Straightforward Recognition of Design
By Dave Abell—Elim Evangelical Free Church
When we look at living things—whether it’s a single celled organism, or a human being—we are struck with an unmistakable structure of purpose and deliberate design. We see a multitude of different parts working together for a particular end. Dr. Michael Denton is a molecular biologist from the University of New Zealand; in
his groundbreaking book called, “Evolution: A Theory in Crisis”, I first learned of the idea of the single cell having every literal comparison to a microscopic factory. Every
part of that cell has a job, and these parts all work in concert for synthesis, replication, nourishment, etc…This is an amazing piece of machinery. The obvious thought that comes to mind is: how does something this complex and machine-like,
come into being apart from someone purposefully creating it? After all, watches, televisions, and other human artifacts not only look designed but clearly are designed. I don’t see anyone ever suggesting the idea that the watch on their wrist came about through step by step natural processes.
Yet, there are those who would look at the cell, and while acknowledging the vast superiority of complexity in the cell—as opposed to a wristwatch—would in the next breath tell you they believe the cell came about through blind, natural processes,
even though they would never say the same about the watch. Think about Mt. Rushmore for just a moment: is there one person out there who would honestly tell you they think the faces which appear on Mt. Rushmore, came about through long periods of erosion, rock slides, wind etc… (in other words, natural processes)? The answer is no! No one believes that. Yet, again, we see people in the above group who affirm purposeful design on Mt. Rushmore, turn around and also affirm that the actual people whom those carvings represent, came about through billions of years of purposeless evolutionary processes. Is there a disconnect here? I believe there clearly is. Some may argue that we’re arguing in different categories with things like Mt.
Rushmore and biological life; therefore, the design reference to Mt. Rushmore isn’t applicable to biological systems. However, I disagree on two levels. First of all, there seems to me to be a basic assessment we employ when we encounter certain objects—let’s say, Mt. Rushmore and the bacterial flagellum. Both have amazing, complex structure and design features. Why should anyone dismiss, out of hand, the possible design of the flagellum, even though it differs from Mt. Rushmore in its basic constituency? As far as I can see it, there is no reason to rule out design for the flagellum, especially when we absolutely affirm it in objects like Mt. Rushmore— which are far less complex.
The second reason I disagree with the category criticism is because of the way information is supplied to the existence of raw material to arrive at a particular thing. In the Mt. Rushmore example, the raw material was the mountain. The information (intelligence) was supplied from the mind and the chisel of Gutzon Borglum. The raw
material of the mountain, along with unguided, random outside forces acting on that raw material, were not sufficient or capable of producing the end product of 4 U.S. Presidents faces being carved into the mountain. Again, let me restate the obvious;
no one would disagree with what I just said. However, the bacterial flagellum—this microscopic motor that propels a bacterial cell—is also made up of raw material. Could raw material alone, or along with the aid of unguided, random forces, bring
about something as amazing as a bacterial flagellum? (see the picture of the flagellum on our website) The answer is obviously, no! In order for the flagellum to come about, it would require the input of information and craftsmanship (intelligence)
acting on raw material. This is an obvious and immediate reaction when we encounter certain objects like Mt. Rushmore and the bacterial flagellum. But then as we go further, we start to get into the mathematics of the flagellum, which further solidifies the fact that brute forces of nature acting on raw material are insufficient in
explaining the existence of the flagellum, and that explaining its existence by reference to purposeful design is the most reasonable thing to do. Recently, we had several people over to our house and we began to discuss the public school system with some of the parents and kids that were there. As the discussion progressed, a few questions came up about their science curriculum as well as a few questions about evolution. One of the kids had in his hand, a toy that was a model of a skateboard; it was about three inches long. I took the toy and held it up and basically asked the kids if they believed this toy was designed or if it came about through some random, natural process. Not surprisingly, the kids all answered by saying they
believed the toy skateboard was designed. I went on to explain that one cell in our body is not only more complex than the toy, but that it was also more complex than the space shuttle! This type of comparison would not be in dispute; neither is the fact that not even one adult, scientist or otherwise, would attempt to affirm random
processes as that which gave rise to the toy skateboard. Therefore, if the toy skateboard was designed and created, does it not stand to reason that a living cell would require the same?
