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Posted on Thu, May 24, 2012 : 8:15 a.m.

Does the atom have a designer? When science and spirituality meet

By Guest Column

The fundamental building block for the universe in not a passive billiard ball. It is a complex assembly of interacting particles called the atom. These subatomic particles represent a fine balance of forces, have very special properties, interact together in complex ways, exhibit complex behaviors, obey complex laws, and follow complex rules of order, all to ultimately provide function. Atoms don't simply follow laws -- they provide function. Atoms consist of a purposeful arrangement of parts (subatomic particles) which interact together to provide function. They are machines.


Lakhi Goenka

Just because we understand the laws that matter follows does not necessarily give us an understanding of how it does so. For example when an electron changes orbit, it emits a photon that we see as light. But how did this photon materialize from the electron? And how did it then travel at the speed of light at a certain frequency, direction, and amplitude? And how does it sometimes behave like a wave (akin to ripples in a pond)? How was this mechanism incorporated into the design of the electron? How was this fantastic machinery put In place?

In 1951, Albert Einstein wrote to his friend Michael Besso about the unfathomable nature of the photon: “All these fifty years of conscious brooding have left me no nearer to the answer to the question: What are light quanta? Nowadays every rascal thinks he knows the answer, but he is simply deluding himself.”

How can something behave like both a particle and a wave? And how are such complex behavioral mechanisms incorporated into the photon, as well as the other subatomic particles?

Similar behavioral complexity can be found within the atomic nucleus, which consists of protons and neutrons. Each proton and neutron is made up three particles called quarks. Each quark exhibits three different types of forces (called the color force), and interacts with eight different particles called gluons within the atomic nucleus. There is a whole field called Quantum Chromodynamics that describes these complex interactions.

Atoms are machines that enable the physical, electromagnetic (including light), nuclear, chemical, and biological (including life) functioning of the universe. Atoms are a complex assembly of interacting particles that enable the entire functioning of the universe. They are the machine that enables all other machines. It is virtually impossible to explain the structure, complexity, internal dynamics, and resulting functionality of the atom from chance events or through evolutionary mechanisms. The atom is a machine that provides multiple functions, and every machine is the product of intelligence. The atom must have a designer.

Lakhi N. Goenka is a resident of Ann Arbor and the author of the book, The Physics of Reality: Ramblings of a Grieving Engineer, an examination of science and spirituality. Goenka wrote the book after the death of his 18-year-old son.



Tue, Sep 25, 2012 : 5:51 p.m.

This board is simply not answering the question raised: Could the Atom, with its structure, complexity, and resulting functionality, have "happened" simply by chance, or does it have a Designer? THAT is the question.

Rudra N Rebbapragada

Thu, Jul 26, 2012 : 5:13 p.m.

SPIRITUALISM AND SPIRITUALITY : I describe Spirituality as the relation between a changing object and its unchanging spiritual nature. Natural Sciences examine the phenomenon called 'Change' and the change is possible because of the unchanging nature of an underlying principle that supports the existence of the changing object. Life is possible because of the unchanging behavior of stable atoms and molecules. Spirituality describes the unchanging nature of chemical molecules that operate the dynamic events of both Life and Death. Life comes into existence when energy-yielding molecules and energy-demanding molecules come together in a spiritual relationship or it may be said; Life is manifested as a state of relationship between energy-yielding substance and energy-demanding substance. I define Life as structural and functional organization of matter with implanted Knowledge. The question is: What is the source of this Knowledge?


Wed, Jun 27, 2012 : 1 p.m.

Interesting discussion on this website:

Evan Smith

Wed, Jun 20, 2012 : 5:37 p.m.

I don't understand how it works...therefore...God exists!


Sun, Jun 3, 2012 : 6:17 p.m.

