- The universe had a beginning
- Anything that had a beginning must have been caused by something else.
- Therefore the universe was caused by something else, which we call God.
As we saw last week, people are desperate to try and deny the belief in God, because admitting there is a God means that they have to submit to a higher authority and that of course is one of the main problems of mankind We always prefer to do our own thing! However, if we look at these arguments purely at face value and logically, we will see that these arguments are quite reasonable. They may seem a little complicated at first but don’t get too bogged down in the detail.
This week we are going to look at the argument from God’s existence based on the assumption that a designer (i.e. God) must exist since the universe contains countless evidences of design, in its very existence. From tiny atoms and DNA to living organisms and planets etc. Our world is full of order suggesting evidence of design by an intelligent source.
The most famous explanation of this is the “Watchmaker Analogy” given by William Paley in 1802. Paley stated that if you found a watch in an empty field, you would of course conclude that it was designed and didn’t just randomly form itself. In the same way, when we look at the universe and life, it is natural to conclude that there is a designer since we can see how precisely formed everything is.
This was the accepted belief until 57 years later when Charles Darwin produced “On the origin of species” which sought to explain the development of all life through natural selection. This groundbreaking work has since that time been the universally accepted theory by biologists, scientists and of course society in general.
Just about everyone acknowledges that many aspects of the universe and life have at least the appearance of design. Even the famous atheist Richard Dawkins implicitly acknowledged this when he said, “Biology is the study of complex things that appear to have been designed for a purpose.” (The blind watchmaker) The arguments debated over, are whether it is just an appearance of design or an actual design itself.
There is a growing movement now of scientists and others who are standing against Darwinianism. These scientists don’t specify who or what the intelligent agent is, but state that some features of the universe and of living things are better explained by an intelligent cause than by an undirected natural process. This is compatible with a Christian view, but is based entirely on scientific evidence rather than scripture. Intelligent Design refers to a scientific theory, not theology.
Let’s look at some of the reasons why people are convinced by the Intelligent design argument;
(1) Irreducible complexity
Irreducible complexity essentially states that there are biological structures that could not have evolved from a simpler state. A cell, for example, is composed of hundreds of complex molecular machines. Without any one of those machines, the cell would not work. So the cell is irreducibly complex: It couldn’t have evolved from a simpler state because it couldn’t have worked in a simpler state, and natural selection can only choose among traits that are already functioning.
The biochemist Michael Behe who devised this theory, offers the example of a mousetrap, which typically has five parts: a wooden base to support the contraption, a metal hammer to pound the mouse, a spring to power the hammer, a catch to release the spring and a metal bar that holds back the hammer. Without any one of these parts, the device is useless. Therefore, a mouse trap is irreducibly complex.
(2) Specified complexity
Specified complexity in a system means it could not have occurred by chance and it is not the result of any natural law that says it must be the way it is. A biological system exhibits specified complexity if it meets three criteria:
- Its makeup is not merely the result of a natural law.
- Its makeup is complex.
- Its makeup reflects an “independently given pattern or specification.”
(3) Law of Conservation of Information
The Law of Conservation of Information was created by William Dembski and involves some very detailed and complex mathematical equations. At its most basic, Dembski’s law states that nature cannot create new information (as in information contained in DNA); it can only work with the information it already has. Therefore, a more complex species (one that contains more information) could not have evolved from a less complex species.
(4) Fine-Tuning of the Universe
Fine-tuning refers to the surprising precision of nature’s physical constants. To explain the present state of the universe, scientific theories require that constants like the strength of gravity have extremely precise values. If they varied in the slightest, the universe could not even host life. Again, even most atheists agree that the universe at least appears “finely tuned” for life.
If you want to see how amazingly fine tuned the universe needs to be, have a look at this page which lists 34 kinds of finely-tuned values and what would happen if they varied slightly.
I find it comforting to know that scientists who are prepared to be open minded and have not just dismissed obvious evidence of design, may not believe in the God of the bible, but at least they have followed the evidence to its logical conclusions. As with last week’s argument, this evidence does not necessarily point us to the God of the bible, but at least it provides a reasonable, rational and intelligent argument for God’s existence. I may be biased, but for me this argument is better than just believing that this remarkable and complex universe just happened for no reason.