[EDITOR’S NOTE: Part I of this three-part series appeared in the May issue. Part II follows below and continues, without introductory comments, where the first article ended. Part III appeared in the July issue.]
DESIGN IN NATURE—THE TELEOLOGICAL ARGUMENT
One of the laws of thought employed in the field of logic is the law of rationality, which states that one should accept as true only those conclusions for which there is adequate evidence. This is sensible, for accepting as true a conclusion for which there is no evidence, or inadequate evidence, would be irrational. In establishing the prima facie case for the existence of God, theists present—through logic, clear reasoning, and factual data—arguments adequate to justify the acceptance of the conclusion that God exists. The approach is intended to be positive in nature, and to establish a proposition for which adequate evidence is available.
The evidence used to substantiate the theist’s proposition concerning God’s existence may take many forms. This should not be surprising since, if He does exist, God would be the greatest of all realities. His existence, therefore, could be extrapolated not from just a single line of reasoning, but from numerous avenues. As one writer of the past suggested:
The reality of such a Being can be firmly established only by concurrent reasons coming from various realms of existence, and approved by various powers of the human spirit. It is a conclusion that cannot be reached without the aid of arguments inadequate by themselves to so great a result, yet valid in their place, proving each some part of the great truth; proofs cumulative and complementary, each requiring others for its completion (Clarke, 1912, p. 104).
The various arguments presented by theists, all combined, make an ironclad case for God’s existence. Where one particular argument fails to impress or convince an inquirer, another will avail. Considered cumulatively, the evidence is adequate to justify the intended conclusion. It is my purpose here to present and discuss additional evidence substantiating the proposition: God exists.
In contending for the existence of God, theists often employ the Teleological Argument. “Teleology” has reference to purpose or design. Thus, this approach suggests that where there is purposeful design, there must be a designer. The deduction being made, of course, is that order, planning, and design in a system are indicative of intelligence, purpose, and specific intent on the part of the originating cause. In logical form, the theist’s argument may be presented as follows:
- If the Universe evinces purposeful design, there must have been a designer.
- The Universe does evince purposeful design.
- Thus, the Universe must have had a designer.
This correct form of logical reasoning, and the implications that flow from it, have not escaped the attention of those who do not believe in God. Paul Ricci, an atheistic philosopher and professor, has written that “...it’s true that everything designed has a designer...” (1986, p. 190). In fact, Mr. Ricci even conceded that the statement, “ ‘Everything designed has a designer,’ is an analytically true statement” and thus requires no formal proof (p. 190). Apparently Mr. Ricci understands that one does not get a poem without a poet, a law without a lawgiver, a painting without a painter, or design without a designer.
He is in good company among his disbelieving counterparts. For example, atheistic evolutionist Richard Lewontin made the following admission in an article he authored for Scientific American:
Life forms are more than simply multiple and diverse, however. Organisms fit remarkably well into the external world in which they live. They have morphologies, physiologies and behaviors that appear to have been carefully and artfully designed to enable each organism to appropriate the world around it for its own life. It was the marvelous fit of organisms to the environment, much more than the great diversity of forms, that was the chief evidence of a Supreme Designer (1978, 239:213, emp. added).
To be fair to both of these authors, and others like them, let me quickly point out that while they agree with the thrust of the theist’s argument (i.e., that design leads inevitably to a designer), they do not believe that there is evidence warranting the conclusion that a Supreme Designer exists, and they therefore have rejected any belief in God. Their disagreement with the theist would center on statement number two (the minor premise) in the above syllogism. While admitting that design demands a designer, they would deny that there is design in nature providing proof of the existence of a Great Designer.
A good example of such a denial can be found in a book written by British evolutionist, Richard Dawkins. During the 1800s, William Paley employed his now-famous “watch argument.” Paley argued that if one were to discover a watch lying upon the ground, and were to examine it closely, the design inherent in the watch would be enough to force the conclusion that there must have been a watchmaker. Paley continued his line of argumentation to suggest that the design inherent in the Universe should be enough to force the conclusion that there must have been a Great Designer. In 1986, Dawkins published The Blind Watchmaker, which was intended to put to rest once and for all Paley’s argument. The dust jacket of Dawkins’ book made that point clear:
There may be good reasons for belief in God, but the argument from design is not one of them.... [D]espite all appearances to the contrary, there is no watchmaker in nature beyond the blind forces of physics.... Natural selection, the unconscious, automatic, blind yet essentially nonrandom process that Darwin discovered, and that we now understand to be the explanation for the existence and form of all life, has no purpose in mind. It has no mind and no mind’s eye. It does not plan for the future. It has no vision, no foresight, no sight at all. If it can be said to play the role of watchmaker in nature, it is the blind watchmaker (1986, emp. in orig.).