@ Rico1948, re: "Some critics have reacted like A2.Com is a science journal. Lighten up..." Wrong. Mr. Goenka introduces himself as a scientist, and uses scientific-sounding language to present his argument as a scientific one. So his argument should abide by scientific rules of critical thinking, which it does not. If Mr. Goenka had written a poem about the death of his son, fine, it would have been received as such. Instead, he chose the route of pretend science, and will be thus judged. Mr. Goenka pretends to offer logical proof of a god (the creationists' BS end-run around the god/no god argument being, "Oh, no, we just say that there is a Designer"), but completely fails in his attempt. And Mr. Goenka's chief apologist here, larry, says, "Many of the comments seem to disregard or fail to address a perfectly reasoned argument for a Designer proposed by Dr. Goenka." The word that they both like so much is Designer. That word was adopted as a synonym for God by the Discovery Institute, a creationist think tank, with the specific goal of hiding their creationist agenda with local school boards, etc. And Intelligent Design was the phrase they dishonestly coined to be synonymous with creationism, while not actually using that word. That way they can pretend to put some distance between their invented semantics and their actual creationist agenda. So, back to the argument on hand, OK, it certainly is possible that some caped Super-Hero is responsible for everything. Yes, that is one narrative that would indeed explain "everything." But a vast number of "miraculous" events and data have been completely explained away by scientists since the dawn of The Age Of Reason, and it is safe to say that even more "miraculous" events will be explained away in the future. That puts the "god/designer" explanation, which was the best that cave men could come up with before The Age Of Reason, pretty far down


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 9:53 p.m.

Many of the comments seem to disregard or fail to address a perfectly reasoned argument for a Designer proposed by Dr. Goenka. None of the comments so far have much intelligence or logic to refute his arguments. It seems to show a predisposition to anything that points to God.


Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 7:06 p.m.

@brb11 Right, except one cannot use evolutionary mechanisms to explain this (see article), as they do for the DNA. In that respect, this is a new argument, and also much more difficult to refute.


Mon, Jun 4, 2012 : 6:37 p.m.

It's not a new perspective. Many similar arguments have been made, and they are based around this same logical fallacy. See here for explanation: The relevant quote: "Another example of begging the question is provided by Perry Marshall: 1) DNA is not merely a molecule with a pattern; it is a code ... and an information storage mechanism. 2) All codes are created by a conscious mind; there is no natural process known to science that creates coded information. 3) Therefore DNA was designed by a mind. Marshall assumes what he should be proving, namely, that all codes are created by a conscious mind. (He also claims that DNA is a language and that no language has evolved naturally, but that's another fallacy.)" This is essentially the same argument, substituting an atom in place of DNA.


Thu, May 31, 2012 : 6:18 p.m.

@brb11 Exactly what is circular about the deductions from the following statements: The depiction of the Atom having a designer is inferred from the statements : "Atoms consist of a purposeful arrangement of parts (subatomic particles) which interact together to provide function." and "It is virtually impossible to explain the structure, complexity, internal dynamics, and resulting functionality of the atom from chance events or through evolutionary mechanisms." To think that this atomic structure, with its numerous constituent particles, as well as the complexity of their behavioral mechanisms and interactions, to produce the resultant functionality simply happened by chance is virtually impossible. There is nothing circular about this argument.


Thu, May 31, 2012 : 5:14 p.m.

With all due respect, your arguments simply aren't very convincing. As has been pointed out a few times, you are using circular reasoning to reach your conclusion.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 10:37 p.m.

Oops, that should read "...predisposition against anything that points to God."


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 8:22 p.m.

The armchair psychologist in me wants to focus on the fact that the author of this article had an 18 year old son that died. This is his attempt to convince himself that he will once again be reunited with his son. It's sad, really. And for his sake, I hope he is right.


Wed, May 30, 2012 : 2:29 p.m.

Mr. Goenka has certainly provided something for everyone to consider. This is his opinion and appropiate for a community news and conversation forum. Some critics have reacted like A2.Com is a science journal. Lighten up and enjoy another's take on life. It's good to be alive and be able to consider another's thoughts. Whether you agree or not is entirely up to you.


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 6:54 p.m.

@ larry: Re: whether or not it is OK to call atoms, among other things, machines: Sure I think it is fine — that's precisely why I included that definition, which would include things like ocean currents, tides, etc. You were the one who wanted to use a specific, very narrow definition of the word. Don't want to call tides "machines?" OK, don't. My point was that you, and Mr. Goenka, seem to find it important to insist on using a very narrow definition of the word machine as being DESIGNED BY SOME ENTITY. Once the two of you have agreed upon that non-existent definition, that means that you can hold up a dictionary as proof of a god, or gods. An absurd argument. That is why I included several definitions of the word that reject your narrow position. So, as I said, I have no problem with your calling an atom a machine, a "system of related elements that operate in a definable manner." That is a decidedly non-theological statement, so don't pretend that it is, and don't try to hold it up as "proof" of a god.


