Quick Thought – Posing A Challenge To Atheist

On one hand atheist such as Richard Dawkins agree that “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” On the other hand atheist reject ID on the premise that there is insufficient evidence. Yet when you press the naturalist on the question of origins they concede the fact that even the most advanced evolutionary biologist in the world have no clue how life could have arisen by natural processes.

It’s interesting how so many prominent atheist thinkers agree that life appears designed, yet they all insist a designer is superfluous even though they have no clue how life could have arisen by natural processes. Are atheist guilty of blindly filling in the gaps with a natural unguided process? Is there an apparent prejudice within the scientific community that precludes God as a possibility? If life appears designed and there is no evidence to suggest it came about naturally, isn’t it logical to infer a designer?

The fact that naturalism is incapable of explaining our origins follows the basic predictions from the God-hypothesis. Sure atheist can argue that they’re “still working on it,” but couldn’t this argument be perpetuated indefinitely? At what point does the absence of evidence become the evidence of absence? How can God be considered superfluous when we have no substantiated alternative explanation, and all the while life appears to be purposefully designed? We are far beyond basic God of the gaps here; advances in molecular biology and the current data about the origins of the cosmos have some remarkable design engineering implications.

Unless there is evidence that can adequately explain away the appearance of design, I think it’s safe to assume that Intelligent Design is in inference to the best explanation.

Materialism, Atheism & Naturalism – The M.A.N. Made World

Naturalist will often argue that the theory of Intelligent Design (ID) isn’t verifiable because we can not “put God under the microscope,” thus they conveniently erect the self-serving impasse that if God can’t be put into a test tube then He must not exist, or simply doesn’t deserve any significant consideration. So If God were alive how does the naturalist presume one might conclude his existence? Its important to distinguish that advocates for ID do not claim to have God in a test-tube, they are simply arguing that ID is in inference to the best explanation.

Naturalism has befuddled itself with the materialistic concept of reality while dismissing the more important concept of actuality, what the naturalist have managed to do is to create a system or rhetoric which precludes their acknowledgment of Gods existence regardless if He actually does or doesn’t exist. It appears as if the naturalist are not concerned in discovering reality as much as they are seeking to preserve a materialistic ideology. It’s followers seem more predicated on defending the walls of their skepticism than expanding their horizons.

Our inability to falsify God hardly disqualifies Him from being true, if one wants  to assume that reality ends where the material stops, then by all means one is welcome to stay in it’s naturalistic conclave. Sir Arthur Eddington, an astrophysicist from the early 1900’s  exemplified this type of argument from incredulity when he said “Philosophically the notion of a beginning of the present order is repugnant to me. I should like to find a genuine loophole. I simply don’t believe the present order of things started off with a bang.. its preposterous.. it leaves me cold.”

The idea behind scientific theories is not to formulate a hypothesis which best conforms to our world view, but to see which explanation can best track the footprints of life back to its origins, technically speaking we will never be able to determine who or what actually caused those prints i.e. the existence of God or an unguided natural process, but we can most certainly tell which foot best fits the shoe.

The poster-boys for the ‘new atheist’ such as Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens hold the idea of an intelligent designer as superfluous in understanding how the universe began, thus the idea of God is nothing more than a delusion – or a disease as the more militant atheist would argue. However, the concept of design was actually the foundation for early modern scientist such as Kepler, Boyle, Galileo, Copernicus & Newton. The motto of such early scientist was intelligibility; they believed that they could study nature and make sense of it all – Why? because they believed science was intelligible to the human mind in that it was designed by a rational intellect.

Don’t doubt the Creator, because it is inconceivable that accidents alone could be the controller of this universe.” – Isaac Newton

The concept behind materialism is that matter and energy are the entities from which everything arises. Essentially there’s nothing beyond the physical world that exists; ultimately life evolved from non-living particles, thus there is no God and ultimately no purpose – only electrically charged signals blasting through our material brains. Proponents of such naturalistic and atheistic ideologies usually appeal to reason and science while arrogating to themselves the “high-ground” in the debate. Early evolutionary scientist didn’t have any problem with the idea of materialism because they assumed the world was infinite, that the origins of life and the solar system could simply be explained through a seamless materialistic account – Human life, simpler life, chemical life, elementary particles from eternities past. However, several scientific discoveries in the 20th century have brought this materialist thesis toppling down.

