Australian PM proves God’s existence

29 08 2008

From National Nine News:

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says the ordered nature of the cosmos convinces him of the existence of God.

Mr Rudd, a regularly practising Anglican, was on Friday asked on Fairfax Radio in Brisbane to give his single biggest argument in favour of the existence of God.

“As you know I’m a believer and I’ve never pretended not to be and I respect those who have no religious belief – it’s a free country,” Mr Rudd said.

“For me, it’s ultimately the order of the cosmos or what I describe as the creation.

You can’t simply have, in my own judgment, creation simply being a random event because it is so inherently ordered, and the fact that the natural environment is being ordered where it can properly coexist over time. [Emphasis added]

“If you were simply reducing that to mathematically probabilities I’ve got to say it probably wouldn’t have happened.

“So I think there is an intelligent mind at work.”

Mr Rudd said in his entire political life he had never been asked in a media interview to prove the existence of God.

“You … have a world first,” Mr Rudd said.

Rudd’s position towards non-believers is a refreshing reminder that Australia is still not as deep in the mire of religious lunacy as the US, and he deserves kudos for being vocal about it. He also deserves praise, I think, for at least attempting to justify his theism in a public forum, rather than the “Look at me I haz teh jeezus” rubbish we would usually expect from god-soaked politicians.

And to be fair, the wording I chose for the title of this post was more a blatant grab for your attention than anything else. His argument for theism—a reiteration of the cosmological argument from design—is his argument, the reason (or one reason) he personally is a theist. Still, it must be said—as you can see from the section in boldface—it is an argument which suffers from a circularity so obvious that you could float a Collins-class sub through it. How can “creation be a random event”? By using the term “creation” he’s assuming precisely that which he is seeking to establish: that the universe had a “creator.” (The physicist and skeptic Victor Stenger’s response to the appeal to improbability is worth noting also: “If we properly compute, based on our actual knowledge rather than speculation, the probability for the universe’s existing with human life, the result is unity! We have only one datum, our universe, and it has human life.”) I don’t know if it bodes well that someone of Rudd’s intelligence can make such a basic error of reasoning, but then he can’t be a clear thinker on every topic.

But this is a man whose faith is central to his political philosophy, or so he tells us. And what he’s given us here is a very mediocre and pat defence of his faith.

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15 responses

29 08 2008
doazic

I think I like Mr. Rudd.

29 08 2008
Evo

Let’s see… if the universe wasn’t “ordered”, then we wouldn’t exist. If we didn’t exist, we couldn’t contemplate the universe and the likelihood of a “creator”. Which seems to mean that an ordered universe is a non-starter an argument for or against a creator. But, hey, I’m not smart enough to be a P.M. so who knows?

29 08 2008
AV

Why would an intelligent mind create a universe in which the odds against there being life are so vast. What kind of sick, evil bastard is this intelligent designer?

29 08 2008
Veridicus

It’s amazing how he managed to disprove the existence of god in two ways without even trying!

First, he insists that order requires a creator thereby proving that we don’t exist. If order requires a creator, then that creator, being ordered, requires a creator ad infinitum.

Second, for the foregoing reason and all the others that people here have presented, we can be quite sure that an intelligent designer doesn’t exist. He wouldn’t have designed humans such as Mr Rudd with such fallible reasoning abilities.

29 08 2008
AV

Teleological argument fail. At least it didn’t involve a banana.

29 08 2008
Sean the Blogonaut

Thanks AV and commenters – I now don’t feel compelled to write about this topic :)

29 08 2008
andsaywedid

Thanks for your comment on my post at And Say We Did about this, AV – you called me out (rightly) on my shortcomings, but it’s good to know there are thoughtful Aussie bloggers like you out there. Great to meet you!

29 08 2008
AV

Likewise! :)

30 08 2008
striker99

If we leave out the inevitable political ramifications, I think that its great that a constitution built upon a christian religion so freely accepts non-religion as a faith. Yet, as christians, we are required to be evangelical in nature. Man I love society

31 08 2008
AV

Non-religion is a faith in the same way that non-stamp-collecting is a hobby.

If we leave out the inevitable political ramifications

I gather you’re referring to the teaching of intelligent design creationism in government schools? I don’t think there is any danger of that, nor is there any indication of that in the Prime Minister’s comments. He was giving his own reasons for why he believes a deity exists, but all he really offered was an argument for deism, and a very poorly-though-out one at that. If—and this is an “if” of galactic proportions—Rudd ever was to propose the inclusion of ID creationism on the science syllabus of Australian schools, he would in all likelihood be rolled in the Labor caucus. Not only that, the Coalition would have a field day with an “Education Revolution” promising to hamstring Australian science education and send the nation boldly forth into the 12th century. Brendan Nelson flirted with ID-in-schools when he was the Education Minister in 2005; he was quickly forced to “qualify” his stance and the idea never again saw the light of day as Coalition policy . . . despite the fact that the Howard government still had two years remaining in office.

I think that its great that a constitution built upon a christian religion so freely accepts non-religion as a faith.

