Design or Accident?


Actually now that I've gotten a chance to see some more of what people write to you about here, I'm very surprised. Someone who agrees with the pope 100% -- I guess it was only naive for me to think that there are no people like that. He asked you why birth defects occur. (See letter from Kevin.) Of course, science explains it without difficulty. His confusion lies in the fact that he believes God has control over everything in the physical world. At least, the big things like human births should all be fair. We hope so. But even when I believed in God I believed that God had no such control. Bad things simply happen. I would have a hard time making sense of the world if I still believed in God. Perhaps everything is Satan's fault. Or maybe religion is all in our heads.

Godwin (Alex O.)


Dear Alex,

Take the case of a woman who falls from the roof of a ten story building. Would it be enough to say "it just happened"? Would we not want to know whether she fell by accident, jumped or was pushed? What we are asking is whether it happened by blind chance or by design. Design of course implies the existence of a designer, a mind. I can understand why people want to avoid that possibility for the Cosmos. It makes the universe a most uncomfortable place. But once we face that there might be a Mind behind everything that happens, then we can begin to grapple with why bad things happen. If no design exists, why call any occurence "bad"?

In your previous letter you cited a principle much loved by Carl Sagan: If the conclusion based on the evidence is not the most simple explanation of the phenomena, it is not a good conclusion. I am sure you are aware he got it from a medieval Catholic philosopher and it is called Ockham's razor. When we are talking about the origin of the universe, it cuts both ways. Would the most simple explanation be that the Big Bang assembled itself or that Someone lit the fuse? The former (even if you call it a "singularity") seems fanciful--maybe even wishful thinking. The latter, on the other hand, corresponds to the density of what we experience. That is why, even tho it is demanding, most people are drawn to it. Let me know what you think. I would welcome reflections from other university students or people like yourself who are willing to face challenging questions.

Fr. Phil Bloom

P.S. For more on the case against naturalism, please see the review of Reason in the Balance.


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