In 1935, Astronomer Edwin Hubble headed a startling breakthrough in the field of Cosmology; the great dome telescopes revealed to us that the universe was not eternal like scientist had once thought. Hubble discovered that not only were we just one out of an innumerable number of galaxies, but even more significant was that the light coming from these galaxies was being shifted in the magnetic spectrum, indicating that the light was coming from objects that were receding, revealing that the universe was expanding. This led cosmologist to contemplate, what happens if we begin to wind the clock backwards? if you go back a million years, a hundred-million years, etc. With each step backwards the universe would get smaller and smaller until eventually all matter was locked in a finite beginning; this discovery directly contradicted the materialistic view point that the universe is eternal and self-existent. After looking into Hubble’s telescope for the first time Albert Einstein famously stated

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“I now see the necessity of a beginning”

Edwin Hubble’s discovery of the expanding universe had remarkable theistic implications in the field of astronomy and cosmology. Renown American astronomer, Allan Sandage reluctantly stated “Here is evidence for what can only be described as a supernatural event. There is no way that this could have been predicted within the realm of physics as we know it” Furthermore, leading NASA scientist and astronomer, Robert Jastrow famously said “This is an exceeding strange development unexpected by all but the theologians who have accepted the word of the Bible. 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 mountains of ignorance; he is about to conqueror the highest peak, as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been siting there for centuries.”  

In 1968 Stephen Hawking solved Albert Einstein’s field equations of general relativity and further cemented Hubble’s discovery of a finite beginning. Hawking proved that if you go back in time you eventually reach a point where the curvature of spacetime becomes so tight that it becomes infinitely tight, a circle so tight that it has no volume. Thus we come to the question asked by Stephen Meyer “how much stuff, can you fit in zero space?” obviously no stuff goes into no space, Thus we can see how the ‘big-bang’ theory coupled with general relativity describes both a beginning in time and a beginning in space and matter.

“Hubble’s discovery on the expansion of the universe was one of the most important intellectual discoveries of the 20th century, or of any century. It transformed the debate about whether the universe had a beginning. If galaxies are moving apart, they must have been closer together in the past.. Many scientist were still unhappy with the universe having a beginning because it seemed to imply that physics broke down. One would have to invoke an outside agency, for convenience sake, one can call God.” – Stephen Hawking

Intelligent Design vs Evolution: The Origins of Life

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How did life originate? did we appear from simple non-living chemicals? or was life designed? Those who argue from the corner of chemical evolution generally appeal to neo-darwinian evolution in attesting to an unguided process; that natural selection sifts through random mutations and identifies the most sufficient forms and system’s for life’s continuation. While those arguing from Intelligent Design (ID) argue that living systems can best be explained by the activity of a designing intelligence not an undirected natural process such as natural selection acting on random variations.

Richard Dawkins one of the leading spokesman for neo-darwinism says that

“Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed with a purpose.”

The keyword here is “appearance”, is this idea of appearance illusory or is it real? While Dawkins and other evolutionist certainly acknowledges that life looks intelligently designed, is it possible that intelligence is in inference to the best explanation? I believe it is for several reasons which I would like to briefly explain – and no I will not be calling my faith up to the stand.

Firstly I would like to touch on the idea of specified complexity or digital information. In order to create new anatomical novelties you need new genetic code, thus generating a new biological form requires lots of new information or specified arrangements; much like you need new information to give your computer a new function. Thus a critical question in the history of life, both to the point of the origin of the first life and explaining the rise of the new forms, is where did all the information come from?

This is what ex-chemical evolutionary theorist Dean Kenyon described as a huge intellectual road block which ultimately led to his conversion to ID. He says that amino acids can’t organize themselves in a meaningful biological sequence without a pre-existing set of genetic instructions. Kenyon explains that the enormous problem that is neglected is the origins of genetic information itself. Wen you begin to think in light of information, it raises some serious questions about the power of mutations. Could an unguided process of random mutations possibly be responsible for life as we know it?

Genes are sections of genetic code, if you take a section of genetic code, a section of alphabetic text, and you begin to randomly change it blindly, are you more likely to degrade the meaning of the function that’s there or enhance it? How rare or common are the functional sequences of genes in relation to all the possible ways of arranging the base characters (genetic message) in the proteins? If it were fairly common then you could skip from one island of functionality to the next. However, the ratio of number of sequences that perform functions that are meaningful to those that don’t is about 1 to one-trillionth. I know crazy right? But it doesn’t stop there because in order to get a new organism you would need hundreds if not thousands of mutations to occur, the odds are simply astronomical for even one successful transition.

