Below are chapters 3 and 5 of the Geisler’s and Turek’s book, I Do Not Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.”  It is the best summary I have ever read on the scientific arguments for the existence of God. Enjoy!

 

3

In the Beginning There Was a Great SURGE

“Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.”

—Albert Einstein

“Irritating” Facts

It was 1916 and Albert Einstein didn’t like where his calculations were leading him. If his theory of General Relativity was true, it meant that the universe was not eternal but had a beginning. Einstein’s calculations indeed were revealing a definite beginning to all time, all matter, and all space. This flew in the face of his belief that the universe was static and eternal.

Einstein later called his discovery “irritating.” He wanted the universe to be self-existent—not reliant on any outside cause—but the universe appeared to be one giant effect. In fact, Einstein so disliked the implications of General Relativity—a theory that is now proven accurate to five decimal places—that he introduced a cosmological constant (which some have since called a “fudge factor”) into his equations in order to show that the universe is static and to avoid an absolute beginning.

But Einstein’s fudge factor didn’t fudge for long. In 1919, British cosmologist Arthur Eddington conducted an experiment during a solar eclipse which confirmed that General Relativity was indeed true—the universe wasn’t static but had a beginning. Like Einstein, Eddington wasn’t happy with the implications. He later wrote, “Philosophically, the notion of a beginning of the present order of nature is repugnant to me.… I should like to find a genuine loophole.”1

By 1922, Russian mathematician Alexander Friedmann had officially exposed Einstein’s fudge factor as an algebraic error. (Incredibly, in his quest to avoid a beginning, the great Einstein had divided by zero—something even schoolchildren know is a no-no!) Meanwhile, Dutch astronomer Willem de Sitter had found that General Relativity required the universe to be expanding. And in 1927, the expanding of the universe was actually observed by astronomer Edwin Hubble (namesake of the space telescope).

Looking through the 100-inch telescope at California’s Mount Wilson Observatory, Hubble discovered a “red shift” in the light from every observable galaxy, which meant that those galaxies were moving away from us. In other words, General Relativity was again confirmed—the universe appears to be expanding from a single point in the distant past.2

In 1929 Einstein made a pilgrimage to Mount Wilson to look through Hubble’s telescope for himself. What he saw was irrefutable. The observational evidence showed that the universe was indeed expanding as General Relativity had predicted. With his cosmological constant now completely crushed by the weight of the evidence against it, Einstein could no longer support his wish for an eternal universe. He subsequently described the cosmological constant as “the greatest blunder of my life,” and he redirected his efforts to find the box top to the puzzle of life. Einstein said that he wanted “to know how God created the world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thought, the rest are details.”3

Although Einstein said that he believed in a pantheistic God (a god that is the universe), his comments admitting creation and divine thought better describe a theistic God. And as “irritating” as it may be, his theory of General Relativity stands today as one of the strongest lines of evidence for a theistic God. Indeed, General Relativity supports what is one of the oldest formal arguments for the existence of a theistic God—the Cosmological Argument.

 

The Cosmological Argument—The Beginning of the End for Atheism

Don’t be put off by the technical-sounding name: “cosmological” comes from the Greek word cosmos, which means “world” or “universe.” That is, the Cosmological Argument is the argument from the beginning of the universe. If the universe had a beginning, then the universe had a cause. In logical form, the argument goes like this:

1.      Everything that had a beginning had a cause.

2.      The universe had a beginning.

3.      Therefore the universe had a cause.

As we showed in the last chapter, for an argument to be true it has to be logically valid, and its premises must be true. This is a valid argument, but are the premises true? Let’s take a look at the premises.

Premise 1—Everything that had a beginning had a cause—is the Law of Causality, which is the fundamental principle of science. Without the Law of Causality, science is impossible. In fact, Francis Bacon (the father of modern science) said, “True knowledge is knowledge by causes.”4 In other words, science is a search for causes. That’s what scientists do—they try to discover what caused what.

If there’s one thing we’ve observed about the universe, it’s that things don’t happen without a cause. When a man is driving down the street, a car never appears in front of his car out of nowhere, with no driver or no cause. We know many a police officer has heard this, but it’s just not true. There’s always a driver or some other cause behind that car appearing. Even the great skeptic David Hume could not deny the Law of Causality. He wrote, “I never asserted so absurd a proposition as that something could arise without a cause.”5

In fact, to deny the Law of Causality is to deny rationality. The very process of rational thinking requires us to put together thoughts (the causes) that result in conclusions (the effects). So if anyone ever tells you he doesn’t believe in the Law of Causality, simply ask that person, “What caused you to come to that conclusion?”

Since the Law of Causality is well established and undeniable, premise 1 is true. What about premise 2? Did the universe have a beginning? If not, then no cause was needed. If so, then the universe must have had a cause.

Until about the time of Einstein, atheists could comfort themselves with the belief that the universe is eternal, and thus did not need a cause. But since then, five lines of scientific evidence have been discovered that prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the universe did indeed have a beginning. And that beginning was what scientists now call “The Big Bang.” This Big Bang evidence can be easily remembered by the acronym SURGE.

 

In the Beginning There Was a Great SURGE

Every several years or so, the major news magazines—Time, Newsweek, and the like—run a cover story about the origin and fate of the universe. “When did the universe begin?” and “When will it end?” are two of the questions investigated in such articles. The fact that the universe had a beginning and will ultimately die is not even up for debate in these reports. Why? Because modern scientists know that a beginning and an ending are demanded by one of the most validated laws in all of nature—the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

 

S—The Second Law of Thermodynamics

The Second Law of Thermodynamics is the S in our SURGE acronym. Thermodynamics is the study of matter and energy, and the Second Law states, among other things, that the universe is running out of usable energy. With each passing moment, the amount of usable energy in the universe grows smaller, leading scientists to the obvious conclusion that one day all the energy will be gone and the universe will die. Like a running car, the universe will ultimately run out of gas.

You say, “So what? How does that prove that the universe had a beginning?” Well, look at it this way: the First Law of Thermodynamics states that the total amount of energy in the universe is constant.6 In other words, the universe has only a finite amount of energy (much as your car has only a finite amount of gas). Now, if your car has only a finite amount of gas (the First Law), and whenever it’s running it continually consumes gas (the Second Law), would your car be running right now if you had started it up an infinitely long time ago? No, of course not. It would be out of gas by now. In the same way, the universe would be out of energy by now if it had been running from all eternity. But here we are—the lights are still on, so the universe must have begun sometime in the finite past. That is, the universe is not eternal—it had a beginning.

A flashlight is another way to think about the universe. If you leave a flashlight on overnight, what’s the intensity of the light in the morning? It is dim, because the batteries have used up most of their energy. Well, the universe is like a dying flashlight. It has only so much energy left to consume. But since the universe still has some battery life left (it’s not quite dead yet), it can’t be eternal—it must have had a beginning—for if it were eternal, the battery would have died by now.

The Second Law is also known as the Law of Entropy, which is a fancy way of saying that nature tends to bring things to disorder. That is, with time, things naturally fall apart. Your car falls apart; your house falls apart; your body falls apart. (In fact, the Second Law is the reason many of us get “dresser disease” when we get older—our chest falls into our drawers!) But if the universe is becoming less ordered, then where did the original order come from? Astronomer Robert Jastrow likens the universe to a wound-up clock.7 If a wind-up clock is running down, then someone must have wound it up.

This aspect of the Second Law also tells us that the universe had a beginning. Since we still have some order left—just like we still have some usable energy left—the universe cannot be eternal, because if it were, we would have reached complete disorder (entropy) by now.

A number of years ago, a student from a Christian ministry on an Ivy League campus invited me (Norm) to speak there on a related topic. During the lecture, I basically told the students what we’ve written here but in a lot more detail. After the lecture, the student who had invited me there asked me to have lunch with him and his physics professor.

As we sat down to eat, the professor made it clear that he was skeptical of my argument that the Second Law requires a beginning for the universe. In fact, he said he was a materialist who believed that only material exists and that it has existed from all eternity.

“If matter is eternal, what do you do with the Second Law?” I asked him.

He replied, “Every law has an exception. This is my exception.”

I could have countered by asking him if it’s really good science to assume that every law has an exception. That doesn’t seem very scientific and may even be self-defeating. It may be self-defeating when you ask, “Does the law that ‘every law has an exception’ have an exception?” If it does, maybe the Second Law is the exception to the law that every law must have an exception.

I didn’t go down that road, because I thought he would take exception. Instead, I backed off the Second Law for a moment and decided to question him about materialism.

“If everything is material,” I asked, “then what is a scientific theory? After all, the theory about everything being material isn’t material; it’s not made out of molecules.”

Without a moment’s hesitation he quipped, “A theory is magic.”

“Magic?” I repeated, not really believing what I was hearing. “What’s your basis for saying that?”

“Faith,” he quickly replied.

“Faith in magic?” I thought to myself. “I can’t believe what I’m hearing! If faith in magic is the best the materialists have to offer, then I don’t have enough faith to be a materialist!”

In retrospect, it seemed to me that this professor had a brief moment of complete candor. He knew he couldn’t answer the overwhelming evidence in support of the Second Law, so he admitted that his position had no basis in evidence or good reason. In doing so, he provided another example of the will refusing to believe what the mind knows to be true, and how the atheists’ view is based on sheer faith.

The professor was right about one thing: having faith. In fact, he needed a leap of faith to willingly ignore the most established law in all of nature. That’s how Arthur Eddington characterized the Second Law more than eighty years ago:

The Law that entropy increases—the Second Law of Thermodynamics—holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature. If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations—then so much for Maxwell’s equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation—well, these experiments do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the Second Law of Thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.8

Since I could see that the professor was not really interested in accepting the truth, I didn’t ask him any more potentially humiliating questions. But since we couldn’t ignore the power of the Second Law on our own bodies, we both ordered dessert. Neither of us was willing to deny that we needed to replace the energy we had just used up!

 

U—The Universe is Expanding

Good scientific theories are those that are able to predict phenomena that have not yet been observed. As we have seen, General Relativity predicted an expanding universe. But it wasn’t until legendary astronomer Edwin Hubble looked through his telescope more than a decade later that scientists finally confirmed that the universe is expanding and that it’s expanding from a single point. (Astronomer Vesto Melvin Slipher was hot on the trail of this expanding universe as early as 1913, but it was Hubble who put all the pieces together, in the late 20s.) This expanding universe is the second line of scientific evidence that the universe had a beginning.

How does the expanding universe prove a beginning? Think about it this way: if we could watch a video recording of the history of the universe in reverse, we would see all matter in the universe collapse back to a point, not the size of a basketball, not the size of a golf ball, not even the size of a pinhead, but mathematically and logically to a point that is actually nothing (i.e., no space, no time, and no matter). In other words, once there was nothing, and then, BANG, there was something—the entire universe exploded into being! This, of course, is what is commonly called “the Big Bang.”

It’s important to understand that the universe is not expanding into empty space, but space itself is expanding—there was no space before the Big Bang. It’s also important to understand that the universe did not emerge from existing material but from nothing—there was no matter before the Big Bang. In fact, chronologically, there was no “before” the Big Bang because there are no “befores” without time, and there was no time until the Big Bang.9 Time, space, and matter came into existence at the Big Bang.

These facts give atheists a lot of trouble, as they did on a rainy night in Georgia in April of 1998. That night I (Frank) attended a debate in Atlanta on the question, “Does God exist?” William Lane Craig took the affirmative position, and Peter Atkins took the negative position. The debate was highly spirited and even humorous at times, partially due to the moderator, William F. Buckley, Jr. (Buckley did not hide his favoritism for Craig’s pro-God position: after introducing Craig and his impressive credentials, Buckley began to introduce Atkins by cracking, “On the side of the Devil is Dr. Peter Atkins!”)

