From Design to the Designer
By Jerry Swift, Rich Akin, and Tom Woodward
For centuries scientists, philosophers and theologians have been debating issues surrounding the origins of life and mankind. In 1802, theologian William Paley, in his work titled Natural Theology spoke of the amazingly complex systems found in biological life. He likened what he observed to the intricate parts of a watch and logically inferred a “watchmaker” –an intelligence behind the design of the watch. In 1859, Charles Darwin published his renowned work, The Origin of Species, in which he provided a naturalistic explanation for the apparent design in life. Nearly 150 years later the debate continues, and many are concluding that the evidence does in fact point to design. Not only are those who begin with theological assumptions concluding design, but many skeptics who begin with just the scientific evidence are coming to the same conclusion. The purpose of this article is to briefly review some of the scientific evidence, consider certain historical evidence, and investigate the identity of the designer.
What Does the Data Support?
There is a growing body of evidence that runs contrary to a naturalistic theory of molecules evolving into man. Let’s look to Darwin himself to consider just a few of the issues raised. Most people don’t realize that Charles Darwin made risky predictions in the Origin of Species relative to the scientific evidence. Darwin’s predictions have, in the spirit of good science, provided an avenue to test his theory.
Darwin was concerned that the fossil record of the mid-19th century did not support his theory of common descent, but he assumed that in time, researchers would fill in the “missing links.” More than 150 years later, the transitional links are still extremely rare. The late Harvard scientist, Steven Jay Gould, called this rarity “the trade secret of paleontology.” In fact, the fossil record supports the sudden
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appearance of new forms which then remain essentially unchanged. The most striking example of this is the Cambrian explosion. In Cambrian strata, fossils of several dozen phyla make an abrupt entrance, with no clear pattern of development from simpler ancestors. After the “explosion,” the new phyla continue essentially unchanged in the fossil record, either until the present or until they become extinct. This evidence of the abrupt appearance of multiple phyla erodes the credibility of this theory of common descent; it turns Darwin’s tree of life upside down.
Relative to Darwin’s postulation that natural selection and chance variations could create the amazing diversity we now see in life, he made a further risky prediction. He said, “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” The cell provides the crucial evidence: amazing, irreducibly complex machines, and interconnected systems of machines. It appears increasingly clear that this level of complexity cannot arise from an “undirected” natural process. Therefore, Darwin’s own failed predictions have falsified his theory…
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