Another signature in the body that leads me to believe in ID is the discovery of nano-technology, which has revealed very tiny complex biological machinery such as the bacteria flagella motor with its rotary engine, drive shafts, and whip-like propeller. Such systems have been defined as irreducibly complex as you can see below

flagella

Michael Behe an American biochemist asserts that random genetic mutations and natural selection can not account for such complexity. We know from experience that when we find irreducibly complex systems such as internal combustion engines invariably intelligence played a roll. Thus using the idea of mutations and natural selection to explain new digital information and irreducibly complex systems would be an exotic explanation not based on the knowledge of cause and effect that we see today.

Thus the conclusion reached is that specified digital information encoded in DNA could not have arisen by any known natural cause. Ultimately intelligent design is not made from an argument of ignorance but is in inference to the best explanation. The structure of the argument is that there are no known naturalistic processes that have been demonstrated to produce the digital code necessary to produce the first life, whether through chance or law. Yet we do know of one cause sufficient to produce specified digital information and that cause is intelligence.

God & Creationism – Quick Fact #1

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Fact: The oxygen produced during photosynthesis is used for cellular respiration. The carbon dioxide produced in cellular respiration is used in photosynthesis.

So if plants need the waste product of living organism to exist, and living organisms need the waste product of plants to exist, then they both had to be created at nearly the exact same time.. right?

What do Evolutionist have against the Judeo-Christian God??

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The basic definition of evolution is “the process by which different kinds of living organisms are thought to have developed and diversified from earlier forms during the history of the earth.” In society today we naturally assume that evolution and atheism are inherently woven into the fabric of one another, that if the theory of evolution could be scientifically ascertained, then ultimately the idea of a divine creator comes tumbling down. Sure it would do wonders in debunking the Judeo-Christian God of the bible, but what if I don’t believe in the Judeo-Christian God of the bible? What if I believe in  evolutionary creationism? Whose to say there’s not some divine agent that set in motion this evolutionary cycle?

As a believer I often find my self in the time-honored debate of Christianity vs. evolution, the all to familiar interchange seeking to debunk my adversaries beliefs. Likewise my challengers insist the bible is nonsensical rubbish, and therefore vehemently opposes the existence of the Judeo-Christian God, but what does debunking the God of the bible really prove for the evolutionist? Does evolution really do anything in attesting to atheism or debunking the idea of intelligent design? The reasoning of evolutionist commonly stops somewhere around the argument of descent with modification. Well sure we all could have come from a common ancestor billions of years ago, but whose to say a “god” or “gods” didn’t create it!?

In order to even begin to enter the realm of atheism one would need to formulate a hypothesis on how living organisms formed by natural processes, say perhaps, oh I don’t know, maybe chemical evolution?  Ahh and therein lies the proverbial black sheep of the scientific community, the bane of reason for all evolutionist. Origins of life is a rather dark and sticky corridor that most would rather not go down if needn’t be. Dean Kenyon, author of the best seller biochemical predestination, and one of the leading chemical evolutionary theorist in the 60’s and early 70’s, famously converted to creationism and is now a devout Christian after coming to what he described as:

“An intellectual road block”

He described how self-organization through chemical evolution is impossible, that amino acids can’t organize themselves in a meaningful biological sequence (proteins) without a PRE-EXISTING set of genetic instructions. He says:

 “We have not the slightest chance of chemical evolutionary origins for the simplest cell”

Kenyon explains how the enormous problem that is neglected is the origins of genetic information itself. The point that I’m trying to make in all this is that speciation and the descent with modification are not intellectual alternatives to the childish notions of a supreme being in the sky. These evolutionary tenets have nothing to do with the origins of life. Why then do we hear them brought up so much in disputing the existence of a supreme agent? I think it’s not a coincidence that such arguments are almost always followed (or preceded) by bible thumping, In a recent post I stated how evolution is merely an alternative response to Christianity. If evolution is true, then the bible is false and that’s all that really matters folks! Evolution only takes aim at disproving the God of the bible, and while I believe it falls miserably short in doing so, likewise it really does absolutely nothing in disproving intelligent design or the existence of an agent in general.

Is the idea of a creator superfluous in explaining how the world began like Richard Dawkins asserts? If so, I’ve yet to hear any compelling alternative which would lead me to believe such. Technically speaking, life beginning from non-living matter (Abiogenesis) is mathematically impossible, thus intelligent design is in inference to the best explanation – never mind your incredulity.

Why don’t we hear more discussion on the actual origins of life? perhaps its a topic which doesn’t quite lend itself to the “lofty” explanations which the evolutionist take pride in publishing.