We find ourselves in a remote corner of our universe in a beautiful yet mediocre galaxy. Perched atop a rocky sphere, with two other pebbles in orbit between us and a violent ball of gas, we tenuously enjoy our existence. We occupy the only form of primate body that can possibly wish to know what it all means and why it has worked out reasonably well for us. Considering our isolation and how “lucky” we appear to be, the monkey masses developed a hypothesis: All of this was done just for us.
With the laws of physics perfectly in place to form the elements, the Big Bang gave us the fuel that would later accrete by the God-given gravity. Stars were formed. Their death by explosion created our heavier elements and scattered them across the “heavens”, only to be once again accreted for the purpose of our occupance. This is the story of the manufacture of our home. Or is it? If God created the universe and our habitable planet, it took him a hell of a lot longer than 6 days.
The argument of divine design is a basal product of the credulous mind sloshing in the skull of the ignorant. Superstition, as history has borne out, is the fallback answer to any question to which an answer cannot be immediately settled by our reason. In the infancy of civilization, the answers were few and the invocation of the supernatural to fill the gaps held by stupidity or ignorance was rife. This is why we have so many religions and myths, originating simultaneously in virtually every culture.
The simple truth is that just because we appear to be alone, it doesn’t mean that we are. In fact, it seems highly unlikely. Considering the estimated 14 trillion billion star systems, even if one were to postulate that a planet sitting just the correct distance from it’s star with just the correct orbit to produce an average temperature that would not destroy organic life was a 1 in 1 trillion chance, there should still be about 14 billion planets with some form of life. Some of these might harbor life forms more advanced than humans. Perhaps they are so advanced that they don’t even have religion. Sounds like a great star system on which to retire!
What if the above odds actually turn out to be 1 in 14 trillion billion? What if we are alone? Even then, God is simply not the answer. We can do better than just giving up, which is what constitutes a supernatural answer to a question that can, should, and does have natural answers. Even in the case that we find ourselves to be the only life in the universe, it may then be asserted, and dismissed, that it was all a grand design. It’s always tempting to point to the supernatural explanation when a seemingly rare, nigh impossible event occurs. An example offered by Richard Dawkins in his book, “The Magic of Reality”:
Take a deck of cards, shuffle them, and deal them out to your self and 3 others. Did each of you receive 13 cards of all the same suit? If you did, you have encountered an extremely rare event. In fact, your odds of dealing this hand would be in the octillions (10 to the 27th power). The simple truth is that dealing out four hands of completely suited cards has the same odds of dealing out any other particular combination of cards. What makes this example stand out is that we are pattern seeking creatures, and patterns are incorporated in many card games. If you’re playing spades, and you get 13 spades, it’s the best hand you could have. If you’re playing 5 card draw and you get 13 spades, then the dealer is piss drunk and it’s time to call it a night.
The earliest period of our planet, in which many scientists believe organic replicating molecules were formed (perhaps descended from inorganic replicating crystals), was not a hospitable place for the aerobic life that now constitutes higher life forms. In fact, it would be Hell on Earth. There was most likely little or no oxygen. Oxygen became more prevalent as photosynthesis evolved because it was a byproduct (waste). From that time forward, life evolved as conditions on the planet changed, and it evolved to thrive in them via natural selection. Life made the planet habitable for other life, and so nature keeps rolling forward. Life will continue to evolve as conditions change, as long as the planet does not get too hot or cold (or irradiated, or destroyed by asteroids, etc) and life-critical proteins aren’t denatured by the extremes.
Any conscious creature that finds itself in the appropriate environment for its existence and ability to ponder its origins would be tempted to draw the conclusion that the universe was designed with them in mind. However, it’s a fallacy. If you’re reading this, you by definition must be encapsulated in one of the aforementioned environments, regardless of the rarity of this occurrence. One could never disprove that the universe was not designed for you and your windbag Christian neighbor, but reality works without that assumption.