A Summary of The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel (summary by Alex Damon)
Chapter 3: DOUBTS ABOUT DARWIN, Jonathan Wells, PHD, PHD
Scientists who utterly reject evolution may be one of our fastest growing controversial minorities…Many of the scientists supporting this position hold impressive credentials in science.
-Larry Hatfield in Science Digest Winter, 1979
IMAGE 1: THE MILLER EXPERIMENT
1953, Stanley Miller’s experiment in which he shot electricity through an atmosphere like the one on the primitive earth, creating amino acids, the building blocks of life.
First of all, no one knows for sure what the early atmosphere was like. But recent scientific consensus is that the atmosphere was not at all like the one Miller used. Miller used a hydrogen-rich mixture of methane, ammonia, and water vapor. It is now said that Miller’s theory of the early atmosphere has been abandoned and that there is no evidence for a methane-ammonia atmosphere, but much against it. It is now thought that the early atmosphere was carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and water vapor.
If the experiment is redone in an accurate atmosphere, amino acids are not made. Organic molecules are made: formaldehyde and cyanide. Formaldehyde is highly toxic. Just the fumes kill proteins and embryos. The idea that using a realistic atmosphere gets you the first step in the origin of life is just laughable. A good chemist can turn formaldehyde and cyanide into biological molecules. What you get is embalming fluid.
Even if amino acids were to arrive on earth from any other means, they are still incredibly far from creating a living cell. The first step in an extremely complicated process. You have to have the right number of the right kinds of amino acids to link up to create a protein molecule, and that would still be a long way from a living cell. Then you’d need dozens of protein molecules, again in the right sequence, to create a living cell.
In other words, if you want to create life, on top of the challenge of somehow generating the cellular components out of non-living chemicals, you would have an even bigger problem in trying to put the ingredients together in the right way. So even if you could accomplish the thousands of steps between the amino acids in the Miller tar and the components you need for a living cell, you’re still immeasurably far from life.
IMAGE 2: DARWIN’S TREE OF LIFE
A drawing by Darwin, representing his theory that every species (branches on the tree) was descended from one common ancestor (the trunk).
Darwin’s theory states that organisms slowly change to become a new specie. However, the fossil record shows nothing of the sort. What is called the Cambrian explosion completely disproves it. Arthropods, echinoderms, and chordates appeared almost instantly in the fossil record, supposedly where only jellyfish and sponges had existed before.
Imagine yourself on one goal line of a football field. That line represents the first fossil, a microscopic, single-celled organism. Now start marching down the field. You walk across midfield and continue to the twenty-yard line. All you’ve seen this entire time are these microscopic, single-celled organisms. You come to the sixteen-yard line on the far end of the field, and now you see these sponges and maybe some jelly fish and worms. Then, in the space of a single stride, all these other forms of animals suddenly appear. That is, in no way, connected to the illustration of a branching tree.
But maybe the fossil record is incomplete. Maybe a new discovery will be made next week. Or maybe the organisms that existed before the Cambrian explosion were too small or their bodies were too soft to have left any trace in the fossil record.
It is possible that someone will discover a new fossil bed to fill in the gaps, but it doesn’t seem likely. It hasn’t happened after all this time, and millions of fossils have already been dug up. As for pre-Cambrian fossils being too tiny or soft to be preserved, we have microfossils of bacteria in rocks dating back more than three billion years (supposedly). And there have been soft-bodied organisms from before the Cambrian that have been found in Australia. In fact, scientists have found soft-bodied animals in the Cambrian explosion itself. So neither are very good explanations.
Today scientists are looking at molecules to find similarities and common ancestry. They take a molecule that’s basic to life, say ribosomal RNA, and examine it in a starfish. Then study its equivalent in a snail, a worm, and a frog looking for similarities. If you do find similarities, you can assume that they have a common ancestor, and you can form a theoretical evolutionary tree. But, if you take another aspect of animals, say anatomy, you get a different tree. You can examine another molecule and come up with another tree altogether. There’s no consistency. There is no proof for a common ancestor.
To be clear, this is different from common ancestry within species. For example, it is possible that all cats-tigers, lions, and so on-descended from a common ancestor. While it’s not a fact, it might be a reasonable inference based on interbreeding.
If you consider all of the evidence, Darwin’s tree is false as a description of the history of life. It’s not even a good hypothesis at this point.
IMAGE 3: HAECKEL’S EMBRYOS
Ernst Haeckel sketched the embryos of a fish, salamander, tortoise, chicken, hog, calf, rabbit, and human side-by-side at three stages of development. The similarities between the eight organisms were striking.
But, the sketches were faked. Distorted, misleading, whatever. The bottom line is that they were faked. Haeckel was so confident in his theory that he didn’t even make separate drawings for some of the organisms. In other cases he doctored the drawings to make them look more similar than they really are. His drawings misrepresent the embryos. This was first exposed in the 1860s by his colleagues. And it is no secret to evolutionary experts.