The disagreement between the theist and atheist is not whether design demands a designer. Rather, the point of contention is whether or not there is design in nature adequate to substantiate the conclusion that a Designer does, in fact, exist. This is where the Teleological Argument is of benefit.
Design of the Universe
Our Universe operates in accordance with exact scientific laws. The precision of the Universe, and the exactness of these laws, allow scientists to launch rockets to the Moon, with the full knowledge that, upon their arrival, they can land within a few feet of their intended target. Such precision and exactness also allow astronomers to predict solar/lunar eclipses years in advance, or to determine when Halley’s Comet can be seen once again from the Earth. Science writer Lincoln Barnett once observed:
This functional harmony of nature Berkeley, Descartes, and Spinoza attributed to God. Modern physicists who prefer to solve their problems without recourse to God (although this seems to be more difficult all the time) emphasize that nature mysteriously operates on mathematical principles. It is the mathematical orthodoxy of the Universe that enables theorists like Einstein to predict and discover natural laws, simply by the solution of equations (1959, p. 22).
The precision, complexity, and orderliness within the Universe are not in dispute; writers such as Ricci, Dawkins, and Lewontin acknowledge as much. But while atheists willingly concede complexity, and even order, they are not prepared to concede design because the implication of such a concession would demand a Designer. Is there evidence of design? The atheist claims no such evidence exists. The theist, however, affirms that it does, and offers the following information in support of that affirmation.
We live in a tremendously large Universe. While its outer limits have not been measured, it is estimated to be as much as 20 billion light years in diameter (i.e., the distance it would take light to travel across the Universe at a speed of over 186,000 miles per second; see Lawton, 1981, 89:105). There are an estimated one billion galaxies in the Universe (Lawton, 1981, 89:98), and an estimated 25 sextillion stars. The Milky Way galaxy in which we live contains over 100 billion stars, and is so large that even traveling at the speed of light would require 100,000 years to cross its diameter. Light travels in one year approximately 5.87 x 1012 miles; in 100,000 years, that would be 5.87 x 1017 miles, or 587 quadrillion miles just to cross the diameter of a single galaxy. If we drew a map of the Milky Way galaxy, and represented the Earth and Sun as two dots one inch apart (thus a scale of one inch equals 93 million miles—the distance between the Earth and the Sun), we would need a map at least four miles wide to locate the next nearest star, and a map 25,000 miles wide to reach the center of our galaxy. Without doubt, this is a rather impressive Universe.
Yet while the size itself is impressive, the inherent design is even more so. The Sun’s interior temperature is estimated to be over 20 million degrees Celsius (Lawton, 1981, 89:102). The Earth, however, is located at exactly the correct distance from the Sun to receive the proper amount of heat and radiation to sustain life as we know it. If the Earth were moved just 10% closer to the Sun (about 10 million miles), far too much heat and radiation would be absorbed. If the Earth were moved just 10% further from the Sun, too little heat would be absorbed. Either scenario would spell doom for life on the Earth.
The Earth is rotating on its axis at 1,000 miles per hour at the equator, and moving around the Sun at 70,000 miles per hour (approximately 19 miles per second), while the Sun and its solar system are moving through space at 600,000 miles per hour in an orbit so large it would take over 220 million years just to complete a single orbit. Interestingly, however, as the Earth moves in its orbit around the Sun, it departs from a straight line by only one-ninth of an inch every eighteen miles. If it departed by one-eighth of an inch, we would come so close to the Sun that we would be incinerated; if it departed by one-tenth of an inch, we would find ourselves so far from the Sun that we would all freeze to death (Science Digest, 1981, 89:124). The Earth is poised some 240,000 miles from the Moon, whose gravitational pull produces ocean tides. If the Moon were moved closer to the Earth by just a fifth, the tides would be so enormous that twice a day they would reach 35-50 feet high over most of the Earth’s surface.
