This Non-Religious Life Episode 79: God, the Unquantifiable

This Non-Religious Life Episode 79: God, the Unquantifiable


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This week we welcomed our good friend Matthew Brake to the west coast. We also celebrated him as the most repeat guest on the show. During the show, Matt explains his stance on biological evolution, belief in God, and how he deals with both of these simultaneously.

We dabble in the difference between Matt’s kind of theistic belief and the hack work that is Intelligent Design. We think our listeners will find his arguments to be thought provoking at least.

As always we want to know your thoughts! You can always contact us at [email protected], like us on Facebook / Google+ or call the ZPN hotline at (757) 337-2195. And don’t forget to subscribe to This Non-Religious Life on  iTunes or listen to us on Stitcher Radio.


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About author

Jason Bayless

Jason Bayless is a life-long activist and is currently working at The Pachamama Alliance. When he is not working he spends, working with Center for Farmworker Families and spending his time recording shows, writing blogs, collecting 3D movies, and playing VR games.

  • Aaron Kren1

    September 16, 2013

    Hey Fellas,

    While you don’t agree with Francis Collins’ conclusions, you made some statements about him that were intended to set him apart from the “charade” of ID – but those statements were not entirely accurate. You claimed that Collins does not point to evidence and say “that could not have happened without God”, but that his faith is based more on a sense of beauty and awe in the whole of the universe.

    On the contrary, in his book The Language of God, Collins appeals to the Big Bang as an event that “cries out for a divine explanation.” “I cannot see how nature could have created itself. Only a supernatural force that is outside of space and time could have done that,” he says.

    Your guest dismissed the pro-ID idea that the universe’s fundamental constants and the fine-tuning argument were adequate signposts of God’s handiwork, yet even Collins devotes a chapter in his book to discussing these constants. While he doesn’t say that these factors provide absolute proof for the existence of God (and neither does any ID supporter), he does say “the Anthropic Principle certainly provides an interesting argument in favor of a Creator.” He states that the “God hypothesis” helps solve the question of “why the universe seems to be so exquisitely tuned for us to be here.”

    Collins also relies heavily on the Moral Law argument as evidence in favor of God’s existence. He states that while evolution might explain how we got here, it doesn’t explain what makes us uniquely human.

    While Collins maintains that science is thus far unable to explain the question of life’s origin, he warns of pointing to mysteries in science as evidence of God’s involvement. He warns against building a case that might be one day overturned when more evidence is gathered.

    If one takes a stance before all the evidence is in, one might cling to a view as a matter of hardened will, even if the evidence starts to mount against it. This can go both ways. If you are committed to an atheistic view of nature, you will explain away evidence to the contrary. As the intricacies of cellular processes are elucidated, and there doesn’t seem to be a reasonable evolutionary explanation for them, people will chalk it up as an area that just needs more research. Even if the theistic explanation is true, it will never be granted. Worse is when further research turns up evidence that is disregarded because it does not fit well into the evolutionary paradigm. Such is the case with the critics of the Encode project. The Encode project determined that around 80% of the human genome is functional, contrary to the established view. One of the objections to the these conclusions was a critique of the methods employed by the Encode project in defining what a functional element of DNA is. Critics claimed their definition of functional elements ignored the principles of natural selection. In other words, their objection was primarily philosophical and not evidential.

    One of the issues I have with some of Collins’ evidence for evolution is that it sets up an either/or fallacy. Collins points to evidence such as the chromosome 2 fusion, and the presence of certain pseudogenes in humans that resemble functional genes in chimps. Collins asks why God would have gone to the trouble of inserting a pseudogene in humans that exactly resembled the chimp counterpart. So, our two choices are either: 1.) humans evolved from chimps (common ancestor), or 2.) God made us with broken genes that strongly (but wrongly) suggest evolution. He ignores a third possibility that God made us with 48 chromosomes and with a functional caspase-12 gene, but mutations have accumulated since then to give us our present genetic state. Afterall, nobody is suggesting that a fused chromosome or a pseudogene is what led to our divergence from the apes. If anything, these mutations would provide a selective disadvantage, rather than an advantage that allowed us to separate from the apes.

  • MarkMark2

    September 10, 2013

    THe comment FAITH doesn’t require KNOWLEDGE is in itself a very arrogant comment. That’s like saying faith is not based on historical events, eye witness testimony & physical evidence – all of which provide a case for Christ.


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