MyNews24 is a user-generated section of The stories here come from users.

Comments: 114
Article views: 1979
Latest Badges:

View all homininfossil's badges.

How geology is diametrically opposed to the theism

30 May 2013, 07:19

In this article I want to show why it is that as a geologist I cannot accept any concept of theism.  I am an atheist of all theistic gods, whether they be Abrahamic  (Christian, Muslim, Jewish) or other intervening deities.

Let’s start by defining the terms.

Theism, in the broadest sense, is the belief that at least one deity exists (with subdivisions monotheism and polytheism). In a more specific sense, theism is commonly a monotheistic doctrine concerning the nature of a single deity, and that deity's relationship to the universe. Importantly for our discussion, theism, conceives of God as personal, present, intervening and active in the governance and organization of the earth and the universe. As such theism describes the classical conception of God that is found in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Sikhism and some forms of Hinduism.

Deism is the belief that at least one deity exists and created the world, but that the creator(s) does/do not alter the original plan for the universe. The deistic concept contends that God, though transcendent and supreme, did not intervene in the natural world and could be known rationally but not via revelation.  Deism typically rejects supernatural events (such as prophecies, miracles, and divine revelations) prominent in organized religion.

Creationism is the religious belief that life, the Earth, and the universe are the creation of a supernatural being. Critically important to understand is that if you are a theist, you will believe in some form of creation and if you have any sophistication your particular version or explanation of creation will attempt to incorporate the current scientific understanding of natural dynamic processes. Invariably theists who have this view are also proponents of Intelligent Design (ID).

At this point, I also want to lay a few ground rules before we continue. This article is not a debate as to whether the natural sciences are the most relevant explanations of the natural world as we observe it, so if you are a young earth creationist do not bother reading any further you are not going to like or comprehend the concepts I present. The audience I am focussing this article on, are the more sophisticated theists (ID proponents) who, like the overwhelming bulk of theists worldwide, accept and understand the natural sciences for what they are – the most valid explanations for the functioning of the natural world given the evidence, observations and testing we currently have at our disposal. Sophisticated theists (some of whom happen to be scientists as well) also understand that science/scientists are not engaged in a worldwide conspiracy to debunk certain ancient texts, and that science in fact does not concern itself with the existence or not of deities.

So with the definitions and ground rules out of the way let’s get to the crux of why I say theism is highly improbable given our current level of scientific knowledge.

Intelligent Design generally ascribes to the “anthropic principal”. The strong anthropic principle (SAP) states that the Universe is compelled, in some sense, for conscious life to eventually emerge. Critics of the SAP argue in favour of a weak anthropic principle (WAP) which states that the universe's ostensible fine tuning is the result of selection bias: i.e., only in a universe capable of eventually supporting life will there be living beings capable of observing any such fine tuning, while a universe less compatible with life will go unbeheld.

So in short sophisticated theists who support the concept (knowingly or not) of Intelligent Design, maintain that the evolution of life and more importantly intelligent life was inevitable and indeed planned and executed by a supernatural being in the past and at present. Humans are the Raison d'être for the very large scale and elaborate design of the universe, solar system and earth.

Now the geologic record has much to say about our being here. We know that approximately 99.9% of all species that ever existed are already extinct. It’s impossible to determine the precise reasons for each species going extinct suffice to say that they simply lost out in the ceaseless dynamic (ever-changing) natural system. Many millions of species disappeared in 5 well recorded mass extinction events as follows:

·         85% of species at the end of the Ordovician (~440 Ma);

·         80% of species at the end of the Devonian (~360 Ma);

·         96% of species at the end of the Permian (~250 Ma);

·         76% of species at the end of the Triassic (~210 Ma); and

·         The most famous of all ~75% of all species at the end of the Cretaceous (~65 Ma)

Many hundreds of small scale extinction events some global and others local are also recorded in the geological record.

Some of the causes of the mass extinction events are not known and are the subject of some debate. So let’s consider the most famous and arguably best studied extinction event – the one that ended the 165 million year reign of the dinosaurs at the end of the Cretaceous, 65 Ma. It has now been fairly well established that an impact by a sizable projectile from space caused the abrupt end of the dinosaurs. Mammals co-existed with dinosaurs, but the removal of the dinosaurs from the ecological niches resulted in dramatic changes and the emergence and eventual dominance of mammals.

