The Existence of God: Nature’s Evidence
According to Paley, the existence and design of a watch suggest the existence of a watchmaker. Likewise, the design exhibited in nature and matter, reveals adaptive complexity similar to that of machines, and therefore suggests the existence of a designer.
As Paley would argue, “…every manifestation of design which existed in the watch exists in the works of nature with the difference, on the side of nature, being greater and more, and that in a degree which exceeds all computation…”
This line of reasoning had been challenged by the Scottish philosopher David Hume (1711-1776), who made it clear that the apparent design in nature may be simply a “happy accident” and further that organisms may be only superficially like machines but natural in essence. Moreover, for Hume, given enough time, a chance reshuffling of the stuff of nature could produce what is now evident.
There are two branches of science in which the latest research findings vindicate the Psalmist and Paley as being correct in their suggestions that the heavens and design in nature point to the existence of God. These branches of science are Microbiology or Biochemistry and Astronomy. First we’ll focus on the evidence from Astronomy presently, but contrary to Hume’s view
watch a short video clip on BIOLOGICAL MACHINES (4 mins.)
If you sum up the poetic sentiments of the Psalm it is simply saying that the celestial bodies were made by God and testify to the existence of God. Is this notion credible, scientifically?
The answer is a resounding ‘yes’ and astronomers, albeit with embarrassment and reluctance, are the ones providing the evidence.
The late NASA scientist Robert Jastrow, who professed to be an agnostic, said in his book God and the Astronomers, “Five independent lines of evidence—the motion of the galaxies, the discovery of the primordial fireball, the law of thermodynamics, the abundance of helium in the universe and the life story of the stars—point to one conclusion; all indicate that the Universe had a beginning.” (1992 edition, 103)
Why don’t we listen to the Bible? “In the beginning God created the heavens…” “Thou, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Thine hands.” “The heavens declare the glory of God.”
I must close this section. For me the most telling comment from an astronomer is from the said Robert Jastrow. He says, “A sound explanation may exist for the explosive birth of our Universe; but if it does, science cannot find out what the explanation is…The scientist’s pursuit of the past ends in the moment of creation. For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountain of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.” (God and the Astronomers, 1992 edition, 106-107).
So based on current scientific findings it is no longer defensible to say what Carl Sagan said years ago “The COSMOS is all there is, all there was, and all there ever will be.” Wrong, wrong, wrong.
There was a time when the universe was not and by the only logical option a supreme mind/will was exercised to bring time and space into being. That supreme mind/will is the personal God whom the Bible says repeatedly, transcends time and space and is the best explanation for the evidence that the universe provides.
Listen to Allan Sandage (winner of the Crafoord prize, astronomy’s equivalent of the Nobel), “I find it quite improbable that [the order in the universe] came out of chaos. There has to be some organizing principle. God to me is a mystery but is the explanation for the miracle of existence — why there is something rather than nothing.” (cited in John Lennox, Gunning for God, p. 35)
Of course the brilliant Astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson mocks the notion of intelligent design within the universe by pointing out the life-threatening and dangerous zones of the universe and of earth. He studiously forgets a few things though. 1) Despite the realities he alludes to he can function as an astrophysicist only because he is dealing with a universe which, on the whole, allows for scientific predictions and such predictions presuppose and/or entail order and design a la laws of nature. 2) Nature now is not what it was at creation and man’s role in tampering with nature must not be overlooked.
But here’s an overlooked point highlighted by Roy Varghese who co-authored Flew’s last book There is a God. Since Hume and many non-religious scientists are so hooked on the inviolable regularity of the laws of nature one must ask if these laws came into being [miraculously] with the origin of the universe or they developed gradually over time.
Varghese asks then answers an uncomfortable set of questions in this regard. He queries, “How were [the laws of nature] conceived, and just as important, how were things forced to follow the laws? What compels the protons and neutrons in an atom to be bound by strong nuclear forces that are strong enough to overcome the positive charges that could blow apart the nucleus?…who keeps the underlying laws of nature in place? Ultimately it’s God who ensures their continued operation…Thus, God did not simply invent all things but constantly holds them in being.” (Roy Varghese, The Wonder of the World: A Journey from Modern Science to the Mind of God, 2003, 173, 63)
The best explanation then of the origin of the universe, given its contingent nature, fine-tuning and complexity is an intelligent designer God, a personal causal agent not nothingness plus time plus chance.