In what sense is the Australian Constitution built on a Christian religion? Where in the Constitution is it stated that the Constitution is built on a Christian religion.

The Sydney University legal scholar Helen Irving has something to say about this topic that you might find educational:

Australia has a ‘secular heritage’. Throughout the nineteenth century, colonial governments took pains not to encourage sectarianism and refused to give official recognition to one church over others. State schools were required to be secular. Unlike in England, there was no established church.

This policy was reflected nationally in the Commonwealth Constitution. The Constitution’ framers faced two questions head-on: was Australia a nation with a particular religious character? Should the Constitution recognise this? They answered no to both. During debate, much concern was expressed about the potential for religious intolerance, even official support for religious persecution. Governments, framers said, should not inquire into the beliefs of individuals. In the words of future first Prime Minister, Edmund Barton, the “whole mode of government, the whole province of the State, is secular … and there is no justification for inserting into your secular documents of State provisions or expressions which refer to matters best dealt with by the churches”. Finally, in response to a flood of petitions from church organisations, praying for references both to God and to Christian practice to be included in the Constitution, they added eight words to its hitherto-secular Preamble: Humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God. But in doing so, the framers made it abundantly clear that the formula was intended to be “universal, and not necessarily applicable only to Christians”.

Even then, they were worried that the words might be mistaken for an endorsement of a national religion. So they added section 116 to the Constitution expressly prohibiting the Commonwealth from establishing a religion, requiring or prohibiting religious practice, or imposing any religious test for public office. Not only did it depart from English practice, it went even further than the First Amendment in the United States Constitution, which only forbids laws establishing a religion or prohibiting free religious practice. Departing again from English precedent, they also gave incoming Australian parliamentarians the constitutional alternative of either a religious oath or a secular affirmation.

The Australian Constitution is a secular document, designed to establish Australia as a secular liberal democracy. Not an atheist liberal democracy, mind you, but simply one in which the government privileges no religion.

Yet, as christians, we are required to be evangelical in nature

That’s lovely. There are many non-evangelical Christians who would disagree with you, and I don’t see any reason to regard you as an authority on who does and does not count as a True Christian (TM). I’m content, rather, to let evangelicals and non-evangelicals squabble over which of them Sky-Daddy loves the best.

But I fail to see how this is relevant to the topic.

1 09 2008
ozatheist

Rudd, proves the premise – “even smart people believe stupid things”

AV – our constitution may not be directly built on a christian religion; however:

These values and principles reflect strong influences on Australia’s history and culture. These include Judeo-Christian ethics, …

Australia has a Judeo-Christian heritage,

two quotes taken directly from Becoming an Australian Citizen

separation of church and state in Australia is a myth – unfortunatley.

1 09 2008
AV

separation of church and state in Australia is a myth – unfortunatley.

Unfortunately, and given s. 116, unconstitutionally.

The citizenship document was a product of a Howard government with a vested interest in pandering to the ululating fundie vote in Sydney’s western suburbs and elsewhere. Mark Latham rightly observed that the Howard government front bench constituted a “conga-line of suckholes,” and he was absolutely right, including in the sense that Howard’s pandering to the Religious Right mimicked the Republican Party strategy in the US. The difference is, while in Australia the ululating fundie vote is significant enough to get an ululating fundie senator (barely) elected in 2004, they don’t exist in anything like the numbers or proportion that they do in the US. The document probably also reflects Howard’s own views and those of several of the more god-soaked among his ministry on the separation of church and state.

The citizenship document is a statement of the opinions of the Howard government. Some of those opinions are strange . . . if Australian values reflect Judaeo-Christian ethics, does this mean that if you want to be a good Australian citizen you should mandate slavery, the submission of women, abandoning your family in order to follow your religious leader, stoning adulterers to death, stoning apostates to death, and so on? Nonetheless, the document carries no weight regarding the question of whether the Australian Constitution is Christian, and that is what striker99 was contending.

2 09 2008
Sammy Jankis

. . . if Australian values reflect Judaeo-Christian ethics, does this mean that if you want to be a good Australian citizen you should mandate slavery, the submission of women, abandoning your family in order to follow your religious leader, stoning adulterers to death, stoning apostates to death, and so on?

If not any of the above, you should at least be prepared to lock asylum seekers, including young children, in detention camps for years on end. (It’s what Jesus would have done).

2 09 2008
Bruce

More High Court Challenges please.

Indeed, while we are at it I think it fair that if the Federal Government recognises marriage as “Judaeo-Christian”, we can expect the High Court to force them to retrospectively nullify all federal recognition of marriage. Oooo! Especially taxation!

Hello surplus!

Pity the states don’t have secular constitutions, then people’s marriages could be annulled outright. And how have atheists been getting married all these years???

4 09 2008
Sean the Blogonaut

What are these judeo-christian ethics?

The claim that Judeo-Christain ethics are some how inherent in the formation of our nation/laws is as ridiculous as Pastor Mike claiming that because God gives humans free will the concept of Freedom of Religion is a christian one.

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