Does the Appearance of Design Prove God's Existence?

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.

  1. Every design has a designer.
  2. The universe exhibits complex design.
  3. 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.

  • Methodological Naturalism: The Severing of Science.

    In recent decades there have been ideologically driven efforts by versed interests to sever science and remove it from its complete and proper context; on the mistaken notion that science must be solely about naturalistic material processes, to the exclusion of all else. This assertion is neither scientific nor realistic – and is unsustainable.

    Firstly, naturalistic science falls well short of ever answering ultimate questions of origins and existence. A reality acknowledged even by hard core atheists, who, none-the-less, operate on the blind faith notion that naturalism and raw materialism will increasingly explain all of reality, to the point where nothing beyond the material world is ever necessary, including God.

    The noted atheistic philosopher Jean Paul Sarte however highlighted the absurdity of this aspiration, and finally conceded that this hope could never be achieved. Said Sarte, “A finite point without an infinite reference point is meaningless and absurd.” He realized that because human knowledge would forever be finite and limited humanity would never ever be in a position to have the ultimate big picture. And science has discovered that the further we push back the frontiers of scientific knowledge the more unanswered questions we have.

    This is not to say that we should not continue with increased effort to discover all we can about the natural world, and always seek “firstly” to explain the mysteries of nature and the universe in purely naturalistic terms, as the empirical and scientific science method does, and does well.

    Science is about the facts. It’s about discovering truths about the natural world, entirely by natural laws and processes alone (Dover). However, this is only the “initial” part of what constitutes science and the scientific method, and utterly ignores the foundational realities on which all of science ultimately rests and operates.

    The foundational truth about science and the natural world is that it cannot be ultimately explained by naturalistic laws or material processes alone. Every scientist knows that all of science ultimately rests entirely on phenomena that have absolutely no naturalistic explanation.

    The Dover ID trial severed science, and turned science on its head. It was decreed at Dover that natural law and material processes alone must define what is science. This turned out to be ultimately loopy logic, as the gatekeeper itself, natural law, has no naturalistic explanation, and there is nothing to suggest this will ever change (Sarte). This is rather like appointing an unidentified alien to guard planet earth from all other unidentified aliens, particularly God.

    None-the-less, this loopy logic was made both the measure, and the means of defining science. It was both inadequate and defective. While matter, energy and other natural phenomena are the principle focus of science, the scientific community has absolutely no idea of what matter and energy ultimately is, or how it came into existence. This is particularly true in regard to the origin and nature of the dependent universe itself.

    A contingent dying universe that is running down towards head death and maximum entropy cannot explain itself. And there is absolutely no verifiable naturalistic explanation as to how our dependent cosmos came into being, or how a dead universe devoid of energy would ever wind itself up again to the initial state of minimum entropy, a state of maximum usable energy, information, and order.

    Moreover, all of science is based on material and mathematical relationships. But no scientist has even the foggiest notion of how these material and mathematical relationships came into existence. Nor is there the foggiest notion of where the cosmological constants came from, naturalistically.

    Secondly, central to science is the foundational acceptance that we live in a universe that clearly manifests regularity, predictability and mathematical order. A reality every scientist in every field automatically assumes in order to be able to do science. All scientists assume we live in a universe where reason and intelligence can be applied to science, and such a universe must of necessity clearly manifest intelligence, at every level.

    Therefore, to argue that the ID concept – of the universe being intelligently designed by an intelligent cause – has no place in science or science education, is to deny the foundational reality on which every field of science and western technology ultimately operates, every day, and in every way.

    Methodological naturalism severs science. It’s insistence that all of science and science education must be restricted exclusively to purely naturalistic explanations is to split science in two. And specifically excludes the principle phenomena and foundational principles on which all of science is founded. And this is exactly what happened at Dover – no intelligence allowed.

    The unsustainable methodological naturalism now being imposed on science and science education must be challenged. It is nothing less than indoctrinating students on philosophical naturalism and atheism, which the highest court in the United States, the U.S. Supreme Court, has ruled to be a religion, in the full sense of the word.

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  • It’s very difficult to say someone’s proven something is true.
    It’s much easier to say someone has disproven or failed to disprove something.
    This is called falsification, and it’s vital to how we go about using inductive and deductive logic to build a model of the universe.

    Modern science is generally more interested in disproving their hypothesis, as proving a hypothesis requires one has all the information, the entire sample, in order to safely induce (Or at least at that point observe) an absolute truth, or fact.

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