One of Craig’s five arguments for the existence of God was the Cosmological Argument as supported by the Big Bang evidence we’ve been discussing here. He pointed out that the universe—all time, all matter, and all space—exploded out of nothing, a fact that Atkins had conceded in his book and reaffirmed later in the debate that night.

Since Craig spoke first, he informed the audience how Atkins attempts to explain the universe from an atheistic perspective: “In his book The Creation Revisited, Dr. Atkins struggles mightily to explain how the universe could come into existence, uncaused out of nothing. But in the end he finds himself trapped in self-contradiction. He [writes], ‘Now we go back in time beyond the moment of creation to when there was no time, and to where there was no space.’ At this time before time, he imagines a swirling dust of mathematical points which recombine again and again and again and finally come by trial and error to form our space time universe.”10

Craig went on to point out that Atkins’s position is not a scientific theory but is actually self-contradictory pop-metaphysics. It is pop-metaphysics because it’s a made-up explanation—there’s absolutely no scientific evidence supporting it. And it’s self-contradictory because it assumes time and space before there was time and space.

Since Craig did not get a chance to dialogue with Atkins directly on this point, Ravi Zacharias and I stood in the question line near the end of the debate to ask Atkins about his position. Unfortunately, time expired before either of us could ask a question, so we approached Atkins backstage afterwards.

“Dr. Atkins,” Ravi started, “you admit that the universe exploded out of nothing, but your explanation for the beginning equivocates on what ‘nothing’ is. Swirling mathematical points are not nothing. Even they are something. How do you justify this?”

Instead of addressing the issue, Atkins verbally succumbed to the Second Law of Thermodynamics. He said, “Look, gentlemen, I am very tired. I can’t answer any more questions now.” In other words, his decrease of energy proved the Second Law was at work. Atkins literally had nothing to say!

Well, according to the modern cosmological evidence, the universe literally had nothing from which to emerge. Yet when it came to giving an atheistic explanation for this, Atkins didn’t really begin with nothing but with mathematical points and time. Of course, one can’t imagine how mere mathematical points and time could actually cause the universe anyway. Nevertheless, we wanted to press the fact that atheists like Atkins must be able to explain how the universe began from absolutely nothing.

What is nothing? Aristotle had a good definition: he said that nothing is what rocks dream about! The nothing from which the universe emerged is not “mathematical points” as Atkins suggested or “positive and negative energy” as Isaac Asimov, who is also an atheist, once wrote.11 Nothing is literally no thing—what rocks dream about.

British author Anthony Kenny honestly described his own predicament as an atheist in light of evidence for the Big Bang. He wrote, “According to the Big Bang Theory, the whole matter of the universe began to exist at a particular time in the remote past. A proponent of such a theory, at least if he is an atheist, must believe that the matter of the universe came from nothing and by nothing.”12

 

R—Radiation from the Big Bang

The third line of scientific evidence that the universe had a beginning was discovered by accident in 1965. That’s when Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson detected strange radiation on their antenna at Bell Labs in Holmdel, New Jersey. No matter where they turned their antenna, this mysterious radiation remained. They initially thought it might be the result of bird droppings deposited on the antenna by nesting Jersey Shore pigeons, so they had the birds and the droppings removed. But when they got back inside, they found that the radiation was still there, and it was still coming from all directions.

What Penzias and Wilson had detected turned out to be one of the most incredible discoveries of the last century—one that would win them Nobel Prizes. These two Bell Lab scientists had discovered the afterglow from the Big Bang fireball explosion!

Technically known as the cosmic background radiation, this afterglow is actually light and heat from the initial explosion. This light is no longer visible because its wavelength has been stretched by the expanding universe to wavelengths slightly shorter than those produced by a microwave oven. But the heat can still be detected.

As early as 1948, three scientists predicted that this radiation would be out there if the Big Bang did really occur. But for some reason no one attempted to detect it before Penzias and Wilson stumbled upon it by accident nearly twenty years later. When the discovery was confirmed, it laid to rest any lingering suggestion that the universe is in an eternal steady state. Agnostic astronomer Robert Jastrow put it this way:

No explanation other than the Big Bang has been found for the fireball radiation. The clincher, which has convinced almost the last Doubting Thomas, is that the radiation discovered by Penzias and Wilson has exactly the pattern of wavelengths expected for the light and heat produced in a great explosion. Supporters of the steady state theory have tried desperately to find an alternative explanation, but they have failed. At the present time, the Big Bang theory has no competitors.13

In effect, the discovery of the fireball radiation burned up any hope in the Steady State. But that wasn’t the end of the discoveries. More Big Bang evidence would follow. In fact, if cosmology were a football game, believers in the Big Bang would be called for “piling on” with this next discovery.

 

G—Great Galaxy Seeds

After finding the predicted expanding universe and radiation afterglow, scientists turned their attention to another prediction that would confirm the Big Bang. If the Big Bang actually occurred, scientists believed that we should see slight variations (or ripples) in the temperature of the cosmic background radiation that Penzias and Wilson had discovered. These temperature ripples enabled matter to congregate by gravitational attraction into galaxies. If found, they would comprise the fourth line of scientific evidence that the universe had a beginning.

In 1989 the search for these ripples was intensified when NASA launched the $200 million satellite aptly called COBE for Cosmic Background Explorer. Carrying extremely sensitive instruments, COBE was able to see whether or not these ripples actually existed in the background radiation and how precise they were.

When the project leader, astronomer George Smoot, announced COBE’s findings in 1992, his shocking characterization was quoted in newspapers all over the world. He said, “If you’re religious, it’s like looking at God.” University of Chicago astrophysicist Michael Turner was no less enthusiastic, claiming, “The significance of this [discovery] cannot be overstated. They have found the Holy Grail of Cosmology.” Cambridge astronomer Stephen Hawking also agreed, calling the findings “the most important discovery of the century, if not of all time.”14 What did COBE find to merit such momentous descriptions?

COBE not only found the ripples, but scientists were amazed at their precision. The ripples show that the explosion and expansion of the universe was precisely tweaked to cause just enough matter to congregate to allow galaxy formation, but not enough to cause the universe to collapse back on itself. Any slight variation one way or the other, and none of us would be here to tell about it. In fact, the ripples are so exact (down to one part in one hundred thousand) that Smoot called them the “machining marks from the creation of the universe” and the “fingerprints of the maker.”15

But these temperature ripples are not just dots on a scientist’s graph somewhere. COBE actually took infrared pictures of the ripples. Now keep in mind that space observations are actually observations of the past because of the long time it takes light from distant objects to reach us. So COBE’s pictures are actually pictures of the past. That is, the infrared pictures taken by COBE point to the existence of matter from the very early universe that would ultimately form into galaxies and clusters of galaxies. Smoot called this matter “seeds” of the galaxies as they exist today (these pictures can be seen at COBE’s website, http://Lambda.gsfc.nasa.gov). These “seeds” are the largest structures ever detected, with the biggest extending across one-third of the known universe. That’s 10 billion light years or 60 billion trillion (60 followed by 21 zeros) miles.16

Now you can see why some scientists were so grandiose in their description of the discovery. Something predicted by the Big Bang was again found, and that something was so big and so precise that it made a big bang with scientists!

 

E—Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity

The E in SURGE is for Einstein. His theory of General Relativity is the fifth line of scientific evidence that the universe had a beginning, and its discovery was the beginning of the end for the idea that the universe is eternal. The theory itself, which has been verified to five decimal places, demands an absolute beginning for time, space, and matter. It shows that time, space, and matter are co-relative. That is, they are interdependent—you can’t have one without the others.

From General Relativity, scientists predicted and then found the expanding universe, the radiation afterglow, and the great galaxy seeds that were precisely tweaked to allow the universe to form into its present state. Add these discoveries to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and we have five lines of powerful scientific evidence that the universe had a beginning—a beginning, we might say, that came in a great SURGE.

 

God and the Astronomers

So the universe had a beginning. What does that mean for the question of God’s existence? The man who now sits in Edwin Hubble’s chair at the Mount Wilson observatory has a few things to say about that. His name is Robert Jastrow, an astronomer we’ve already quoted in this chapter. In addition to serving as the director of Mount Wilson, Jastrow is the founder of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies. Obviously his credentials as a scientist are impeccable. That’s why his book God and the Astronomers made such an impression on those investigating the implications of the Big Bang, namely those asking the question, “Does the Big Bang point to God?”

Jastrow reveals in the opening line of chapter 1 that he has no religious axe to grind. He writes, “When an astronomer writes about God, his colleagues assume he is either over the hill or going bonkers. In my case it should be understood from the start that I am an agnostic in religious matters.”17

In light of Jastrow’s personal agnosticism, his theistic quotations are all the more provocative. After explaining some of the Big Bang evidence we’ve just reviewed, Jastrow writes, “Now we see how the astronomical evidence leads to a biblical view of the origin of the world. The details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same: the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy.”18

The overwhelming evidence for the Big Bang and its consistency with the biblical account in Genesis led Jastrow to observe in an interview, “Astronomers now find they have painted themselves into a corner because they have proven, by their own methods, that the world began abruptly in an act of creation to which you can trace the seeds of every star, every planet, every living thing in this cosmos and on the earth. And they have found that all this happened as a product of forces they cannot hope to discover.… That there are what I or anyone would call supernatural forces at work is now, I think, a scientifically proven fact.”19

By evoking the supernatural, Jastrow echoes the conclusion of Einstein contemporary Arthur Eddington. As we mentioned earlier, although he found it “repugnant,” Eddington admitted, “The beginning seems to present insuperable difficulties unless we agree to look on it as frankly supernatural.”20

Now why would Jastrow and Eddington admit that there are “supernatural” forces at work? Why couldn’t natural forces have produced the universe? Because these scientists know as well as anyone that natural forces—indeed all of nature—were created at the Big Bang. In other words, the Big Bang was the beginning point for the entire physical universe. Time, space, and matter came into existence at that point. There was no natural world or natural law prior to the Big Bang. Since a cause cannot come after its effect, natural forces cannot account for the Big Bang. Therefore, there must be something outside of nature to do the job. That’s exactly what the word supernatural means.

The discoverers of the afterglow, Robert Wilson and Arno Penzias, were not Bible-thumpers either. Both initially believed in the Steady State Theory. But due to the mounting evidence, they’ve since changed their views and acknowledged facts that are consistent with the Bible. Penzias admits, “The Steady State theory turned out to be so ugly that people dismissed it. The easiest way to fit the observations with the least number of parameters was one in which the universe was created out of nothing, in an instant, and continues to expand.”21

Wilson, who once took a class from Fred Hoyle (the man who popularized the Steady State Theory in 1948), said, “I philosophically liked the Steady State. And clearly I’ve had to give that up.”22 When science writer Fred Heeren asked him if the Big Bang evidence is indicative of a Creator, Wilson responded, “Certainly there was something that set it all off. Certainly, if you are religious, I can’t think of a better theory of the origin of the universe to match with Genesis.”23 George Smoot echoed Wilson’s assessment. He said, “There is no doubt that a parallel exists between the big bang as an event and the Christian notion of creation from nothing.”24

 

The Empire Strikes Back (but Fizzles Out)

What do atheists have to say about this? We’ve already seen the shortcomings in the explanations of Atkins and Isaac Asimov—they start with something rather than literally nothing. Are there any other atheistic explanations out there that may be plausible? Not that we’ve seen. Atheists have come up with other theories, but all of them have their fatal flaws.25 Let’s take a brief look at a few of them.

The Cosmic Rebound Theory—This is the theory that suggests the universe has been expanding and contracting forever. This helps its proponents avoid a definite beginning. But the problems with this theory are numerous, and for those reasons it has fallen out of favor.

