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The Building Plans for Earth Reveal the Existence of the Builder (and Thomas Paine Agrees)

As I’ve been writing posts answering some of the most common questions about and objections to the Christian faith, I was reminded of an article I wrote years ago comparing human design to divine design. While not a direct answer to a specific question, this shows how one can easily see the work of a Intelligent Designer all around us. As a Christian with a degree in Biology, I stand more amazed every day as science further reveals the unfathomable complexity of nature and the intelligence of the one who designed it. Below is the article.


As my airplane lifted off from the Richmond International Airport, I surveyed from above the complex system of human design spread across the earth beneath me. Carefully built houses lined a network of streets. Cars, vans, and trucks navigated those streets, controlled by strategically placed stoplights. A parking lot painted with rows of parallel white stripes waited for some of those vehicles to drive in and stop for the day.

In gazing at the individual constructs, I was struck by the amount of coordination and planning that must have gone into achieving the overall design. Every piece was engineered with a specific purpose in mind, all working together to help the world run more efficiently.

But the complexity didn’t end at the overhead view. If my plane had suddenly landed so I could have walked among the streets, cars, and houses, I would have found an equally complex sub-design. Vehicles possess engines to power them. Houses are compartmentalized into different rooms, each carrying a distinct purpose. Stoplights are programmed to remain red, yellow, or green for a specified period of time or to automatically react to a vehicle’s tripping a sensor.

We can go deeper still. What is an engine? It’s also composed of individual parts—such as pistons, a crankshaft, a valve train—each with a purpose of its own.

Even deeper, what is a valve train? A composition of valves, rocker arms, pushrods, lifters, and the camshaft, all working together for a common goal.

Drilling down like this, one begins to get a glimpse at how complex human design is and how carefully it has been thought out. Staring down from my window on the airplane, I couldn’t help but marvel at what we have the ability to collectively create.

In thinking about that, though, I noticed something else. All that human design sat upon something bigger and infinitely more complex: Earth. I saw trees, lakes, fields, streams, sky, birds, clouds.

You could perform the same exercise in examining the complexity of each—a bird is assembled partly of bone, muscles, feathers, and organs; muscles are made up of fibers; fibers are made up of bundles of cells; cells are made partly of a nucleus, mitochondria, chromosomes; and so on—and you will keep finding complexity upon complexity in every facet of Earth and its inhabitants. And, as with human creation, all the individual parts with their distinct functions work together for specific purposes.

My human mind cannot begin to comprehend the wisdom and the power of God—a single being who in a breath was able to create the entire universe—when I compare that to the work and preparation and coordination of millions of humans over many years to create a tiny section of roads, houses, and vehicles in a corner of Richmond, Virginia.

Nor can I comprehend how some of those who also look down from airplanes and see the same intelligently designed network of human constructs, built with obvious planning and purpose, can think that the infinitely more complex structure it rests on—the one that has managed to work perfectly to keep this Earth alive for us since the beginning of time—has somehow come together by accident, devoid of any planning and purpose.


And as a bonus, I give you Thomas Paine — one of America’s Founding Fathers — who made a similar observation hundreds of years ago:

When we examine an extraordinary piece of machinery, an astonishing pile of architecture, a well executed statue, or an highly finished painting, where life and action are imitated, and habit only prevents our mistaking a surface of light and shade for cubical solidity, our ideas are naturally led to think of the extensive genius and talents of the artist.

When we study the elements of geometry, we think of Euclid. When we speak of gravitation, we think of Newton. How then is it, that when we study the works of God in the creation, we stop short, and do not think of GOD?

Paine was actually a man openly hostile toward religion. Even he, though, sees the plain truth that something with a design must have been designed.