During the follow-up questions & answers period after a presentation given by a Christian apologist or after a public debate between an atheist and a Christian, invariably a person from the audience will ask some version of the question: “Is there empirical evidence for the existence of God?”
In this modern 21st century, this has to be one of the most outdated questions a person can have.
I place the blame for this partially at the feet of the scientific materialists of the second half of the 20th century and our current 21st century, for the atheism of their philosophical worldview of scientism that attempts to prevent anyone, based upon science, from considering a broader and more rational view of the natural world.
Richard Dawkins in his 1987 book The Blind Watchmaker wrote: “Darwin made it possible to become an intellectually fulfilled atheist.”
But this only works today if Darwinian evolution is actually true. If Darwinism is false then atheists would have to look elsewhere for their fulfillment.
It is not difficult to show that the atheism of naturalistic materialism or scientific materialism does not hold-up under close examination.
Let’s start with the hypothetical example of humans as physically material beings trying to produce a duplicate, identical, Plan-B backup planet to colonize.
This new planet would complement our own earth as human overpopulation now critically stretches the natural resources to their limits available on this planet.
This Earth-2 planet must be placed precisely within the same “goldilocks zone” orbit, distanced from the sun to enable water to exist as a liquid.
It would have to be orbiting at the same speed so the two planets would not collide with one another.
First, we would have to find enough cosmic dust and gases that contained all of the fundamental elements of the Periodic Table.
We would then have to bring this material in the right quantities to coalesce together into close-enough contact for gravity to condense this material into a habitable, non-star planet yet having a hot, molten-iron core like that of earth.
We might do this by searching through the asteroid belt for free, loose material hopefully already in the form of what is called a debris disc.
We could not use atomic bombs to break-off large pieces of other planets in our solar system, as this material would then be radioactive and unusable.
We would then have to figure-out how to get this material from where it currently is to its new location within the same elliptical orbit of the earth around the sun.
We could then set it in motion four days travel out ahead of us or four days behind us in our orbital rotation, for example, at the right speed while it is condensing into a planet.
This would take some currently unknown length of time discoverable only through trial-and-error.
And we currently do not know how to accelerate this process of building a planet by altering the strength of gravity.
Next, we would have to produce a similar moon like our own, having just the right size and distance from the new planet.
We would need to tilt this Earth-2 planet to spin on its axis at the same 23-degree angle to produce seasonable, temperate climate.
We would have to find somewhere enough nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide in the right quantities to form a comparable atmosphere, having enough carbon so that the gravity of Earth-2 could hold the atmosphere in place without drifting off into outer space.
And we would have to find enough hydrogen and oxygen to produce water to create oceans, lakes, and rivers.
It would take unimaginable control over geography to duplicate exactly the size and shape of our continents on earth to successfully mimic our functional ecosystems.
We would have to develop the technologies to get the crust of Earth-2 to be the same thickness as our planet, and to encourage the formation of plate-tectonics with geological uplift, to form higher elevations of dry land plateaus and mountains, and lower elevated depressions to form oceans, lakes, and rivers.
The atmosphere that we created would have to consist of the exact same proportions of elements and have the same depth as on earth, to allow photosynthesis to occur.
The HշO water we created out of hydrogen and oxygen would have to possess exactly the same properties of transparency to allow sunlight to penetrate to the same depths within the oceans, lakes, and rivers for fish to be able to see, and for underwater plant-life to flourish.
Once we got the hydrological cycle functioning, starting with evaporation from the oceans, to clouds, to rain over the land, to the breaking-up of rock into soils, and the erosion that puts nutrients into the soil, then we could begin transporting land plants from earth to produce terrestrial life on the new planet.
Then things get even more complicated.
How large a percentage of each ecosystem of living organisms would be required to sustain an ongoing and self-sufficient environment on the new planet? Would we copy exactly the pattern of the varied, living environments like the Amazon rainforest, the African savanna plains, the North American plains, the Sahara Desert, the Canadian tundra, the Australian Outback, or the mountainous regions of Tibet?
This simplistic example of breaking-down into a bare minimum of details some of the coordinated steps needed to make a new planet Earth-2 using the universal dictum in biology of “like begets like,” reveals the extreme complexity of creating a life-sustaining planet earth.
We can so easily take this popularly for granted or as scientists, because our understanding always comes from looking backwards through the viewpoint lens of the existing orderliness and intelligibility currently in place.
This example illustrates the obvious impossibility of a single living organism or multiple organisms in however large a number, existing as physically material beings, from a purely practical perspective even theoretically being unable to build planets, solar systems, galaxies, or a universe.
This recognition narrows the field of possible candidates for the position of creator of the universe down to a non-physically material, thinking Spirit-Being.
This conclusion holds as long as we first eliminate as plausible candidates matter and energy as non-thinking entities being incapable of the organized complexity of self-design and self-assembly needed at the Big Bang beginning of the universe.
But this real-world difficulty only becomes apparent when we take a fresh look from the direction of starting from scratch with nothing.
We need to look from the past to the present and from the present to the future, through the series of complex, sequential steps to reach function and fit for some particular phenomenon, like in this hypothetical example of humans creating a new and nearby planet Earth-2.
Apply this looking-forwards approach to the creation of the universe or the creation of life on earth starting from scratch with nothing, and the same acknowledgment of the difficulties involved quickly eliminates naturalistic materialism as being hopelessly implausible as the causal explanation behind the existing order, function, and fit we presently recognize in the natural world.
Acknowledging and discussing the realistic difficulties in creating a complementary, backup planet Earth-2 is not a God-of-the-gaps surrender to giving-up on scientific advancement.
It is not out of the question that human beings at some time in the future could develop the technologies to harness gravity to pull together the gases and particles needed to create a new nearby planet, having all of the qualities required to support ecosystems that are favorable to human colonization.
I think as difficult as this would be that it is not out of the realm of possibility in the far distant future.
But I will go out on a limb here and say that humans as physically material beings, limited by the spatial realities of distance and time, will never create a galaxy like the Milky Way.
This is an excerpt from my book Pondering Our World: Christian Essays on Science and Faith.
 Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker (New York: Norton, 1987), 6.