Another problem with Haeckel is that he cherry-picked his examples. He only showed embryos of animals that supported his theory. For example, he used a salamander to represent amphibians, but never explained that a frog embryo is very different. He stacked the deck by picking representatives that came closest to fitting his idea-and then he went further by faking the similarities.
The final problem with Haeckel is that his sketches of embryos in early stages of development are actually sketches of embryos at the midpoint of development. If you go back to the earlier stages, the embryos look far more different from each other. But Haeckel deliberately omitted the earlier stages altogether.
The ‘developmental hourglass’ explains why the embryos looked so similar halfway through development. Vertebrate embryos start out looking very different in the early cell division stages. Cell division in a mammal is radically different from that of any other class. There’s no possible way to mix them up. In fact, cell division is extremely different within classes. Then at the midpoint, which is what Haeckel claimed in his drawings was the early stage, the embryos become more similar, though nowhere near as much as Haeckel claimed. Then they become different again.
Other evolutionary claims dealing with homologies include the similarities in a bat’s wing, a porpoise’s flipper, a horse’s leg, and a human’s hand. These homologies were actually discovered by Darwin’s predecessors, who were not evolutionists. Richard Owen, the most famous anatomist of Darwin’s time, said they pointed toward a common design, not toward descent with modification. One Darwinist, Tim Berra, tried to explain descent with modification with a car analogy. Berra compared the fossil record to a series of automobile models, saying that if you compare a 1953 and a 1954 Corvette side by side, and then a 1954 and a 1955 Corvette and so on, then it becomes obvious that there has been descent with modification. He said this is what paleontologists do with fossils, ‘and the evidence is so solid and comprehensive that it cannot be denied by reasonable people.’
However, successive models of the Corvette are based on plans drawn up by engineers, so there’s intelligence at work to guide and execute the process. If you wanted to demonstrate that the similar features resulted from a Darwinian process, you would have to show that once you somehow got an automobile, the natural forces of rust, wind, water, and gravity would turn one model into its successor. Unintentionally, Berra had illustrated the fact that merely having a succession of similar forms does not provide its own explanation. A mechanism is needed.
The most common explanation is that homologies come from similar genes. So the reason two features are homologous in two different animals would be that they’re programmed by similar genes in the embryo. However, there are some cases where you have similar features that come from different genes, and there are lots of cases where similar genes give rise to very different features. For example, a mouse’s eye is very different from the compound eye of a fruit fly. But both animals’ eyes depend on very similar genes. They are so similar that a mouse gene can be put into a fruit fly that’s missing that gene and you can get the fruit fly to develop its eyes as it normally would.
One final argument in homologies is the fact that humans share 98-99% of their genes, pointing to a common ancestor. By Darwin’s theory, then the dramatic differences between humans and apes are due to the 2% of the genes. But it turns out that those 2% are only trivial genes that have little to do with anatomy. Also, it just makes sense that humans and apes, who are similar anatomically, would be similar genetically. This fact is just as compatible with common design as it is with common ancestry. A designer might very well decide to use common building materials to create different organisms, just as builders use the same materials-steel girders, rivets, and so forth-to build different bridges that end up looking very dissimilar from one another.
IMAGE 4: THE ARCHAEOPTERYX MISSING LINK
The archaeopteryx is the supposed half-reptile half-bird, linking the two classes of animals in the fossil record. Since its discovery, the fossil record has utterly let Darwin down.
The archaeopteryx is most definitely a bird. Birds are very different from reptiles in many important ways-their breeding system, their bone structure, their lungs, their distribution of weight and muscles. It’s a bird, and that is clear to paleontologists-not part bird part reptile. Larry Martin of the University of Kansas, said in 1985 that the archaeopteryx is not an ancestor of birds, but a member of extinct birds.
More interesting parts to the archaeopteryx story deals with cladistics. Cladists say that homology is due to common ancestry. So they go back to the fossil record, assume that birds came from reptiles by descent, and they look for reptiles that are more bird-like in their skeletal structure. Interestingly enough, they find the fossils they are looking for long after archaeopteryx. The missing link is still missing.
A few years ago, National Geographic announced that a fossil had been purchased at an Arizona mineral show that turned out to be ‘the missing link between terrestrial dinosaurs and birds that could actually fly.’ It was called the archaeoraptor, and it had the tail of a dinosaur and the forelimbs of a bird. National Geographic magazine published an article in 1999. Not long after, the fossil was proven to be fake. Not only that, but there are fake fossils everywhere! There are factories that make fake fossils for money.
These icons are not the sole evidence for Darinism. But their fate is illustrative of what happens time after time when evolution is put under the microscope of scrutiny. The case for Darwinian evolution is bankrupt. The evidence is not only grossly inadequate, it’s systematically distorted. Science is pointing strongly toward design. Even the icons of evolution are more consistent with design than evolution. Embryos, the Cambrian explosion, homology, the origin of life itself cries out for a designer. None of these things make as much sense from a Darwinian perspective as they do from a design perspective.
