Evidence in Plain Sight
In recent centuries philosophers have tried to answer the major questions about mankind's existence and place in the universe. What approach have they taken?
Their fundamental premise has been that there is no God. Leaving no room for anything we cannot see, hear or feel, or measure through scientific methods, they have believed the answers could be found through human reason. Using man's ability to reason, with its natural prejudice against God (see "Man's Natural Hostility Toward God," page 24), they concluded that the universe came from nothing, life evolved from inert matter, and reason itself is our best guide to finding our way.
In his recent book A Quest for God, historian Paul Johnson observes: "The existence or non-existence of God is the most important question we humans are ever asked to answer. If God does exist, and if in consequence we are called to another life when this one ends, a momentous set of consequences follows, which should affect every day, every moment almost, of our earthly existence. Our life then becomes a mere preparation for eternity and must be conducted throughout with our future in view" (1996, p. 1, emphasis added).
Can we really understand the answers to the most important questions of life without at least being willing to examine the question of the existence of God, who is described in the Bible as having given us life and having created us in His own image? (Genesis 1:26-27). Human reason, however, automatically dismisses the idea of God as the Creator who has a purpose for man and the universe. With that utter disregard for God have come unforeseen—and tragic—consequences.
Can we find solid evidence of God's existence? If so, where do we look for it, and what is the nature of that evidence? What is our attitude toward the evidence, and how does that influence the way we live?
Evaluating the evidence
How does the evidence for God's existence measure up to the evidence presented against it? How any evidence is weighed and evaluated is critical to the validity of any conclusions we reach on this most important matter. We must look at arguments for and against God's existence without resorting to prejudiced premises or illogical conclusions.
Prejudice works both ways. Many people who believe in God's existence feel compelled to defend their point of view in irrational ways. They hurt their cause by doing so. In like manner, many who believe there is no God refuse to give the evidence of His existence a fair hearing. In both instances, shallow prejudice is the real enemy.
Richard Dawkins, professor of zoology at Oxford University and an aggressive proponent of the theory of evolution, wrote The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design. He sums up the atheistic view toward human origins and existence:
"Natural selection, the blind, unconscious, automatic process which Darwin discovered, and which we now know is the explanation for the existence and apparently purposeful 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, nor foresight, no sight at all. If it can be said to play the role of watchmaker in nature, it is the blind watchmaker" (1986, p. 5, emphasis in original).
However, to avoid accepting uncomfortable evidence of God's existence, he reasons, "Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose" (Dawkins, p. 1, emphasis added).
While admitting that living things give the appearance of purposeful design, Professor Dawkins does not consider the obvious—that, if they appear to have been designed, maybe they were designed.
Denying or recognizing the obvious?
Professor Dawkins' backhanded acknowledgment that living organisms "overwhelmingly impress us with the appearance of design as if by a master watchmaker," as he put it (p. 21), is not dismissed so lightly by many other scientists. They see the overwhelming presence of intricate design in the universe as a powerful indicator of an intelligent Designer.
A growing trend among researchers in biology, physics, astronomy, botany, chemistry and other major disciplines is study and debate over the complexity and orderliness they find at every level throughout the universe. Writers and scientists use the term anthropic principle to describe what, from all observations and appearances, are a universe and planet finely tuned for life—human life in particular.
Paul Davies, professor of mathematical physics at Australia's University of Adelaide, summarizes the growing findings of scientists from many fields: "A long list of additional 'lucky accidents' and 'coincidences' has been compiled . . . Taken together, they provide impressive evidence that life as we know it depends very sensitively on the form of the laws of physics, and on some seemingly fortuitous accidents in the actual values that nature has chosen for various particle masses, force strengths, and so on . . .
"Suffice it to say that, if we could play God, and select values for these quantities at whim by twiddling a set of knobs, we would find that almost all knob settings would render the universe uninhabitable. In some cases it seems as if the different knobs have to be fine-tuned to enormous precision if the universe is to be such that life will flourish" (The Mind of God: The Scientific Basis for a Rational World, 1992, pp. 199-200, emphasis added).
A world of design and purpose
Is our complex universe really the work of a blind watchmaker, as some contend? Is that what we view about us every day? Is life on earth simply the product of chance, with no purpose and planning, no control or consequences?
