Monday, May 14, 2007

Better Battle Plan

A few nights ago, Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron challenged the world that they could prove the existence of God using only science and no appeal to faith. While these men are remarkable evangelists, they stepped into unknown waters by agreeing to a debate format while trying to prove this age-old question of the existence of God. Had I been tasked with helping the men to format their “battle” plan for the debate, I would have had them follow these guidelines instead of the ones they used.

The design argument is a good one. It is compelling, but Comfort did not go deep enough or convincing enough to build a compelling case. There is inherent design in the universe. He should have said, “Since there is a limited time available to deliver this message, I will give you an abbreviated list of the features in the universe that exhibit design features consistent with complex, purposefully built machine. By themselves, each example is reason to expect a creator, but together they are powerful and compelling motivation to seek this creator.

  • Symbiosis when two or more organisms cooperate in order to survive (hundreds of known examples exist on the planet)
  • Symmetry – Nothing in random, purposeless, unguided processes suggest that symmetry would be expected in living organisms.
  • The existence of the mind, rationalism, and logic suggest a designer.
  • The fact that humans can recognize beauty beyond reproductive benefits compels a designer.
  • Humans exhibit love, mercy, philanthropy, and pleasure. Why should any of these exist in a purposeless universe?
  • Irreducible complexity. Molecular machines exist that cannot function with any fewer parts. In other words, life was designed with exact specifications. The famous flagellum tail is an example of this. Many improper rebuttals and flawed logic have led atheists to believe that they have defeated this argument. No doubt you will hear one from the other side shortly.
  • The finely-tuned character of the universe. Were gravity any stronger or weaker, by even the slightest margin, life could not exist. The strong nuclear force exhibits exactly the right amount of force for life. The size ratio of the proton to neutron ensure that life is possible. Were neutrons the same size, then all protons would decay into neutrons, which would end all hopes for life. The electromagnetic force cannot be varied in any measure or life would be impossible. The cosmologic constant is perfectly suited to life. If it were different by even the slightest percentage…you guessed it, life would not exist.
    The ubiquitous examples of golden ratios in biology, astronomy, chemistry, and other observable sciences indicate that the preferential use of this ratio has purpose. That humans recognize that the ratio is aesthetically pleasing is fascinating.
  • The Earth’s perfect location to sustain life is a powerful argument for design. The earth is exactly the right distance from the sun for liquid water to exist. The proximity of the sun in conjunction with the earth’s proximity to her own moon produces the tides, which oxygenates the oceans and allows aquatic life. The earth’s atmospheric air is surprisingly perfect for breathable air, controlled combustion, controlled flight, photosynthesis, condensation, evaporation, and UV protection. On top of that, the earth’s atmospheric content is transparent. We can see through it to see each other and beyond it to see the heavens. This is a profound design feature.
  • That humans can understand mathematics and chemistry at an elementary level allows us to measure and comprehend the universe implying that we were meant to study and understand our environment. But chemistry and mathematics, while understandable at an elementary level is also fascinatingly complex. There is no inherent reason why the universe should have developed mathematics and chemistry at all, let alone in a manner that humans can comprehend them.
  • The existence of information is unexpected in an atheist universe. Information must come from a source higher than the measured scope. Specified complexity is another way to refer to the presence of information in our universe. It’s not just ordered. It’s not just complex. It’s ordered and complex in a way that has meaning and purpose. Naturalism cannot explain this.

For the atheists, any one of these arguments would be enough to show the existence of an all-powerful creator. So by just having a naturalistic argument for 1 item does not disprove the existence of God. Even if an atheistic mechanism that works does not disprove the idea that God created it and keeps it in motion.

To answer the question of suffering, evil, and even cancer, the argument has to go to another level by recognizing that sin has infected the universe, sin that Adam and Eve brought into existence when they disobeyed God. This appeal does require the use of the Bible to have a full and complete understanding.

Now, for me to withstand the arguments from the atheists, I should spend some time on the talkorgins website. It seems Comfort and Cameron neglected, to their shame, this necessary tactic to excel in the debate format. It does not make their purpose, passion, or message any less real, they just didn't succeed as well as they could have with a better battle plan.

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