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 10:02 p.m.

@hmsp It is proof of a Designer. Anyway, adios.


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 5:05 p.m.

@ Joseph Weisbrod, re: "To me it seems like there is either acceptance or arrogance: acceptance of something that is difficult to understand, or arrogance that human beings hold the keys to the universe in their collective understandings." To me, the insistence that we can explain everything is the height of arrogance. So at first it sounds as though we agree. But taking the fact that there is a lot about the world, and the universe, that remains unexplained, and saying, "Oh, that's easy, I can explain it — God did it!" is the exact opposite of that stance, and is the height of arrogance. It makes no sense to say that the fact that, "there is still the unknowable, and the unanswerable," is proof that there IS an answer, and you have it — God. It is either unanswerable, or not — make up your mind! How about having a bit of humility, and being willing to admit that there are some questions that we have not yet, and may well never, answer?


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 4:45 p.m.

@ larry, re: "I would suggest you look up a definition of a machine. It does not include ocean tides as you suggested in your earlier post." Remember what I said earlier? — "It is all too easy for discussions like this to descend into clever semantic squabbles, which I am not interested in joining in." But OK, I'll take the bait; here are a few dictionary definitions for you: — An intricate natural system or organism, such as the human body. — A system of related elements that operate in a definable manner. (And, while we're at it, — A person who acts in a rigid, mechanical, or unconscious manner.) So it is absurd to suggest that the act of calling an atom a "machine" is somehow all the proof we need to know that there is a God. Once again, all of that semantic BS is just a lame attempt at clever word play, not an example of critical thinking.


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 6:02 p.m.

@hmsp I would suggest you study the following sentences in the article: "Atoms consist of a purposeful arrangement of parts (subatomic particles) which interact together to provide function." "It is virtually impossible to explain the structure, complexity, internal dynamics, and resulting functionality of the atom from chance events or through evolutionary mechanisms." I think this would fit your provided definition: "A system of related elements that operate in a definable manner."

Bill Wilson

Mon, May 28, 2012 : 1:32 p.m.

If we are all to agree that science MUST be able to prove conclusive beginnings and endings, and the universe had a beginning, and since then is expanding (as Doppler proves conclusively), then the big bang was not the beginning; energy had to predate it. During a Hogan & Hartson retreat on Coronado island, I happened to be seated next to one of the most famous physicicts in the world (he was dating one of the attorneys), and after the attorneys got up and left to resume their meetings, I posed this very question, and asked him what the current thinking on this was. After being shocked that I knew who he was, he answered me: "we don't know." So until we do, since we cannot demonstrate conclusive beginnings and endings, none of this can be science. Therefore, it's not unreasonable to look in other areas for an answer, and Hawking and the OP, have.


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 12:58 p.m.

I am so sorry for loss Dr. Goenka, as I mom who also lost her son 7 months ago, I understand all the questions you have and have done my own search about the afterlife or as I prefer to call it the continuation of real life after leaving earth. When I first saw this article, I went and downloaded the Kindle Edition of your book and read it yesterday. I thoroughly enjoyed it from a scientific view and admire your courage in publishing it. I really like the quote you did by Pope John Paul II where you quoted, "There is a connection between Heaven and Earth. Finding the connection makes everything meaningful, including Death;missing it makes everything meaningless, including Life." I have no doubt you will see Bentley again someday, just as I will see my Jamie.


Mon, May 28, 2012 : 6:16 p.m.

Missy: I am so sorry for the loss of your son, and know what you're going through. I am glad that my book helped; it was one of my main motivations for writing it. I have come to realize in my investigations that the ultimate answer is prayer. And for me, Science only reinforces this view. And you're absolutely correct in your depiction of this life as simply a stepping stone to the real life. I am sure we will see our sons again. God's Peace, -Lakhi PS: I have a related website:

Bill Wilson

Mon, May 28, 2012 : 1:35 p.m.

If you're living your life correctly, they should be with you both, still. My garndparents died in the early 1980's, but both are still with me, and always will be.

