Christian Worldview

More Than Coincidence

Question of the Week Besides DNA coding, are there any other positive arguments for creation? Read Chuck Colson’s response, taken from Answers to Your Kids' Questions: Yes. In fact, there’s a whole group of scientists who are now pursuing the implications of intelligent design for science. As evidence for intelligent design, this group points especially to the anthropic principle and irreducible complexity. The anthropic principle states that the physical structure of the universe is exactly what it must be in order to support life. For a familiar example, take water. Unlike most other substances, when water freezes, it expands and floats. If water didn’t have this unique property, then in cold weather, lakes and rivers would freeze all the way down to the bottom, and all fish would die. Or think about the position of our planet. If Earth were only slightly closer to the sun, it would be too hot to support life. But if Earth were farther away from the sun, it would be too cold to support life. Isn’t it a marvelous “coincidence” that our planet is just where it is in the solar system? Another cosmic “coincidence” is the strength of gravity. Assuming that the universe began with a big bang, if the force of gravity had been just slightly stronger, that extra tug would long ago have pulled the cosmos together and caused it to collapse in on itself. On the other hand, if the force of gravity had been just the tiniest bit weaker, then it wouldn’t have been strong enough to condense the original gas cloud into stars and galaxies. The fact that gravity is jut the force needed to create the universe is, in the words of one scientist, “a gigantic fluke–or divine intervention.” It’s the same with electrical force. Every tree, every blade of grass is made of atoms, which contain electrons and protons. The electron has an electrical charge that balances exactly the charge of the proton. What would happen if they weren’t precisely balanced? If, say, the electron carried more charge than the proton, every atom in the universe would be negatively charged. Since like charges repel, the atoms would repel each other, and the universe would explode apart. The anthropic principle makes a chance creation so improbable as to be absurd. Scientist Michael Behe has proposed what he calls the theory of irreducible complexity. In his 1993 book Darwin’s Black Box, Behe disputes Darwin’s theory that small changes over time can result in whole new species. He points out that the small changes that appear in species as a result of genetic mutation are not advantageous. More important, many structures within the body, the eye for example, are “irreducibly complex”; eyes work only as the result of coordination among many and varied parts that all have to be coordinated toward one end–sight. The retina’s rods and cones are useless without the lenses of the outer eye, which would be purposeless except for the optic nerve, etc. Behe uses a homey example of irreducible complexity: the mousetrap. A mousetrap cannot be assembled gradually, he points out. You cannot start with a wooden platform and catch a few mice, add a spring and catch a few more mice, add a hammer, and so on. No, to even start catching mice, all the parts of the trap must be assembled from the outset. The mousetrap doesn’t work until all its parts are present and working together. Behe conducted much of his work within the context of the individual cell, which was once thought to be a relatively crude or simple structure but now is understood to be vastly complex. Many structures within the living cell are like the mousetrap; they involve an entire system of interacting parts all working together. If one part were to evolve in isolation, the entire system of interacting parts would stop functioning; and since, according to Darwinism, natural selection preserves the forms that function better than their rivals, the nonfunctioning system would be eliminated by natural selection. Therefore, there is no possible Darwinian explanation of how irreducibly complex structures and systems came into existence. “The simplicity that was once expected to be the foundation of life,” Behe says, “has proven to be a phantom; instead, systems of horrendous, irreducible complexity inhabit the cell. The resulting realization that life was designed by an intelligence is a shock to us in the twentieth century who have gotten used to thinking of life as a result of simple natural laws.” Many scientists such as Behe are pursuing the implications of intelligent design, and they believe that their presupposition–that the universe was indeed brought into being by an intelligent agent–may well open up important avenues of inquiry that other scientists, blinded by naturalism, have been unable to pursue. “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”–Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species


Chuck Colson



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