August 10, 2012

Evidence from Design in the Universe

Design points to a designer. If we see evidence of intelligent design in the universe, then the reasonable conclusion is that this evidence points to an intelligent designer. 

For example, if you see rocks scattered in a random pattern on a beach, you would not assume that someone arranged them.  If you saw that the rocks were arranged so that the smaller ones were closer to the water, and the bigger ones away from the water, you would assume that they had been washed to those places by the waves.  Again, this would not be an example of intelligent design.  However, if the rocks spelled out the words “Nate Archer was here” then you would conclude that someone must have arranged the rocks. 

When you see something that is complex that communicates specific information, you know it was caused by intelligent design.  Let me give you another example.  If you saw a rock formation that looked somewhat like a person, you would probably assume it was a coincidence.  However, if you saw a mountain that looked exactly like the heads of four U.S. presidents, you would never assume that it just happened by chance.  You would assume that someone designed it and made it that way on purpose. 

This isn't a "God of the gaps" argument; instead it is what is known as "inference to the best explanation." Even in the world's fallen state, I believe that when we look honestly at the world around us overwhelming design we see should push drive us to realize that there is something greater than an accident at work. 

We see amazing examples of design in the design of the universe and the planet earth as well as the design of life. There are great books that go into more detail about these examples of design, but here are a few samples about the design of the universe that impress me: 

The Design of the Universe

  • The oxygen level on earth is 21%.  If the oxygen level was 25% fires would erupt spontaneously.  If the level was 15%, human beings would suffocate.
  • According to a UCLA research physicist, if the gravitational constant in the universe was different by 0.00000000000000000000000000000000000001% our sun would not exist and neither would we.  To get an idea of how precise this is, imagine a radio dial that stretched across the entire universe.  This radio dial represents every possible value that the gravitational constant might have been.  If you moved the dial one inch to the right or one inch to the left, the universe would not be capable of sustaining life.   
  • The fine-tuning of the cosmological constant has been called the single greatest problem facing physics and cosmology today.  The fine-tuning of the cosmological constant has been conservatively estimated to be at least one part in a hundred million billion billion billion billion billion.  That is 10 followed by 53 zeros.  That would like throwing a dart at random from the far reaches of space and hitting a bull’s eyes on earth that is smaller than the size of an atom.
  • Assuming the Big Bang, if the universe had expanded at a rate one millionth more slowly than it did, the universe would have stopped expanding and collapsed back in on itself before any stars had formed.  If the universe had expanded faster, no galaxies would have formed.
  • There are many other factors that need to be just right for life to be possible, including the size of the earth, tilt of the earth, the distance of the earth from the sun, the right kind of star, the transparency of the atmosphere, the existence of the right kind of a moon, seismic activity, Jupiter, water vapor levels, and the list goes on.  Astrophysicist Hugh Ross has calculated that there are 122 of these variables in all (and they are constantly finding more.)  Dr. Ross has calculated that the odds of any planet in the universe having all of these correct variables would be one chance in the number 1 with 138 zeros after it.  This is incredible when you consider that the number of atoms in the entire universe is only 1 with 70 zeros after it!  (And remember, each zero makes the number ten times larger.)  The number of planets in the universe is only 1 with 22 zeros behind it.  Therefore, we would be absolutely shocked that there is even one single planet in the universe with all of the factors needed for life!
A hardcore skeptic might say that we shouldn’t be surprised at the odds because if life were impossible, we wouldn’t be here to notice. They often say that it would be like someone who was about to be killed by a firing squad but survived because all of the guns happened to jam.  The odds are bad for that to happen, but if it didn’t happen the man wouldn’t be around to notice. This is a poor example. If 19 guns jammed all at once, you would naturally assume that someone had sabotaged the guns… an act of design! If billions of guns jammed all at once, no one would assume that it was blind chance!

There are also massive amounts of evidence for design in the design of life. However, I will save that for another post. The design in the universe and the earth is enough to chew on for a while.

Consider these quotes: 
“Through my scientific work I have come to believe more and more strongly that the physical universe is put together with an ingenuity so astonishing that I cannot accept it merely as a brute fact… I cannot believe that our existence in this universe is a mere quirk of fate, an accident of history, an incidental blip in the great cosmic drama.”  -Paul Davis, prolific science writer and former professor of theoretical physics at University of Adelaide, Australia
 “I do not believe that any scientist who examines the evidence would fail to draw the inference that the laws of nuclear physics have been deliberately designed with regard to the consequences they produce in stars.”  -Sir Fred Hoyle, eminent astrophysicist
Even though our world is fallen and marred because of sin, I don’t believe that you need to be a scientist to look out at the world and realize that it was designed by an intelligent creator.  I believe that this fits perfectly with that Paul wrote in Romans 1:18-21, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” In fact, the evidence of design in the universe and life is what finally caused the famous atheist philosopher and debater Antony Flew to renounce atheism in 2005.  

See also The Creator and the Cosmos by Hugh Ross, and The Privileged Planet by Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards. Examples also drawn from I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be An Atheist by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek, as well as The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel.  

Related:
The Universe: Caused, Self-Caused, or Uncaused?
Faith With Reasons
How God Lets Us Know He Exists
Just Like Earth?
Universe, Create Thyself


August 4, 2012

Israel in the Wilderness

Here are two messages I gave this summer. The first is on the crossing of the Red Sea and the second is Israel's failure at Kadesh-Barnea. Obviously I only own one shirt.




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