First, and most obviously, there’s no evidence for an infinite number of bangs (after all, it’s not the Big Bang, Bang, Bang, Bang, Bang … Theory!). The universe appears to have exploded once from nothing, not repeatedly from existing material.

Second, there’s not enough matter in the universe to pull everything back together. The universe seems poised to continue expanding indefinitely.26 This was confirmed in 2003 by Charles Bennett of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. After looking at readings from NASA’s latest space probe, he said, “The universe will expand forever. It will not turn back on itself and collapse in a great crunch.”27 In fact, astronomers are now finding that the universe’s expansion speed is actually accelerating, making a collapse even more improbable.28

Third, even if there were enough matter to cause the universe to contract and “bang” again, the Cosmic Rebound Theory contradicts the Second Law of Thermodynamics because the theory falsely assumes that no energy would be lost in each contraction and explosion. A universe “banging” repeatedly would eventually fizzle out just as a dropped ball eventually fizzles out. So if the universe has been expanding and contracting forever, it would have fizzled out already.

Finally, there’s no way that today would have gotten here if the universe had been expanding and contracting forever. An infinite number of big bangs is an actual impossibility (we’ll elaborate on this in a couple of pages). And even if there were a finite number of bangs, the theory cannot explain what caused the first one. There was nothing to “bang” before the first bang!

Imaginary Time—Other atheistic attempts at explaining how the universe exploded into being out of nothing are just as flawed. For example, in an effort to avoid an absolute beginning of the universe, Stephen Hawking made up a theory that utilizes “imaginary time.” We could just as well call it an “imaginary theory” because Hawking himself admits that his theory is “just a [metaphysical] proposal” that cannot explain what happened in real time. “In real time,” he concedes, “the universe has a beginning.… ”29 In fact, according to Hawking, “Almost everyone now believes that the universe, and time itself, had a beginning at the Big Bang.”30 So by his own admission Hawking’s imaginary theory fizzles when applied to the real world. Imaginary time is just that—purely imaginary.

Uncertainty—With the evidence for the beginning of the universe so strong, some atheists question the first premise of the Cosmological Argument—the Law of Causality. This is dangerous ground for atheists, who typically pride themselves on being champions of reason and science. As we have pointed out before, the Law of Causality is the foundation of all science. Science is a search for causes. If you destroy the Law of Causality, then you destroy science itself.

Atheists attempt to cast doubt on the Law of Causality by citing quantum physics, specifically Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. This principle describes our inability to simultaneously predict the location and speed of subatomic particles (i.e., electrons). The atheist’s contention here is this: if causality at the subatomic realm isn’t necessary, then maybe causality of the entire universe isn’t necessary either.

Fortunately for science, this atheistic attempt to cast doubt on the Law of Causality fails. Why? Because it confuses causality and predictability. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle does not prove that the movement of electrons is uncaused; it only describes our inability to predict their location and speed at any given time. The mere fact that we can’t predict something doesn’t mean that something has no cause. In fact, quantum theorists acknowledge that we might not be able to predict the simultaneous speed and location of electrons because our very attempts at observing them are the cause of their unpredictable movements! Like a beekeeper putting his head in a beehive, we must stir them up in order to observe them. Hence, the disturbance may be a case of the scientist looking at his own eyelashes in the microscope.

In the end, no atheistic theory adequately refutes either premise of the Cosmological Argument. The universe had a beginning and therefore it needs a cause.

 

The Religion of Science

So why don’t all scientists just accept this conclusion instead of attempting to avoid the facts and their implications with wild and implausible explanations? Jastrow’s comments are again insightful (remember, Jastrow is an agnostic). Jastrow observes,

Theologians generally are delighted with the proof that the Universe had a beginning, but astronomers are curiously upset. Their reactions provide an interesting demonstration of the response of the scientific mind—supposedly a very objective mind—when evidence uncovered by science itself leads to a conflict with the articles of faith in our profession. It turns out that the scientist behaves the way the rest of us do when our beliefs are in conflict with the evidence. We become irritated, we pretend the conflict does not exist, or we paper it over with meaningless phrases.31

The phrases we have seen used by Atkins and Asimov to explain the beginning of the universe—“mathematical points” and “positive and negative energy” respectively—certainly seem meaningless to us. Indeed, they explain nothing.

Regarding Einstein’s “irritating” feelings about General Relativity and the expanding universe, Jastrow writes: “This is curiously emotional language for a discussion of some mathematical formulas. I suppose that the idea of a beginning in time annoyed Einstein because of its theological implications.”32

Everyone knows that theists have theological beliefs. But what’s often overlooked is that atheistic and pantheistic scientists also have theological beliefs. As noted above, Jastrow calls some of these beliefs “the articles of faith in our profession,” and he asserts that some of these beliefs comprise the “religion in science.” He writes:

There is a kind of religion in science … every effect must have its cause; there is no First Cause.… This religious faith of the scientist is violated by the discovery that the world had a beginning under conditions in which the known laws of physics are not valid, and as a product of forces or circumstances we cannot discover. When that happens, the scientist has lost control. If he really examined the implications, he would be traumatized. As usual when faced with trauma, the mind reacts by ignoring the implications—in science this is known as “refusing to speculate”—or trivializing the origin of the world by calling it the Big Bang, as if the Universe were a firecracker.33

Traumatized or not, scientists must come to grips with the implications of the Big Bang evidence. They may not like the evidence or its implications, but that won’t change the facts. Since the evidence shows that time, space, and matter were created at the Big Bang, the most probable scientific conclusion is that the universe was caused by something outside of time, space, and matter (i.e., an Eternal Cause). When scientists stop short of that conclusion by papering it over with “meaningless phrases” or by “refusing to speculate,” it seems that they are simply refusing to accept the facts and the most reasonable conclusions that come from them. This is a matter of the will, not the mind. The evidence is objective; it’s the disbelieving scientists who are not.

 

What If the Big Bang Theory is Wrong?

So far we’ve given solid scientific evidence (SURGE) for the fact that the universe had a beginning. But suppose scientists wake up one day and find out that all of their calculations have been wrong—there was no Big Bang. Given the wide scope of the evidence and the ability of the theory to correctly predict so much observable phenomena, a total abandonment of the Big Bang would be extremely unlikely.

This is admitted even by atheists. Victor Stenger, a physicist who taught at the University of Hawaii, once wrote that “the universe exploded out of nothingness.”34 Stenger recently acknowledged that the Big Bang is looking more probable all the time. “We have to leave open the possibility that [the Big Bang] could be wrong,” he said, “but … every year that goes by, and more astronomical data comes in, it’s more and more consistent with at least the general Big Bang picture.”35

Indeed, in 2003 more evidence came forth that the Big Bang is correct. NASA’s WMAP satellite (Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe) confirmed the findings of its predecessor COBE and returned pictures thirty-five times sharper than COBE’s of the background radiation ripples.36 In fact, space observations are becoming so supportive of the theistic worldview that George Will muses, “Soon the American Civil Liberties Union, or People for the American Way, or some similar faction of litigious secularism will file suit against NASA, charging that the Hubble Space Telescope unconstitutionally gives comfort to the religiously inclined.”37

Nevertheless, let’s play skeptic’s advocate for a second. Let’s suppose that at some point in the future the Big Bang Theory is deemed wrong. Would that mean that the universe is eternal? No, for a number of reasons.

First, the Second Law of Thermodynamics (the S in SURGE) supports the Big Bang but is not dependent on it. The fact that the universe is running out of usable energy and heading toward disorder is not even up for debate. In Eddington’s words, the Second Law “holds the supreme position among the laws of nature.” It is true even if the Big Bang is not.

Second, the same can be said for Einstein’s theory of General Relativity (the E in SURGE). This theory, well verified by observation, requires a beginning to space, matter, and time whether or not it all began with a bang.

Third, there’s also scientific evidence from geology that the universe had a beginning. As many of us learned in high school chemistry, radioactive elements decay over time into other elements. For example, radioactive uranium eventually turns into lead. This means that if all uranium atoms were infinitely old, they would all be lead by now, but they’re not. So the earth cannot be infinitely old.

Finally, there’s a philosophical line of evidence for the beginning of the universe. This line of evidence is so rationally inescapable that some consider it the strongest argument of all. It’s called the Kalam (from the Arabic word for “eternal”) Cosmological Argument, and it goes like this:

1.      An infinite number of days has no end.

2.      But today is the end day of history (history being a collection of all days).

3.      Therefore, there were not an infinite number of days before today (i.e., time had a beginning).

To grasp this argument, see the timeline below, marked in segments of days (fig. 3.1). The further left you go, the further back in history you go. Now, assume for a moment that this line extends to the left indefinitely, so that you can’t see if or where it begins. But as you look to the right you can see the end of the line because the last segment of the line represents today. Tomorrow isn’t here yet, but when it gets here we’ll add one more segment (i.e., a day) to the right end of the line.

 

 

 

 

Now, here’s how this proves that time had a beginning: since the line certainly ends on the right, the timeline cannot be infinite because something that is infinite has no end. Moreover, you can’t add anything to something that is infinite, but tomorrow we will add another day to our timeline. So our timeline is undeniably finite.

Let’s consider this argument from a different angle. If there were an infinite number of days before today, then today would never have arrived. But here we are! So there must have been only a finite number of days before today. In other words, even though we may not be able to see, as we look to the left, where the line begins, we know it had to begin at some point because only a finite amount of time could be passed for today to arrive. You can’t traverse an infinite number of days. Thus time must have had a beginning.

Some may say that infinite numbers can exist, so why can’t infinite days? Because there’s a difference between an abstract infinite series and a concrete one. The one is purely theoretical, the other is actual. Mathematically, we can conceive of an infinite number of days, but actually we could never count or live an infinite number of days. You can conceive of an infinite number of mathematical points between two bookends on a shelf, but you could not fit an infinite number of books between them. Thatthe difference between an abstract and a concrete. Numbers are abstract. Days are concrete. (By the way, this amplifies our answer above as to why there could not have been an infinite number of bangs in the cosmological history of the universe. An infinite number of actual events is impossible.)

What we are saying here is that the universe, Big Bang or not, had a beginning. That is, the Cosmological Argument is true because both premises of the argument are true: everything that comes to be has a cause, and the universe came to be. Since the universe had a beginning, it must have had a Beginner.

 

 

Who Made God?

In light of all the evidence for a beginning of the space-time universe, the Beginner must be outside the space-time universe. When God is suggested as the Beginner, atheists are quick to ask the age-old question, “Then who made God? If everything needs a cause, then God needs a cause too!”

As we have seen, the Law of Causality is the very foundation of science. Science is a search for causes, and that search is based on our consistent observation that everything that has a beginning has a cause. In fact, the question “Who made God?” points out how seriously we take the Law of Causality. It’s taken for granted that virtually everything needs a cause.

So why then doesn’t God need a cause? Because the atheist’s contention misunderstands the Law of Causality. The Law of Causality does not say that everything needs a cause. It says that everything that comes to be needs a cause. God did not come to be. No one made God. He is unmade. As an eternal being, God did not have a beginning, so he didn’t need a cause.

“But wait,” the atheist will protest, “if you can have an eternal God, then I can have an eternal universe! After all, if the universe is eternal, then it did not have a cause.” Yes, it is logically possible that the universe is eternal and therefore didn’t have a cause. In fact, it is one of only two possibilities: either the universe, or something outside the universe, is eternal. (Since something undeniably exists today, then something must have always existed; we have only two choices: the universe, or something that caused the universe.) The problem for the atheist is that while it is logically possible that the universe is eternal, it does not seem to be actually possible. For all the scientific and philosophical evidence (SURGE, radioactive decay, and the Kalam Cosmological Argument) tells us the universe cannot be eternal. So by ruling out one of the two options, we are left with the only other option—something outside the universe is eternal.