What would happen if the rotation rate of the Earth were halved, or doubled? If it were halved, the seasons would be doubled in their length, which would cause such harsh heat and cold over much of the Earth that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to grow enough food to feed the Earth’s population. If the rotation rate were doubled, the length of each season would be halved, and it would be difficult or impossible to grow enough food to feed the Earth’s population. The Earth is tilted on its axis at exactly 23.5 degrees. Were that tilt to be reduced to zero, much of the Earth’s water would accumulate around the two poles, leaving vast deserts in its place. If the atmosphere surrounding the Earth were much thinner, meteorites could strike our planet with greater force and frequency, causing worldwide devastation.
The oceans provide a huge reservoir of moisture that constantly is evaporating and condensing, thus falling upon the land as refreshing rain. It is a well-known fact that water heats and cools at a much slower rate than a solid land mass, which explains why desert regions can be blistering hot in the daytime and freezing cold at night. Water, however, holds its temperature longer, and provides a sort of natural heating/air-conditioning system for the land areas of the Earth. Temperature extremes would be much more erratic than they are, were it not for the fact that approximately four-fifths of the Earth is covered with water. In addition, humans and animals inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. On the other hand, plants take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. We depend upon the world of botany for our oxygen supply, but often fail to realize that approximately 90% of our oxygen comes from microscopic plants in the seas (see Asimov, 1975, 2:116). If our oceans were appreciably smaller, we soon would be out of air to breathe.
Can a person reasonably be expected to believe that these exacting requirements for life as we know it have been met “just by accident”? The Earth is exactly the right distance from the Sun; it is exactly the right distance from the Moon; it has exactly the right diameter; it has exactly the right atmospheric pressure; it has exactly the right tilt; it has exactly the right amount of oceanic water; it has exactly the right weight and mass; and so on. Were this many requirements to be met in any other essential area of life, the idea that they had been provided “just by accident” would be dismissed immediately as ludicrous. Yet atheists and agnostics suggest that the Universe, the Earth, and life on the Earth are all here as a result of fortuitous accidents. Physicist John Gribbin (1983), writing on the numerous specific requirements necessary for life on our planet, emphasized in great detail both the nature and essentiality of those requirements, yet curiously chose to title his article, “Earth’s Lucky Break”—as if all of the precision, orderliness, and intricate design in the Universe could be explained by postulating that the Earth simply received, in a roll of the cosmic dice, a “lucky break.”
For more than a decade and a half, British evolutionist Sir Fred Hoyle has stressed the insurmountable problems with such thinking, and has addressed specifically the many problems faced by those who defend the idea of a naturalistic origin of life on Earth. In fact, Dr. Hoyle described the atheistic concept that disorder gives rise to order in a rather picturesque manner when he observed that “the chance that higher forms have emerged in this way is comparable with the chance that a tornado sweeping through a junk-yard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein” (1981b, p. 105). Dr. Hoyle, even went so far as to draw the following conclusion:
Once we see, however, that the probability of life originating at random is so utterly miniscule as to make the random concept absurd, it becomes sensible to think that the favourable properties of physics on which life depends, are in every respect deliberate.... It is therefore almost inevitable that our own measure of intelligence must reflect in a valid way the higher intelligences...even to the extreme idealized limit of God (Hoyle and Wickramasinghe, 1981, pp. 141,144, emp. in orig.).
Atheist Richard Dawkins was forced to admit: “The more statistically improbable a thing is, the less we can believe that it just happened by blind chance. Superficially, the obvious alternative to chance is an intelligent Designer” (1982, p. 130, emp. added). That is the very conclusion theists have drawn from the available evidence—in keeping with the law of rationality. The statistical improbability of the Universe “just happening by blind chance” is staggering. The only alternative is an Intelligent Designer—God.
Design of the Human Body
Many years ago, the ancient scholar Augustine observed: “Men go abroad to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long course of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars; and they pass by themselves without wondering.” Indeed, while we stand in amazement at so many stunning scenes from our unique Universe, we often fail to stand equally amazed at the marvelous creation of man. According to those who do not believe in God, the human body is little more than the result of a set of fortuitous circumstances credited to that mythical lady, “Mother Nature.” Yet such a suggestion does not fit the actual facts of the case, as even evolutionists have been forced to recognize from time to time. The late George Gaylord Simpson of Harvard once suggested that in man one finds “the most highly endowed organization of matter that has yet appeared on the earth...” (1949, p. 293). Another evolutionist observed:
When you come right down to it, the most incredible creation in the universe is you—with your fantastic senses and strengths, your ingenious defense systems, and mental capabilities so great you can never use them to the fullest. Your body is a structural masterpiece more amazing than science fiction (Guinness, 1987, p. 5).
