Saturday, August 7, 2010

Manipulating is not Creating

There are many problems with the old creationist argument that the existence of the universe proves there is a god because “just as building must have a maker so must a universe have a creator.” But there is one rebuttal that I have neither seen nor heard elsewhere that I would like to put forward: They are comparing two entirely different things that I will label for clarity “Creating” and “Making.”

Making consists of manipulation of pre-existing matter and energy. It is true that the existence of a building or car presupposes a maker. But it also presupposes something else: pre-existing matter and energy that the maker manipulates. The maker of a building does not “make” it by saying: “Let there be a house. And let be of brick and have shingles of asphalt. And let the brick be yellow in color and the window trim be of almond coloring.” A “maker” makes something by starting with something that already exists. She then manipulates it by changing its shape or size or even applying energy to change its attributes and then assembles the modified pre-existing matter into the building.

A log cabin maker first finds existing trees, chops them down, removes the branches, shapes them and then piles them in a particular way to “make” the cabin walls. The raw materials of glass are subjected to heat until the heat manipulates it into a transparent substance that is then molded or cut to fit holes in the walls to make windows. A sand castle maker does not make the sand, he merely shapes existing sand into a shape we call a castle. Making is not “creating.” It is merely manipulating. And, of course, existing matter and energy can only be manipulated by a manipulator.

Creation ex nihilo or speaking something into existence is a completely different category of event. Where making presupposes the previous existence of matter and energy, creating presupposes the opposite – that nothing exists previously.

Noticing that existing matter and energy can be manipulated tells us absolutely nothing about how the matter and energy came to exist in the first place. Finding a piece of clay in my hobby room and noticing that it can be manipulated into the shape of a horse tells me nothing about how the clay got into my hobby room.

To say that the existence of manipulators manipulating pre-existing matter proves the existence of an intelligent being creating ex nihilo, is a non-sequiter.