Design and evolution are connected. One of the main functions or Darwinian Theory is to try to make design unnecessary. So showing that the arguments for evolution are weak certainly opens the door to design.
Chapter 4: WHERE SCIENCE MEETS FAITH, Stephen C. Meyer, PHD
Ironically, to say that science is the only begetter of truth is self-contradicting, because that statement in itself cannot be tested by the scientific method. It’s a self-defeating philosophical assumption.
Science teaches us many true things, and some of those true things point toward God.
Some people claim that science and faith are fundamentally at odds. Others have said science and faith represent two separate and distinct realms that don’t and can’t interact with each other. But I feel that scientific evidence actually supports theistic belief. I fact, across a wide range of the sciences, evidence has come to light in the last fifty years which, taken together, provides a robust case for theism. Only theism can provide an intellectually satisfying casual explanation for all of this evidence.
For example, if it’s true there’s a beginning to the universe, then this implies a cause that transcends the universe. If the laws of physics are fine-tuned to permit life, as contemporary physicists are discovering, then perhaps there’s a designer who fine-tuned them. If there’s information in the cell, as molecular biology shows, then this suggests intelligent design. To get life going in the first place would have required biological information; the implications point beyond the material realm to a prior intelligent cause.
The main view today says that science is the realm of facts, and religion is the realm of morality and faith. The essential problem is that biblical religion makes very specific claims about facts. So while much of science and biblical religion are concerned with different things, they clearly do have some overlapping territory. And when that happens, either they agree or disagree. I believe that the testimony of science supports theism. While there will always be points of tension or unresolved conflict, the major developments in science in the past five decades have been running in a strongly theistic direction. Science done right, points toward God.
Could I list, say, half a dozen examples of how you believe science points toward theism?
1. I would start with the beginning of the universe. The fact that most scientists now believe that energy, matter, space, and time had a beginning is profoundly antimaterialistic. You can invoke neither time nor space nor matter nor energy nor the laws of nature to explain the origin of the universe. General relativity points to the need for a cause that transcends those domains. And theism affirms the existence of such an entity-namely, God. Nobel Prize-winner Arno Penzias once said about the Big Bang, “The best data we have are exactly what I would have predicted had I nothing to go on but the first five books of Moses, the Psalms, and the Bible as a whole.”
2. The next category of evidence would be for ‘anthropic fine-tuning.’ This means the fundamental laws and parameters of physics have precise numerical values that could have been otherwise. That is, there’s no fundamental reason why these values have to be the way they are. Yet all of these laws and constants conspire in a mathematically incredible way to make life in the universe possible. For example, the expansion rate of the universe, which is fine-tuned to one part in a trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion. That is, if it were changed by one part in either direction-a little faster, a little slower-we could not have a universe that would be capable of supporting life.
3. Third we have the origin of life and the origin of information necessary to bring life into existence. Life at its root requires information, which is stored in DNA and protein molecules. Richard Dawkins of Oxford said that ‘the machine code of the genes is uncannily computer-like.’ If you reflect on that, you realize that computers run on software programs that are produced by intelligent engineers. Every experience we have about information-whether it’s a computer code, hieroglyphic inscription, a book, or a cave painting-points toward intelligence. The same is true about the information inside every cell in every living creature.
4. Next is the molecular machines that defy explanation by Darwinian natural selection. These integrative, complex systems in biological organisms, which microbiologist Michael Behe calls ‘irreducibly complex,’ include signal transduction circuits, sophisticated motors, and all kinds of biological circuitry. Natural selection cannot build these biological machines because natural selection only preserves things that perform a function. The problem with irreducibly complex systems is that they perform no function until all the parts are present and working together in close coordination with one another. So natural selection cannot help you build such systems. Maybe biological systems look designed because they really were designed.
5. The fifth example is the already mentioned Cambrian explosion in the fossil record. The way the fossil record shows simple organisms leaping to complex organisms defies Darwin’s theory.
6. Finally, as humans, we have the capacity for self-reflection, for representational art, for language, for creativity. Science can’t account for this kind of consciousness merely from the interaction of physical matter in the brain. Where did it come from? Again, I think theism provides the best explanation.
Science and faith are not at war. When scientific evidence and biblical teaching are correctly interpreted, they can and do support each other. I’d say to anyone who doubts that: investigate the evidence yourself.
What about personal bias? Skeptic Michael Shermer said almost all the people he sees in the Intelligent Design movement are Christians. Doesn’t that undermine the legitimacy of their science? Maybe they’re only looking for what they want to find and aren’t open to naturalistic explanations that might be sufficient. Every scientist has a motive, but motives are irrelevant to assessing the validity of scientific theories, a case in court, or an argument in philosophy. You have to respond to the evidence or argument that’s being offered, regardless of who offers it or why. And besides, there are scientists who are proponents of intelligent design who are agnostic or Jewish, but I still don’t thing that’s relevant. The vast majority of people who advocate Darwinism are naturalists or materialists, so you could play the motive-mongering game either way.