Can one reasonably be expected to conclude that the “structural masterpiece” of the human body—with its “ingenious” systems and “highly endowed organization”—is the result of blind chance operating over eons of time in nature as atheism suggests? Or would it be more in keeping with the facts of the matter to suggest that the human body is the result of purposeful design by a Master Designer?
For organizational purposes, the human body may be considered at four different levels (see Jackson, 1993, pp. 5-6). First, there are cells, representing the smallest unit of life. Second, there are tissues (muscle tissue, nerve tissue, etc.), which are groups of the same kind of cells carrying on the same kind of activity. Third, there are organs (heart, liver, etc.), which are groups of tissues working together in unison. Fourth, there are systems (reproductive system, circulatory system, etc.), which are composed of groups of organs carrying out specific bodily functions. While we will not have the space in this article to examine each of them, an investigation of these various levels of organization, and of the human body as a whole, leads inescapably to the conclusion that there is intelligent design at work. As Wayne Jackson noted: “It is therefore quite clear...that the physical body has been marvelously designed and intricately organized, for the purpose of facilitating human existence upon the planet Earth” (1993, p. 6). In light of the following facts, such a statement is certainly justified.
A human body is composed of over 30 different kinds of cells (red blood cells, white blood cells, nerve cells, etc.), totalling approximately 100 trillion cells in an average adult (Beck, 1971, p. 189). These cells come in a variety of sizes and shapes, with different functions and life expectancies. For example, some cells (e.g., male spermatazoa) are so small that 20,000 would fit inside a capital “O” from a standard typewriter, each being only 0.05 mm long. Some cells, placed end-to-end, would make only one inch if 6,000 were assembled together. Yet all the cells of the human body, if set end-to-end, would encircle the Earth over 200 times. Even the largest cell of the human body, the female ovum, is unbelievably small, being only 0.01 of an inch in diameter. Cells have three major components. First, each cell is composed of a cell membrane that encloses the organism. Second, inside the cell is a three-dimensional cytoplasm—a watery matrix containing specialized organelles. Third, within the cytoplasm is the nucleus, which contains most of the genetic material and serves as the control center of the cell.
The lipoprotein cell membrane (lipids/proteins/lipids) is approximately 0.06-0.08 of a micrometer thick, yet allows selective transport into, and out of, the cell. Evolutionist Ernest Borek has observed: “The membrane recognizes with its uncanny molecular memory the hundreds of compounds swimming around it and permits or denies passage according to the cell’s requirements” (1973, p. 5).
Inside the cytoplasm, there are over 20 different chemical reactions occurring at any one time, with each cell containing five major components for: (1) communication; (2) waste disposal; (3) nutrition; (4) repair; and (5) reproduction. Within this watery matrix there are such organelles as the mitochondria (over 1,000 per cell in many instances) that provide the cell with its energy. The endoplasmic reticulum is “believed to be a transport system designed to carry materials from one part of the cell to the other” (Pfeiffer, 1964, p. 13). Ribosomes are miniature protein-producing factories. Golgi bodies store the proteins manufactured by the ribosomes. Lysozomes within the cytoplasm function as garbage disposal units.
The nucleus is the control center of the cell, and is separated from the cytoplasm by a nuclear membrane. Within the nucleus is the genetic machinery of the cell (chromosomes and genes containing deoxyribonucleic acid—DNA). The DNA is a supermolecule that carries the coded information for the replication of the cell. If the DNA from a single human cell were removed from the nucleus and unraveled (it is found in the cell in a spiral configuration), it would be approximately six feet long, and would contain over a billion biochemical steps. It has been estimated that if all the DNA in an adult human were placed end-to-end, it would reach to the Sun and back (186 million miles) 400 times.
