way to account for the great diversity in life forms, I mean, the huge differences between bacteria, plants and animals. Nor do we have a way to account for the differences between man and animal. We still don’t have an anthropology at this point.
So, we’re going to need some kind of anthropological third big bang to account for all this, which is of course what Darwin was after in his "Descent of Man" thesis.
But hey, we’re still not done describing the world around us. A final big bang is going to be required to explain a mechanistic animal brain becoming some type of self-reflective human mind. Even the lowest life forms have brains and central nervous systems, right? How does something like that become the mind of a Michaelangelo, a Shakespeare, a Beethoven? I mean, come on, animals don’t do art, ok? They don’t even appreciate beauty.
But the problem, well it’s even more basic than that. How do you account for free will and introspection, let alone man’s pressing existential drive to ask, "why?" We’re going to need some kind of psychological 4th big bang to account for his moral and esthetic sense-- his search for meaning, significance and purpose; his appreciation for the true, the good and the beautiful. And again, you must understand, these problems require bangs—I mean, sudden binary pops into existence, since there’s no evidence of any gradual developments in any of these.
So, I, like you, have a choice. It’s either faith in these four big bangs of "somethings from nothings" to account for the world we see all around us, or it’s faith in a creator God behdin it all. So, sometime someone mentions the big bag, make sure to ask them: Which one--the cosmological, biological, anthropological, or psychological? I’m Frank Pastori for Prager University.