Chapter 5: THE EVIDENCE OF COSMOLOGY, William Lane Craig, PHD, THD
Cosmology is the study of the beginning of the universe. A major belief in cosmology is the Kalam argument, which is broken into three principles:
1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.
Things don’t just pop into existence, uncaused, out of nothing. The idea that things can come into being uncaused out of nothing is worse than magic. At least when a magician pulls a rabbit out of a hat, there’s the magician and the hat! This is a principle that is constantly confirmed and never falsified. At least you have to admit that we have better reason to think it’s true than false. We never see things coming into being uncaused out of nothing. Nobody worries that while he’s away at work, a horse might pop into being, uncaused, out of nothing, in his living room, and be there defiling the carpet. We don’t worry about those kinds of things, because they never happen.
The assumption ever since the ancient Greeks has been that the material world is eternal. Christians have denied this on the basis of biblical revelation, but secular science always assumed the universe’s eternality. Christians just had to say, well, even though the universe appears static, nevertheless it did have a beginning when God created it. So the discovery in the twentieth century that the universe is not an unchanging, eternal entity was a complete shock to secular minds. It was utterly unanticipated.
But how do we really know that the universe started at some point in the past? What proof is there? Mathematically, an infinite universe is impossible because an infinite past would involve an actually infinite number of events, then the past simply can’t be infinite. The idea of an actual infinity is just conceptual. Working within certain rules, mathematicians can deal with infinite quantities and infinite numbers in the conceptual realm. However, and here’s the point, it’s not descriptive of what can happen in the real world. You just can’t have an infinite number of events in the past. Math proves that absurdities would result form an infinite past.
So if we take it to the next step; if you believe there was a beginning to the universe, something had to bring the universe into existence. Even atheist Kai Nielsen said, ‘Suppose you suddenly hear a loud bang…and you ask, ‘What made that bang?’ and I reply, ‘Nothing, it just happened.’ You would not accept that.’ He’s right, of course. And if a cause is needed for a small bang like that, then it’s needed for the Big Bang as well.
But what about this cause? What properties does it have? A cause of space and time must be an uncaused, beginningless, timeless, spaceless, immaterial, personal being endowed with freedom of will and enormous power. And that is the core concept of God. But what about God? How can the Creator be uncaused? That just misses the point. The first premise of the kalam argument does not say that everything has a cause, but that whatever begins to exist has a cause. God was not caused. God was also not around for infinite amount of time, because God created time. God is in a world that is difficult for us to comprehend. God is outside the boundaries of time and, therefore, always existed in an eternity of timelessness and spacelessness.
Chapter 6: THE EVIDENCE OF PHYSICS, Robin Collins, PHD
Would it not be strange if a universe without purpose accidentally created humans who are so obsessed with purpose?
Sir John Templeton
Though man is not at the physical center of the universe, he appears to be at the center of its purpose. Our planet was fine-tuned for our survival. Minor changes would cause our destruction. Coincidence?
There is an analogy of astronauts landing on Mars and finding an enclosed biosphere. At the control panel they find that all the dials for its environment are set just right for life. The oxygen ratio is perfect; the temperature is seventy degrees; the humidity is fifty percent; there’s a system for replenishing the air; there are systems for producing food, generating energy, and disposing of wastes. Each dial has a huge range of possible settings, and you can see if you were to adjust one or more of them just a little bit, the environment would go out of whack and life would be impossible. What conclusion would you draw from that? That someone took great care in designing and building it.
Over the past thirty years or so, scientists have discovered that just about everything about the basic structure of the universe is balanced on a razor’s edge for life to exist. The coincidences are far to fantastic to attribute this to mere chance or to claim that it needs no explanation. The dials are set too precisely to have been a random accident.
For example, gravity has an incomprehensibly narrow range for life to exist. A small increase or decrease in the force of gravity would be catastrophic. But it just happens to be situated in the exact right fraction of an inch to make our universe capable of sustaining life. What’s more is that there are more than thirty separate physical or cosmological parameters that require precise calibration in order to produce a life-sustaining universe.
Nobel-winning physicist Steven Weinberg, an avowed atheist, has expressed amazement at the way the cosmological constant – the energy density of empty space – is ‘remarkably well adjusted in our favor.’ Let’s say you were way out in space and were going to throw a dart at random toward Earth. What are the chances that you hit a bull’s eye that’s one trillionth of a trillionth of an inch in diameter (that’s less than the size of one solitary atom)? The odds of you hitting that bull’s eye are equivalent to the preciseness of the cosmological constant.
There’s the difference in mass between neutrons and protons. Increase the mass of the neutron by about one part in seven hundred and nuclear fusion in stars would stop. There would be no energy source for life. As Discover magazine marveled: “The universe is unlikely. Very unlikely. Deeply, shockingly unlikely. Page 136
But you can’t rule out the possibility – however remote – that this could occur by chance. However, if I bet you a thousand dollars that I could flip a coin and get heads fifty times in a row, and then I proceeded to do it, what would be your reaction? Would you hand over the money? No. You know that the odds against that are so improbable that you would expect the game to be rigged. The same goes with the universe. Before you’d conclude random chance was responsible, you’d conclude that there is strong evidence that the universe was rigged, or designed. It’s quite reasonable to choose the design theory over the chance theory.