Joseph Weisbrod

Sun, May 27, 2012 : 8:44 p.m.

This is such an interesting topic to me that I had to post a comment. I believe that it is extremely difficult to add to the logic of something that is ultimately beyond human comprehension. To me it seems like there is either acceptance or arrogance: acceptance of something that is difficult to understand, or arrogance that human beings hold the keys to the universe in their collective understandings. I believe in a force greater than us. Call it a creator, a god, God, or designer, there is still the unknowable, and the unanswerable. It absolutely becomes inconceivable that chance, or chaos have rolled the dice so convincingly. "To sleep perchance to dream, aye, there's the rub."


Sat, May 26, 2012 : 5:22 p.m.

@ larry, re: "Sorry, but I remain unconvinced by the arguments posed.." I understand — you are a BELIEVER, and first and foremost are looking for arguments that fall within your comfort zone. I'm not sure what you find fault with, though — circular reasoning is circular reasoning, and Mr. Goenka does a rather amateurish job of it, at that. It would be wonderful if the world was so simple that you could prove the existence of God by just picking up a dictionary. If that were the case, no one would ever argue the point. It becomes even more of a stretch when you have to write your own dictionary first, complete with non-existent BS definitions (MACHINE: n. A group of interconnected things designed and created by somebody). But once you have done that, it's all downhill from there; call an atom a machine and the argument is over. You've won! And absolutely no critical thinking was required, at any point! Believe all you want — I'm not trying to stop either you or Mr. Goenka. But don't confuse believing with critical thinking.


Sun, May 27, 2012 : 6:04 p.m.

hmsp I would suggest you look up a definition of a machine. It does not include ocean tides as you suggested in your earlier post.


Sat, May 26, 2012 : 12:14 p.m.

One thing is clear reading all the arguments: finding the so-called singularity or creator of the cosmos will remain stuck in the realm of circular logic and speculation for a long, long time. Proof is non-existent, and it will remain non-existent, except in the minds of those claiming one argument or the other. For me, the weight is overwhelmingly on the side of physics alone - no metaphysical involvement.


Sat, May 26, 2012 : 11:54 a.m.

Dr. Goenka has a related website with some interesting links:


Sat, May 26, 2012 : 4:27 a.m.

@ larry, re your reply to me: "with respect to its differentiation as a machine." Not sure where you are going with that — I think of "differentiation" as a comparative word. Are you using it that way here? If so, then "machine" compared to what? Not that I'm going to engage in that conversation; I just don't understand where you are trying to take it. It is all too easy for discussions like this to descend into clever semantic squabbles, which I am not interested in joining in. Like most scientists (although I am definitely not one myself), when this kind of debate comes up, I usually avoid engaging in it. Scientists like to deal in facts, and peoples' belief systems cannot be discussed in those terms. Debating about theology basically comes down to debating about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, which is pretty pointless. But when people try to structure the debate as a rational argument — e.g. "If A, then B; if not A, then not B," they need to follow the basic rules of critical thinking. The reason that I entered this conversation was that my BS detector went off: the fact remains that Mr. Goenka did not follow the basic rules of critical thinking, and he most definitely did not make his case — he used faulty, circular logic to make his non-point. So the ball is in his court now, not mine.


Sat, May 26, 2012 : 11:31 a.m.

hmsp Sorry, but I remain unconvinced by the arguments posed.. PS: The author has a related website:


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 10:52 p.m.



Fri, May 25, 2012 : 3:53 p.m.

The writer would get an "F" in any 101-level Philosophy, Ethics, or Debate class with faulty logic like that. In those fields, what he does is called "Begging The Question," an often misused phrase. It is called that because the writer starts by "begging" us (asking us to assume with no proof or argument) a "question" (premise) that turns out to be the very premise that the writer is trying to prove in the end. In this case, he "begs" us to assume that all "machines" (and that would include all ocean currents and tides, thunderheads, etc.) are built by design. Therefore, they had a designer. How nice and tidy. But... NOT! Sorry, go back and take the class over next year; you get a zero. Next year, your teacher will explain to you that you have to first prove that these naturally-occuring phenomena were designed by some sort of entity. Usually, as in this case, the words are mixed up just enough to express the same premise in different ways. It is very rare that someone will argue something as blatant as, "Well, assuming there is a God, therefore there is a God," but, however well disguised, that is, in essence, exactly what the writer does here. ******** As another commenter posted above, I am very sorry that the writer's son died; there is little in this world that can approach being as awful, and as painful, as losing one's child. Anyone who this has happened to has a right to scream, "Why!? Why!? Why!?" and ask a lot of questions of, and about, the universe. It is not surprising that so many people end up finding comfort in a BELIEF system, and if the writer himself does, on a personal level, I have no quarrel with that. But as far as theological and philosophical debate goes, this is a throwaway piece that does not add at all to the conversation.