It should also be noted that the DNA molecule does something that we as humans have yet to accomplish: it stores coded information in a chemical format, and then uses a biologic agent (RNA) to decode and activate it. As Darrel Kautz has stated: “Human technology has not yet advanced to the point of storing information chemically as it is in the DNA molecule” (1988, p. 45, emp. in orig.; see also Jackson, 1993, pp. 11-12). If transcribed into English, the DNA in a single human cell would fill a 1,000 volume set of encyclopedias approximately 600 pages each (Gore, 1976, p. 357). Yet just as amazing is the fact that all the genetic information needed to reproduce the entire human population (about five billion people) could be placed into a space of about one-eighth of a square inch. In comparing the amount of information contained in the DNA molecule with a much larger computer microchip, evolutionist Irvin Block remarked: “We marvel at the feats of memory and transcription accomplished by computer microchips, but these are gargantuan compared to the protein granules of deoxyribonucleic acid, DNA” (1980, p. 52). In an article he authored for Encyclopaedia Britannica, Carl Sagan observed that “The information content of a simple cell has been estimated as around 1012 bits [i.e., one trillion—BT]...” (1974, 10:894). To emphasize to the reader the enormity of this figure, Dr. Sagan then noted that if one were to count every letter in every word of every book in the world’s largest library (over ten million volumes), the final tally would be approximately a trillion letters. Thus, a single cell contains the equivalent information content of every book in the world’s largest library of more than ten million volumes! Every rational person recognizes that not one of the books in such a library “just happened.” Rather, each and every one is the result of intelligence and painstaking design.
What, then, may we say about the infinitely more complex genetic code found within the DNA in each cell? Sir Fred Hoyle concluded that the notion that the code’s complexity could be arrived at by chance is “nonsense of a high order” (1981a, p. 527). In their classic text on the origin of life, Thaxton, Bradley, and Olsen addressed the implications of the genetic code found within the DNA molecule.
We know that in numerous cases certain effects always have intelligent causes, such as dictionaries, sculptures, machines and paintings. We reason by analogy that similar effects have intelligent causes. For example, after looking up to see “BUY FORD” spelled out in smoke across the sky we infer the presence of a skywriter even if heard or saw no airplane. We would similarly conclude the presence of intelligent activity were we to come upon an elephant-shaped topiary in a cedar forest.
In like manner an intelligible communication via radio signal from some distant galaxy would be widely hailed as evidence of an intelligent source. Why then doesn’t the message sequence on the DNA molecule also constitute prima facie evidence for an intelligent source? After all, DNA information is not just analogous to a message sequence such as Morse code, it is such a message sequence....
We believe that if this question is considered, it will be seen that most often it is answered in the negative simply because it is thought to be inappropriate to bring a Creator into science (1984, pp. 211-212, emp. in orig.).
The complexity and intricacy of the DNA molecule—combined with the staggering amount of chemically-coded information it contains—speak unerringly to the fact that this “supermolecule” simply could not have happened by blind chance. As Andrews has observed:
It is not possible for a code, of any kind, to arise by chance or accident.... A code is the work of an intelligent mind. Even the cleverest dog or chimpanzee could not work out a code of any kind. It is obvious then that chance cannot do it.... This could no more have been the work of chance or accident than could the “Moonlight Sonata” be played by mice running up and down the keyboard of my piano! Codes do not arise from chaos (1978, pp. 28-29).
Indeed, codes do not arise from chaos. As Dawkins correctly remarked: “The more statistically improbable a thing is, the less we can believe that it just happened by blind chance. Superficially, the obvious alternative to chance is an intelligent Designer” (1982, p. 130, emp. added). That is the exact point the theist is making: an intelligent Designer is demanded by the evidence.
Atheistic philosopher, Paul Ricci, has suggested that “Although many have difficulty understanding the tremendous order and complexity of functions of the human body (the eye, for example), there is no obvious designer” (1986, p. 191, emp. added). The only people who “have difficulty understanding the tremendous order and complexity” found in the Universe are those who have “refused to have God in their knowledge” (Romans 1:28). Such people can parrot the phrase that “there is no obvious designer,” but their arguments are not convincing. One does not get a poem without a poet, or a law without a lawgiver. One does not get a painting without a painter, or a musical score without a composer. And just as surely, one does not get purposeful design without a designer. The design inherent in the Universe is evident—from the macrocosm to the microcosm—and is sufficient to draw the conclusion demanded by the evidence, in keeping with the law of rationality. God does exist.
[to be continued]
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