Get on the Internet or get one of the DVDs we’ve recommended in the “Resources” section on the website (under reference) that deal with cellular life, and observe for yourself these amazing processes. By the way, you can access these images even on sites that are pro-Darwin; no scientists disagree about cell complexity, function, information content, or mathematical precision. But to look at
the cell as a whole, and also view its molecular machines, information processors etc… is to instantly recognize that this is not an entity which came about by the power of brute forces of matter, energy, and chance. Once again, we see intellectual compromise when personal— yes, religious motivations are on the line. How can anyone so readily acknowledge the obviousness of the toy requiring a designer but
then deny that the cell requires the same? If you want to start changing the game , don’t be afraid to raise these issues and draw these kinds of comparisons. Challenge yourselves and your families to become more familiar with these arguments. And if there are non-believers who are willing to talk to you—lovingly challenge them as well.
Design is unavoidable. It was Richard Dawkins who said: “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” It was Francis Crick, one of the co-discovers of the DNA molecule, who said of DNA: “We must constantly remind ourselves that what we see was not designed, but rather, evolved.” You see, at every level of biology, you cannot escape
the obviousness of design. As you poke deeper and deeper and as the technology gets more sophisticated, the design features of living systems become even more evident. I’ve heard it said that if something looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, swims and
walks like a duck—it’s probably a duck. The same is true of design in nature. When we look at all of these things, and acknowledge that there are many features, aspects, intricacies, and mathematical stringencies of design in living organisms—then, guess what?— they probably were designed. Again, this is why I believe that the burden of proof is on the Darwinist and not the Christian. At the risk of being redundant, let us go back to Mt. Rushmore. What if someone tried to make the claim that the Presidents faces on Mt. Rushmore came about because of long periods of wind, rain, erosion, and rock slides? Wouldn’t that person have the burden of proof for such a claim?
They would of course! Think about this, though; as silly as the above claim would be, and as much as we would demand proof for such a claim, we demand no such proof from people who are claiming something which is infinitely sillier. Listen to the rhetoric of the evolutionist sometime. Notice how often things are couched in terms
of how something might have happened or how it could have happened (you’ll probably see more of this kind of thing in the quote section of the Reference Library under Resources). There is certainly no crime in that kind of speculation, but this speculation should not translate into going into a classroom and stating in the absolute that we are here as the result of billions of years of purposeless evolution.
The word “science” can be bandied about till the cows come home, but what is truly scientific about Darwinism? Show us definitively and scientifically how the first protein molecule came to be; show us definitively and scientifically how biological information came to be; show us definitively and scientifically how the first cell arose; show us a verifiable working mechanism that could develop new respiratory systems, nervous systems, and cardiac systems; show us a verifiable
working mechanism that would account for the development of new body plans and organs within living things; show us definitively and scientifically how life progressed to be become so vast, widespread, and varied; show us how all this random mutation and natural selection came about in such a vastly improbable, yet highly coordinated fashion as to have just the right set of accidents (mutations) occur at just the right time, and not just in one part of the organism. After all, if mutations occur that begin to change the eye (assuming you can get an eye in the first place), “coordinated” accidents must also occur in the cerebrum, central nervous system
etc…Have any of the above things ever been scientifically shown to us by Darwinists? Of course not! How could they? There has been, of course, speculation, posturing, and the wrong-headed, unscientific attempt to extrapolate the reality of variations within a kind into large scale, macro-evolution.