When you get right down to it, there are only two possibilities for anything that exists: either 1) it has always existed and is therefore uncaused, or 2) it had a beginning and was caused by something else (it can’t be self-caused, because it would have had to exist already in order to cause anything). According to the overwhelming evidence, the universe had a beginning, so it must be caused by something else—by something outside itself. Notice that this conclusion is consistent with theistic religions, but it is not based on those religions—it is based on good reason and evidence.

So what is this First Cause like? One might think you need to rely on a Bible or some other so-called religious revelation to answer that question, but, again, we don’t need anyone’s scripture to figure that out. Einstein was right when he said, “Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.”38 Religion can be informed and confirmed by science, as it is by the Cosmological Argument. Namely, we can discover some characteristics of the First Cause just from the evidence we’ve discussed in this chapter. From that evidence alone, we know the First Cause must be:

•     self-existent, timeless, nonspatial, and immaterial (since the First Cause created time, space, and matter, the First Cause must be outside of time, space, and matter). In other words, he is without limits, or infinite;

•     unimaginably powerful, to create the entire universe out of nothing;

•     supremely intelligent, to design the universe with such incredible precision (we’ll see more of this in the next chapter);

•     personal, in order to choose to convert a state of nothingness into the time-space-material universe (an impersonal force has no ability to make choices).

These characteristics of the First Cause are exactly the characteristics theists ascribe to God. Again, these characteristics are not based on someone’s religion or subjective experience. They are drawn from the scientific evidence we have just reviewed, and they help us see a critically important section of the box top to this puzzle we call life.

 

Conclusion: If There is No God, Why is There Something Rather Than Nothing?

Years ago, I (Norm) debated an atheist at the University of Miami on the question “Does God exist?” After I presented much of the evidence we have reviewed here, I had the opportunity to ask my opponent some questions. Here’s what I asked him:

“Sir, I have some questions for you: First, ‘If there is no God, why is there something rather than nothing at all?’ ” I then proceeded to ask a few more questions, thinking he would answer them in sequence.

Now, usually when you debate someone, you’re trying to persuade the audience. You don’t expect to get your opponent to admit he’s wrong. He’s got too much invested in his position, and most debaters have too much ego to admit an error. But this guy was different. He surprised me when he said, “Regarding the first question, that’s a good question. That’s a really good question.” And without any other comment, he went on to answer my second question.

After hearing the evidence for the existence of God, this debater was left questioning his own beliefs. He even attended a follow-up meeting and expressed that he had doubts about atheism. His faith in atheism was waning. Indeed.

“If there is no God, why is there something rather than nothing?” is a question that we all have to answer. And in light of the evidence, we are left with only two options: either no one created something out of nothing, or else someone created something out of nothing. Which view is more reasonable? Nothing created something? No. Even Julie Andrews knew the answer when she sang, “Nothing comes from nothing. Nothing ever could!” And if you can’t believe that nothing caused something, then you don’t have enough faith to be an atheist!

The most reasonable view is God. Robert Jastrow suggested this when he ended his book God and the Astronomers with this classic line: “For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”39

 



1 Quoted in Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1995), 57.

2 All the galaxies are moving away from us, but that does not mean that we are at the center of the universe. To visualize how this can be, picture a balloon with black dots on it. When you blow up the balloon, all of the dots separate from one another whether they are near the center or not. The dots on opposite sides of the balloon (those farthest away from one another) separate more quickly than those next to one another. In fact, Hubble discovered a linear relationship between distance and speed, which showed that a galaxy twice as far from us moves away at twice the speed. This became known as Hubble’s Law.

3 Quoted in Fred Heeren, Show Me God (Wheeling, Ill.: Daystar, 2000), 135.

4 Francis Bacon, The New Organon (1620; reprint, Indianapolis: Bobbs Merrill, 1960), 121.

5 David Hume, in J. Y. T. Greig, ed., The Letters of David Hume, 2 vols. (New York: Garland, 1983), 1:187.

6 You may have heard the First Law of Thermodynamics stated like this: “Energy can neither be created nor destroyed.” That is a philosophical assertion, not an empirical observation. How could we know that energy was not created? There were no observers to verify it. A more accurate definition of the First Law, as far as observations go, is that “the total amount of energy in the universe (i.e., usable and unusable energy) remains constant.” So as usable energy is consumed, it is converted into unusable energy, but the sum of the two remains the same. Only the proportion of usable to unusable changes.

7 Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers (New York: Norton, 1978), 48.

8 Quoted in Paul Davies, The Cosmic Blueprint (New York: Simon & Shuster, 1988), 20, emphasis added.

9 Words like “precede” and “before” usually imply time. We don’t mean it that way, because there was no time “before” the Big Bang. For there can be no time before time began. What then could exist before time? The answer is, very simply, the Eternal! That is, the Eternal Cause that brought time, space, and matter into existence.

10 The entire debate is available on video at www.rzim.com.

11 Isaac Asimov, Beginning and End (New York: Doubleday, 1977), 148.

12 Anthony Kenny, The Five Ways: St. Thomas Aquinas’ Proofs of God’s Existence (New York: Schocken, 1969), 66.

13 Jastrow, God and the Astronomers, 15–16.

14 See Fred Heeren, Show Me God, 163–168; and Ross, Creator and the Cosmos, 19.

15 Heeren, Show Me God, 168.

16 See Michael D. Lemonick, “Echoes of the Big Bang,” Time, May 4, 1992, 62.

17 Jastrow, God and the Astronomers, 11.

18 Ibid., 14.

19 “A Scientist Caught Between Two Faiths: Interview with Robert Jastrow,” Christianity Today, August 6, 1982, emphasis added.

20 Arthur Eddington, The Expanding Universe (New York: Macmillan, 1933), 178.

21 Quoted in Heeren, Show Me God, 156.

22 Quoted in ibid., 157.

23 Quoted in ibid.

24 Quoted in ibid., 139.

25 For a detailed explanation and refutation of atheistic explanations for the beginning of the universe, see William Lane Craig’s article, “The Ultimate Question of Origins: God and the Beginning of the Universe,” posted online at http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/ultimatequestion.html; see also Norman Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 1999), 102-106.

26 See Jastrow, God and the Astronomers, 125.

27 See “ ‘Baby Pic’ Shows Cosmos 13 Billion Years Ago,” CNN.com, February 11, 2003, at http://www.cnn.com/2003/TECH/space/02/11/cosmic.portrait/.

28 See Kathy Sawyer, “Cosmic Driving Force? Scientists’ Work on ‘Dark Energy’ Mystery Could Yield a New View of the Universe,” Washington Post, February 19, 2000, A1.

29 Stephen W. Hawking, A Brief History of Time (New York: Bantam, 1988), 136–139; see also Norman Geisler and Peter Bocchino, Unshakable Foundations (Minneapolis: Bethany, 2001), 107–110.

30 Quoted in Norman Geisler and Paul Hoffman, eds., Why I Am a Christian: Leading Thinkers Explain Why They Believe (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 2001), 66.

31 Jastrow, God and the Astronomers, 16 (emphasis ours).

32 Ibid., 28.

33 Ibid., 113–114.

34 V. J. Stenger, “The Face of Chaos,” Free Inquiry 13 (Winter 1992–1993): 13.

35 See Cliff Walker, “An Interview with Particle Physicist Victor J. Stenger,” at http://www.positiveatheism.com/crt/stenger1.htm. Interview date, November 6, 1999.

36 See “ ‘Baby Pic’ Shows Cosmos 13 Billion Years Ago.”

37 George Will, “The Gospel from Science,” Newsweek, November 8, 1998.

38 Albert Einstein, in Science, Philosophy, and Religion: A Symposium (New York: The Conference on Science, Philosophy and Religion in Their Relation to the Democratic Way of Life, 1941). Posted online at http://www.sacred-texts.com/aor/einstein/einsci.htm. Accessed October 15, 2003.

39 Jastrow, God and the Astronomers, 116.

 

5

The First Life: Natural Law or Divine Awe?

“God never performed a miracle to convince an atheist, because his ordinary works provide sufficient evidence.”

—Ariel Roth

Take Out the Garbage—Mom

Sixteen-year-old Johnny came down from his bedroom and stumbled into the kitchen to get a bowl of his favorite cereal—Alpha-Bits. When he got to the table, he was surprised to see that the cereal box was knocked over, and the Alpha-Bit letters spelled “TAKE OUT THE GARBAGE—MOM” on the placemat.

Recalling a recent high school biology lesson, Johnny didn’t attribute the message to his mom. After all, he’d just been taught that life itself is merely a product of mindless, natural laws. If that’s the case, Johnny thought, why couldn’t a simple message like “Take out the garbage—Mom” be the product of mindless natural laws as well? Maybe the cat knocked the box over, or an earthquake shook the house. No sense jumping to conclusions. Johnny didn’t want to take out the garbage anyway. He didn’t have time for house chores. This was summer vacation, and he wanted to get to the beach. Mary would be there.

Since Mary was the girl Scott liked too, Johnny wanted to get to the beach early to beat Scott there. But when Johnny arrived, he saw Mary and Scott walking hand-in-hand along the shore. As he followed them at a distance, he looked down and saw a heart drawn in the sand with the words “Mary loves Scott” scrawled inside. For a moment, Johnny felt his heart sink. But thoughts of his biology class rescued him from deep despair. “Maybe this is just another case of natural laws at work!” he thought. “Perhaps sand crabs or an unusual wave pattern just happened to produce this love note naturally.” No sense accepting a conclusion he didn’t like! Johnny would just have to ignore the corroborating evidence of the hand-holding.

Comforted by the fact that principles learned in his biology class could help him avoid conclusions he didn’t like, Johnny decided to lie down for a few minutes to get a little sun. As he put his head back on his towel he noticed a message in the clouds: “Drink Coke,” the white puffy letters revealed on the sky-blue background. “Unusual cloud formation?” Johnny thought. “Swirling winds, perhaps?”

No, Johnny couldn’t play the game of denial any longer. “Drink Coke” was the real thing. A message like that was a sure sign of intelligence It couldn’t be the result of natural forces because natural forces have never been observed to create messages. Even though he never saw a plane, Johnny knew there must have been a skywriter up there recently. Besides, he wanted to believe this message—the hot sun had left him parched, thirsting for a Coke.

Simple Life? There’s No Such Thing!

One needs to be playing with only half a deck or be willfully blind to suggest that messages like “Take out the garbage—Mom” and “Mary loves Scott” are the work of natural laws. Yet these conclusions are perfectly consistent with principles taught in most high school and college biology classes today. That’s where naturalistic biologists dogmatically assert that messages far more complicated are the mindless products of natural laws. They make this claim in trying to explain the origin of life.

Naturalistic biologists assert that life generated spontaneously from nonliving chemicals by natural laws without any intelligent intervention. Such a theory might have seemed plausible to a nineteenth-century scientist who didn’t have the technology to investigate the cell and discover its amazing complexity. But today this naturalistic theory flies in the face of everything we know about natural laws and biological systems.

Since the 1950s, advancing technology has enabled scientists to discover a tiny world of awesome design and astonishing complexity. At the same time that our telescopes are seeing farther out into space, our microscopes are seeing deeper into the components of life. While our space observations have yielded the Anthropic Principle of physics (which we discussed in the last chapter), our life observations are yielding an equally impressive Anthropic Principle of biology.