Some scientists argue for the multiverse…the existence of more than one universe, in fact millions of universes. But there is no proof of this at all. You cannot base a scientific argument on a theory without proof. These scientists claim that there is a universe-generating system just pumping out universes all the time.
This argument is like finding dinosaur bones. If you found some dinosaur bones, you would naturally consider them to be very strong evidence that dinosaurs lived in the past. Even though nobody has ever seen dinosaurs, we do have the experience of other animals leaving behind fossilized remains. But then let’s say there was a dinosaur skeptic. He was trying to rationalize the bones you found. He claimed that he could explain the bones by proposing that a ‘dinosaur-bone-producing field’ simply caused them to materialize out of thin air. And that is ridiculous. There is no scientific knowledge of anything simply coming into being for no reason. Any skeptic would need to discover a whole new set of physical laws for his theory to work. But until those laws are discovered, his theory is not valid.
Our world is beautiful. Have you ever seen a sunrise or a sunset? They are beautiful. Why? There is no scientific reason to explain beauty. Not only is our world physically beautiful, but entire books have been written by mathematicians and scientists about the mathematical elegance the laws of nature have. Nobel Prize winner Paul Dirac once said, ‘it is more important to have beauty in one’s equations than to have them fit experiment.’
Think about the classic conception of God – He is the greatest possible being, and therefore a being with perfect aesthetic sensibility. It wouldn’t be surprising for God to want to create a world of great subtlety and beauty at its most fundamental level. The fine-tuning of the laws and constants of nature, their beauty, their discoverability, their intelligibility – all of this combines to make the God hypothesis the most reasonable choice we have. All other theories fall short. The “coincidences” that allow the fundamental properties of matter to yield a habitable environment are so improbable, so far-fetched, so elegantly orchestrated, that they require a divine explanation.
Chapter 7: THE EVIDENCE OF ASTRONOMY, Guillermo Gonzalez, PHD; and Jay Wesley Richards, PHD
Is there anything about our solar system that contributes to life on Earth? Yes. More and more, astronomers are learning how the other planets tie into the habitability of Earth. For example, George Wetherill of the Carnegie Institution showed in 1994 that Jupiter – which is huge, more than three hundred times the mass of the Earth – acts as a shield to protect us from too many comet impacts. It actually deflects comets and keeps many of them from coming into the inner solar system, where they could collide with Earth with life-extinguishing consequences. That is only one example.
What about the Earth’s position in the solar system? How much does that contribute to its habitability? There’s a concept invented by astrobiologists called the Circumstellar Habitable Zone (CHZ). That’s the region around a star where you can have liquid water on the surface of a terrestrial planet. This is determined by the amount of light you get from a host star. You can’t be too close, otherwise too much water evaporates into the atmosphere and it causes a runaway greenhouse effect, and you boil off the oceans. But if you get too far out, it gets too cold. Water and carbon dioxide freeze and you eventually develop runaway glaciation.
If the Earth’s distance from the sun were moved by fiver percent either way…disaster happens. Animal life would be impossible. The zone for animal life in the solar system is much narrower than most people think. And that’s why you need a circular orbit like the one Earth has. You don’t just want to be in the CHZ part of the time; you want to be in it continuously. It doesn’t do you any good to have melted water for four months then have the whole planet freeze up again.
Many people are led to believe that our sun is just a common star. But the sun is really unusual. For instance, it’s among the ten percent most massive stars in the galaxy. Other stars don’t seem to have the ability to have life-bearing planets orbiting them. For example, red dwarfs emit most of their radiation in the red part of the spectrum, which makes photosynthesis less efficient. To work well, photosynthesis requires blue and red light. But a much greater problem is that as you decrease the mass of a star, you also decrease its luminosity. A planet would have to orbit a red dwarf much closer to have sufficient heat to maintain liquid water on its surface. The problem is the tidal force between the star and the planet gets stronger as you move in, so the planet will spin down and eventually end up in what’s called a tidally locked state. This means it always presents the same face towards the star. That’s very bad, because it causes large temperature differences between the lit side and the unlit side. The lit side would be terribly dry and hot, while the unlit side would be prohibitively icy and cold.
Fortunately, our sun is not only the right mass, but it also emits the right colors – a balance of red and blue. As a matter of fact, if we were orbiting a more massive star, called an F dwarf, there would be much more blue radiation that would build up the oxygen and ozone layer even faster. But any momentary interruption of the ozone layer would subject the planet to an immediate flood of highly intense ultraviolet radiation, which is disastrous to life. The sun is also highly stable, more so than most comparable stars. Its light output only varies by one-tenth of one percent over a full sunspot cycle, which is about eleven years. This prevents wild climate swings on earth.
