The following is an overview of the evidence for design which I wrote recently for a political journal whose readers have mostly had little exposure to ID arguments. It was rejected. It is a pretty basic summary, nothing here that UD readers have not seen many times, but maybe you may find it useful as an introduction to ID for friends. The real meat is in the videos linked, the text here is just an outline.
The idea that natural selection of random variations could explain all the apparent design in the living world might have seemed superficially plausible in 1859, but, in recent years, as scientific research has continually revealed the astonishing dimensions of the complexity of life, especially at the microscopic level, support for Darwin’s implausible theory has continued to weaken, and since the publication in 1996 of Darwin’s Black Box by Lehigh University biochemist Michael Behe, a growing minority of scientists have concluded, with Behe, that there is no possible explanation for the complexity of life other than intelligent design. The first 4 minutes of the new video Why Evolution is Different (embedded below) make it clear that Darwinism is still popular in scientific circles not because it is plausible or supported by evidence, but because only materialistic theories are allowed, and no matter how implausible Darwinism may be, no one can come up with a more plausible materialistic theory.
Although there is no reason to concede this, let’s nevertheless suppose that natural selection could explain how we got from the first life to intelligent, conscious, beings. Darwin did not try to explain the origin of life, but most scientists basically say, now that we have explained evolution, the origin of life itself is a fairly minor problem, it could have happened by pure chance. World-renowned Rice University chemist James Tour explains why the origin of life is not a minor problem, and why we are nowhere close to solving it, in this Science Uprising video. A simple way to appreciate the difficulty in explaining the origin of life is to realize that, with all our advanced technology we are still not close to designing any sort of self-replicating machine, that is still pure science fiction. So how could we believe that such a machine could have arisen through pure chance?
Perhaps the best way to appreciate the problems with any explanation without design for the origin and evolution of life is to simply notice (as done beginning at minute 4 of Why Evolution is Different) that materialists have to believe that the four fundamental forces of physics alone could have rearranged the fundamental particles of physics into computers, airplanes, encyclopedias and Apple iPhones. But are these four unintelligent forces really that clever? Well, they are clever and can perhaps explain everything that has happened on Jupiter, but I do not believe they are clever enough to create Apple iPhones.
But let’s go back further, before the origin of life. It is well-known, as documented in this Science Uprising video, that the conditions on Earth which make life possible are extremely improbable, and rare in the universe. Of course materialists have an explanation for this: there are many planets in the universe, only a very few are suitable for life, but we are here because our Earth is one of these rare planets. Actually, the list of conditions on Earth that are fine-tuned for life is ever growing, to the point where it is now reasonable to doubt that the conditions on any planet should have been as fine-tuned for life as they are here, but this explanation is at least superficially plausible.
Now let’s go back even further, to the origin of the universe. Even if we concede that the basic laws of physics are clever enough to bring conscious, intelligent humans out of a primeval slime on a few rare planets, this actually brings us to another problem for materialists. It is now well-known, and accepted in mainstream scientific circles, that the basic laws and constants of physics are extremely fine-tuned for life. Very small changes in the basic constants of physics (the gravitational constant, the charge and mass of the electron, etc.) would have led to a universe with no life, and no humans. This extremely improbable fine-tuning is documented in this video and this one. How do materialists explain this? Easy: there must be many other universes, with many different laws and values for the constants of physics, and we are here because our universe is one of the lucky ones. Since by definition we can only observe our own universe, this materialist “explanation” is completely unscientific, but this is the best they can do, so that is their story.
Notice that all of the far-fetched materialist explanations involve survival. Developing hearts and lungs and consciousness and intelligence gave us a selective advantage in the struggle for survival, and so they developed. The Earth is a rare planet where conditions are just right for survival, so that is why we live here. Our universe is one of an extremely small fraction of universes where the laws of physics are just right for life to survive, so that explains why we live in this universe.
So it is very interesting to see that now, evidence is mounting which shows that conditions on Earth, and in our universe, are not only fine-tuned for survival, but for the development of technology and for scientific discovery! Australian biochemist Michael Denton, for example, outlines here a few of the fine-tunings of conditions on Earth, and in our universe, which made it possible for us to develop technology. Astronomer Guillermo Gonzales discusses in this video some of the lucky coincidences that make Earth an ideal place to view the rest of the universe. This fine-tuning is interesting because it cannot be explained by “the conditions were just right because otherwise we would not be here to wonder about it” arguments. We would still be here to wonder if the conditions on Earth, and the chemical properties of fire, water and metals, were not so fine-tuned to make the development of technology possible. We would still be here to wonder, if our Earth were not so ideally situated for discovery of the universe. Technology and discovery are simply bonus gifts of design.
I have found that, after you lay out all the above arguments for design, most materialists are still not swayed, they simply say, no matter how hard it may be to explain the extremely improbable conditions and events that led to the arrival of humans, it is even harder to explain how a designer came to exist. “Who designed the Designer?” is their ultimate argument.
I have two responses to this. First, why can’t they just be honest, and instead of falsely teaching in our schools that there is no scientific evidence for design, admit that there is abundant evidence but most scientists cannot accept this because they can’t explain the designer. That would be a huge improvement. But of course materialists cannot be honest, because they know most students do not share their philosophical convictions that nothing could possibly be beyond the reach of their science, so they may draw the “wrong” conclusions if told the real reasons most scientists reject design.
My second response is this. People of all philosophical persuasions have to postulate some First Cause, whether intelligent or unintelligent, because nothing can come from nothing. Many may say, but it is easier to understand how matter and energy could be eternal than how an intelligent designer could be eternal. But is it really? By definition, there is no hope of ever explaining the First Cause, whether it is intelligent or unintelligent, in terms of earlier causes. So why not postulate a First Cause which can explain everything after that, and it is more and more clear that unintelligent First Causes can never explain how we came to be.
Press CC for Spanish subtitles.