Post Author: Bill Pratt
Certainly the appearance of design in the natural world makes a strong case for the existence of a super-intelligent being, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Many people look at the world around them and marvel at its functionality and complexity. A common reaction to the functionality and complexity of the world is to wonder who or what made it that way.
Based on that intuition about the world, theists, those who believe in a single creator God, have made an argument about the existence of God in the following way.
- Every design has a designer.
- The universe exhibits complex design.
- Therefore the universe has a designer.
Premise 1 is fairly straightforward. If something can be shown to be designed, it must have had a designer.
Premise 2, however, requires evidence. Below is an extended quotation from William Lane Craig, one of the foremost Christian scholars of our day.
During the last thirty years or so, scientists have discovered that the existence of intelligent life depends on a complex and delicate balance of initial conditions given in the big bang itself. Scientists once believed that whatever the initial conditions of the universe, eventually intelligent life might evolve. But we now know that our existence is balanced on a knife’s edge. It seems vastly more probable that a life-prohibiting universe rather than a life-permitting universe such as ours should exist. The existence of intelligent life depends on a conspiracy of initial conditions that must be fine-tuned to a degree that is literally incomprehensible and incalculable. For example, Stephen Hawking has estimated that if the rate of the universe’s expansion one second after the big bang had been smaller by even one part in a hundred thousand million million, the universe would have re-collapsed into a hot fireball. British physicist P. C. W. Davies has calculated that the odds against the initial conditions being suitable for later star formation (without which planets could not exist) is one followed by a thousand billion billion zeroes, at least. He also estimates that a change in the strength of gravity or of the weak force by only one part in 10,100 would have prevented a life-permitting universe. Roger Penrose of Oxford University has calculated that the odds of the big bang’s low entropy condition existing by chance are on the order of one out of 10 to the 123rd power. There are [many] such quantities and constants present in the big bang that must be fine-tuned in this way if the universe is to permit life. And it’s not just each quantity that must be finely tuned; their ratios to one another must be also finely tuned. Therefore, improbability is added to improbability to improbability until our minds are reeling in incomprehensible numbers.
It is not just the physical conditions that must be present in the universe for life to exist that exhibit complex design. There is also the issue of life itself.
Living cells are composed of DNA. DNA consists of nitrogen bases called adenine, thymine, cytosine, and guanine which are commonly represented by the letters A, T, C and G. These letters form genetic codes which provide the instructions for the building and replicating of all living things. The four letter genetic code is identical to any other written language. The sequences of genetic letters spell out exact instructions just like a sentence in English would.
To give you an idea of how complex life is, a single-celled amoeba contains the equivalent of 1,000 sets of an encyclopedia in its DNA. The human genome is composed of about three billion nucleotide base pairs. Years ago, Carl Sagan estimated that there is the equivalent of 20 million books of information stored in the human brain. This number is considered to be conservative now. The amount of information contained in living cells and the human brain is truly staggering, and thus the conclusion of complex design seems easily warranted.
Before we move on, I need to quickly add that the evidence presented above of design in the fine tuning of the universe to support life and of the composition of life itself is merely scratching the surface. Many fantastic books have been written in the past 20 years detailing far more evidence of design in the natural world than what was mentioned above, so hopefully I have just whet your appetite to read more!
But now, if we have shown that the universe is indeed characterized by complex design, then who or what is the designer?
I think we can make the following conclusions about the designer. The designer is super-intelligent and purposeful. The intelligence of the designer far surpasses any kind of human intelligence ever seen. The designer is purposeful because all designs have purposes behind them. We are not dealing with a being who is randomly creating with no purpose.
Have we arrived at the God of the Bible? No, we haven’t, but we have certainly made a strong case for the existence of a designer who has at least a couple of the attributes of the God of the Bible, and we have eliminated the possibility that no such designer exists. We haved ruled out the possibility that the universe is caused by some irrational or purely non-intelligent source.
Theistic arguments for the existence of a Designer confirm the intuition that many people have had since the dawn of man. To say that everything we see in the world around us just happened by chance is simply unbelievable.