The Divine Person
The line of reasoning that discovers the Godhead of the Creator is known as the teleological argument (from the Greek word telos, meaning "purpose"). Throughout the created universe we see abundant evidence of purpose and design. We see the intricate beauty of a flower, the marvelous development of a baby, the perfect rhythm of planetary motions. Every purpose is conceived by an intelligent being, and every design is the work of a designer. Why must the source be a person? Because both purpose and design are the product of thought. Without thought there could be neither, because both consist of ideas. But only a person can think. An animal cannot think; a robot cannot think; a computer cannot think. Nor can a mere power or force think. If it could, it would be more than a power or force. It would be a person. Therefore, the great power that relied on purpose and design in creating the universe must be a person—specifically, because of His great power and wisdom, a divine person. To summarize, purpose and design in the universe reveal a personal creator.
The Anthropic Principle
The world in which we live, indeed the whole universe, seems to have been expressly designed to permit human life. The pervasiveness of features favorable to man is known as the anthropic principle. Such evidence of a definite purpose for the existence of the universe strongly supports the teleological argument.
We appreciate God's provision for us much more when we realize that human life has very special requirements. As you will see, any slight change in many of the basic laws of physics and chemistry would make a human organism impossible to build. Even secular scientists specializing in cosmology have come to realize that if a universe were suddenly to appear by chance, the odds are overwhelming—virtually infinity to one—that it would be unsuitable for human life.
We will look at just four out of the many design features of the atom that make human life possible.
- A typical atom has electrons orbiting around a nucleus of protons and neutrons, but a hydrogen atom is unique in having no neutrons, only one proton. A proton is a perfectly stable particle, but a neutron is only stable in the presence of a proton. By itself it disintegrates, with a half life of just twelve minutes. The neutron is slightly heavier than a proton, but if their masses were reversed and the proton were slightly heavier—that is, if its mass were increased only .2 %, a free proton would be unstable. As a result, there could be no hydrogen. But hydrogen is an essential component of water and every biochemical molecule in your body.
- If the binding force holding the nuclei of atoms together were slightly weaker, no element could exist except hydrogen. If it were slightly stronger, hydrogen would be rare. The result would be hardly any water and hardly any other compound of hydrogen.
- Electrons are negatively charged, and an atomic nucleus is positively charged. The force that holds electrons in their orbits about an atomic nucleus is the electromagnetic force—the force that exists between any charged particles. If this force were slightly stronger, atoms would not be able to share electrons. In consequence, there would be no chemical compounds. Also, if the same force were slightly weaker, electrons would escape from their orbits. There would be no stable atoms.
- A proton is 1836 times heavier than an electron. If the ratio of their masses was any greater or smaller, electron orbits would not have characteristics permitting formation of molecules.
Properties of the earth and the sun
Any slight change in many of the conditions of life on earth would make the earth unfit for the survival of living organisms. Any imaginable form of life must be based on carbon compounds. Carbon is the only atom permitting construction of molecules with thousands of atoms in any possible arrangement. Moreover, the reactions building these molecules have to occur in solutions of liquid water. No other solvent will do. Therefore, the planet on which man dwells must have an abundance of carbon and liquid water. But water exists as a liquid only within a narrow temperature range. Indeed, complex life is extremely difficult to maintain if the temperature falls much outside the range of 0°F-100°F for long periods. How has God made the earth so that its temperature would remain in an acceptable range?
- He gave us the right type of sun. As we search the sky, we find many variable stars (stars with a fluctuating output of light and other radiation) and many multiple stars (stars in mutually orbiting groups of two or more). For example, the bright star known as Castor is, upon closer examination, actually six stars in combination, three binaries (pairs) in a triple system. About one fifth of the stars are multiples. But life is only possible next to a single, nonvariable star like our sun. If the sun were variable, it would fail to provide a constant supply of heat. If it had a stellar companion, tidal forces exerted by the companion would disrupt the earth's orbit.
- He set the sun in a region of space where the number of neighboring stars is not excessive. The average distance between stars in our neighborhood is about thirty trillion miles. If it were even a bit less, there would be too much gravitational interaction between stars. The resulting motion in our sun would again disrupt the earth's orbit, causing extreme temperature variations.
- He designed our sun to be the right size. Either a smaller or a larger sun would make temperature moderation on the earth more difficult. A larger sun would have a more variable output. In transit about a smaller sun, the earth's orbit could not be as elliptical as it is now. Any variation from a set distance would be catastrophic. Also, the earth would be more vulnerable to the disruptive gravitational influence of other planets.
- He put the earth in a nearly circular orbit, assuring a steady heat supply from the sun.
