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Rabbi Alan Lurie

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Why the Universe Obviously Has a Creator (and Why Some Atheists Refuse to Even Consider It)

Posted: 03/ 5/2012 7:49 am

Throughout recorded history the majority of humanity has seen the existence of a Creator, Who intentionally brought the Universe in to being and sustains all life, as an obvious truth.

This truth does not stem from any doctrine or belief system, but it is at the heart of all religions, and is the underlying, indispensible principle of most spiritual practices. Even Buddhism, which is often misrepresented as an atheistic tradition, recognizes the existence of a guiding consciousness. As the Zen Buddhist master, Soyen Shaku, said, "Let me state that Buddhism is not atheistic as the term is ordinarily understood. It has certainly a God, the highest reality and truth, through which and in which this universe exists."

Scientific discoveries have only reinforced this realization, as it becomes even clearer that the Universe was carefully designed. Prominent British mathematician Roger Penrose calculated the probably of random chance producing a Universe conducive to life at vastly less than the scientifically accepted definition of "zero." Even if one were to accept arguments from those who claim that the Universe is not so "fine tuned," we must rely on the mind-boggling, and empirically unproven, concept of multiple Universes, and even then the probability of random events leading to life only budges from staggeringly unimaginable to extraordinarily unlikely. And we are still left with such clearly designed, and incredibly complex, mechanisms as DNA and the brain.

This is not a "God of the Gaps" explanation, any more than looking under the hood of a car and deducing a designer is "Engineer of the Gaps." To postulate a random, undirected, meaningless, existence in the face of this unbelievable complexity and purpose of life is, in actuality, the much more irrational, and less logical, conclusion. This has been compared to proposing that a hurricane whipped through a junkyard and randomly assembled a jet plane.

Late in his life the previously ardent atheist Anthony Flew famously noted, "What I think the DNA material has done is that it has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce life, that intelligence must have been involved in getting these extraordinarily diverse elements to work together."

For his honesty, courage and humility, Flew was mocked, and even labeled as senile, by many ardent atheists, who saw his statement as an unforgivable, heretical violation of their strict dogma that any hypothesis is acceptable except God.

To make the scientific claim that one will "go where the evidence leads," and yet consider such utterly unsupported hypotheses as multiple Universes, alien seeding (which, of course, still leaves the questions of where the aliens came from), mind memes (a total fantasy) and lightening strikes that animated primordial chemical soup to create life (which has never been scientifically reproduced), while not even considering the obvious possibility of a deliberate Creator, is to be intellectually dishonest at best.

What are the reasons for this irrational, and often very nasty, refusal by some to even consider the existence of a Creator as a viable hypothesis? I offer several possibilities:

A Childish Concept of God

For many, the belief in a Creator is rooted in a personal, direct encounter, in which God is experienced, often as pure consciousness, pure creation, endless love, the animating energy of everything, or the Ultimate Reality. For those who have not experienced this Presence, though, God is a concept. And this concept may be sophisticated or childish, based on ones maturity, knowledge and innate gifts. The childish concept sees God as some kind of being -- perhaps with a white cloak and long beard -- who somehow made the world according to a "sacred text." When Richard Dawkins, for example, said, "We are all atheists about most of the gods that societies have ever believed in; some of us just go one god further," he showed such a childish image of God. And he showed a lack of any experience in the spiritual realm. If he had any direct experience he would have known that all these societies were attempting to describe the mystery of Spirit in human -- often archaic -- terms, and that the idea of competing gods is a literalistic and immature one. He also would have humbly recognized that theology is an activity for which, frankly, he has little talent or understanding.

This childish view of God is not limited to atheists, but also applies to those "religious" folks who place dogma over personal experience, and for whom any digression from dogma is punished.

Tyranny of the Mind

The human mind is a powerful tool, but can also be a cruel tyrant. While it is skilled at storing and analyzing data, it cannot feel, and so there is much -- such as art, music, compassion, love, sex or Spirit -- that it cannot truly know. The mind, though, insists on analyzing these things, and tries to convince us that its analysis is the only way of knowing. It does this because it has little trust or respect for anything that is not measurable and linear, and consequently it resists recognizing the other essential human facilities: the needs of the body, the wisdom of emotions, and most especially, the guidance of Spirit.

For those who have developed strong connections to body, emotions and Spirit, the mind can be managed and used properly. But there are those who, for a variety of reasons, have weak connections to body, emotions and Spirit. For these, the mind has free reign, dominating their lives and seeking to eliminate anything that it cannot rationally comprehend. Then the mind eliminates anything that challenges its supremacy. And for such a tyrannical mind the concept of a Creator God -- an ultimate intelligence that dwarfs its own -- is completely intolerable.

An Ego Strategy

As I've written in several previous blogs, the ego is the software implanted in us to ensure survival. Its job is to scan for threats and devise strategies to avoid pain and death. The ego knows only fear, and it will fiercely fight anything that threatens its survival. And nothing is more frightening to the ego than sharing or ceding control with another, because this feels like death. So the ego's favorite strategy for protecting itself is the refusal to surrender to anything or anyone. It will even go so far as refusing to acknowledge a mistake, to apologize, to recognize superior abilities in others, to admit a weakness and, most pathetically, to ever express gratitude.

I recently heard a man state that he "does not believe in gratitude," but instead prefers the word "appreciation": "I appreciate a delicious meal or a beautiful sunset, but I feel no need to say 'thank you,'" he proudly proclaimed. This is the voice of ego. And to make the claim, as did the late Christopher Hitchens (who I deeply respect for his exposure of injustice), that there is no Creator/Designer because Hitchens did not approve of the way that eyes are designed, is also the pathetic voice of ego; it is the refusal to say "thank you" for the gift of life and the miracle of sight. This is very sad.

Clearly one does not need to believe in God or follow a religion in order to be a wonderful, happy, caring, human being. What matters most is how we treat each other. But the refusal to even consider that a Creator may exist -- often accompanied by the adamant desire to "prove" otherwise and to ridicule those who do -- especially in the face of much blatant evidence, is an indication that a psychological mechanism is at work. Perhaps what is needed for such an irrational position may not be more intellectual investigation, but psychoanalysis.