Accumulating evidence to the contrary is leading more and more scientists to question assumptions popular in scientific circles for years. Although few are willing to admit compelling evidence of God's existence, many are admitting that everywhere they look they see evidence of a world that gives the appearance of intricate design down to the tiniest details (see "A Planet Perfect for Life").
The Bible acknowledges the obvious when it presents us with an explanation of life quite different from that espoused by Professor Dawkins. It presents the universe as the handiwork of a Creator.
"Whence arises all the order and beauty we see in the world?" asked Sir Isaac Newton. The question is natural, and it was asked by a believing scientist who recognized the necessity of a cause for every effect. Actions have consequences. An intricately crafted universe points to an intelligent Designer.
Albert Einstein also marveled at the order and harmony he and his fellow scientists observed throughout the universe. He noted that the religious feeling of the scientist "takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection" (The Quotable Einstein, Alice Calaprice, editor, 1996, p. 151).
Martin Rees, professor of astronomy at Cambridge University, and science writer John Gribbin, discussing how finely tuned scientists have found the universe to be, note that "the conditions in our Universe really do seem to be uniquely suitable for life forms like ourselves, and perhaps even for any form of organic complexity . . . Is the Universe tailor-made for man?" (Cosmic Coincidences: Dark Matter, Mankind, and Anthropic Cosmology, 1989, p. 269, emphasis in original).
Professor Davies expressed it this way: "Through my scientific work I have come to believe more and more strongly that the physical universe is put together with an ingenuity so astonishing that I cannot accept it merely as brute fact. There must, it seems to me, be a deeper level of explanation. Whether one wishes to call that deeper level 'God' is a matter of taste and definition . . . [I] believe that we human beings are built into the scheme of things in a very basic way" (The Mind of God: The Scientific Basis for a Rational World, p. 16).
No wonder British astrophysicist Sir Fred Hoyle says: "A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with the physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question" (Fred Heeren, Show Me God: What the Message From Space Is Telling Us About God, 1997, frontispiece, emphasis added).
The persistence of unbelief
Yet the belief stubbornly persists that God is not needed. Harvard University paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould summarizes his atheistic viewpoint: "No intervening spirit watches lovingly over the affairs [of mankind]. No vital forces propel evolutionary change. And whatever we think of God, his existence is not manifest in the products of nature" (Darwin's Legacy, Charles Hamrum, editor, 1983, pp. 6-7).
Supporters of evolution like to point out that acceptance of the idea of a divine Creator requires faith in someone or something we cannot see. Yet they are far from comfortable admitting that all who believe that life evolved from inert matter have faith in a theory that cannot be proven—and is founded on far more fragile evidence than that which supports the faith of believers in a Creator.
Evolutionists' faith assumes that our unimaginably complex universe created itself or somehow came to exist from nothing. They firmly believe in a chain of circumstances that defies not only logic, but also fundamental laws of physics and biology. (For a closer look at the creation-evolution controversy, be sure to request your free copy of the booklet Creation or Evolution: Does It Matter What You Believe?)
Evolution has become, in a real sense, another religion. The faith of its followers is rooted in an unsubstantiated belief that the incredible universe, including the world around us teeming with an intricate variety of life, is the result of blind, random chance. It can offer no rational explanation for where the matter came from that made possible the universe and the supposed evolution of life.
Sidestepping the issue of where matter and the universe originated, proponents of evolution begin with an existing universe operating according to harmonious and predictable laws. They recognize that those laws exist and function flawlessly. Yet they haven't the slightest idea of their origin. They choose to ignore the overwhelming evidence that a great intelligence is behind these orderly and harmonious laws.
Our universe works like a giant watch. The last 40 years of space exploration has shown the precision of the universe. It is because of this predictability that NASA can rely on split-second timing when launching men into space and sending spacecraft to explore planets so far away that it sometimes takes years to reach them even at speeds of thousands of miles per hour.
Evidence of natural laws
Astonishingly precise physical laws govern the universe. As Einstein put it: "My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God" (The Quotable Einstein, p. 161).
Astronomers can predict with amazing precision when a comet will return to our sky. Scientists can send spacecraft to land on other planets or orbit bodies millions of miles away. The heavenly bodies move in a thoroughly predictable fashion.