- He positioned the earth's orbit at the right distance from the sun. Any closer would have made the earth too hot; any farther away, too cold.
- He made the axis of rotation almost perpendicular to the sun's rays so as to even out the days and nights. Yet He did not make it exactly perpendicular, for then there would be no seasons.
- He caused the earth to rotate rapidly so the dark side never gets too cold and the illuminated side too warm.
- He ordained that we should have a single moon at a certain distance. Gravitational attraction between the moon and the earth's equatorial bulge prevents variation in the earth's axis of rotation—variation that would produce more extreme climates. Yet the moon is not so large or so close as to destabilize the earth's rotation, or so as to produce monstrous tidal effects on the earth's oceans and atmosphere. Additional moons would be detrimental in the same way.
- He designed the earth's surface so that its albedo (the ratio of reflected light to the total light falling upon it) would be neither high nor low. If it were high, the earth would receive too little heat and would rapidly cool. A low albedo would yield the opposite effect. To achieve the correct albedo for the earth overall requires the correct mix of highly reflective surfaces, such as ice and snow, and less reflective surfaces, such as bare earth.
- He furnished the earth with large oceans. These not only serve as the source of water essential to life; they also moderate temperature. The heat capacity of water is four to five times greater than most ordinary substances; so the oceans soak up enormous amounts of heat during the day which they release at night, greatly reducing the day-night variation in temperature.
- He provided a blanket of air around the earth to trap and distribute heat.
- He included in the atmosphere two greenhouse gases—carbon dioxide and water vapor—that return heat radiation to the surface. Their concentration is sufficient for the purpose of maintaining desirable temperatures on the surface. With a higher concentration would come a runaway greenhouse effect, and the earth would overheat.
We have said that a planet suitable for life must have abundant water. The water abundant on the earth has several interesting features.
- The depth of the oceans is just right to allow large land areas to rise a few tens or hundreds of feet above them. This is the realm of man.
- The oceans are salty. The salt that escapes from them serves as condensation nuclei for the clouds that carry rain to land areas.
- Any random mixture of salts taken from the shelf of a chemistry lab would be toxic. But the salt in the ocean, although it has many ingredients, is altogether harmless. Its composition appears to be the result of thoughtful planning.
We also said that life requires a source of carbon. The earth's source is carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Plants use the energy of sunlight to convert atmospheric carbon dioxide into sugars. Then both plants and animals obtain energy by combining these sugars with atmospheric oxygen. Indeed, the earth's atmosphere is congenial to life in several ways.
- It has carbon dioxide.
- It has oxygen, at a level sufficient to sustain life functions.
- The oxygen is highly diluted with nitrogen to keep life functions from proceeding too quickly, as well as to prevent constant, destructive fire.
- The nitrogen in the atmosphere furnishes plant life with nitrogen, an essential nutrient.
- Poisonous gases such as sulfur dioxide, common on larger planets, are missing from the earth.
- Electrical storms are common. The lightning they bring helps to enrich the soil with nitrogen. Yet the lightning is not so frequent as to be a source of constant fires.
The earth is assaulted on every side by streams of high-energy particles and radiation. If these could penetrate to the earth's surface, they would destroy life. Yet the earth's surface is safe inside several layers of protective shields.
- The upper atmosphere contains a layer rich in ozone, which absorbs harmful ultraviolet radiation. The amount of ozone is precisely balanced to maintain a right surface temperature. More would lower the temperature too much. Less would allow it to climb too high.
- The atmosphere is so structured that it filters out all solar radiation except within two regions of the spectrum. About 99% of incident radiation comes through the optical window, a very narrow window indeed, allowing penetration only by visible light and the closest frequencies on either side of the visible spectrum. The atmosphere is also transparent to radio waves. Whereas the frequencies that get through are harmless, most of the rest are harmful.
- The earth is surrounded by a magnetic field that deflects the solar wind, containing harmful particles and radiation.
- Our sun is located on the outskirts of our galaxy. If it were closer to the center, radiation from other stars would be too great. Not only would this radiation diminish the darkness of night; it would also overload the filters protecting the earth from harmful radiation.
In many other ways the earth reveals a designing hand concerned to furnish a good environment for life.
- Our sun is nearly white. Bluer or redder light from the sun would make it harder for plants to carry out photosynthesis. Also, a world bathed in white light is a much more colorful and aesthetically pleasing setting for human life.