Now for the crux of the point I want to make. Suppose the projectile from space had missed earth instead of colliding with it? What would the earth be like today? Chances are that mammals would either be extinct or still eking out a precarious living on the fringes of a dinosaur dominated planet.  Now ask yourself, has a deity ever been observed pushing minor projectiles around in the cosmos/solar system?

So this raises a profound question: how inevitable was the evolution of an intelligent mammalian life form, Homo Sapiens Sapiens?  Humans are quite literally the product of a cosmic accident (the impact of the Cretaceous projectile) 65 million years ago, coupled with literally hundreds of other chance events before and after the impact over millions/billions of years. The long geological record of extinctions and mass extinctions tells us in no uncertain terms that in the grand scheme of things Homo Sapiens are not the centre of all things and that extinction can happen tomorrow to any species.

And so to get back to theism! In order to be a theist, someone who believes in an intervening, governing, organising deity, this is what you have to believe. You have to believe that 65 million years ago a deity steered on purpose, with full knowledge of 65 million years of evolution still ahead, a projectile of precisely the correct size, speed and energy, into precisely the correct spot on earth, at precisely the correct time in the evolutionary trajectory of species on earth, knowing that in doing so this would result in Christian, Islam, Hindu and thousands of other deities being worshiped by an intelligent mammalian species who would all “know” for sure their version of deity was the one who did the deed.

Now you need to apply your mind still further. Take the example above from the Cretaceous mass extinction and multiply that by the orders of magnitude of time 65 million years out of 4 500 million years of earth’s history (never mind the preceding 9 300 million years of universe history) and you will comprehend the staggering array and vastness of chance events that resulted in the existence of intelligent life on earth. To think that some deity (and it appears no one knows exactly which one) had a hand in this at every step of the intricate path is incomprehensible and nonsensical, even more so given the shear immensity of the universe with 200 billion plus stars in our own galaxy (Milky Way) and the billions of galaxies each with their billions of stars, most as it now transpires, with a multitude of orbiting planets where presumably the theist deity is helping things along, on a second by second basis.

Hence I am not a theist of any kind. I may still say however that I am an agnostic (simply don’t know although its highly improbable) when it comes to the concept of an all powerful deistic deity/being/force or what ever other term one may wish to give such an entity. The theist still has all their work ahead of them.

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

The Home Affairs nightmare is rea...

I do not understand why Home Affairs insist on using a complicated system, for which they do not have the resources.  Read more...

0 comments 1873 views
Submitted by
Muhammed Zahid Jadwat
Jacob Zuma can't escape the might...

The National Prosecution Authority has finally stamped its foot. Jacob Zuma now faces charges of corruption, money laundering and racketeering.  Read more...

0 comments 259 views
Submitted by
Fair to all
When are South Africa’s leaders g...

It’s still quite evident that 24 years after democracy the “race card” is still being played and thrown around unabated by our politicians for cheap votes. Read more...

0 comments 344 views
Submitted by
Gearly Florence
My brother died in the Life Esidi...

You could tell that he was not getting any medical attetion and when I fed him with the food that I used buy for him he ate like he had went months without getting food or water. Read more...

0 comments 1628 views
Submitted by
Tiaan Davel
Holding onto my vote while waitin...

With the likes of Tom “the untouchable” Moyane, Shaun “the sheep” Abrahams still at large at SARS and the NPA I am still not convinced that things will get better anytime soon. Read more...

0 comments 873 views
Submitted by
Roger Mayes
Rabada broke the rules, he must a...

No individual must ever be allowed to be greater than the game. Rabada broke the rules, and deserves his punishment. Read more...

0 comments 6353 views


RSS feeds News delivered really simply.

E-mail Newsletters You choose what you want

News24 on Android Get the latest from News24 on your Android device.

SMS Alerts Get breaking news stories via SMS.

Interactive Advertising Bureau
© 2018 All rights reserved.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.