Philosophy & Religion

Logical Impossibility of Divine Cause of the Universe--Prof. Smith
Creationism examined
Intelligent Design dressed in science
Reply to the science dressing
Reply to the science dressing

A response to Prof. Walter Bradley


A Canadian friend, Danny, sent me an email with the article by Bradley, see bottom of page, and asked me to respond.


Bradley is widely published on the issue of intelligent design. He has been shown on the Discovery Channel and interviewed for Time magazine—among others.  There is a market for intelligent design.  The vast majority of physicists reject this hypothesis, but they are denied similar access to the media.    Bradley is a professor of engineering at the Baptist-affiliated Baylor University in Waco Texas. 


Unfortunately the graphs and 2 photos would not copy.  However, they do little to further his thesis. 

Danny, I wouldn’t use the word perverted, dilettante is better.  His excessive use of scientific equations and other evidence of law-like properties, such as of molecules, do not proportionally advance his thesis.  The use of these equations is to convince the audience that he is authority on the topic of laws of physics—which as an engineer, he isn’t.  Thus I choose the word dilettante for to describe Bradley. 

Like all subtitles which attempt to make the world much different than it is, there are fundamental flaws.  Bradley has three theses:  (1) that god is required to establish the lawful relationships of matter.  (2) That god is required to establish the atomic conditions such that there would be long, complex chains of carbon molecules suitable for organic life—an application of (1).  (3) That god created the earth and solar system in such a way that conditions would be sufficiently stable over billions of years so as to have life evolve into sentient beings. 

If a set of things have the same properties and that these properties govern their behavior, then the relationships are mathematical.  For example atoms have both weak and strong atomic forces, which arise from the very nature of subatomic particles—which all atoms have—then there will be patterns of properties according to the number of subatomic properties.  In other words, matter will establish its own lawful patterns arising from it very nature.  For this reason most physicists do not see the need for a god hypothesis to establish the laws of physics. 

The carbon atom doesn’t prove that there are gods, no more than that stars proves there are gods.  For one thing there is nothing unique in so far as to support the hypothesis that a special intervention was necessary for the carbon atom.  Carbon chains happen to be best suited for development of life given the long and varied chains it forms.  What works best will be used.  However, life can develop under much different conditions.  There are bacteria deep within the earth and at sea vents where the temperature rises to 400 degrees centigrade there are several different species including sea worms.  There is not a need for the god hypothesis to explain carbon and complex life, because evolution makes use of the best tools available.       

His third argument as to the earth being specially placed so as to produce for 4 billion years conditions suitable for sentient life is disposed of by numbers.  This planet is a rare bird, the only one in our solar system, and probably very few similar to circling other stars.  However, astronomers have observed that it is common for stars to have planets.  Thus there are zillions of planets in this universe.  The conditions suitable for sentient life probably exist on millions of planets. 

There is a fourth argument never brought up but rather repeatedly Bradley affirms the theistic conclusion. He begs the question of whether or nor natural process can account for what we have.  God must have selected the constants, because they are so perfectly in balance in nature.  It is like the carvings on Mt. Rushmore which is the work of Gutzon Borglum.  However, the vast majority of physicists and biologists believe the god hypothesis is unnecessary.  For unlike Mt. Rushmore there are many marks of natural processes.  Moreover, there are no Mt Rushmore’s in nature among the mountains.

This hypothetical sentient designer has done a terrible job.  First he has created a universe for a grain of sand to contain sentient life.  Second he took over 12 billion years for such life to develop.  (Life which he created has but a few percentages of humans that follow his commands and sing his praise.)  Third, he could have made sentient life less violent and more intelligent; viz. less chimp like.  Given what we have, the reasonable conclusion is atheism. 

            Where did god come from?  And how did god become capable of creating the universe?  Having god as a creator, creates more problems then it solves.  To say he created the universe and life raises the questions of when, where, how, and which life forms.  The god hypothesis creates additional questions:  where did the god come from, how did he get his powers, when did god come into existence, where does he reside, and when will he vanish?—or did he already?  And if there is one god, why not many?  What pleases god?  Is he still involved?  Is he a Hindu, Jew, Christian, or something else?  And most importantly what is the hard evidence for the conclusions to these questions.  We don’t have museum-quality evidence, just imagination—nothing we can grasp.  Bradley has created the chicken and egg regression; and his egg, smells of hydrogen sulfide.  

  Professor Victor Stenger has demolished the first two parts of this argument.  (The link has one of Stenger’s papers.)  Stenger wrote a computer program for which the constants of physics could be changed, and to which the results are calculated.  These results show that there is no precise setting of the constants of physics for a universe like this one to exist.  Bradley is aware of Professor Stenger’s books, yet he never addresses this refutation. 

Bradley is selling faith to an audience of believers; Stenger to an audience of atheists.  Given the sum total of conditions, the atheist position is nearly more likely to be correct than the theist argument; and if it is for the Christian god that is the creator, then infinitely more likely.    

Some thoughts on space travel


Space travel to distant systems is not possible within the limits of physics.  First the energy required for a speed of even one tenth the speed of light for a large object is too great for a space ship to produce.   (The speed would be many times greater than that of a comet).  Second debris in space would in time destroy such a fast moving spaceship.  Third the shielding from cosmic radiation of large life on a spaceship is too massive for space ship made on this planet. 

A solution, if we were to seed other planets would be to have robots operate a space ship that was carrying the seeds of human life.  Upon finding a suitable planet, the robots could stimulate the seeds so as to divide and grow into humans.  The robots would also have to act as parents.  Such advancements in engineering are centuries away.

            Given that there would be no benefits for the mother planet to seed other planets light-years away, such a project might never be undertaken by an advanced (logical) sentient beings. 

Thus the lack of visitors from space is not a proof of our uniqueness, but rather expected given the time required for travel.

            As for the silence of space, technology entails the use of electromagnetic radiation (TV, Radio, light, and other parts of the spectrum) efficiently.  Sufficiently efficient as to avoid distant detection.  Beside a network of fiber optics could on a planet limit the uses of electromagnetic spectrum.  Carl Sagan had wrote that such massive usage of the electromagnetic spectrum would be limited to a brief incipient period, like the one we are going through.