Math, Design, and Life

From Why the Conclusion that Life Is Designed Really Is Inescapable

My recent book, Undeniable, makes the case not just that life is designed but also that this is obvious — you need no special training to see it. And yet, as with other obvious truths, some people prefer to deny this one than to fully embrace the attending implications.

For atheists to be in denial here isn’t surprising. Short of recanting, they have no option. For theists to eschew the claim that life is designed is much more puzzling, though, because nothing seems to force them to adopt that counterintuitive stance.

Most people in this second group are fairly described as theistic evolutionists, in that they accept the standard evolutionary explanation for how Earth came to be home to all the living things we see around us. But considering the magnitude of the difficulties that confront this standard view, why do they stand by it? Why do they prefer an oblique version of God’s creative action — where the created order created us — when the more direct alternative ought to sit well with them?

How on earth are atheists supposed to operate, if they don’t get a helping hand from apostates from within the Church? Rest assured: the day Christians get serious about exalting God and upholding His Laws, is the day the (official) number of atheists in the West (and probably throughout the world!) crashes back to the sub 1% range.

The approach I’m advocating is much simpler than the one you’re critiquing, Hans. Without worrying about how the thing in question came to be, we merely consider what must be in place in order for it to do what it does. No detailed answer is needed. All we have to do is imagine the list of requirements that would constitute a complete specification — details of overall shape, material or chemical composition, internal structure, chemical or mechanical processes, connectivity, and so on. By recognizing that these conditions are too restrictive to be met by accident, we establish that accidental causes cannot have brought the thing into existence.

And that is made easy by the fact that it takes only a modest list of modestly improbable requirements for success to be beyond the reach of chance. Once again, the reasoning here is that small fractions multiplied by the dozens always result in exceedingly small fractions.

With respect to the hypothetical human statue, the only escape from this conclusion is to argue that a rugged outcrop of marble would have to be altered by weather in only a few reasonably probable respects in order to convert it into a sculpted masterpiece. But this is so clearly and demonstrably untrue as to close off that escape decisively.

Likewise, with respect to the claim that blind natural causes converted primitive bacterial life into oaks and ostriches and orangutans, the only escape is to argue that conversions of this kind require only a few reasonably probable alterations. But, again, this is so clearly and demonstrably untrue as to close off that escape decisively.

And as we all know, the random creation of a masterpiece statue is so low as to be either flat-out impossible or a miracle.

And if it’s a miracle, it’s no longer random.

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