To show you what we mean, let’s consider so-called “simple” life—a one-celled animal known as an amoeba. Naturalistic evolutionists claim that this one-celled amoeba (or something like it) came together by spontaneous generation (i.e., without intelligent intervention) in a warm little pond somewhere on the very early earth. According to their theory, all biological life has evolved from that first amoeba without any intelligent guidance at all. This, of course, is the theory of macroevolution: from the infantile, to the reptile, to the Gentile; or, from the goo to you via the zoo.

Believers in this theory of origin are called by many names: naturalistic evolutionists, materialists, humanists, atheists, and Darwinists (in the remainder of this chapter and the next, we’ll refer to believers in this atheistic evolutionary theory as Darwinists or atheists. This does not include those who believe in theistic evolution—i.e., that evolution was guided by God). Regardless of what we call the true believers in this theory, the key question for us is this: “Is their theory true?” It appears not.

Forget the Darwinist assertions about men descending from apes or birds evolving from reptiles. The supreme problem for Darwinists is not explaining how all life forms are related (although, as we’ll see in the next chapter, that’s still a major problem). The supreme problem for Darwinists is explaining the origin of the first life. For unguided, naturalistic macroevolution to be true, the first life must have generated spontaneously from nonliving chemicals. Unfortunately for Darwinists, the first life—indeed any form of life—is by no means “simple.” This became abundantly clear in 1953 when James Watson and Francis Crick discovered DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), the chemical that encodes instructions for building and replicating all living things.

DNA has a helical structure that looks like a twisted ladder. The sides of the ladder are formed by alternating deoxyribose and phosphate molecules, and the rungs of the ladder consist of a specific order of four nitrogen bases. These nitrogen bases are adenine, thymine, cytosine, and guanine, which commonly are represented by the letters A, T, C, and G. These letters comprise what is known as the four-letter genetic alphabet. This alphabet is identical to our English alphabet in terms of its ability to communicate a message, except that the genetic alphabet has only four letters instead of twenty-six.1 Just as the specific order of the letters in this sentence communicates a unique message, the specific order of A, T, C, and G within a living cell determines the unique genetic makeup of that living entity. Another name for that message or information, whether it’s in a sentence or in DNA, is “specified complexity.” In other words, not only is it complex—it also contains a specific message.

The incredible specified complexity of life becomes obvious when one considers the message found in the DNA of a one-celled amoeba (a creature so small, several hundred could be lined up in an inch). Staunch Darwinist Richard Dawkins, professor of zoology at Oxford University, admits that the message found in just the cell nucleus of a tiny amoeba is more than all thirty volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica combined, and the entire amoeba has as much information in its DNA as 1,000 complete sets of the Encyclopedia Britannica!2 In other words, if you were to spell out all of the A, T, C, and G in the “unjustly called ‘primitive’ amoeba” (as Dawkins describes it), the letters would fill 1,000 complete sets of an encyclopedia!

Now, we must emphasize that these 1,000 encyclopedias do not consist of random letters but of letters in a very specific order—just like real encyclopedias. So here’s the key question for Darwinists like Dawkins: if simple messages such as “Take out the garbage—Mom,” “Mary loves Scott,” and “Drink Coke” require an intelligent being, then why doesn’t a message 1,000 encyclopedias long require one?

Darwinists can’t answer that question by showing how natural laws could do the job. Instead, they define the rules of science so narrowly that intelligence is ruled out in advance, leaving natural laws as the only game in town. Before we describe how and why Darwinists do this, let’s take a look at the scientific principles that ought to be used in discovering how the first life began.

Investigating the Origin of First Life

Many evolutionists as well as many creationists speak as if they know, beyond any doubt, how the first life came into existence. Both, of course, cannot be right. If one is right, the other is wrong. So how can we discover who’s right?

The following fact is obvious but often overlooked: no human observed the origin of the first life. The emergence of the first life on earth was a one-time, unrepeatable historical event. No one was present to see it—neither evolutionists nor creationists were there, and we certainly can’t travel back in time and directly observe whether the first life was created by some kind of intelligence or arose by natural laws from nonliving materials.

That raises an important question: if we can’t directly observe the past, then what scientific principles can we use to help us discover what caused the first life? We use the same principles that are utilized every day in our criminal justice system—forensic principles. In other words, the origin of life is a forensic question that requires us to piece together evidence much like detectives piece together evidence from a murder. Detectives can’t go back in time and witness the murder again. Neither can they revive the victim and go into the laboratory to conduct some kind of experiment that will allow them to observe and repeat the crime over and over again. Instead, they must utilize the principles of forensic science to discover what really happened.

The central principle in forensic science is the Principle of Uniformity, which holds that causes in the past were like the causes we observe today. In other words, by the Principle of Uniformity, we assume that the world worked in the past just like it works today, especially when it comes to causes. If “Take out the garbage—Mom” requires an intelligent cause today, then any similar message from the past must also require an intelligent cause. Conversely, if natural laws can do the job today, then the Principle of Uniformity would lead us to conclude natural laws could do the job in the past.

Consider the Grand Canyon. What caused it? Did anyone see it form? No, but by the Principle of Uniformity, we can conclude that natural processes, particularly water erosion, were responsible for the Grand Canyon. We can conclude this confidently, even though we were not there to see it happen, because we can observe these natural processes creating canyons today. We see this in nature when we observe water’s effect on a land mass. We can even go into the laboratory and repeatedly pour water in the middle of a mass of dirt, and we’ll always get a canyon.

Now consider another geologic formation: Mount Rushmore. What caused it? Common sense tells us that we would never suggest that the presidential faces on Mount Rushmore were the result of natural laws. Erosion couldn’t have done that. Our “common sense”is actually the Principle of Uniformity. Since we never observe natural laws chiseling a highly detailed sculpture of a president’s head into stone at the present time, we rightly conclude that natural laws couldn’t have done it in the past either. Today we see only intelligent beings creating detailed sculptures. As a result, we rightly conclude that, in the past, only an intelligent being (a sculptor) could have created the faces on Mount Rushmore.

In the same way, when we look at the first one-celled life, the Principle of Uniformity tells us that only an intelligent cause could assemble the equivalent of 1,000 encyclopedias. Natural laws never have been observed to create a simple message like “Drink Coke,” much less a message 1,000 encyclopedias long.

Why then do Darwinists come to the conclusion that the first life generated spontaneously from nonliving chemicals without intelligent intervention? Spontaneous generation of life has never been observed. Ever since Pasteur sterilized his flask, one of the most fundamental observations in all of science has been that life arises only from similar existing life. Scientists have been unable to combine chemicals in a test tube and arrive at a DNA molecule, much less life.3 In fact, all experiments designed to spontaneously generate life—including the now discredited Urey-Miller experiment—have not only failed but also suffer from the illegitimate application of intelligence.4 In other words, scientists intelligently contrive experiments and they still cannot do what we are told mindless natural laws have done. Why should we believe that mindless processes can do what brilliant scientists cannot do? And even if scientists eventually did create life in the laboratory, it would prove creation. Why? Because their efforts would show that it takes a lot of intelligence to create life.

Do Darwinists insist on spontaneous generation because they just don’t see the evidence for design? Not at all. In fact, exactly the opposite is true—they see the evidence clearly! For example, Richard Dawkins named his book The Blind Watchmaker in response to William Paley’s design argument we cited in the last chapter. The appearance of design in life is admitted on the first page of The Blind Watchmaker. Dawkins writes, “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”5 Two pages later, despite acknowledging “the intricate architecture and precision-engineering” in human life and in each of the trillions of cells within the human body, Dawkins flatly denies that human life or any other life has been designed. Apparently, Dawkins refuses to allow observation to interfere with his conclusions. This is very strange for a man who believes in the supremacy of science, which is supposed to be based on observation.

Francis Crick, codiscoverer of DNA and another ardent Darwinist, agrees with Dawkins about the appearance of design. In fact, the appearance of design is so clear he warns that “biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved.”6 Crick’s little memo to biologists led Phillip Johnson, author and a leader in the Intelligent Design (ID) movement, to observe, “Darwinian biologists must keep repeating that reminder to themselves because otherwise they might become conscious of the reality that is staring them in the face and trying to get their attention.”7

The complexity of DNA is not the only problem for Darwinists. Its origin is also a problem. A difficult chicken-egg dilemma exists because DNA relies on proteins for its production but proteins rely on DNA for their production. So which came first, proteins or DNA? One must already be in existence for the other to be made.

So why do Crick, Dawkins, and others in their camp ignore the plain implications of the evidence staring them in the face? Because their preconceived ideology—naturalism—prevents them from even considering an intelligent cause. As we’re about to see, this is bad science, and it leads to wrong conclusions.

Good Science vs. Bad Science

It is commonly believed that the so-called creation-evolution debate (now often called the intelligent design vs. naturalism debate) entails a war between religion and science, the Bible and science, or faith and reason. This perception is perpetuated by the media, who consistently depict the debate in terms of the 1960 movie Inherit the Wind, which fictionalized the 1925 Scopes “monkey trial.” You know that depiction. It basically goes like this: here come those crazy religious fundamentalists again, and they want to impose their dogmatic religion and ignore objective science.

Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. The creation-evolution debate is not about religion versus science or the Bible versus science—it’s about good science versus bad science. Likewise, it’s not about faith versus reason—it’s about reasonable faith versus unreasonable faith. It may surprise you to see just who is practicing the bad science, and just who has the unreasonable faith.

As we’ve mentioned before, science is a search for causes. Logically, there are only two types of causes: intelligent and nonintelligent (i.e., natural). The Grand Canyon had a natural cause, and Mount Rushmore had an intelligent one (see fig. 5.1). Unfortunately, on the question of first life, Darwinists like Dawkins and Crick rule out intelligent causes before they even look at the evidence. In other words, their conclusions are pre-loaded into their assumptions. Spontaneous generation by natural laws must be the cause of life because they consider no other options.

 

 

 

Fig. 5.1

Spontaneous generation is what critics of evolution call a “just-so” story. Evolutionists provide no evidence to support spontaneous generation. It isn’t supported by empirical observation or forensic science principles. It’s “just-so” because life exists, and since intelligent causes are ruled out in advance, there can be no other possible explanation.

The problem for Darwinists is immense. Biochemist Klaus Dose admits that more than thirty years of research into the origin of life has led to “a better perception of the immensity of the problem of the origin of life on Earth rather than to its solution. At present all discussions on principal theories and experiments in the field either end in stalemate or in a confession of ignorance.”8 Francis Crick laments, “Every time I write a paper on the origin of life, I swear I will never write another one, because there is too much speculation running after too few facts.”9

The evidence is so strong for intelligence and against naturalism that prominent evolutionists have actually suggested aliens deposited the first life here. Fred Hoyle (the same evolutionist who popularized the Steady State Theory we discussed in chapter 3) invented this far-out theory (called “panspermia,” for “seeds everywhere”) after calculating that the probability of life arising by spontaneous generation was effectively zero. (Of course panspermia doesn’t solve the problem—it simply puts it off another step: who made the intelligent aliens?)

As crazy as the theory sounds, at least panspermia advocates recognize that some kind of intelligence must be behind the amazing wonder we call life. Still, when top evolutionists have to resort to aliens to explain the origin of life, you know the simplest life must be incredibly complex.