- The earth's gravity is of proper strength. If it were weaker, the atmosphere would lose too much water vapor. If it were stronger, gases such as methane and ammonia would accumulate. Ammonia is toxic and methane is highly flammable. In close spaces it displaces oxygen and causes asphyxiation. The strength of gravity also has a profound impact on human life. In a world of stronger gravity, we would have stubbier bodies and move more slowly. Work would be too hard. In a world of weaker gravity, our bodies would be quicker and more fragile. Work would be too easy, and we would probably while away our lives in self-indulgence.
- The earth's crust has proper thickness. A thinner crust would be too prone to catastrophic earthquakes and volcanoes. A thicker crust would soak up too much of the atmosphere's oxygen.
- Seismic activity is not so great as to pose a threat to life.
Although we have considered only a fraction of the earth's properties with an impact on life, it is evident that we live in a carefully designed world. It has been estimated that the right conditions for life—at least, conditions as favorable as we find on the earth—would by chance evolution occur in "much fewer than a trillionth of a trillionth of a percent of all [stellar systems]"(1). The expected number of earthlike planets in the whole universe is therefore not even one.
From time to time, the media trumpet that we are discovering planets where life might exist. But they are creating mythology for the masses. Their sensational announcements are good publicity for those who make a living searching for alien life, but not good science.
Since planets did not evolve by chance but were created, it is possible that many are suitable for life, but it is unlikely that God has placed the habitable ones within view of the earth, for He hardly wishes to raise the hope of atheists that they might soon find proof of evolution.
Evidence of Design in Birds
Birds are a marvel of creation. We take them for granted, but they represent a level of sophisticated engineering that we are now only beginning to appreciate. Let us list some of their unique design features.
They have to be as light as possible. All surplus baggage has to be eliminated, and all structural components have to be made out of light materials. Let us see how the Creator has accomplished this.
- Birds have hollow bones, yet without loss of strength. A cross-section of the bone supporting the wing shows triangular bracing like the struts of an airplane wing.
- Teeth, jaws, and a number of other bones, including vertebrae and digits, have been eliminated. Certain bones in the pelvis and back have been fused together to eliminate joints.
- The body of a bird contains besides the lungs a system of branching air sacs, accounting for almost twenty per cent of the total volume. In other words, a bird is literally blown up like a balloon.
- Outside the mating season, reproductive organs virtually disappear.
- The wastes of the body are blended into a single whitish substance which is frequently voided.
- Since a pregnant bird would never get off the ground, birds lay eggs.
- The density of the human body is about 1, equal to water; a plucked dead duck with empty air sacs has a density of .9. Yet a live duck sits high in the water. Its density is only about .6. Filled air sacs account for only a portion of the density loss. What else contributes to the duck's lightness? It is covered with feathers. Man has never invented a substance superior to a feather in combining lightness and strength. Its functions are to provide a bird with waterproofing, thermal insulation, and density reduction as well as to assist flight.
One remarkable feature of a feather is its capacity for self-repair. A close-up of its structure reveals overlapping barbules that are hooked together. Little hooks on the bottom of forward barbules grasp ridges on the top of backward barbules. If the wind tears the barbs apart, the bird easily repairs the feather by drawing it through its beak. What an elegant solution, perfectly fitted to the need as well as to the limited intelligence of a bird!
What use would preening be except for repairing feathers with a hook and barbule design? And how could a bird use such feathers if it could not repair them? It is evident that feathers and preening could not have evolved separately. They must have always existed together.
To achieve flight, a bird must be capable of exerting tremendous energies. The Creator has designed the bird with numerous unique characteristics that increase its power.
- It has a high, constant body temperature, as high as 110°. Thus, it always has a warm engine, ready to go.
- This body heat is held in by feathers.
- The basal metabolism of a bird is much more rapid and efficient than that of man. A bird uses 60% of its oxygen intake, whereas man uses only 25%. The metabolic rate is also much higher. In a hummingbird it is one hundred times faster than in an elephant.
- Blood sugar in a bird is twice man's.
- A bird has much more rapid circulation of blood at higher pressure. The heartbeat (pulse) of a robin is about 570. Mean blood pressure is typically more like 150 than 100.
- The diet of a bird is restricted to high-energy foods such as seeds.
The body of a bird is aerodynamically designed, or streamlined.
- Awkward appendages, such as ear flaps, are removed.
- The face that breaks through the air is pointed rather than flat.
- Legs are retractable like the landing gear of an airplane.
- The center of gravity of a bird lies just below the wings. Its low placement is accomplished in various ways. For example, instead of having heavy teeth and jaws that begin the digestive process, a bird swallows its food directly. In some birds, the food first enters into a storage chamber called the crop. Because many birds swallow their food whole, they are content with mouthfuls that we would find very uncomfortable. A sea bird may fly about for hours with a live fish in its gullet, the head stuck in its stomach and the tail flapping from its mouth.
