The Superiority Of Theism Part 4: Precarious Exacting Complexity
Once the more-thoroughgoing theist establishes the need for a God to get the universe rolling, the conclusions of the teleological argument should be introduced. The argument contends that God not only set the universe in motion but also designed the cosmos in such a way that on average its systems and components function with a degree of efficiently not statistically likely if reality was the product of random chance. Known more commonly as the design argument, the Teleological Proof can be stated formally in the following manner: "1. Every design has a designer. 2. The universe has a highly complex design. 3. Therefore the universe had a Designer (95)."
This complexity is evident in the environment in which we find ourselves as well as within ourselves and the creatures we share this environment with as biological organisms. Despite pride in his accomplishments that can veer into arrogance if not kept in check, man is ultimately a delicate creature that can exist only within a narrow continuum of conditions and thrive along only an even smaller range along that scale. The idea that the world was specifically suited so that me might even be able live in such an environment is known as the Anthropic Principle.
In The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, the elder demon Screwtape in dispensing advice to his nephew Wormwood on how to delude his human charge counsels the young devil to dupe his victim into perceiving the ordinariness of the world around him and to avoid using real science. Such knowledge could very easily end up encouraging the lost soul into embracing the Christian faith (110).
The first Anthropic Constant examined by Geisler and Turek is that of oxygen level. Contrary to what is probably popularly believed, though it is what our lungs primarily extract for the purposes of respiration when we breath, the Earth’s atmosphere is only 21% oxygen. If the percentage was a mere four points higher, fires would erupt spontaneously; and if a mere six points lower, human beings would suffocate (98).
To our perceptions, the world seems as broad as the horizon. However, we actually live in a manner not all that different than a fish in a bowl or upon “spaceship earth” as Ray Bradbury termed the globe we travel upon as we careen through space. For the content of the atmosphere is but only one of the constants that must be relatively precise for both life and advanced civilization to exist upon this planet as we know them. Though they are often invoked to frighten the population into embracing policies resting more on assumptions rather than definitive experimental conclusions, the concepts of nuclear winter and global warming help us better comprehend the consequences if the nature of the world were even slightly different.
According to the theory of nuclear winter, the Earth's temperatures would significantly decrease following a nuclear exchange since so much debris would be hurled into the atmosphere. Thus, another Anthropic Constant is atmospheric transparency. Geisler and Turek point out that, if the atmosphere was less transparent, not enough solar radiation would reach the earth as this warmth would be reflected back into space. However, if the atmosphere was more transparent, too much solar radiation would make it through, heating things to a level deleterious to life here now as well as bombard us with assorted dangerous forms of energy.
Yet another Anthropic Constant the average person seldom gives thought to is that of the carbon dioxide level. As anyone that follows news and politics knows, former Vice President Al Gore has accumulated a fortune for himself since leaving office warning of the dangers theoretically associated with the gas.
It is conjectured that, should too much carbon dioxide accumulate in the atmosphere, excess heat would not be able to radiate back into space, causing all life on the planet to burn up. But before one goes too far and long for the abolition of all manmade and naturally occurring carbon dioxide, if there was not enough carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, too much heat world flow back into space without enough being retained to sustain life.
Even if the majesty and precision of the world in which we find ourselves is not enough to melt the coldness of the atheist's heart, perhaps their awe for the human creature the humanists among their number are so enamored with may move them to reconsider their hostility towards the Creator. The unbeliever needs to be confronted with nothing less than life itself.
When we gaze out across the vast domains of biology, one of the first things that strikes the thinking individual is the vast variety of life ranging from the tiniest of viruses and bacteria all the way to the most gigantic of whales. In considering the attributes and abilities of each, it is easy to think of some as simple and others as complex. For no matter how much radical zoological egalitarians might want to convince otherwise, there is a vast difference in scope and scale between what the cold virus and a human being are capable of doing.
Since relativism is a beloved philosophy of those that think the universe came about through a hodge-podge, helter-skelter process, it must be pointed out that the categorization of something as a “simple life form” is in reality nothing of the sort. For even the tiniest of microbes and even the most miniscule components that make up our own bodies (both single cells) consist of a complexity that baffles the human imagination that even the most intelligent of scientists are yet to replicate them.
The so-called building block of life is deoxyribonucleic acid, known more commonly as DNA. Of these molecules, Geisler and Turek write, “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 (116)."
However, there is more to this compound than simply being the atomic concrete upon which our scaffolding rests. Contained within the connected nitrogen bases is the genetic blueprint for the particular life form under consideration. Even for an organism as "lowly" as the single-celled amoeba, it is estimated that the information contained within it is the equivalent of 1,000 sets of the Encyclopedia Britannica (116). As Geisler and Turek point out, “For Darwinists...then life can be nothing more than chemicals. Life contains a message --- DNA --- that is expressed in chemicals...but those chemicals cannot cause the message anymore than the chemicals in ink and paper can cause the sentence on this page (122).”
Philosophical atheism must not only account for the so-called “simple” cell whose ironically named “genesis” still befuddles mankind’s brightest intellectuals but rather also the more “complex” such as primates, ungulates and cetaceans. This they do through the process that has come to be referred to as evolution.
According to atheistic naturalists, the plethora of life forms in the world today can be traced back to those early amino acid strains and bacteria. These primitive organisms began to accumulate adaptations through interactions with their environment that were passed on largely by the process of natural selection. By natural selection, organisms with the changes granting them an advantage over their less fortuitous counterparts were the ones most likely to reproduce. Eventually, so many mutations and variations would accumulate that various phyla, kingdoms, and species would diverge from biology's original trunk and even the assorted branches of this theoretical "tree of life" (to borrow a term ironically Biblical in its origins).
As evidence for their theory, evolutionists often point to a number of observable changes that seem to indicate that change in organisms is indeed possible over time. For example, any one that has followed medical news over the past few years knows of the dangers of misusing antibiotics in that drug resistant strains of bacteria can result.
In response to this, proponents of creationism will grant that microevolution can occur within a species that can result in an organism's varying characteristics. However, what one ends up with is simply a bacteria with a characteristic that one could argue was already inherent in a certain number of microbes to begin with. Addressing such a reality, Geisler and Turek write, "Unfortunately for Darwinists, genetic limits seem to be built into basic types...Likewise, despite the best efforts of intelligent scientists to manipulate fruit flies, their experiments have never turned out anything but more fruit flies (and usually crippled ones at that) (142)."
by Frederick Meekins
Bibliography: Norman Geisler and Frank Turek. “I Don't Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist.”
Frederick Meekins is an independent theologian and social critic. Frederick holds a BS in Political Science/History, a MA in Apologetics/Christian Philosophy from Trinity Theological Seminary, and a PhD. in Christian Apologetics from Newburgh Theological Seminary.