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 5:27 p.m.

hmsp If we carry your argument through, then an automotive engine is equivalent to an ocean tide with respect to its differentiation as a machine. And perhaps, then, every dynamic object or entity is a machine?

Paul Wiener

Fri, May 25, 2012 : 3:52 p.m.

"The atom must have a designer." We agree! I feel exactly the same way about the bubonic plague! And Osama bin Laden!


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 4:22 p.m.

quite right...which has led great thinkers ( like woody allen) to regard god as an 'underachiever". for my part, insofar as i think about it at all, i have an image of the divine as a very bright but somewhat troubled 12-year old boy with a chemistry set.


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 2:58 p.m.

It is interesting to note that a vast majority of the responses to this excerpt from Dr. Goenka's book were a simple dismissal of the possibility that there could have been a "designer". The logic of these arguments seems to be "Wait a bit, we'll figure it out and prove it was simply an accident of fate." I find it interesting that those who have admitted the possibility of numerous physically demonstrable explanations flatly refuse to consider any other options. I am reminded of the logical demonstration provided by Zeno's dichotomy paradox; we will never disprove or prove the source of creation because we will only be able to get half way to the next proof. Bound by that paradox one must resort to faith to achieve practical understanding.


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 1:14 p.m.

What utter rubbish


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 1:15 a.m.

It seems the part of the title "When science and spirituality meet" was added by staff and confuses the issue a little.


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 12:45 a.m.

Starting with a basic description of one branch quantum mechanics and concluding with a metaphysical assertion. Want proof of God, then find a case where the laws of nature are suspended and prove a miracle occurred.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 9:39 p.m.

This is just a rehash of the old "watch assumes watchmaker" argument. My response to that has always been " . o.k ,but to assume the watchmaker works for seiko, bulova etc is unwarranted"... i.e free floating deism is respectible ( if not empirically proveable ) but doctrinaire rigid adherence to a particular faith isn't...and is indeed historically associated with more harm than good. That said ,some sort of personal faith in times of personal crisis ( as the author experienced) IS empirically helpful.


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 12:50 a.m.

bedrog The purpose of this article is simply to show evidence for a Designer, and not for religion. But it is a step to eventually getting there.

Martin Church

Thu, May 24, 2012 : 4:54 p.m.

If gravity is the result of the interaction of two body's and you have nothing in the universe how could Gravity form anything from nothing. one of the laws of Thermodynamics says matter can nether be created nor destoryed only changed. if we are matter and energy and nothing existed before. Where did the energy come from to create the universe. In order to have a big bang you have to have some energy from somewhere. Looks like you have to have more faith in nothing then you do to have faith in a power functioning outside of this universe. You define what that source is and you have found GOD.

Les Jenkins

Thu, May 24, 2012 : 9:12 p.m.

If energy can not be created nor destroyed then the logical answer is the energy has always existed. No need for faith at all. But even if it did require faith of some kind, it's still nothing to the faith required to believe some magical sentient entity "willed" everything into existence.

Rork Kuick

Thu, May 24, 2012 : 5:47 p.m.

If human apprehension were perfect, you might have a point. It would then be impossible for us to not be able to explain everything. Origins of matter are debated by physicists. Kris Sigurdson for example. Anti-matter is often involved. Your argument has been used for ages to explain all manner of things we did not understand at the time, like lightening or the origin of eyes. That it works for everything gives me pause. How your God differs from purely made-up entities, like my toaster goblins, is not clear.

Rork Kuick

Thu, May 24, 2012 : 4:20 p.m.

