Sunday, 7 February 2010

Carmelo Cutajar's letter "Ample Proof of God" (The Times, 6th Feb) reminded me of an anecdote by that inimitable author, Douglas Adams. He compared this idea to some water that wakes up one day and finds itself as a puddle on the ground. As it examines the hole it finds itself in, it is
amazed - the hole fits the water staggeringly well! So well in fact that it seems designed to fit the water. It must have been created by an intelligent designer explicitly for that water to be in.

Similarly, we look at the world around us and it seems amazingly perfect for us - the right temperature, the right atmosphere to breathe, the right duration of day and night, the right plants to eat. It seems so perfect that we might get the feeling that it was made for

It's actually the other way round. Just as it was the water that conformed to the hole in the ground, we find our planet so perfect because life has been evolving for billions of years to survive within the conditions provided by the earth. If earth's gravity had been more, or less, then we would have evolved to live and move around in it. If the entire earth had been hotter we might have evolved better cooling systems and a resistance to skin cancer, whereas if the earth
were colder we might even today still be sporting a thick shaggy fur coat.

We have only just begun to detect the presence of planets outside our solar system, so we have as yet no way of knowing how common or rare our type of planet is. For all we know, earth-like planets might be quite common indeed. Even if only one in a million planets would suit
human life, that still means billions of such planets. Also, since the only type of life we know about is that found on earth, we have no idea what planetary conditions would allow the development of life in its broadest sense. We've already had to alter our perception of
"life-sustaining conditions" since we've found life that can exist at extremely high temperatures, a toxic environment and bone-crushing pressure near underwater volcano vents, and below freezing in the Antarctic. Other forms of life might exist in conditions far beyond
what we consider suitable.

Sorry to disappoint, but this is not proof of any deity.

One ought to ask oneself - if there is a God who is so anxious for people to believe in him, and given the doubts that exist (including other religions claiming that theirs is the one true god), wouldn't it be much easier for that god to simply settle the matter once and for
all and give final, undeniable proof of who is right? Surely an omnipotent being can do that.