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Meditation 827
Bad logic does not prove God exists

by: JT

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There's a web site called Cosmic Fingerprints which tries to show that God created everything. One of the pages on the site is If you can read this, I can prove God exists. Well, logically then, I cannot read, because Perry Marshall, the author, failed to prove God exists.

Let's take a key piece of his argument:

Proof that DNA was designed by a mind:  

(1) DNA is not merely a molecule with a pattern; it is a code, a language, and an information storage mechanism. 

 (2) All codes we know the origin of are created by a conscious mind. 

(3) Therefore DNA was designed by a mind, and language and information are proof of the action of a Superintelligence.

Let's assume for the sake of argument that the two premises are correct[1], then is the conclusion necessarily correct?

No. Of course not. Premise 2 refers only to "codes we know the origin of." This is insufficent to prove that a specific code we do not know the origin of was created the same way.

Regardless, based on the conclusion that DNA was designed by a mind, Perry Marshall goes on:

We can explore five possible conclusions:

1) Humans designed DNA
2)  Aliens designed DNA
3) DNA occurred randomly and spontaneously
4) There must be some undiscovered law of physics that creates information
5) DNA was Designed by a Superintelligence, i.e. God.

(1) requires time travel or infinite generations of humans. 
(2) could well be true but only pushes the question back in time.  (3) may be a remote possibility, but it's not a scientific explanation in that it doesn't refer to a systematic, repeatable process. It's nothing more than an appeal to luck
(4) could be true but no one can form a testable hypothesis until someone observes a naturally occurring code. 
So the only systematic explanation that remains is (5) a theological one.

His first possible conclusion is just an easily knocked down straw man - but frankly, as all codes we know the origin of are actually created by humans, it is the only logical conclusion to his initial premises.

His second possible conclusion he eliminates by saying it only pushes the question back in time. Yes but - the exact same argument can be used against a supposed creator. And if DNA is your evidence, how do you know the aliens have DNA themselves?

His third possible conclusion (which is contrary to his earlier conclusion) he knocks down by misrepresenting evolution and misrepresenting science. Let's be blunt - he is lying.

His fourth possible conclusion (which again is contrary to his earlier conclusion)is nonsense. DNA is biology, not physics. And as for knocking it down by saying it is untestable "until someone observes a naturally occurring code." Well, how about DNA!

And so he backs up his fifth possible conclusion by saying, well, I can't think of anything else, so it must be God. There's his proof - he cannot think of anything else beyond those five possibilities, so God did it. 

Of course, if you really want to know where DNA might have come from without assuming your desired conclusion, keeping reasonably current with science helps.[2] I'm not saying that particular link provides a final answer. It doesn't. It's just a very small step on a long road to knowledge. But further research is always preferable to turning "I don't know" into "therefore God exists."


  1. I think a solid argument can be made that the meaning of "code" is different in premise 1 and premise 2 which in itself nullifies the conclusion.
  2. For example: Origin of Life: Generating RNA Molecules in Water, Science News, November 2009