Basically, the vast majority of stars would be automatically ruled out as being capable of supporting life-bearing planets. It would take a star with the highly unusual properties of our sun – the right mass, the right light, the right composition, the right distance, the right orbit, the right galaxy, the right location – to nurture living organisms on a circling planet. That makes our sun, and our planet, rare indeed.
Does the moon help our survival at all? The moon actually stabilizes the tilt of the Earth’s axis. If the moon were not there, our tilt could swing wildly over a large range, resulting in major temperature swings. If our tilt were more like ninety degrees, the north pole would be exposed to the sun for six months while the south pole would be in darkness, then vice-versa. Instead, it varies by only about one and a half degrees – just a tiny variation, because the gravity from the moon’s orbit keeps it stabilized.
The moon’s large size compared to its host planet is unique in the inner solar system. Mercury and Venus have no moons. Mars has two tiny moons – probably captured asteroids – and they don’t do anything to stabilize the axis of Mars. Its axis is pretty close to Earth’s right now, but that’s only by coincidence. It actually varies over a huge range. In fact, all three of these planets have chaotic variations in their tilt.
The moon also helps in another crucial way, which is to increase our tides. The moon contributes sixty percent to the tides; the sun accounts for the other forty percent. Tides serve an important role by flushing out nutrients from the continents to the oceans, which keeps them more nutrient-rich than they otherwise would be. Scientists discovered just a few years ago that the lunar tides also help to keep large-scale ocean circulation going. That’s important because the oceans carry a lot of heat, which is necessary to keep the temperature of the higher latitudes relatively mild.
If the moon were more massive and in the same place, the tides would be much too strong, which would create serious difficulties. The moon is slowing down the Earth’s rotation. The tides pull on the Earth and slow it down a little bit, while at the same time the moon moves out in its orbit. We can actually measure this. Astronauts left mirrors on the moon and astronomers have been bouncing lasers off them since the early 1970s. They’ve documented that the moon is moving out in its orbit at 3.82 cm a year. If the moon were more massive, it would slow down the Earth much more. That would be a problem because if the days became too long, then you could have large temperature differences between day and night. The Earth’s climatic stability is dependent to a large extent on the existence of the moon. Without the moon, the Earth’s tilt could vary chaotically from zero to eighty-five degrees with devastating results. It is amazing that the moon “just happens” to be the right size and in the right place to help create a habitable environment for Earth.
A terrestrial planet must have a minimum mass to retain an atmosphere. You need an atmosphere for the free exchange of the chemicals of life and to protect inhabitants from cosmic radiation. And you need an oxygen-rich atmosphere to support big-brained creatures like humans. Earth’s atmosphere is twenty percent oxygen – just right, it turns out. And the planet has to be a minimum size to keep the heat from its interior from being lost too quickly. It’s the heat from its radioactive decaying interior that drives the critically important mantle convection inside the Earth. If Earth were smaller, like Mars, it would cool down too quickly; in fact, Mars cooled down and basically is dead.
If the Earth were a little more massive than it is, then its surface gravity would be greater, meaning there would be less surface relief between the ocean basins and the mountains. The rocks at the bases of mountains can only withstand so much weight before they fracture. The higher the surface gravity of a planet, the greater the pull of the gravity on the mountains, and the tendency would be toward creating a smooth sphere.
Think what would happen if our planet were a smooth sphere. The Earth has a lot of water in its crust. The only reason we’re not a water world right now is because we have continents and mountains to rise above it. If you were to smooth out all the land, water would be at a depth of two kilometers. You would have a water world – and a water world is a dead world.
The location of our planet in the solar system gives science a certain level of discoverability. A great example of this is an eclipse. Eclipses are better viewed on Earth than they would be from any other planet in our solar system. There is no physical law that would necessitate this. In fact, of the nine planets with their more than sixty-three moons in our solar system, the Earth’s surface is the best place where observers can witness a total solar eclipse. What’s really amazing is that total eclipses are possible because the sun is four hundred times larger than the moon, but it’s also four hundred times further away. It’s that incredible “coincidence” that creates a perfect match.
Not only does the specific configuration of the Earth, sun, and moon allow for perfect eclipses, but that same configuration is also vital to sustaining life on Earth. We’ve already discussed how the size and location of the moon stabilizes our tilt and increases our tides, and how the size of the sun and our distance from it also make life possible here.
The main point is that there’s no obvious reason to assume that the very same properties that allow for our existence would also provide the best overall setting to make discoveries about the world around us. In fact, we believe that the conditions for making scientific discoveries on Earth are so fine-tuned that you would need a great amount of faith to attribute them to mere chance.
Chapter 8: THE EVIDENCE OF BIOCHEMISTRY, Michael J. Behe, PHD
The cells that make up our body are irreducibly complex, meaning that the individual pieces do not function properly without the other pieces present. Evolution can’t produce an irreducibly complex biological machine suddenly, all at once, because it’s much too complicated. The odds against that would be prohibitive. And you can’t produce it directly by numerous, successive, slight modifications of a precursor system, because any precursor system would be missing a part and consequently couldn’t function. There would be no reason for it to exist. And natural selection chooses systems that are already working.