Another panspermia advocate, Chandra Wickramasinghe, admits that the Darwinists are acting on blind faith when it comes to spontaneous generation. He observes, “The emergence of life from a primordial soup on the Earth is merely an article of faith that scientists are finding difficult to shed. There is no experimental evidence to support this at the present time. Indeed all attempts to create life from non-life, starting from Pasteur, have been unsuccessful.”10 Microbiologist Michael Denton, though himself an atheist, adds, “The complexity of the simplest known type of cell is so great that it is impossible to accept that such an object could have been thrown together suddenly by some kind of freakish, vastly improbable event. Such an occurrence would be indistinguishable from a miracle.”11

In light of “just-so” explanations such as spontaneous generation and panspermia, who do you think is practicing the bad science: the people derisively called “religious” (the theists/creationists) or the “enlightened” ones (the atheists/Darwinists) who are really just as religious as the “religious”? Physicist and information scientist Hubert Yockey realizes it’s the Darwinists. He writes, “The belief that life on earth arose spontaneously from nonliving matter, is simply a matter of faith in strict reductionism and is based entirely on ideology.”12

Yockey is right. Darwinists falsely believe they can reduce life to its nonliving chemical components. That’s the ideology of reductionism. For Darwinists like Dawkins or Crick who must believe that only the material (and not the immaterial) exists, then life can be nothing more than chemicals. But life is clearly more than chemicals. Life contains a message—DNA—that is expressed in chemicals, but those chemicals cannot cause the message any more than the chemicals in ink and paper can cause the sentences on this page. A message points to something beyond chemicals. The message in life, just like the one on this page, points to an intelligence beyond its chemical elements. (We realize that life is certainly more than chemicals with a message, but the key point here is that it’s certainly not less.)

So by blind allegiance to this naturalistic, reductionist ideology—which is against all observation and reason—Darwinists dogmatically assert that life arose spontaneously from its nonliving chemical components. Ironically, this is exactly what Darwinists have long accused creationists of doing—allowing their ideology to overrule observation and reason. In truth, it’s the Darwinists who are allowing their faith to overrule observation and reason. Creationists and Intelligent Design proponents are simply making a rational inference from the evidence. They are following the evidence exactly where it leads—back to an intelligent cause.

Yockey is not the only one pointing out that Darwinists have a philosophical bias against intelligent causes. Phillip Johnson serves as the sharp edge of a steel wedge that is now splitting the petrified wood of naturalism in the scientific community. He correctly points out that “Darwinism is based on an a priori [prior] commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence. Separate the philosophy from the science, and the proud tower collapses.”13

And it’s not just the critics of evolution who see this bias. Prominent Darwinists admit it as well. In fact, Dawkins himself has acknowledged the bias in responding to an e-mail question from Phillip Johnson. “[Our] philosophical commitment to materialism and reductionism is true,” Dawkins wrote, “but I would prefer to characterize it as philosophical commitment to a real explanation as opposed to a complete lack of an explanation, which is what you espouse.”14 (Dawkins may think he has a “real explanation,” but, as we have seen, his explanation is against all of the observational and forensic evidence.)

If Richard Dawkins leaks out a half-hearted admission of bias, Darwinist Richard Lewontin of Harvard University gushes a complete written confession. Read how Lewontin acknowledges that Darwinists accept absurd “just-so” stories that are against common sense because of their prior commitment to materialism:

Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover that materialism is absolute for we cannot allow a divine foot in the door.15

Now the real truth comes out. It’s not that the evidence supports Darwinism—in fact, according to Lewontin and our own common sense, Darwinist explanations are “counterintuitive.” The real truth is that the Darwinists have defined science in such a way that the only possible answer is Darwinism. Any other definition would, God forbid, allow God to get his “foot in the door”!

In the next chapter we’ll investigate the possible motivations for keeping God out. For now, the bottom line is this: the event required to get the atheistic theory of macroevolution off the ground—the spontaneous generation of first life—is believed because of false philosophical assumptions disguised as science, not because there are legitimate scientific observations that support spontaneous generation. False science is bad science, and it’s the Darwinists who are practicing it. Their belief in spontaneous generation results from their blind faith in naturalism. It takes tremendous faith to believe that the first one-celled creature came together by natural laws, because that’s like believing 1,000 encyclopedias resulted from an explosion in a printing shop! Atheists can’t even explain the origin of the printing shop, much less the 1,000 encyclopedias. Therefore, we don’t have enough faith to be atheists.

 

Give Time and Chance a Chance!

“Not so fast!” say the Darwinists. “You’ve overlooked time and chance as plausible explanations for how life spontaneously generated.”

 

Give Time More Time!

Darwinists dismiss the conclusion that intelligence was necessary for the first life by suggesting that more time would allow natural laws to do their work. Give it several billion years and eventually we’ll get life. Is this plausible?

Let’s go back to Mount Rushmore for a minute. Darwinists assert that science is built on observation and repetition. Okay, suppose we observe and repeat an experiment where we allow natural laws to work on rock for the next ten years. Will we ever get the faces on Mount Rushmore? Never.

You say, maybe natural laws would do it if we give them billions of years. No, they wouldn’t. Why? Because nature disorders, it doesn’t organize things (the fact that nature brings things toward disorder is another aspect of the Second Law of Thermodynamics). More time will make things worse for the Darwinist, not better. How so?

Let’s suppose you throw red, white, and blue confetti out of an airplane 1,000 feet above your house. What’s the chance it’s going to form the American flag on your front lawn? Very low. Why? Because natural laws will mix up or randomize the confetti. You say, “Allow more time.” Okay, let’s take the plane up to 10,000 feet to give natural laws more time to work on the confetti. Does this improve the probability that the flag will form on your lawn? No, more time actually makes the flag less likely because natural laws have longer to do what they do—disorder and randomize.

What is different about the origin of the first life? Darwinists might say that the Second Law of Thermodynamics doesn’t apply continuously to living systems. After all, living things do grow and can get more ordered. Yes, they grow and get more ordered, but they still lose energy in the process of growth. The food that goes into a living system is not processed at 100 percent efficiency. So the Second Law applies to living systems as well. But that’s not even the point. The point is, we’re not talking about what something can do once it’s alive; we’re talking about getting a living thing in the first place. How did life arise from nonliving chemicals, without intelligent intervention, when nonliving chemicals are susceptible to the Second Law? Darwinists have no answer, only faith.

 

Give Chance a Chance!

Can all the incredible specified complexity in life be explained by chance? Not a chance! Atheists and theists alike have calculated the probability that life could arise by chance from nonliving chemicals. The figures they calculate are astronomically small—virtually zero. For example, Michael Behe has said that the probability of getting one protein molecule (which has about 100 amino acids) by chance would be the same as a blindfolded man finding one marked grain of sand in the Sahara Desert three times in a row. And one protein molecule is not life. To get life, you would need to get about 200 of those protein molecules together!16

That probability is virtually zero. But we believe the probability is actually zero. Why? Because “chance” is not a cause. Chance is a word that we use to describe mathematical possibilities. It has no power of its own. Chance is nothing. It’s what rocks dream about.

If someone flips a fair coin, what’s the chance it will come up heads? Fifty percent, we say. Yes, but what causes it to come up heads? Is it chance? No, the primary cause is an intelligent being who decided to flip the coin and apply so much force in doing so. Secondary causes, such as the physical forces of wind and gravity, also impact the result of the flip. If we knew all those variables, we could calculate how the flip would turn out beforehand. But since we don’t know those variables, we use the word “chance” to cover our ignorance.

We shouldn’t allow atheists to cover their ignorance with the word “chance.” If they don’t know a natural mechanism by which the first life could have come into existence, then they should admit they don’t know rather than suggesting a powerless word that, of course, really isn’t a cause at all. “Chance” is just another example of the bad science practiced by Darwinists.

 

Science is a Slave to Philosophy

Unfortunately, Darwinists have been successful in convincing the public that the only bad science is that which disagrees with Darwinism (and that really isn’t science at all, they say—it’s just religion masquerading as science). In fact, the exact opposite is true. It’s the Darwinists who are practicing the bad science, because their science is built on a false philosophy. In effect, it’s their secular religion of naturalism that leads them to ignore the empirically detectable scientific evidence for design.

What lessons can we learn from the bad science of the Darwinists? To answer that, let’s look at more of the debate we cited in chapter 3 between William Lane Craig, a Christian, and Darwinist Peter Atkins.17 Recall that the debate was over the existence of God. At one point, Atkins argued that God wasn’t necessary because science could explain everything.

“There is no need for God,” declared Atkins. “Everything in the world can be understood without needing to evoke a God. You have to accept that’s one possible view to take about the world.”

“Sure, that’s possible,” Craig admitted. “But…”

[Interrupting] “Do you deny that science can account for everything?” challenged Atkins.

“Yes, I do deny that science can account for everything,” said Craig.

“So what can’t it account for?” demanded Atkins.

A veteran of many debates, Craig was ready with a multifaceted answer. “I think there are a good number of things that cannot be scientifically proven but we are all rational to accept,” he said. Craig then cited these five examples of rational beliefs that cannot be proven by science:

1.      mathematics and logic (science can’t prove them because science presupposes them),

2.      metaphysical truths (such as, there are minds that exist other than my own),

3.      ethical judgments (you can’t prove by science that the Nazis were evil, because morality is not subject to the scientific method),

4.      aesthetic judgments (the beautiful, like the good, cannot be scientifically proven), and, ironically

5.      science itself (the belief that the scientific method discovers truth can’t be proven by the scientific method itself); (more on this below).

(Following this barrage of examples refuting Atkins’s view, moderator William F. Buckley, Jr., could not hide his pleasure with Craig’s answer. He peered over at Atkins and cracked, “So put that in your pipe and smoke it!”)

Craig was right. The scientific method of searching for causes by observation and repetition is but one means of finding truth. It is not the only means of finding truth. As we saw in chapter 1, nonscientific (philosophical) laws, such as the laws of logic, help us discover truth as well. In fact, those laws are used by the scientific method!

Moreover, Atkins’s claim that science can account for everything is not false only because of the five counterexamples Craig noted; it is also false because it is self-defeating. In effect, Atkins was saying, “Science is the only objective source of truth.” If we test that statement by the Road Runner tactic from chapter 1, we see it is self-defeating and therefore false. The statement “science is the only source of objective truth” claims to be an objective truth, but it’s not a scientific truth. The statement is philosophical in nature—it can’t be proven by science—so it defeats itself.

This leads us to perhaps the greatest lesson we can learn from the bad science of the Darwinists: science is built on philosophy. Indeed, science is a slave to philosophy. Bad philosophy results in bad science, and good science requires good philosophy. Why? Because:

1.      Science cannot be done without philosophy. Philosophical assumptions are utilized in the search for causes, and, therefore, cannot be the result of them. For example, scientists assume (by faith) that reason and the scientific method allow us to accurately understand the world around us. That cannot be proven by science itself. You can’t prove the tools of science—the laws of logic, the Law of Causality, the Principle of Uniformity, or the reliability of observation—by running some kind of experiment. You have to assume those things are true in order to do the experiment! So science is built on philosophy. Unfortunately, many so-called scientists are very poor philosophers.

2.      Philosophical assumptions can dramatically impact scientific conclusions. If a scientist assumes beforehand that only natural causes are possible, then probably no amount of evidence will convince him that intelligence created the first one-celled amoeba or any other designed entity. When Darwinists presuppose that intelligent causes are impossible, then natural laws are the only game in town. Likewise, if a creationist rules out natural causes beforehand (and we don’t know of any who do), then he also risks missing the right answer. But a scientist who is open-minded to both natural and intelligent causes can follow the evidence wherever it leads.

3.      Science doesn’t really say anything—scientists do. Data are always interpreted by scientists. When those scientists let their personal preferences or unproven philosophical assumptions dictate their interpretation of the evidence, they do exactly what they accuse religious people of doing—they let their ideology dictate their conclusions. When that’s the case, their conclusions should be questioned, because they may be nothing more than philosophical presuppositions passed off as scientific facts.