On earth we can chart the position of stars and planets for any given day, month and year, forward or backward, with incredible accuracy. Calendars are useful because of the universe's immutable laws. We can rely on the timing and position of the heavenly bodies because of the laws that govern their relationship. In a sense, the story of mankind is a story of our discovery of more and more of the laws that govern the cosmos.
For example, we experience the effects of the law of gravity. Though gravity is something we can't see, we know it exists. We know that it functions consistently. It is one of the fundamental laws of the universe. Similar laws govern every aspect of the universe—laws of energy, motion, mass, matter and life itself.
What about evolution? Evolutionary theory holds that life arose from nonliving matter and over countless eons changed to form the astounding variety of life on earth.
That very concept is contrary to one of the most basic of all natural laws: the law of biogenesis. Throughout nature biogenesis is abundantly evident: Life can come only from existing life, just as your life was conceived by living parents. Evolutionists, of course, argue against this principle but can produce no concrete evidence to the contrary.
Evidence of a Grand Designer
Let's get to the crux of the matter: Why do we find so many dependable, predictable, finely tuned laws governing our existence? What is their origin? Did life arise by chance, or is something larger at work? There must be an explanation for the existence of everything. The number, precision and perfection of natural laws cannot be explained away as an accident. Such reasoning is irrational.
Common sense tells us that the existence of an unimaginably magnificent universe structured on and sustained by innumerable laws of physics requires the existence of a Creator of those laws, a Designer of those structures.
Some of the clearest evidence of God's existence is in the awesome presence of design in the universe. Australian scientist Paul Davies put it well in his book The Mind of God: The Scientific Basis for a Rational World:
"Human beings have always been awestruck by the subtlety, majesty, and intricate organization of the physical world. The march of the heavenly bodies across the sky, the rhythms of the seasons, the pattern of a snowflake, the myriads of living creatures so well adapted to their environment—all these things seem too well arranged to be a mindless accident. There is a natural tendency to attribute the elaborate order of the universe to the purposeful workings of a Deity" (p. 194).
Another writer who saw clear proof of creation all around him was King David. Looking into the heavens 3,000 years ago, he discerned that he was viewing the handiwork of the Creator and that we can discern much about Him by that handiwork: "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world" (Psalm 19:1-4, New International Version).
The splendor of the night sky still moves us to wonder and awe. What are those tiny specks of light sparkling in the darkness of space? How did they get there? Why are they there? What lies beyond them in the unimaginable reaches of the universe? The grandeur of the shimmering heavens raises questions not just about the universe but about our part in it.
The same is true of the intricate patterns in all things on earth, not just the world we see around us but the unseen world we can explore only through microscopes.
A thousand years after King David expressed his awe at these marvels, the apostle Paul told Christians in Rome that "since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made . . ." (Romans 1:20, NIV).
The writers of the Bible recognized in the creation much evidence of a great, all-wise Creator. They understood that the wonders we see around us shout the same message: Such astonishing design demands a Master Designer! Whether we are moved by the power of the sea, the grandeur of a mountain range, the delicate beauty of the first spring flowers or the birth of a child, as we look at the world around us we naturally conclude: This is the handiwork of a great Designer.
Creation reveals the Creator
Wrote theoretical physicist John Polkinghorne, president of Queens College, Cambridge, and a member of Britain's Royal Society: "The intellectual beauty of the order discovered by science is consistent with the physical world's having behind it the mind of the divine Creator . . . The finely tuned balance built into the laws determining the very physical fabric of the universe is consistent with its fruitful history being the expression of divine purpose" (Serious Talk: Science and Religion in Dialogue, 1995, p. viii).
Michael Behe, associate professor of biochemistry at Pennsylvania's Lehigh University, concluded from his intensive study of the cell, the basic building block of life, that such tremendous complexity can be explained only by the existence of an intelligent Designer:
"To a person who does not feel obliged to restrict his search to unintelligent causes, the straightforward conclusion is that many biochemical systems were designed. They were designed not by the laws of nature, not by chance and necessity; rather they were planned. The designer knew what the systems would look like when they were completed, then took steps to bring the systems about" (Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, 1996, p. 193, emphasis in original).
His conclusion: "Life on earth at its most fundamental level, in its most critical components, is the product of intelligent design" (ibid.).
The precision of our universe is not the result of an accident. It is the product of a meticulous Creator and Lawgiver, the universe's Master Watchmaker.
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