I have shown that the universe had a beginning which strongly implies, if not demands, a Beginner. There are a number of models offered, but whatever model one accepts ought to explain not only a sufficient cause for our universe, but one which can also explain the design displayed in our universe. This argument is so powerful that many atheists deal with this argument by denying the reality of the design or claiming that natural processes such as natural selection working on random mutations can simulate design as from a designer. This brings up the question as to the criteria for design. How can we tell if something actually displays design that demonstrates a designer. I believe that there are several ways that show real design and that such design is displayed throughout the universe.
Most people can use common sense to understand that the faces on Mt. Rushmore were not formed by erosion and can distinguish an arrowhead from other pieces of flint. Most of us can discern if natural processes make sense at all. For instance, a rock design made by soft rock being worn away leaving harder rock can be easily assigned to erosion, but the reverse pattern of wear would certainly cause one to question a natural explanation. This kind of reasoning can be checked by actual observation. We observe certain chemical reactions, say, in the formation of amino acids, and have some good idea of what the processes are and what the results are. Anything that varies from such observations will raise questions and cause one to wonder if intelligence interfered with the process. Recently the BBC reported finds of a stone with cross hatched marks made by an ocher crayon and concluded that it was made by humans. In another report scientist found what was cut marks on bird bones that they deduced as being made by humans (cf. Evolution News.org.) These examples show that scientist use this common-sense approach to discern intelligent agency. The same approached can be used in evaluating other phenomena asking if a materialistic/naturalistic model better explains what is observed or a God’s-revelation model.
Another test of true design was devised by Dr. Michael Behe, a leading molecular biologist and professor at Lehigh University and the author of many books and articles, most notably Darwin’s Black Box. He coined the term irreducible complexity. An irreducibly complex system would be a system made of parts all of which are needed for the system to function. If the system would lack any one part, it could not function. The problem is seen in the difficulty of the formation of the parts and the assemblage of the system by natural processes. This problem is exasperated by natural selection which would eliminate the non-functioning parts before they could assemble into a working system. Atheists try to argue that the parts could have been co-opted from other functioning systems, but as Behe responds (ID Inquiry: Michael Behe Explains Irreducible Complexity), this process itself is highly improbable for all the parts have to be co-opted at the same time and be assembled the right way in the right order. Not only so, but this often merely pushes the problem back one level as the systems from which the parts are taken must then themselves be explained. Furthermore, I have noticed that the atheist articles so attacking the idea of irreducible complexity are almost all speculative. No one has actually observed any co-opting of parts in nature. One must ask in light of the great mathematical odds and lack of observation whether or not actual design made by intelligence, something we do observe, is a better model than random natural processes which we have not observed when observing such things as the amazing molecular machinery that is found in cells.
Dr. Behe is not the only one who has tackled this problem. Mathematician William Dembski dealt with this problem by seeking what he called complex specified information. By complex, he meant an arrangement of symbols that are mathematically highly improbable; by specified, he meant that these symbols convey real information that can produce a function. Language would be an example. Letters must be arranged in a particular way to convey real information that can produce a real response. We have never observed complex specified information form apart from intelligent activity. When archaeologists found cuneiform markings in clay tablets they assumed by common sense argument that natural forces were unlikely to create these tablets with their marks and by the concept of complex specified information that these markings were so arranged to form a language. This methodology and reasoning then led to the discovery and deciphering of the languages of ancient Sumer and Akkad. This is also the exact reasoning of the SETI project as those involved evaluate radio bursts from outer space looking for patterns that would indicate an intelligent source for those bursts. By using the same techniques we can evaluate natural phenomena such as DNA structure and consider if the God’s-revelation model is not a better scientific model than the naturalistic model.
In my future posts, Lord willing, I will examine particular examples that I contend can best be explained by intelligent design which I believe points to a real God revealing Himself in His creation. One has to deny the possibility of God’s existence or exercise a far more irrational faith that random natural processes produce these phenomena, even though we have never observed such a process, to deny the high probability that God exists. Such a denial is not made on the basis of logic and science, but on a presuppositional commitment to a naturalistic/materialistic worldview.