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What is the Truth about God, Part 2: The God of the Gaps vs. The Teleological Argument

In addition to the Cosmological Argument discussed in my last post, God’s existence is also indicated by abundant evidence that supports an Intelligent Design (“ID”) of the Universe and everything that comprises it.

The Teleological Argument proposes that anything having a complex design had a designer; the Universe has a very complex design; therefore, the Universe had a Designer. Defenders of this view include Thomas Aquinas’s “Five Ways of Knowing God Exists” and William Paley who famously likened the universe to a finely crafted watch then asked if one could reasonably conclude it had been the product of random design.

Until I began my study of the Teleological Argument, I didn’t realize there are 122 finely tuned Anthropic Constants in the Universe. For example, if the planet Jupiter were positioned in an orbit that differed even slightly from the one it currently occupies, the Earth would suffer incessant bombardment by “space junk” and be rendered inhabitable. The failure of Jupiter or any one of these other eerily perfect Constants to perform its function would render life on Earth impossible.

Hugh Ross, a noted astrophysicist, calculates the probability that all of these Constants could have randomly arisen and co-existed without intelligent intervention to be 1 in 10138. To provide some perspective, the number of atoms in the entire universe is generally acknowledged to be 1070.

Given the infinitesimally small likelihood that is demonstrated by the math of Professor Ross, is it reasonable to believe the Anthropic Constants occurred as a result of random movements? Certainly not!

Naturalists  believe only the material world and natural forces exist.  Many who hold this to be true respond to the Teleological Argument by asserting Christians mask their “lack of intellect” by jumping to the conclusion that a supernatural force must have produced any seemingly inexplicable complexity rather than first attempting to discover a plausible scientific rationale. They commonly refer to their objection as the Christian’s “argument from ignorance,” sometimes referred to as the “god of the gaps” safety net. If you examine their assertion, however, you’ll find it lacks merit.

The “gaps” criticism is representative of ad hominem defenses that are frequently employed by Naturalists against those who challenge evolutionary science when it’s unable to provide empirical answers.

In reality, a “gap” may only appear to exist. This is because cynics arbitrarily establish the rule that explanations not based in Materialism must be ignored. This is circular reasoning. Logically, if the question is whether a supernatural being exists, it’s inappropriate (where reasonable evidence justifies Design) to summarily exclude Design as a possible explanation. An open mind would conclude that there is no “gap” at all — just a well-reasoned, properly documented, non-Materialist explanation. Unfortunately, however, the cynic is pre-disposed to reject any suggestion of Design.

The above observations are based upon a sound application of the laws of argumentation. Rather than relying upon them, however, Intelligent Design proponents recognize their observations will always be subjected to the “gaps” defense. For that reason, they carefully explain how they reach their conclusions supporting Design by using physical evidence and demonstrating material deficiencies in the Naturalist’s view.

For example, Intelligent Design proponents show how non-ID explanations (i.e., those based in randomness) cannot explain natural occurrences such as the intricate molecular machinery and copious genetic information contained in a single cell. To do this, they establish the fact that Naturalists can neither explain how such machinery could have been constructed by random forces nor identify the source of the information responsible for its fabrication. You can explore more extensive scientific support for the positions taken by Intelligent Designers at the previously cited, www.discovery.org/ and by Creationism at www.answersingenesis.org/arj.

An unbiased observer will concede that Intelligent Design scientists do not argue from “gaps” at all. They go to great lengths to apply established knowledge to observed data in support of their views.

By way of contrast, think about how much easier it must have been for Darwin to challenge the widely accepted Creationists views of the 1800s. At that time, the cell was looked upon naïvely as a “simple globule of protoplasm.” Lacking knowledge of the complexities of life that scientists are now finding, Darwin was free to imagine and speculate how random mutation and natural selection from various types of “goo” might explain the development of higher life forms. It is this modern day discovery of knowledge that is exposing the complete inadequacy of Darwin’s overly simplistic theory.

This is the premise of Dr. Stephen Meyer who, in Darwin’s Doubt, explores the very candid misgivings confessed by Darwin regarding his own theory. Darwin left a legacy of doubt for his followers to explain when he acknowledged the inability of his theory to describe the source of genetic information required to construct the abundance of new life forms that appears spontaneously in the Cambrian layer of the Earth. More than one hundred fifty years and millions of fossil finds later, present day scientists have not resolved Darwin’s doubt as he’d hoped they would. One reviewer of Meyer’s book, Dr. Mark Menamin, a paleontologist at Mt. Holyoke College and co-author of The Emergence of Animals noted, “It’s hard for us 12 paleontologists to admit that neo-Darwinian explanations for the Cambrian explosion have failed miserably….”

If Darwin expressed doubt about his own theory, perhaps our belief of our origins bears taking another look at. Certainly before betting our lives on it.