The payoff for all the engineering invested in a bird is a creature with many amazing abilities.
- What is the fastest a bird can fly? A peregrine falcon reaches 180 miles per hour in its power dive. Yet its control mechanisms are so sophisticated that a speeding falcon can pluck prey out of the air.
- What acrobatics in flight can a bird perform? In their courtship flights, some gyrate, somersault, loop-the-loop, belly roll, whatever you can think of. The most amazing feats are performed by the hummingbird. As a result of flapping its wings so fast that they become a barely visible blur, the hummingbird can hover in one spot or even fly backward.
- If the flight performance of a bird were rated in miles per gallon of gas, what would its efficiency be? Studies of the golden plover, which migrates between Labrador and South America, have shown that in a nonstop flight of 2400 miles it loses only two ounces of weight. This is an efficiency equivalent to gasoline consumption at a rate of about 160 miles per gallon. The usual efficiency of a small plane is about twenty miles per gallon.
Evidence of Design in the Human Brain
The human brain contains about ten billion nerve cells, or neurons. Each of these puts out between 10,000 and 100,000 connecting fibers to other parts of the brain. The total number of connections is therefore 10^15. If the whole eastern half of the U.S. were packed with trees, this would be the number of leaves. This is more specific connections than are contained in all the communications networks of the world, just in a brain weighing only three pounds. Moreover, these connections have an information capacity equal to a library ten times the size of the Library of Congress.
Yet all these connections are not random. They are highly organized. Think of what the brain can do.
- No robot built by man is capable of walking, one of the simplest motor activities controlled by the brain. So, even the simplest functions of the brain are still beyond the reach of human ingenuity.
- It has been estimated that a more complex motor activity, such as competitive diving, would require the pooled capacity of thousands of computers.
- How a robot could be designed to perform the most complex motor activities, such as the performance of a concert pianist, are totally beyond conception.
- The human senses have a much greater power to gather, organize, and interpret information about the surrounding world than any man-made device. We are only beginning to understand the human eye. The eye was so troubling to Darwin that he once confided to a friend, "The eye to this day gives me a cold shudder."
- We have not even touched on the more complex functions of the brain such as memory, decoding and encoding of language, etc. We are limited in our appreciation of these functions by our ignorance of how they are performed. They are completely beyond our comprehension.
Evidence of Design in the Living Cell
An excellent depiction of a living cell in all its complexity is provided by Michael Denton in his Evolution: A Theory in Crisis. This book is one of the most brilliant critiques of evolution written in recent years. Denton, whose specialty is microbiology, approaches the subject from the perspective of an evolutionist who is nevertheless forced to concede that Darwinian evolution could never have occurred.
We cannot quote his masterful treatment at length. The reader is advised to peruse chapter 14 of the book. But we will sample a few of his most telling paragraphs.
Perhaps in no other area of modern biology is the challenge posed by the extreme complexity and ingenuity of biological adaptations more apparent than in the fascinating new molecular world of the cell. Viewed down a light microscope at a magnification of some several hundred times, such as would have been possible in Darwin's time, a living cell is a relatively disappointing spectacle appearing only as an ever-changing and apparently disordered pattern of blobs and particles which, under the influence of unseen turbulent forces, are continually tossed haphazardly in all directions. To grasp the reality of life as it has been revealed by molecular biology, we must magnify a cell a thousand million times until it is twenty kilometres in diameter and resembles a giant airship large enough to cover a great city like London or New York. What we would then see would be an object of unparalleled complexity and adaptive design. On the surface of the cell we would see millions of openings, like the port holes of a vast space ship, opening and closing to allow a continual stream of materials to flow in and out. If we were to enter one of these openings we would find ourselves in a world of supreme technology and bewildering complexity. We would see endless highly organized corridors and conduits branching in every direction away from the perimeter of the cell, some leading to the central memory bank in the nucleus and others to assembly plants and processing units. The nucleus itself would be a vast spherical chamber more than a kilometre in diameter, resembling a geodesic dome inside of which we would see, all neatly stacked together in ordered arrays, the miles of coiled chains of the DNA molecules. A huge range of products and raw materials would shuttle along all the manifold conduits in a highly organized fashion to and from all the various assembly plants in the outer regions of the cell. . . .
What we would be witnessing would be an object resembling an immense automated factory, a factory larger than a city and carrying out almost as many unique functions as all the manufacturing activities of man on earth. However, it would be a factory which would have one capacity not equalled in any of our most advanced machines, for it would be capable of replicating its entire structure within a matter of a few hours. To witness such an act at a magnification of one thousand million times would be an awe-inspiring spectacle (2).