Materialism Makes Reason Impossible

When you get down to the root of the problem, you find that the bad science of the Darwinists results from the false philosophy of naturalism or materialism at the foundation of their worldview. Why is materialism false? Here are five reasons why materialism is not reasonable:

First, as we’ve already pointed out, there is a message resident in life, technically called specified complexity, that cannot be explained materially. This message cannot be explained by nonintelligent natural laws any more than the message in this book can be explained by the nonintelligent laws of ink and paper.

Second, human thoughts and theories are not comprised only of materials. Chemicals are certainly involved in the human thought process, but they cannot explain all human thoughts. The theory of materialism isn’t made of molecules. Likewise, someone’s thoughts, whether they be of love or hate, are not chemicals. How much does love weigh? What’s the chemical composition of hate? These are absurd questions because thoughts, convictions, and emotions are not completely materially based. Since they are not completely materially based, materialism is false.

Third, if life were nothing more than materials, then we’d be able to take all the materials of life—which are the same materials found in dirt—and make a living being. We cannot. There’s clearly something beyond materials in life. What materialist can explain why one body is alive and another body is dead? Both contain the same chemicals. Why is a body alive one minute and dead the next? What combination of materials can account for consciousness? Even Atkins, in his debate with Craig, admitted that explaining consciousness is a great problem for atheists.

Fourth, if materialism is true, then everyone in all of human history who has ever had any kind of spiritual experience has been completely mistaken. While this is possible, given the vast number of spiritual experiences, it does not seem likely. It is difficult to believe that every great spiritual leader and thinker in the history of humanity—including some of the most rational, scientific, and critical minds ever—have all been completely wrong about their spiritual experience. This includes Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Kepler, Newton, Pascal, and Jesus Christ himself. If just one spiritual experience in the entire history of the world is true, then materialism is false.

Finally, if materialism is true, then reason itself is impossible. For if mental processes are nothing but chemical reactions in the brain, then there is no reason to believe that anything is true (including the theory of materialism). Chemicals can’t evaluate whether or not a theory is true. Chemicals don’t reason, they react.

This is supremely ironic because Darwinists—who claim to champion truth and reason—have made truth and reason impossible by their theory of materialism. So even when Darwinists are right about something, their worldview gives us no reason to believe them—because reason itself is impossible in a world governed only by chemical and physical forces.

Not only is reason impossible in a Darwinian world, but the Darwinist’s assertion that we should rely on reason alone cannot be justified. Why not? Because reason actually requires faith. As J. Budziszewski points out, “The motto ‘Reason Alone!’ is nonsense anyway. Reason itself presupposes faith. Why? Because a defense of reason by reason is circular, therefore worthless. Our only guarantee that human reason works is God who made it.”18

Let’s unpack Budziszewski’s point by considering the source of reason. Our ability to reason can come from one of only two places: either our ability to reason arose from preexisting intelligence, or it arose from mindless matter. The atheists/Darwinists/materialists believe, by faith, that our minds arose from mindless matter without intelligent intervention. We say it is by faith because it contradicts all scientific observation, which demonstrates that an effect cannot be greater than its cause. You can’t give what you haven’t got, yet materialists believe that dead, unintelligent matter has produced intelligent life. This is like believing that the Library of Congress resulted from an explosion in a printing shop!

It makes much more sense to believe that the human mind is made in the image of the Great Mind—God. In other words, our minds can apprehend truth and can reason about reality because they were built by the Architect of truth, reality, and reason itself. Materialism cannot explain reason any more than it can explain life. Materialism is just not reasonable. Therefore, we don’t have enough faith to be materialists!

 

The Atheist vs. the Critical Thinking Consultant

 

The very fact that Darwinists think they have reasons to be atheists actually presupposes that God exists. How so? Because reasons require that this universe be a reasonable one that presupposes there is order, logic, design, and truth. But order, logic, design, and truth can only exist and be known if there is an unchangeable objective source and standard of such things. To say something is unreasonable, Darwinists must know what reasonable is. To say something is not designed, Darwinists must know what designed is. To say something is not true, Darwinists must know what truth is, and so forth. Like all nontheistic worldviews, Darwinism borrows from the theistic worldview in order to make its own view intelligible.

This tendency of atheists to borrow unwittingly from the theistic worldview was beautifully exposed by author Pete Bocchino19 during a curriculum meeting for the State of Georgia’s Department of Education. Pete, who was working for an internationally known Christian ministry at the time, was slated to be on a subcommittee to review and improve the sixth to twelfth-grade public school curriculum in subjects such as U.S. government, law, ethics, and character training.

The first of a week-long series of meetings was held in a large room where all the subcommittee members were given an opportunity to introduce themselves. Pete, who got held up in traffic, arrived late, missed the introductions, and started heading for his seat. When the subcommittee chairman noticed Pete walking in, he told him that they had already introduced themselves and asked Pete to do the same by giving his name, background, and occupation. Pete gave his name and said that he had a degree in mechanical engineering. Pete thought to himself, “I certainly don’t want to bring Christianity into this by telling them that I work for an international Christian ministry.” So he cryptically said, “I currently work for a not-for-profit organization as a critical thinking consultant.”

The chairman said, “A what?!”

“A critical thinking consultant,” Pete repeated.

“What exactly does a critical thinking consultant do?” the chairman persisted.

“Well, we’re already running late, and I don’t want to take up the committee’s time,” Pete reasoned, “but you’ll find out during the week.”

As the week progressed, the committee debated various topics, such as diversity, tolerance, human rights, and other controversial issues. At one point, when they were discussing psychology standards, Pete noted that the standards did not contain a definition of personhood. This was a gaping hole in the psychology curriculum; so Pete submitted the following definition based on a section of Mortimer Adler’s book, Haves Without Have-Nots:20

Course: Psychology / Topic: Uniqueness

Standard: Evaluates the uniqueness of human nature and the concept of personhood.

1.      intellect / conceptual thought

2.      freedom to choose / free will

3.      ethical responsibility (standards)

4.      moral accountability (obligations), and

5.      inalienable rights of personhood.

As soon as this standard was placed on the table, an educator sitting across from Pete—who had made it known that she was an atheist—was about to challenge this standard. Before she could do that, Pete stopped her and said to the group,

If anyone were to disagree with this standard, they would be doing the following:

1.      That person would be engaging me in conceptual thought (as in 1 above).

2.      That person would be exercising his/her “freedom” to do so (as in 2 above).

3.      That person must think that there is an ethical responsibility to teach what is right/true (as in 3 above).

4.      That person is seeking to hold me morally accountable to teach the truth (as in 4 above ).

5.      That person has the right to disagree with my position (as in 5 above).

So if one were to disagree with these criteria, that person would actually confirm the validity of each point of these criteria.

The group became rather quiet for a moment. Then the chairman spoke up and said, “Now we know what a critical thinking consultant does!” With that he told the committee secretary to include the standard in the recommendations.

With a little critical thinking, we see that the Darwinian worldview collapses not only from a lack of evidence but also because Darwinists must borrow from the theistic worldview as they attempt to make their case. Intellect, free will, objective morality, and human rights as well as reason, logic, design, and truth can exist only if God exists. Yet Darwinists assume some or all of these realities when they defend their atheistic worldview. They can’t have it both ways.

 

Darwinists Have the Wrong Box Top

In the introduction we said that a worldview is like a box top that allows you to place the many pieces of life’s puzzle into a complete, cohesive picture. If you have the right box top, then the pieces make sense in light of the complete picture.

But what happens if you keep discovering pieces that don’t fit the box top you have? Common sense would tell you that you’ve got the wrong box top, so you need to look for the right one. Unfortunately, the Darwinists won’t do this. The evidence strongly indicates that they have the wrong box top, but they refuse to consider that’s even possible (much less look for the right one). Their preconceived box top shows a picture without intelligent causes. Yet, as they themselves acknowledge, they’ve discovered many pieces to the puzzle that have the clear appearance of being intelligently designed. In effect, they’re trying to fit theistic pieces into their atheistic/materialistic puzzle. How do they do this?

Instead of discarding the wrong box top and finding the right one, Darwinists simply insist that the pieces aren’t really what they appear to be. They try to fit every piece—from the precisely designed universe to the information-rich single cell—into a puzzle that doesn’t have those pieces in it. In doing so, they disregard observation, which is the very essence of the empirical science they claim to champion. As they themselves admit, Darwinists are philosophically committed to their box top regardless of what the puzzle pieces look like.

How do you find the right box top to the puzzle of life? Arriving at the right box top is not a matter of preference (you like atheism, I like theism). No, it’s a matter of objective fact. By using the self-evident first principles of logic and the correct principles of scientific investigation, we discovered in chapters 3 and 4 that this is a theistic universe. If this is a theistic universe, then naturalism is false. If naturalism is false, then Darwinists may not be interpreting the evidence correctly.

Having the right box top is important because it provides the right context for interpreting the evidence. The context is the larger environment in which the evidence appears. If you have the wrong context, you may come to the wrong conclusion about evidence you are observing. For example, if I tell you that I just witnessed a man slashing open the stomach of a woman with a knife, you’d probably assume that man did something wrong. But look what happens when I reveal to you the context—the environment—in which this incident took place: we were in a hospital delivery room, the man was a doctor, and the baby’s heart had just stopped. What do you think about the man now? Once you understand the environment, your entire view of the evidence has changed: you now consider the man a hero rather than a villain, because he was really trying to save the baby’s life.

In the same way, the evidence from biology must be interpreted in light of the larger known environment. As we’ve already discovered, the larger known environment is that this is a theistic universe. There’s actually an immaterial, powerful, and intelligent Being beyond the natural world who created the universe and designed it precisely to allow life on earth. In other words, we already know beyond a reasonable doubt that the Designer is part of the box top, because the evidence shows that he has already designed this awesome universe with amazing complexity and precision.

In light of the fact that this Designer exists, when we see biological systems that even Darwinists like Richard Dawkins recognize “give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose,” maybe we ought to conclude that they really were designed for a purpose. As William Dembski points out, “If a creature looks like a dog, smells like a dog, barks like a dog, feels like a dog, and pants like a dog, the burden of evidence lies with the person insisting the creature isn’t a dog.”21 Since the universe is created and designed, then we should expect life to be created and designed as well. (At least it’s possible that life was created by intelligence. Ruling out that possibility beforehand is clearly illegitimate.)

So the conclusion that life is the product of an intelligent Designer makes sense because it’s not a lone piece of evidence. It’s consistent with other scientific findings. Or, to continue with our jigsaw puzzle metaphor, it’s a piece that fits perfectly with the other pieces of the puzzle.

 

Summary and Conclusion

Since we’ve covered a lot of ground in this chapter, let’s sum it up with a few short points:

1.      Life does not consist merely of chemicals. If that were the case, mixing the chemicals of life in a test tube would produce life. Life clearly consists of more than chemicals; it also includes specified complexity (which comes only from a mind). Therefore, materialism is false. (There are numerous additional reasons why materialism is false, including the fact that reason itself would be impossible in a materialistic universe.)

2.      There are no known natural laws that create specified complexity (information). Only intelligence has been observed creating specified complexity (e.g., “Take out the garbage—Mom, “Drink Coke,” Mount Rushmore, etc.).

3.      The simplest life consists of amazing specified complexity—equivalent to 1,000 complete sets of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Einstein said, “God doesn’t play dice with the universe.”22 He was right. As Phillip Gold said, “God plays Scrabble!”23

4.      Science is a search for causes that is built on philosophy. There are only two types of causes, intelligent and natural, but Darwinists philosophically rule out intelligent causes before they even look at the evidence. That’s why when Darwinists look at those 1,000 encyclopedias—despite observing and recognizing their obvious design—they assert that their cause must be natural. But if “Take out the garbage—Mom” requires an intelligent cause, then so do 1,000 encyclopedias.