In molecular machines, components have portions of their shape that are complementary to each other, so they connect with each other in the right way. A positive charge can attract a negative charge, and an oily region can attract another oily region. Evolution can’t account for the construction of a molecular machine with specific parts going in specific places. They’d all have to fit together in a specific way until you had the whole trap assembled by itself. Until the time it is fully assembled, it is useless, and therefore would not have been passed on by natural selection.
The construction of these molecular machines is extraordinarily improbable. Say there are ten thousand proteins in a cell. Now, imagine you live in a town of ten thousand people, and everyone goes to the county fair at the same time. Just for fun, everyone is wearing a blindfold and is not allowed to speak. There are two other people with your name in the crowd, and your job is to link hands with them. What are the odds that you could go grab two people at random and create a link? Pretty slim. In fact, it gets worse. In the cell, the mutation rate is extremely low. In this analogy, that would mean you could only change partners at the county fair one time a year. In short, it would take a prohibitive amount of time even to get three proteins in one cell together. And there are thousands of linked proteins in one cell.
The odds are, once again, against evolution and for creation.
Chapter 9: THE EVIDENCE OF BIOLOGICAL INFORMATION, Stephen Meyer, PHD
DNA serves as the information storehouse for a finely choreographed manufacturing process in which the right amino acids are linked together with the right bonds in the right sequence to produce the right kind of proteins that fold in the right way to build biological systems.
A lot of people talk about the prebiotic soup – the chemicals that supposedly existed on the primitive Earth prior to life. Even if you had the right chemicals to create a living cell, you would also need information for how to arrange them in very specific configurations in order to perform biological functions. To build one protein, you typically need 1,200 to 2,00 letters (A, C, G, and T’s) or bases – which is a lot of information. Creation of new information is habitually associated with conscious activity, a fact which points toward intelligent design.
Even the very simplest cell we study today, or find evidence of in the fossil record, requires information that is stored in DNA or some other information carrier. And we know from out experience that information is habitually associated with conscious activity. Using uniformitarian logic, we can reconstruct the cause of that ancient information in the first cell as being the product of intelligence.
Back to the prebiotic soup…many scientists talk a lot about this, even though there is no evidence for it. If this prebiotic soup had really existed, it would have been rich in amino acids. Therefore, there would have been a lot of nitrogen, because amino acids are nitrogenuous. So when we examine the earliest sediments of the Earth, we should find large deposits of nitrogen-rich minerals. Those deposits have never been located. The nitrogen content of early organic matter is relatively low – just .015 percent. From this, we can be reasonably certain that there never was any substantial amount of primitive soup on Earth when pre-Cambrian sediments were formed.
Remember Stanley Miller’s origin-of-life experiment mentioned in Chapter 1? When he tried to recreate the early Earth’s atmosphere and spark it with electricity, he managed to create two or three of the protein forming amino acids out of the twenty-two that exist. Besides the fact that his experiment was wrong, Miller’s amino acids reacted very quickly with the other chemicals in the chamber, resulting in a brown sludge that’s not life-friendly at all. Even if amino acids existed in the theoretical prebiotic soup, they would have readily reacted with other chemicals. This would have been another tremendous barrier to the formation of life. The way that origin-of-life scientists have dealt with this in their experiments has been to remove these other chemicals in the hope that further reactions could take the experiment in a life-friendly direction. So instead of simulating a natural process, they interfered in order to get the outcome they wanted. And that is intelligent design.
In order for a protein to carry information, it must have a minimum amount of requirements. First, you need the right bonds between the amino acids. Second, amino acids come in right-handed and left-handed versions, and you’ve got to get only left-handed ones. Third, the amino acids must link up in a specified sequence, like letters in a sentence. Run the odds of these things falling into place on their own and you find that the probabilities of forming a rather short functional protein at random would be one chance in a hundred thousand trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion. That’s a ten with 125 zeroes after it. And that’s only one protein molecule. A minimally complex cell would need between three hundred and five hundred protein moleculres. Plus, all of this would have to be accomplished in a mere 100 million years, which is the approximate window of time between the Earth cooling and the first microfossils we’ve found. Random chance is not an adequate explanation for biological information.
Natural selection is also not adequate because it just does not work at the level of chemical evolution. Prebiological natural selection is a contradiction in terms. Darwinists admit that natural selection requires a self-replicating organism to work. Organisms reproduce, their offspring have variations, the ones that are better adapted to their environment survive better, and so those adaptations are preserved and passed on to the next generation. However, to have reproduction, there has to be cell division. And that presupposes the existence of information-rich DNA and proteins. But that’s the problem – those are the very things they’re trying to explain! You’ve got to have a self-replicating organism for Darwinian evolution to take place, but you can’t have a self-replicating organism until you have the information necessary in DNA, which is what you’re trying to explain in the first place.
