Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Many scientists believe that life cannot be accounted for only by known natural causes, that life shows features that one would attribute to intelligence. Living organisms are too complex to be explained by any natural, mindless process.

This was the thesis of a previous post called Intelligent Design Is (6/22/05). PVBlog readers were interested enough to contribute several thoughful comments.

Pam Cleveland noted that Phillip Johnson’s book Darwin on Trial makes the argument that theories of evolution are based on philosophical naturalism.

Anonymous said biology teaches that life arises from life and can't come from non-living matter. I have been studying Darwin for some time now and haven't come across him saying that life arose from non-living matter.

Dave Young took issue with the premise that “design” in nature leads to the necessity of a designer. What does it mean that something shows signs of “design”? I vaguely recall from complexity, or maybe, chaos theory the idea of strange attractors. It seems that nature appears to favor certain forms of organization over others. It may well be that there are immutable laws that manifest themselves as these designs you refer to.

In The Origin of Species, Darwin wrote that most naturalists had believed that species were immutable productions, separately created. However a few (Lamark, Hershel, Huxley) believed that species undergo modifications begetting new species, including man. Darwin’s findings argued for the origination of new species from common ancestral forms by an iterated process of genetic mutation, natural selection, and hereditary transmission. That was the original meaning of the theory of evolution, and it said nothing at all about the creation of life from inanimate matter. Anonymous is right.

The extrapolation of Darwin’s theory down to the basic units of life and the further extrapolation to cosmic dust creating life by some unknown random process was the work of newer generations of naturalists. It is this radical form of neo-Darwinism that most scientists and non-scientists are unwilling to accept.

Pam is also right. Angry evolutionists frequently slip up and reveal that their real agenda is atheism. Atheists use Darwinism as the basis of “scientific materialism” their philosophical belief that nothing exists except matter and that the world must obey only the laws of physics and blind chance. In many cases the beautiful theory of Darwinian evolution is cynically used to support a program of atheist indoctrination, and an assault on the moral and spiritual goals of religion.

Most people, including most scientists, see no contradiction between the idea that the universe, life, and human beings evolved according to natural processes, and the idea that a divine being can be credited with the existence of everything, having set those natural processes going in the first place.

The obvious existence of “design” in nature does not necessarily mandate the existence of a “designer”, as Dr. Dave notes. However, those who believe in God, the Creator, have no difficulty understanding that He created our universe, a very special universe, and He interjected once more several billion years later to create the first living cells.

Science always rests upon faith in a set of postulates. Cosmologists believe that the laws of physics as we know them pertain over all space and time. Those postulates and the observation of cosmic expansion led to the Big Bang model of the universe. The Standard Big Bang model holds that the Bang (around 15 billion years ago) created matter and energy out of nothing and started our time clock.

Physicists studying the cosmos find that the universe we inhabit is incredibly, almost unbelievably, “fine tuned.” For example, the initial explosive force was “just right” as a change in the magnitude of this force by only one part in 10 to the 59th power would have created a universe that would have collapsed back on itself already or expanded too rapidly for stars (and earths) to be formed. Those of us who believe in God find that incredible precision to be just what we would expect.

Non-believers have been struggling mightily with these cosmic coincidences. Their latest brainstorm is that ours is just one of an infinity of universes, each with its own set of physical laws and constants. We’re just lucky to be in this one. It seems that to abolish one unobservable God, it takes an infinite number of unobservable substitutes.

Dave also makes the point that nature appears to favor certain forms of organization over others. It may well be that there are immutable laws that manifest themselves as these designs you refer to.

But it turns out that order does not spring forth spontaneously from disorder by unconscious laws. To the contrary, order emerges from a deeper order already implicit in nature. Chaos theory is in fact a new way to detect order and pattern where formerly only the random and chaotic had been seen.


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11:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good response.

I would submit that laws are neither conscious nor unconscious. They are just laws. Our discovery of them may require a certain level of consciousness, but certainly not their creation.

Also, the only universe that we can observe is the one in which we exist. One in ten to the 59th not withstanding, our inability to grasp what is truly infinite doesn’t mean that this infinitesimal outcome was the only outcome. It only means that it is the only one we can experience.

I love this discussion.

Dr. Dave

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