My toaster is not working. It could be because of goblins. So I think goblins are the cause. I think I'm getting the hang of this. Let's see: sand functions to form beaches.......


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 4:16 p.m.

The problem is saying something is "designed" doesn't answer the question of who designed the designer. In the case of the atom, if there was a designer, then who created this seemingly perfect entity who could create physics and atoms? Obviously, by the logic of this article, there must have been a designer of the designer.

Rork Kuick

Thu, May 24, 2012 : 9:29 p.m.

redwings: I think people like me (not a physicist) aren't sure why matter exists. And yes, it bothers me. Nothing at all seems so much more tidy. But I'm not surprised that we aren't sure. We are apes with some smarts, but not as much as we could hope for, and it might be a rather hard problem. Since I've heard evidence from "before" the big bang may be difficult to come up with, I'm not even sure there will ever be anything like consensus. Others seem more optimistic.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 5:57 p.m.

Do you belive that there is an infinite number of regressions of causes to things that exist? You find what Hawking and his peers said false? Something cannot bring itself into existence, since it must exist to bring itself into existence, which is illogical. An infinite regression of causes ultimately has no initial cause, which means there is no cause of existence. Since the universe exists, it must have a cause. Hawking would agree with this.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 5:23 p.m.

they're making the argument of the Unmoved Mover, which is a logical fallacy.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 5:14 p.m.

Yoiu can't have an infinite number of regressions. That was part of his point. At some point, you must conceed there is something that science cannot explain. Even Hawking did in the piece I put up. If Hawking himself admits that there is a point at which science breaks down, would you believe him?

Rork Kuick

Thu, May 24, 2012 : 4:58 p.m.

Easy: just like the turtles holding up Earth, it is designers all the way down. *wink*


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 4:16 p.m.

"The atom must have a designer," just like the sun moving across the sky must have a chariot and a driver.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 3:49 p.m.

Before atoms could be designed, there had to be some laws of physics by which to design them. And that means, as some cosmologists have long argued, which came first? The laws of physics or the atoms adhering to those laws?


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 12:26 a.m.

Dcam Yes, but that is a different question than what is proposed in this article. The hypothesis of this article is that the Atom is an assembly of parts that interact together to provide function. In other word, the Atom is a machine. You could also ask the questions "Where did the Laws of Physics come from?" or "Does the intelligibility of the universe imply an intelligence that created it?"


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 5:22 p.m.

the unmoved mover argument is flawed in that it arbitrarily draws a line of succession. You are making an assumption that there is a definite "beginning" and "end" to existence, which is not verifiable, and thus, and invalid premise.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 3:53 p.m.

You bring to mind the thought that there cannot be an infinite number of causes to bring something into existence. Thus, there must be an 'uncauased' cause for all things. Stephen Hawking would even agree with that.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 3:08 p.m.

"The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing." -- Socrates

Dog Guy

Thu, May 24, 2012 : 5:07 p.m.

"'The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.' -- Socrates" And that, vict0r, is a paradox and the world's greatest punchline.

David Briegel

Thu, May 24, 2012 : 2:56 p.m.

Man is supremely arrogant by nature. Man cannot admit that he just doesn't know so he concocts all types of "stories" to explain that which cannot yet be explained. Thus we have all types of mythology.

Will Warner

Fri, May 25, 2012 : 6:34 p.m.

Sure: Misanthropy is the general hatred, mistrust or dislike of the human species or human nature


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 12:13 p.m.

will warner, do you know what misanthropy even means?

Will Warner

Thu, May 24, 2012 : 3:14 p.m.

David, you know that misanthropy is an expression of self-hatred, n'cest pas?

Les Jenkins

Thu, May 24, 2012 : 2:32 p.m.

I was disappointed to see such a poor argument for design show up on a reputable news site, but the comments that followed it were quite uplifting. It does me a world of good to see skepticism of incredible claims alive and well in Ann Arbor.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 2:15 p.m.

Interesting hypothesis. Now prove it.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 8:34 p.m.

"It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper [fuse] and set the universe going." -Stephen Hawking See I'm not condemning faith, but don't confuse it with science nor assume that everyone wants to share yours. Science cannot be separated from proof - they are the same thing.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 5:16 p.m.

