Rebuttal to:
Why I Am Not A Christian
by Bertrand Russell

> The Argument from Design
>
> The next step in the process brings us to the argument from design.
> You all know the argument from design: everything in the world is made
> just so that we can manage to live in the world, and if the world was
> ever so little different, we could not manage to live in it. That is
> the argument from design. It sometimes takes a rather curious form;
> for instance, it is argued that rabbits have white tails in order to
> be easy to shoot. I do not know how rabbits would view that
> application. It is an easy argument to parody. You all know Voltaire’s
> remark, that obviously the nose was designed to be such as to fit
> spectacles. That sort of parody has turned out to be not nearly so
> wide of the mark as it might have seemed in the eighteenth century,
> because since the time of Darwin we understand much better why living
> creatures are adapted to their environment. It is not that their
> environment was made to be suitable to them but that they grew to be
> suitable to it, and that is the basis of adaptation. There is no
> evidence of design about it.

Adaptation is a wonderful thing, and one could say that it is evidence
of design because God may have designed creatures to adapt. Isn’t
adaption itself a remarkable invention?

>
> When you come to look into this argument from design, it is a most
> astonishing thing that people can believe that this world, with all
> the things that are in it, with all its defects, should be the best
> that omnipotence and omniscience have been able to produce in millions
> of years. I really cannot believe it. Do you think that, if you were
> granted omnipotence and omniscience and millions of years in which to
> perfect your world, you could produce nothing better than the Ku Klux
> Klan or the Fascists?

Here Bertrand Russell is completely misunderstanding the Christian
worldview, as I see it. This world, with all its defects, is certainly
not the best that omnipotence and omniscience have been able to
produce. Christianity does not at all claim that this is the best. In
fact, Christians propose the exact opposite: we point out, very
strongly, that this is a fallen, sinful world. Each passing year is
a further deviation from God’s original design. Each generation
contains more genetic defects than the one before it. From physics we
know that entropy (disorder and chaos) are increasing. Far from getting
any better, we know that things are actually getting worse. The world
is decaying and falling apart. It’s undeniably broken.

That is exactly why we need God. If today’s world was the best that God
could make, then it would make no sense for God to come to Earth in the
form of Jesus Christ. Jesus came to rescue us. In an ideal world, what
would he rescue us from? Clearly, the Ku Klux Klan and the Fascists are
manifestations of sin, and that is precisely why Jesus did in fact need
to come, and why he did in fact need to die if we are to be saved.

Millions of years only makes things worse. Certainly creatures adapt to
their environment, but these are not adaptations of increasing order or
improved complexity. To the contrary, they are typically merely
sideways movements; or at worst, they represent increased disorder
(less order) that, although it (for example) makes the creature uglier
and more prone to suffering, it happens to better suit the current
state our decrepit and defiled environment.

There is no such thing as “more evolved”. There is only “more adapted”.
Creatures do not evolve to improve. They only evolve to adapt. Since
apes are still with us, no scientist with an understanding of evolution
can claim that humans are any better than apes. We are both adapted to
our respective environments.

> Moreover, if you accept the ordinary laws of
> science, you have to suppose that human life and life in general on
> this planet will die out in due course: it is a stage in the decay of
> the solar system; at a certain stage of decay you get the sort of
> conditions of temperature and so forth which are suitable to
> protoplasm, and there is life for a short time in the life of the
> whole solar system. You see in the moon the sort of thing to which the
> earth is tending — something dead, cold, and lifeless.

This is precisely what Christians believe, and we always have, even
before science claimed such a thing. We firmly believe that Jesus will
return to judge the Earth, and this Earth will pass away and be
destroyed by fire. So of course physical life is short. Even if the
solar system were to survive, each of us, as mortal human beings,
obviously will not live forever. And even if we did have the potential
to live forever, it wouldn’t matter, because this entire world will
eventually be destroyed.

This is critical to the Christian faith. Otherwise why would we care so
much about the afterlife? In view of eternity, we know that our time on
Earth is insignificant. What we do here matters only insomuch as it
affects our eternal destinies.

The physical world is nothing, and a cursory reading of the Bible will
show that Christians believe that this world will pass away. That is
why only heavenly things matter.

If this Earth was going to last forever, then why are Christians so
unconcerned with the things of this world?

This is not our home. It’s only a small stepping-stone to eternity.

>
> I am told that that sort of view is depressing, and people will
> sometimes tell you that if they believed that, they would not be able
> to go on living. Do not believe it; it is all nonsense. Nobody really
> worries about much about what is going to happen millions of years
> hence. Even if they think they are worrying much about that, they are
> really deceiving themselves. They are worried about something much
> more mundane, or it may merely be a bad digestion; but nobody is
> really seriously rendered unhappy by the thought of something that is
> going to happen to this world millions and millions of years hence.
> Therefore, although it is of course a gloomy view to suppose that life
> will die out — at least I suppose we may say so, although sometimes
> when I contemplate the things that people do with their lives I think
> it is almost a consolation — it is not such as to render life
> miserable. It merely makes you turn your attention to other things.

It’s not depressing at all, unless you are an atheist and have nothing
else to live for. As Christians we know that this physical universe is
not all there is. Every human being is special, made in the image of
God, with a soul that will continue to exist forever.

>
> http://www.users.drew.edu/~jlenz/whynot.html

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