Some musings for which I make no claims to originality but which seem to me to provide insurmountable problems for any theists among you. I'd love to hear any counter-arguments...This was originally sent to my convert friend.
"You always seem to scoff at the idea that life happened by chance and that subsequently so did we. Here are some ideas to conjure with:
1. What use would an intelligent designer have with billions of years and trillions of galaxies filled with billions of stars apiece? That tremendous waste is only needed if life had to arise by accident.
2. Are you saying that God needed all this before finally stumbling upon life? Because if there is NO God then life could ONLY arise in a world which is large and old – exactly like the one we see around us. The facts confirm atheism rather than theism.
3. The appearance of life is an extremely improbable incident, you say. You’re right. But that doesn't make it impossible. The odds of winning the lottery are minute but we know it happens – every week. Why? – because the laws of probability dictate that the likelihood depends upon how many times the game is played. So if a billion people play and the odds are one in a billion then it’s extremely likely someone will win. The only way life could arise by accident, as I believe it did, is if there were countless more failed tries than successes. And that’s exactly what we see. The universe has been mixing chemicals for over
twelve billion years in over a billion trillion star systems. That is exactly what we would see if life arose by accident (but NOT what we would expect to see if an intelligent designer had anything to do with it)..
4. We haven’t proven any particular theory on the origin of life, you say. True. But we have evidence for every element of every theory. For example we know porous rocks that can provide a cell-like home near energy-rich, deep-sea volcanic vents. We know these vents harbour some of the most ancient life on the planet.
5. The same can be said for evolution. As it happens evolution requires billions of years to get all the way from the first accidental life form to something as complex as us. God doesn't require this – nor does taking such a length of time make any sense, unless God wanted to deliberately fabricate evidence against his existence by planting all the evidence for evolution: fossils, DNA correlations, vast scales of time etc.
6. The only way we could exist without God is if we existed at the end of billions of years of meandering change over time. And that’s exactly what we see.
7. So atheism predicts all the evidence we see and theism predicts none of it.
8. But perhaps God does exist. And worked his magic using totally natural and wasteful processes that copy exactly what we would expect to see if he didn't exist. For him to make all the evidence so overwhelming for his non-existence and then to punish those of us who take the evidence at face value seems to me to be the work of not a good God but an evil one.
Therefore I choose not to believe in God."
( Liberal theologians will claim God just set the whole thing in motion billions of years ago and had nothing more to do with it. How then to account for the chance arrival of humans on an insignificant twig of the evolutionary tree? If a reptile species, for example, had happened to reach the top and develop self-awareness would God have sent lizard prophets?)