Designed or a Chance Shuffling of Matter

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, April 2, 2015 1 comments

by Steve Risner

Thank you for reading! Last week I began a three-week series on the most basic arguments for the existence of God. We started with the Cosmological or Creation Argument, which you can read here. Essentially, it simply states that everything with a beginning had a cause. Science tells us the universe had a beginning. Therefore, it must have a cause. That cause would need to be greater than the universe and exist outside of it. That's God. This week, we will briefly discuss the Design or Teleological Argument. This argument is as simple and logical as the last one. Let's take a look.

Say you're walking along in an open field, miles from anything. You look down and find a watch in the dirt. You pick that watch up, noting it appears to be very old. You think to yourself, “Holy cow! I've just found something that looks just like a watch. But surely, since we're out here in the middle of nowhere, it was the result of natural processes accidentally working together to make every part of this thing work together.” Sounds logical, right? Of course not. This particular analogy, the Watchmaker Analogy, is around 200 years old and is as applicable today as ever—possibly more so as science learns more and more about the complexities of life. We know if we find something like a watch that it was not the result of blind, random, natural processes, but the result of the work of a designer with an intelligence and intent. We can apply this to extremely simple things we find and apply simple logic and a little experience and decide if something is the result of design or natural processes. Sure, there could be a few exceptions as there is with nearly anything. But the “rule” is pretty straightforward: if it has the hallmarks of design, it was very likely designed. The more complicated the design, the more likely it was designed.

I have an uncle who walks plowed fields every year looking for Indian artifacts. This, to me, greatly demonstrates this argument. He can pick up a rock and, after just a few seconds of evaluating it, can determine if it was just a rock or if it was a rock that had been fashioned into a tool. A rock. We can't get much simpler than that and yet we can determine, employing a few rules and our experience, that the rock was either the result of natural processes or that it was designed. How much simpler is a rock shaped like a triangle than a watch? Now how much simpler is a watch than even the simplest life form? The simplest life form we are aware of is indescribably more complicated than a watch. Yet, some who are seemingly very intelligent want us to believe that nature, in its ignorance and with no intent whatsoever, has fashioned DNA, the Kreb's Cycle, the cardiovascular system, the liver, the human brain, or the eye. That is remarkable!

What does the skeptic say in response to this? The silly response is that, although life clearly seems to have been designed, it only appears that way. It was actually the result of blind, mindless, accidental mistakes. Many secularists agree that life seems obviously a result of design. But many will make the claim that although we cannot design anything even remotely as complicated as life, nature brought about the diversity and complexity of life on its own with no intent or reasoning. Even one of the most notable atheists, Richard Dawkins, happily admits this when he said, “Biology is the study of complex things that appear to have been designed for a purpose.” That makes me feel like humankind must be pretty stupid. We can't make something near as complex as a mindless force known as nature? This confirms for me that, when necessary, even very intelligent people will abandon logic and reason so they can hold onto an idea that is intellectually void or bankrupt.

The Design Argument has two primary fronts: biological design and the fine-tuning of the universe. As an example of the biological argument, let's look at DNA for just a moment. DNA must be intelligently designed because it contains a code that, when deciphered properly, holds the blueprints to build a living thing. A code, by necessity, must originate from an intelligent source with the intent of being decoded by another intelligent source. Yet, many atheists will hold to the idea that DNA is an accident! The luckiest accident in the history of the universe, I would guess.

Many of the blog posts I've written are based in this portion of the Design Argument. I've written about many amazing parts of living things—primarily human—as well as how they interact with each other. Life is overwhelmingly complicated. We understand a very tiny portion of it. The biological portion of this argument is based on specified complexity and irreducible complexity. Specified complexity states that something that is specific in its order or purpose, and it is complex (exceeding what could reasonably be possible randomly) and must have an intelligent source. Something that is irreducibly complex is something that is highly complicated and cannot work if all its parts are not working exactly right. This means they are too complicated to have evolved from less complex predecessors. Often used examples of this are the bacterial flagellum or the clotting cascade. These essential parts of living things don't work if all their parts are not working and in the proper order. It's like if you have a car but remove the battery. It won't start. Put in the battery but remove the starter. It won't start. Put in the starter but remove the spark plugs. It won't start. We could go on and on. A car is a laughable comparison if we look at a single cell—a tiny chemical factory smaller than a period but more complex than a Ford plant that makes cars. I wrote a post called Systems that shows how all the dozen or so systems we have in our bodies rely heavily on all the other systems working properly. So which came first? How did they come about from simpler forms? It is just as illogical as any other Darwinian argument.

Then there is the fine-tuning of the universe, which refers to the surprising precision of nature’s physical constants. Alter any of a few dozen constants and life in the universe would not be possible. Even most atheists agree that the universe at least appears “finely tuned” for life. One example of this is the force of gravity. If it were a tiny bit stronger or weaker, stars wouldn't work properly. Our solar system would be exceedingly different in terms of planetary orbits. The moon wouldn't control the tides properly, and on and on. You can find a very long list of these finely tuned variables here. It's astounding, really. Isaiah 40:12 says, “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?” He truly holds up the universe and outlined everything that holds it together. What an awesome God we serve.

Stay tuned next week as we look at the very controversial Moral Argument for the existence of God. With these arguments, I'm sure any believer can be ready to provide a reason for their faith in the existence of the God of the universe.

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Charlie said...

In addition to this, check out my post about the concept of "Teleomy" which really damages the idea of life originating by chance.