Of late I've been reading Antony Flew's There is a God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind, and in one of the appendices of the book he gives space to Roy Abraham Varghese to "supplement" his (Flew's) reflections and respond to some of the arguments of the prominent atheists.
While I've heard many arguments for the existence of a non-physical intelligence as the source of the universe (i.e., God), I've never heard it put quite like this. Varghese writes:
In considering our immediate experience, let us perform a thought experiment. Think for a minute of a marble table in front of you. Do you think that, given a trillion years of infinite time, this table could suddenly or gradually become conscious, aware of its surroundings, aware of its identity the way you are? It is simply inconceivable that this would or could happen. And the same goes for any kind of matter. Once you understand the nature of matter, of mass-energy, you realize that, by its very nature, it could never become "aware," never "think," never say "I." But the atheist position is that, at some point in the history of the universe, the impossible and the inconceivable took place. Undifferentiated matter (here we include energy), at some point, became "alive," then conscious, then conceptually proficient, then an "I." But returning to our table, we see why this is simply laughable. The table has none of the properties of being conscious and, given infinite time, it cannot "acquire" such properties.
At first glance it sounds compelling. It doesn't seem intuitively likely that a table could somehow develop awareness of its own existence, that it could develop the sophisticated cognitive structure that marks conscious life. At the same time, I haven't worked through the science of Varghese's claim. Can any readers comment on this?