A final atheistic view on the origins of life is that the chemicals that make up DNA has a certain self-ordering affinity, that they can put themselves together. But as scientists conducted experiments, they found that amino acids don’t demonstrate these bonding affinities. Even if we could explain the sequencing in DNA and proteins as a result of self-organization, wouldn’t we just end up with a repetitive sequence? Imagine every time you had an A, it would automatically attract a G. You’d just have a repetitive sequence. A-G-A-G-A-G. Would that give you a gene that could produce a protein? Nope.
In short, no hypothesis has come close to explaining how information necessary to life’s origin arose by naturalistic means. As Crick, a philosophical materialist, has conceded: “An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going.
Darwinists say they’re under some sort of epistemological obligation to continue trying to find the best naturalistic explanation, because to invoke design would be to give up on science. It’s time to redefine science. We should not be looking for only the best naturalistic explanation, but the best explanation, period. And intelligent design is the explanation that’s most in conformity with how the world works.
Chapter 10: THE EVIDENCE OF CONSCIOUSNESS, J. P. Moreland, PHD
Many scientists and philosophers are now concluding that the laws of physics and chemistry cannot explain the experience of consciousness in human beings. They are convinced that there ism ore than just the physical brain at work, but there also is a nonmaterial reality called the “soul,” “mind,” or “self” that accounts for our sentience.
Consciousness consists of sensations, thoughts, emotions, desires, beliefs, and free choices that make us alive and aware. What if consciousness did not exist in the world? For example, apples would still be red, but there would be no awareness or sensations of red. Some people flatly deny that we have an immaterial soul. They believe consciousness is purely a product of biology. Just as the kidneys produce urine, the brain produces consciousness. This philosophy is called physicalism.
If physicalism is true, then consciousness doesn’t really exist. If everything were matter, they you could capture the entire universe on a graph. If everything is physical, it could be described entirely from a third-person point of view. And yet we know that we have first-person, subjective points of view.
Second, if physicalism were true, there would be no free will. That’s because matter is completely governed by the laws of nature. Take any physical object, for instance a cloud. It’s just a material object, and its movement is completely governed by the laws of air pressure, wind movement, and the like. So if I’m a material object, all of the things I do are fixed by my environment, my genetics, and so forth. But we all know that we have free will.
Finally, if physicalism were true, there would be no disembodied intermediate state. This happens in near-death experiences. If I am just my brain, the existing outside the body is utterly impossible. When people hear of near-death experiences, they are intuitively attributing to that person a soul that could leave the body. And clearly these stories make sense, even if we’re not sure they’re true.
Many scientists claim that consciousness and the self are merely a physical process of the brain. Experimental data discounts this. Neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield electrically stimulated the brains of epilepsy patients and found he could cause them to move their arms or legs, turn their heads or eyes, talk, or swallow. The patient would respond by saying, “I didn’t do that. You did.” According to Penfield, “the patient thinks of himself as having an existence separate from his body.” No matter how much Penfield probed the cerebral cortex, he said, “There is no place where electrical stimulation will cause a patient to believe or to decide.” That’s because those functions originate in the conscious self, not the brain. In the same way, no one can look at a brain and know a person’s thoughts.
We don’t learn about people by studying their bodies. We learn about people by finding out how they feel, what they think, what they’re passionate about, what their worldview is, and so forth. People are souls the have bodies, not the other way around.
Atheist Colin McGinn said “How can mere matter originate consciousness? How did evolution convert the water of biological tissue into the wine of consciousness? Consciousness seems like a radical novelty in the universe, not prefigured by the aftereffects of the Big Bang. So how did it contrive to spring into being from what preceded it?” How did conscious, living, thinking, feeling, believing creatures arise from matter and natural laws that don’t do any of those things? Consciousness cannot be explained by evolution, because claiming so would be going against the way naturalists treat matter. Naturalists say that matter is just brute stuff that can be completely described by the laws of chemistry and physics. Now they’re attributing spooky, soulish, or mental potentials to the matter.
There will never, ever be a scientific explanation for mind and consciousness. Scientists show that something had to happen due to antecedent conditions. They want to show why something has to happen given a cause; they’re not content simply to correlate things and leave it at that. The mind is not something that had to happen. Scientists will be able to develop more correlations between conscious states and states of the brain. But correlation is not explanation. Scientists will never be able to explain the ‘why’ behind consciousness. It didn’t have to happen this way. Physics, neuroscience, and humanistic psychology all converge on the same principle: mind is not reducible to matter. The vain expectation that matter might someday account for mind…is like the alchemist’s dream of producing gold from lead.
I think, therefore I am.
I think, therefore God is.
-Philosopher Stuart C. Hackett
To embrace Darwinism and its underlying premise of naturalism, you would have to believe that:
• Nothing produces everything
• Non-life produces life
• Randomness produces fine-tuning
• Chaos produces information
• Unconsciousness produces consciousness
• Non-reason produces reason