Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Why Does God Recycle?

Pointing out flaws in creationism is like shooting fish in a barrel. But sometimes I see another one and just can’t resist pointing it out. Here’s the latest. (Note: I have no illusion that I’m originating this point. I just hadn’t thought of it in quite this way before.)

If God is omnipotent, then God’s time and effort are free from the bonds of scarcity. He could have used as much creative thought and energy as he wanted to create life on earth and still had an unlimited amount to spare. So here’s my question: given his infinite resources, why is God so incredibly lazy and boring?

Genetic sequencing has shown that humans and chimpanzees share some incredibly large percentage of their genetic code (about 99%). Creationists insist, nonetheless, that humans and chimps are not related by origin. Okay, fine. So why did God feel the need to recycle all that code? Computer programmers duplicate code to save time and effort while relying on algorithms they already know work. Maybe God was doing the same thing, economizing on time and effort. But wait – there’s no scarcity of godly effort, so he shouldn’t have needed to. He could have created humans and chimps separately, from scratch, without any need to reuse anything. And the same goes for every pair of organisms that share any genetic code at all, which is pretty much all of them.

More broadly, why are all forms of life on Earth carbon-based? Couldn’t God have made silicon-based organisms? Why is DNA the basic structure for every life form on the plant? Couldn’t God have made blueprints using some other complex molecule?

With costly effort and time, recycling stuff makes perfect sense. With infinite effort and time, recycling is unnecessary and pointless. This puts the creationists in a bind: their God is either not really omnipotent or not very creative.


BeingHuman said...

One must also consider the wastefulness of the genetic code when we consider how much of one's genetic sequence is inactive entirely or becomes inactive after the cell or tissue specializes and differentiates into its final form (e.g., all of the genes controlling muscle cell behavior that are present but inactive in every tissue except for muscle).

anarresti said...

Hi. I'm catholic. I believe that God created the Universe. But I have no problem believing in the Big Bang and in the evolution. Creationism as a theory that claims that the world was created as described in the book of Genesis seems an absurd to me. The Genesis is a poetic, methaphoric book. As much of the Old Testament. Or the book of Apocalipse, in the New Testament. The fatc that there are schools where children aren't allowed to learn about the evolution of species sounds, to me, like something out of the Midle Ages. Best Regards, Nuno.

Caliban said...

I'm not religious at all, but I always thought that god would seem a lot more omnipotent and sublime had he created the universe at the big bang, knowing that the laws of physics would one day give rise to humanity.

That seems a little more persuasive and awe-inspiring than a god "laboring" for 6 days to create the world.

Velutha seems to believe the first version. :)

Glen Whitman said...

JB -- Why *not* reinvent the wheel? The only reason for us humans not to is to save effort. But God can exert infinite effort at zero cost -- that's what it means to be omnipotent. There's no reason for God to economize on design concepts if he has unlimited creative capacity.

Jarlsberg's Chosen said...

So, because Adam ate this fruit (which was bad, I understand, because it allowed him to understand stuff like 'bad'), perfect and efficient biological systems evolved over 6000 years to the point where they are now something like double-Rube Goldbergs? Ah, of course, it all makes sense.

And as for Occam's Razor, it says that unnecessary elements should not be added. Scientific fact might seem more complex - I mean, why believe every object in the universe attracts every other object, directly proportional to the mass of the objects and inversely proportional to the distance between them, while quantum theory, having been successful in explaining other phenomena in the past, posits the existence of sub-sub-subatomic particles as the cause, although some believe in gravity waves - but it only includes elements known to exist. Natural selection exists. Mutation exists. Genetic drift exists. A whole bunch of other factors, I'm sure, exist, and are known to exist, and combined together, over large scales of time can cause speciation. Simple as that.