So you think Hawking and his collegues are unintelligent then? Hawking, one of the allegedly brightest minds of our lifetimes, had admitted that there comes a point where science breaks down. What's difficult to believe about his and his peer's statements?


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 4:38 p.m.

It's a free country. Feel free to pick whatever creation myth you want, but don't confuse them with science:


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 2:37 p.m.

Vilenkin's recent paper dismantles the three possible options for a multiverse and is in keeping with prior statements he's made which include the following: "It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape, they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning." John Lennox sums up the somewhat humorous situation this way: "It is rather ironical that in the sixteenth century some people resisted advances in science because they seemed to threaten belief in God; whereas in the twentieth century scientific ideas of a beginning have been resisted because they threatened to increase the plausibility of belief in God."


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 2:34 p.m.

Prior to his most recent paper, Vilenkin (along with Arvind Borde and Alan Guth) had shown there was strong scientific evidence against a multiverse. Together, they demonstrated that any universe which has, on average, been expanding throughout its history cannot be infinite in the past but must have a past space-time boundary. What makes their proof so powerful is that it holds regardless of the physical description of the universe. The Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem is independent of any physical description of that moment. Their theorem implies that even if our universe is just a tiny part of a so-called multiverse composed of many universes, the multiverse must have an absolute beginning. In other words, Hawking's worries about needing a divine kick-starter for our universe haven't been squelched. This may be why Hawking made a pre-recorded phone message for his birthday event which said, "A point of creation would be a place where science broke down. One would have to appeal to religion and the hand of God."


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 2:32 p.m.

On the fine tuning of the universe, physicist Andrei Linde has said, "We have a lot of really, really strange coincidences, and all of these coincidences are such that they make life possible." Linde stated this in a 2008 Discover article and added that the multiverse theory was a very compelling possibility for answering the question about the universe's fine tuning, which permits life on earth. Vilenkin, one of Linde's peers and co-workers, now seems to have shut the door on that option. Even before Vilenkin's address, the multiverse theory had suffered plenty of debilitating blows before its 2012 death. A multiverse has always had the philosophical problem of an infinite regress. Such an issue is not limited to this universe; it applies to any reality. You still must always get back to a first cause – an uncaused cause for everything – and this includes a multiverse.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 2:29 p.m.

Would Stephen Hawking be proof enough for you? The 70th birthday celebration of Stephen Hawking, which was held at Cambridge. Delivering a speech was Dr. Alexander Vilenkin, who had written a recent paper that was presented at the "State of the Universe" meeting of scientists who had gathered to honor Hawking. After demonstrating the fallacies of the various theories that have attempted to validate a multiverse, Vilenkin summed up his conclusions by saying, "All the evidence we have says that the universe had a beginning." This, naturally, put every philosophical naturalist and atheist into mourning because Hawking himself has admitted, "Many people do not like the idea that time has a beginning, probably because it smacks of divine intervention."

Will Warner

Thu, May 24, 2012 : 2:12 p.m.

Remember the famous line from the movie A Few Good Men? Jack Nicholson is cornered and asked for the truth. He responds: "You want the truth? You can't handle the truth." People's inability to face a devastating possible truth is why we have religion, or spirituality if you like. It is too much for people to face the possibility that when they die it will be, for them, as if they had never lived. And so we invent souls and reincarnation, and a designer. Mr. Goenka is obviously an educated and intelligent man, but his penultimate sentence contains a non-sequitur, a leap of faith, a triumph of hope over courage.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 2:03 p.m.

It's amazing how the definition of the "design" changes as science disproves each previous claim.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 1:52 p.m.

This essay informs us that the author prefers metaphysics to physics. He is entitled to that opinion. What is not acceptable is his claim that science proves religion. Science is the systematic observation of natural phenomena and the formulation of theories binding these findings according to an established methodology. A scientific theory must be verifiable, and it is accepted only if it leads to predictions that are refutable. Religion depends on faith and is not testable. They are distinct ways of thought that do not mix well.


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 12:46 a.m.

demistify: the article does NOT make the claim that science proves religion. It simply points out that there must be a Designer.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 2:46 p.m.

So are you saying that you don't/can't belive in God because no evidence exists?


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 2:04 p.m.