First of all, the obvious white elephant in the room for the Darwinist is the fact that the evidence of Design in living things and their sub-systems is overwhelming. Anyone who would look at something like a flagellar motor and deny its design is being dishonest or is engaging in self-delusion. If they denied design in that
instance, they would have to do the same with their computer, calculator, television, etc…Well the fact is, Darwinists don’t deny design in living things; they simply say that living things have the appearance of design. Then, they proceed to explain that the design has come about through variations in the genetic code of organisms; these variations being brought on by accidents (mutations) in DNA (genetic code), and that these variations caused some new feature to emerge and that the changes add greater survivability and are therefore naturally selected. Actually, getting new genes and proteins by mutations is statistically and rationally impossible, but it turns out that an even more formidable challenge is at hand for the Darwinist. Scientists have found that the formation of new organs and body plans in living things don't happen at the DNA level, and therefore require magnitude orders of greater hierarchical complexity and information processing. Natural processes bringing life about in the first place is an insurmountable task. Actually, getting the simplest sub-units of life (functioning proteins) by natural forces is statistically impossible. I'll deal more with this in a separate article. So even if we allow the enormous assumption that we get a
functioning cell by chance, envisioning this cell evolving into that vast diversity of life by natural processes, remains a hopeful theory for the Darwinist...a theory that cannot be supported by the evidence. Variation (beneficial, coordinated mutations) at the DNA level is statistically improbable enough, but even if it weren't elusive, it
wouldn't do much for macro-evolution. You may get some novel proteins, but not the type of progression and upward change (the formation of new organs and body plans) that the advertised evolutionary paradigm requires. Any variation (mutations) at that
level would be absolutely lethal, and could not allow evolution (in the Darwinian sense) to occur at all. And, again, to even get to that part of the discussion, we've had to assume the existence of something that's vastly improbable, and that is the arrival of the simplest form of life by natural processes. So to the Darwinist, even though there is an abundance of scientific and mathematical evidence against his
position, he continues to cling to a process that is utterly incapable of doing what he boasts it can do.
To be sure, the Darwinist will continue to attach the word “science” to his worldview, but this is completely misplaced. Appealing to a designer substitute (mutation and natural selection) to explain the obvious design in every facet of life seems unreasonable, but it's also unscientific. You don't have to take my word for this. Part of the reason I use the word “Darwinist” or “evolutionist” so much is that I want to make it clear that there is a difference between establishment atheism and the
front-line biologists who are doing the work. The last three books I studied were, “The Design of Life” by Wells and Dembski, “Signature in the Cell” and “Darwin's Doubt” by Stephen Meyer. These three books, among others, illustrate that although there are many scientists committed to finding a natural explanation for the origin
and progression of life, some of these same people are quite honest in their assessment of failed theories and experiments concerning both chemical and biological evolution. Many of these scientists have abandoned traditional Darwinian Theory because of the mounting evidence against it. The verified experiments and peer-reviewed papers that have been issued which show the failure of the Darwinian
process are manifold. How shameful is it that this evidence is never discussed in the media, popular culture, or education system. The Darwinian paradigm remains a religious orthodoxy that is preached under a scientific banner that simply isn't real, and is somehow protected from criticism. To be sure, I have Theological observations
as to why people continue to “kick against the goads” in light of the continuing, and powerful, scientific findings decimating Darwinism and strongly pointing to Purposeful Design. However, it is also reassuring to know that at least at some level, there is an honest exchange of ideas still taking place. Unfortunately, the general public and the student body get to hear very little of this in this in the usual venues. This is precisely why Christians—to the best of our abilities and spiritual gifts—need to share this information when we get the chance. Finally, aside from the scientists mentioned above—those who have left Darwinism or are at least very critical of the current theory, but are not necessarily design advocates—there are a great many well educated, highly credentialed, scientists who hold that purposeful design is the most reasonable explanation for what we see in life, it's sub-systems, and sub-units.
Assigning a blind process of beneficial accidents to explain the manufacture of living systems, with all of their intricacy, complexity, integration, function, information content, reproduction, and adaptability is completely unreasonable, but as we've discussed is also unscientific. From the standpoint of logic, reason, experience, and observation, what we observe with all aspects of living organisms—in their totality and in their constituency—demand that we infer Purposeful Design. As Stephen Meyer has stated, when we attribute intelligent design as that which gave rise to biological systems, it is a reference based on what we know...not on what we don't know. Natural explanations for the emergence and progression of life simply don't pass muster, experientially, reasonably, or scientifically. God tells us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made; this is not only beautifully poetic, but absolutely spot on in terms of intellectual reasoning, experiential intuition, and scientific observation.