The Psalmist, inspired by God, wrote in poetic sentiments some 2900 years ago what science is now able to confirm, “The heavens declare the glory of God, the firmament showeth His handiwork.” Nature continues to give eloquent testimony or compelling evidence concerning the existence of God. What is your personal verdict on the evidence? God deserves a place in your life since in Jesus Christ he paid the price for your sins so that you might not die for your own sins.
There is arguably no greater ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ evidence for the existence of a personal intelligent designer God than the presence and pervasiveness of biological information in all living things.
Ponder the testimony of atheistic Biologist Richard Dawkins on the nature of biological information
“…at the molecular genetic level, every single one of more than a trillion cells in the body contains about a thousand times as much precisely-coded digital information as my entire computer…” (The Blind Watchmaker, 1986, xiii).
What Dawkins is getting at here is the stubborn fact that DNA, the molecule of heredity, is information rich.
“In order for any organism to be whatever it is, its genetic program (DNA) must specify what sort of organism it will be and, within surprisingly narrow limits, what specific characteristics it will assume…The DNA must be faithfully copied to every single cell of an organism that will eventually consist of billions of cells if the organism is to remain viable…” (John W. Oller Jr. et al in The Creation Hypothesis, 1994, edited by J.P. Moreland, 252, 253.)
Each of us began as a tiny entity about the size of a full stop. Yet all of our physical characteristics were spelled out in our DNA and this coded information guided our development into adulthood. Modern scientists with their advanced technology and superior intelligence still can’t store so much information in so small a container as one cell of the human body (probe Dawkins’ words again). What would any rational person conclude about the origin of a computer (a mechanical information-storing facility)? By chance, natural cause or by intelligent cause? What is the inference to the best explanation here?
Bear in mind too that information is a non-material (mental) entity and cannot at all originate from matter though it can be stored in matter. It follows inexorably then that once we detect genuine complex or specified information we must conclude that intelligence is behind its origin. This has been the scientific basis/justification for the SETI program, the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence. SETI scientists scan the millions of radio signals produced in outer space in search of a specified, complex pattern distinguishable from the normal noise (unspecified or specified but simple signal patterns) of outer space (cf. the movie Contact).
It is understandable to me then why the late British Atheist and world renowned Philosopher Antony Flew surrendered atheism and gave one of three reasons for his change as the formidable challenge of finding a naturalistic [non-God] explanation for “…the origin of the coding and information processing that is central to all life-forms…” (in his There is a God, 2007, 126).
Watch a DVD clip on Biological Information from the DVD The Case for a Creator produced by Illlustra Media.
In the field of origin-of-life studies leading researchers bluntly admit their ignorance of the origin of genetic information. Carl Woese, an internationally recognized leader in origin-of-life studies lamented “The origins of translation, that is before it became a true decoding mechanism, are for now lost in the dimness of the past, and I don’t wish to engage here in hand-waving speculations as to what polymerization processes might have preceded and given rise to it, or to speculate on the origins of tRNA, tRNA charging systems or the genetic code.” (in RNA, 2001, 1064 cited in Flew, 128).
Antonio Lazcano, who served for two terms as President of the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life, said “Life could not have evolved without a genetic mechanism—one able to store, replicate, and transmit to its progeny information that can change with time…Precisely how the first genetic machinery evolved also persists as an unresolved issue…The exact pathway for life’s origin may never be known.” (in Natural History, February, 2006, cited in Flew, 130).
Yet ponder the strange albeit old words of the Nobel Prize-winning physiologist George Wald of Harvard University concerning the origin of life “Time is in fact the hero of the plot. The time with which we have to deal is of the order of 2 billion years. What we regard as impossible on the basis of human experience is meaningless here. Given so much time, the ‘impossible’ becomes possible, the possible probable, and the probable virtually certain. One has only to wait: time itself performs the miracles…we choose to believe the impossible: that life arose spontaneously by chance.…” (George Wald, “The Origin of Life” in Editors of Scientific American, The Physics and Chemistry of Life, 1955, p. 12).
This is nice-sounding nonsense because time like chance has no causative powers and so is not a mechanism that can accomplish anything so Wald’s alleged hero is pure fiction!