Thu, May 24, 2012 : 1:30 p.m.

The argument is just a trick of language. Atoms are machines. All machines have designers. Atoms must have been designed. The problem is how loosely you apply the word "machine". If you apply it in a more metaphorical manner, you can't then use the term to reach other conclusions. I'm sorry that Mr. Goenka lost his son. That must have been very difficult to deal with.


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 12:07 a.m.

Peregrine: The word "machine" is not used in a metaphorical manner. The Atom is a machine in the true sense of the word. Perhaps not in the way we consider machines (such as automobile engines, or computers), but a machine nonetheless.

Dog Guy

Thu, May 24, 2012 : 1:21 p.m.

I agree that the first two letters of "nuclear physics" should be reversed until we learn much more. But, as Job realized in taking that final quiz in natural history, even if we knew all possible answers we would not know the real questions. Historically, science progressed beyond "just-so stories" through belief in a consistent and caring transcendent designer rather than a malevolent and capricious muddle puddle. By rejecting design, today's oxymoronic scientific dogmas hinder what little learning is open to primates.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 2:07 p.m.

ironic that in defense of religion, you call science "dogmatic". you do know what the definition of dogma is, right? according to the Oxford English Dictionary: 1. An opinion, a belief; spec. a tenet or doctrine authoritatively laid down, esp. by a church or sect. Also: an imperious or arrogant declaration of opinion.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 1:12 p.m.

I was following until the last couple of sentences. The conclusion is a non sequitur.


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 8:57 p.m.

brb11 The depiction of the Atom as a machine is inferred from the statements : "Atoms consist of a purposeful arrangement of parts (subatomic particles) which interact together to provide function." and "It is virtually impossible to explain the structure, complexity, internal dynamics, and resulting functionality of the atom from chance events or through evolutionary mechanisms."


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 1:05 p.m.

@larry: It absolutely does not follow. The problem is that the word "machine" implies some sort of design. So you're essentially setting up a tautology here. Saying it is a "machine" implies that it's been designed. Then you're using the fact that it's a "machine" as evidence that it has a designer. In that case, I reject that you can call an atom a machine.


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 12:53 a.m.

brb11: If you agree that the Atom is a machine that provides multiple functions, then it follows that it could not have resulted from chance. And therefore it must have a Designer.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 1:11 p.m.

"Atoms consist of a purposeful arrangement of parts (subatomic particles) which interact together to provide function." Purposeful? Function? What we see as purpose and function is simply the way the world works. We're creatures that arose out of the chaos, based on the rules of physics. Of course we see function in how the atom works. If the atom didn't work that way, we wouldn't exist. If it worked in a different way, some other type of creature would exist, apart from quantum mechanics, a creature that would see some sort of purpose and function in how that new atom worked. ... imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, 'This is an interesting world I find myself in - an interesting hole I find myself in - fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!' This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it's still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything's going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. Douglas Adams

Mike Deubig

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 7:51 a.m.

Figuring out why empty space has energy is perhaps the biggest mystery for those who believe in evolution. Because if you add up the total energy of a flat universe, the result is precisely zero! You comment suggests you follow Stephen Hawkings ideas. Laws themselves do not create anything, they are merely a description of what happens under certain conditions. For example, gravity causes planets to stay in orbit and apples to fall, not the "law of gravity!" The law only describes how gravity works. It the same with the "rules of physics" as you put it. The rules of physics doesn't create anything, it merely describes how physics work. Which is another problem how did physics come into existence? Is it eternal, something to replace a designer? Yes it is, for why would anyone claim the laws of science create anything rather than describing an event!


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 2:09 p.m.

the concept of a "purpose" is quite egocentric, isn't it?


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 12:53 p.m.

Pretty big stretch. We don't understand something, it works well together - therefore it must have a designer?


Fri, May 25, 2012 : 12:33 a.m.

The point of the article is that the Atom consists of an assembly of parts that interact together to provide multiple functions. In other word, it is a machine, and could not have happened simply by chance.


Thu, May 24, 2012 : 1:47 p.m.

That's the MO for humanity. When we don't understand something we assign it's existance to a "Supreme Being" (or "Beings). Once we gain some understanding, we are amazed at how the aforementioned fictional characters were so wise as to make something tht complex.