5.      Spontaneous generation of life, which Darwinism requires to get the theory started, has never been observed. It is believed in by faith. And in light of the strong cosmological and teleological evidence that this is a theistic universe (and for many other reasons), the Darwinian belief in naturalism (or materialism) is also an article of faith. Hence, Darwinism is nothing more than a secular religion masquerading as science.

The skeptic may say, “Wait a minute! You’re moving much too fast. What makes you think that Intelligent Design is scientific? Isn’t ID just another case of the ‘God-of-the-Gaps’ fallacy—prematurely bringing God into the picture because you haven’t found a natural cause yet? Why should we give up looking for a natural cause? In fact, it seems like ID is just that Bible-thumping, six-day creationism being smuggled into the public debate under a new name. And what about the evidence for the evolution of new life forms that you have yet to mention?”

Answers to these and other Darwinist claims are coming in the next chapter. Not only will we address those claims, but we will also provide more pieces to the puzzle that confirm that the Intelligent Design people, not the Darwinists, have the right box top.

 

1 Information scientist Hubert Yockey, from the University of California at Berkeley, makes it clear that this comparison between the English alphabet and the genetic alphabet is no analogy but one of mathematical identity. He writes, “It is important to understand that we are not reasoning by analogy. The sequence hypothesis applies directly to the protein and the genetic text as well as to written language and therefore the treatment is mathematically identical.” See Hubert P. Yockey, “Self Organization, Origin-of-life Scenarios and Information Theory,” Journal of Theoretical Biology 91 (1981): 16.

2 Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker (New York: Norton, 1987), 17–18, 116.

3 For a discussion from evolutionists of the numerous difficulties in suggesting that life is a product of natural law, see Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee, Rare Earth (New York: Copernicus, 2000), chapter 4.

4 For more on the problems with the Urey-Miller experiment and nine other discredited “evidences” for evolution, see Jonathan Wells, Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth? Why Much of What We Teach About Evolution Is Wrong (Washington, D.C.: Regnery, 2000).

5 Dawkins, Blind Watchmaker, 1.

6 Quoted in Phillip E. Johnson, The Wedge of Truth (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 153.

7 Ibid.

8 Klaus Dose, “The Origin of Life: More Questions than Answers,” Interdisciplinary Science Review 13 (1998): 348; quoted in Lee Strobel, The Case for Faith (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2000), 107.

9 Quoted in Strobel, Case for Faith, 107.

10 Chandra Wickramasinghe, interview by Robert Roy Britt, October 27, 2000. Posted online at http://www.space.com/searchforlife/chandra_sidebar_001027.html (emphasis added).

11 Michael Denton, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (Bethesda, Md.: Adler & Adler, 1985), 264.

12 Hubert Yockey, Information Theory and Molecular Biology (Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 284, emphasis added.

13 Phillip E. Johnson, “The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism,” First Things (November 1997): 22–25.

14 E-mail sent on July 10, 2001. The entire exchange that week can be read at http://www.arn.org/docs/pjweekly/pj_weekly_010813.htm.

15 Richard Lewontin, “Billions and Billions of Demons,” The New York Review of Books, January 9, 1997, 31.

16 See Strobel, Case for Faith, 99–101.

17 The entire debate is on videotape, and can be viewed online at http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/craig-atkins.html.

18 J. Budziszewski, Written on the Heart: The Case for Natural Law (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1997), 54.

19 See Norman L. Geisler and Peter Bocchino, Unshakable Foundations (Minneapolis: Bethany, 2001). Anecdote from a personal conversation with Peter Bocchino, April 3, 2003.

20 Mortimer Adler, Haves Without Have-Nots (New York: Macmillan, 1991).

21 William Dembski, The Design Revolution: Answering the Toughest Questions About Intelligent Design (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, forthcoming).

22 Albert Einstein, in a letter to Max Born, December 4, 1926, quoted in Elizabeth Knowles, ed., The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), 290.

23 Quoted in William Dembski and James Kushiner, eds., Signs of Intelligence (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 2001), 102.

 



1 Quoted in Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1995), 57.

2 All the galaxies are moving away from us, but that does not mean that we are at the center of the universe. To visualize how this can be, picture a balloon with black dots on it. When you blow up the balloon, all of the dots separate from one another whether they are near the center or not. The dots on opposite sides of the balloon (those farthest away from one another) separate more quickly than those next to one another. In fact, Hubble discovered a linear relationship between distance and speed, which showed that a galaxy twice as far from us moves away at twice the speed. This became known as Hubble’s Law.

3 Quoted in Fred Heeren, Show Me God (Wheeling, Ill.: Daystar, 2000), 135.

4 Francis Bacon, The New Organon (1620; reprint, Indianapolis: Bobbs Merrill, 1960), 121.

5 David Hume, in J. Y. T. Greig, ed., The Letters of David Hume, 2 vols. (New York: Garland, 1983), 1:187.

6 You may have heard the First Law of Thermodynamics stated like this: “Energy can neither be created nor destroyed.” That is a philosophical assertion, not an empirical observation. How could we know that energy was not created? There were no observers to verify it. A more accurate definition of the First Law, as far as observations go, is that “the total amount of energy in the universe (i.e., usable and unusable energy) remains constant.” So as usable energy is consumed, it is converted into unusable energy, but the sum of the two remains the same. Only the proportion of usable to unusable changes.

7 Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers (New York: Norton, 1978), 48.

8 Quoted in Paul Davies, The Cosmic Blueprint (New York: Simon & Shuster, 1988), 20, emphasis added.

9 Words like “precede” and “before” usually imply time. We don’t mean it that way, because there was no time “before” the Big Bang. For there can be no time before time began. What then could exist before time? The answer is, very simply, the Eternal! That is, the Eternal Cause that brought time, space, and matter into existence.

10 The entire debate is available on video at www.rzim.com.

11 Isaac Asimov, Beginning and End (New York: Doubleday, 1977), 148.

12 Anthony Kenny, The Five Ways: St. Thomas Aquinas’ Proofs of God’s Existence (New York: Schocken, 1969), 66.

13 Jastrow, God and the Astronomers, 15–16.

14 See Fred Heeren, Show Me God, 163–168; and Ross, Creator and the Cosmos, 19.

15 Heeren, Show Me God, 168.

16 See Michael D. Lemonick, “Echoes of the Big Bang,” Time, May 4, 1992, 62.

17 Jastrow, God and the Astronomers, 11.

18 Ibid., 14.

19 “A Scientist Caught Between Two Faiths: Interview with Robert Jastrow,” Christianity Today, August 6, 1982, emphasis added.

20 Arthur Eddington, The Expanding Universe (New York: Macmillan, 1933), 178.

21 Quoted in Heeren, Show Me God, 156.

22 Quoted in ibid., 157.

23 Quoted in ibid.

24 Quoted in ibid., 139.

25 For a detailed explanation and refutation of atheistic explanations for the beginning of the universe, see William Lane Craig’s article, “The Ultimate Question of Origins: God and the Beginning of the Universe,” posted online at http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/ultimatequestion.html; see also Norman Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 1999), 102-106.

26 See Jastrow, God and the Astronomers, 125.

27 See “ ‘Baby Pic’ Shows Cosmos 13 Billion Years Ago,” CNN.com, February 11, 2003, at http://www.cnn.com/2003/TECH/space/02/11/cosmic.portrait/.

28 See Kathy Sawyer, “Cosmic Driving Force? Scientists’ Work on ‘Dark Energy’ Mystery Could Yield a New View of the Universe,” Washington Post, February 19, 2000, A1.

29 Stephen W. Hawking, A Brief History of Time (New York: Bantam, 1988), 136–139; see also Norman Geisler and Peter Bocchino, Unshakable Foundations (Minneapolis: Bethany, 2001), 107–110.

30 Quoted in Norman Geisler and Paul Hoffman, eds., Why I Am a Christian: Leading Thinkers Explain Why They Believe (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 2001), 66.

31 Jastrow, God and the Astronomers, 16 (emphasis ours).

32 Ibid., 28.

33 Ibid., 113–114.

34 V. J. Stenger, “The Face of Chaos,” Free Inquiry 13 (Winter 1992–1993): 13.

35 See Cliff Walker, “An Interview with Particle Physicist Victor J. Stenger,” at http://www.positiveatheism.com/crt/stenger1.htm. Interview date, November 6, 1999.

36 See “ ‘Baby Pic’ Shows Cosmos 13 Billion Years Ago.”

37 George Will, “The Gospel from Science,” Newsweek, November 8, 1998.

38 Albert Einstein, in Science, Philosophy, and Religion: A Symposium (New York: The Conference on Science, Philosophy and Religion in Their Relation to the Democratic Way of Life, 1941). Posted online at http://www.sacred-texts.com/aor/einstein/einsci.htm. Accessed October 15, 2003.

39 Jastrow, God and the Astronomers, 116.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 Information scientist Hubert Yockey, from the University of California at Berkeley, makes it clear that this comparison between the English alphabet and the genetic alphabet is no analogy but one of mathematical identity. He writes, “It is important to understand that we are not reasoning by analogy. The sequence hypothesis applies directly to the protein and the genetic text as well as to written language and therefore the treatment is mathematically identical.” See Hubert P. Yockey, “Self Organization, Origin-of-life Scenarios and Information Theory,” Journal of Theoretical Biology 91 (1981): 16.

2 Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker (New York: Norton, 1987), 17–18, 116.

3 For a discussion from evolutionists of the numerous difficulties in suggesting that life is a product of natural law, see Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee, Rare Earth (New York: Copernicus, 2000), chapter 4.

4 For more on the problems with the Urey-Miller experiment and nine other discredited “evidences” for evolution, see Jonathan Wells, Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth? Why Much of What We Teach About Evolution Is Wrong (Washington, D.C.: Regnery, 2000).

5 Dawkins, Blind Watchmaker, 1.

6 Quoted in Phillip E. Johnson, The Wedge of Truth (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 153.

7 Ibid.

8 Klaus Dose, “The Origin of Life: More Questions than Answers,” Interdisciplinary Science Review 13 (1998): 348; quoted in Lee Strobel, The Case for Faith (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2000), 107.

9 Quoted in Strobel, Case for Faith, 107.

10 Chandra Wickramasinghe, interview by Robert Roy Britt, October 27, 2000. Posted online at http://www.space.com/searchforlife/chandra_sidebar_001027.html (emphasis added).

11 Michael Denton, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (Bethesda, Md.: Adler & Adler, 1985), 264.

12 Hubert Yockey, Information Theory and Molecular Biology (Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 284, emphasis added.

13 Phillip E. Johnson, “The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism,” First Things (November 1997): 22–25.

14 E-mail sent on July 10, 2001. The entire exchange that week can be read at http://www.arn.org/docs/pjweekly/pj_weekly_010813.htm.

15 Richard Lewontin, “Billions and Billions of Demons,” The New York Review of Books, January 9, 1997, 31.

16 See Strobel, Case for Faith, 99–101.

17 The entire debate is on videotape, and can be viewed online at http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/craig-atkins.html.

18 J. Budziszewski, Written on the Heart: The Case for Natural Law (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1997), 54.

19 See Norman L. Geisler and Peter Bocchino, Unshakable Foundations (Minneapolis: Bethany, 2001). Anecdote from a personal conversation with Peter Bocchino, April 3, 2003.

20 Mortimer Adler, Haves Without Have-Nots (New York: Macmillan, 1991).

21 William Dembski, The Design Revolution: Answering the Toughest Questions About Intelligent Design (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, forthcoming).

22 Albert Einstein, in a letter to Max Born, December 4, 1926, quoted in Elizabeth Knowles, ed., The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), 290.

23 Quoted in William Dembski and James Kushiner, eds., Signs of Intelligence (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker, 2001), 102.