"The only alternative to evolution is special creation, which is unthinkable."

- Sir Arthur Keith

"To contemplate the universe is to stand even more abashed. For some how, at sometime, all that we see and touch and hear must have emerged from nothing."

- Sir Theodore Fox 9

"...science and history and theology, as has well been pointed out, are not three distinct branches of knowledge. They are simply three different ways in which we view the reality we find around us, just as length and breadth and depth are three different ways we view any physical object. Since they are not three distinct branches of knowledge, they cannot be separated.

- D. James Kennedy



Where did man come from?
9) Intelligent design theory on the nature of the universe


"It is in scientific honesty that I endorse the presentation of alternative theories for the origin of the universe, life and man in the science classroom. It would be an error to overlook the possibility that the universe was planned rather than happened by chance."

- Wernher von Braun

"I will not accept [creation] philosophically because I do not want to believe in God. Therefore I choose to believe in that which I know is scientifically impossible - spontaneous generation arising to evolution."

- George Wald
1971 Nobel prize for biology


10.29 IDT and the nature of the universe

Can IDT's principles of contingency, complexity, and specification be applied to the universe to discover whether or not it was designed?

Unfortunately, one cannot leave the universe to compare what it is and is not to the backdrop of all the other possibilities of which it might have been. Still, the principles can be applied:

Contingency - was the universe the automatic result of an unintelligent cause? Naturally, this is hotly debated. We have already discussed it at length in at least three chapters: The Cosmological Argument for God, Origin of the Universe - part two, and Origin of the Universe - part three.

Complexity - is the universe of sufficient simplicity as to warrant it a chance occurance? Proponents of the oscillating universe theory would argue exactly that. Everything that exists, including the universe's friendliness to life, just happens to be the nature of nature in this particular episode of an universe forever cycling between expansion, contraction, and reformulation.

However, oscillating universe theorists are themselves contracting as more and more scientists are interpreting the available evidence to read our universe as a once-in-forever event. The chapter Origin of the Universe - part three had a list highly improbable properties about the universe. Properties which work together, most by extremely narrow margins, to make a life-sustaining universe possible. Those observations warrant the conclusion of a very complex universe. Here are even more:

1. "…for the hydrogen atom to give stable, bound energy levels, again, a universe with three (or fewer) spatial dimensions is required. Maxwell's equations…are also only valid for a three-(spatial)-dimensional universe. Furthermore…high fidelity transmission of electromagnetic or acoustic signals is optimized in our three-dimensional universe." 85

2. " The four forces in nature may each be expressed as dimensionless numbers to allow their relative strengths as they act in nature to be compared. These…vary by a factor of 1041…or equivalently by 41 orders of magnitude. Yet modest changes in any of these constants would produce dramatic changes in the universe and render it unsuitable for life." 86

3. "Another fine-tuning coincidence is that the emission spectrum for the sun not only peaks at an energy level that is ideal to facilitate chemical reactions, but it also peaks in the optical window for water. Water is 107 times more opaque to ultraviolet and infrared radiation than it is to radiation in the visible spectrum (or what we call light). Since living tissue in general and eyes in particular are composed mainly of water, communication by sight would be impossible were it not for this unique window of light transmission by water being ideally matched to the radiation from the sun. Yet this matching requires carefully prescribing the values of the gravity and electromagnetic force constants as well as Planck's constant and the mass of the electron. 87

4. "…a two percent increase in the strong force relative to the electromagnetic force leaves the universe with no hydrogen, no long-lived stars that burn hydrogen, and no water…" 88

5. "If the weak force…were slightly larger, neutrons would decay more rapidly, reducing the production of deuterons, and thus, helium and elements with heavier nuclei. On the other hand, if the weak force coupling constant were slightly weaker, the big bang would have burned almost all the hydrogen into helium…" 89

6. "The frequency of distribution of electromagnetic radiation produced by the sun…the radiation produced is dependent on a careful balancing of the electromagnetic force (alpha-E) and the gravity force (alpha-G), with the mathematical relationship including (alpha-E)12, making the specification for the electromagnetic force particularly critical. 90

7. "If this velocity [of the big bang] is too fast, the matter in the universe expands too quickly and never coalesces into planets, stars, and galaxies. If the initial velocity is too slow, the universe expands only for a short time and then quickly collapses under the influence of gravity. Well-accepted cosmological models tell us that the initial velocity must be specified to a precision of 1/1055." 91

8. "…the two components of an expansion-driving cosmological constant must cancel each other with an accuracy better than 1 part in 1050. In the January 1999 issue of Scientific American, the required accuracy was sharpened to 1 part in 10123." 92

Specification - are there inherent patterns in the universe that are indicative of an intelligence? Indeed there is; chief among them being life, and chief among the forms of life being human life (see IDT and the nature of DNA). The universe is literally full of patterns suggesting an intelligent origin and they have been noted for centuries by scientists both Christian and non. Besides Freeman Dyson's quote at the top of this page, consider these:

Astronomy leads us to a unique event, a universe which was created out of nothing and delicately balanced to provide exactly the conditions required to support life. In the absence of an absurdly-improbable accident, the observations of modern science seem to suggest an underlying, one might say, supernatural plan. 93

- Arno Penzias

…there are so many odd coincidences essential to life that some explanation seems required to account for them. 94

- Fred Hoyle

The enormous usefulness of mathematics is something bordering on the mysterious…There is no rational explanation for it…The miracle of the appropriateness of the language of mathematics for the formulation of the laws of physics is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve… 95

- Eugene Wigner

The equations of physics have in them incredible simplicity, elegance and beauty. That in itself is sufficient to prove to me that there must be a God who is responsible for these laws and responsible for the universe. 96

- Paul Davies

The eternal mystery of the universe is its comprehensibility.

- Albert Einstein

Evidence for an intelligent designer becomes more compelling the more we understand about our carefully crafted habitat. 97

- Walter L. Bradley

One does not need to presuppose that in the beginning the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob created the heavens and the earth to see that certain biological systems bear detectable marks of intelligent design, or that physical constants appear to be fine-tuned for life. 98

- Jay Wesley Richards

More quotes elsewhere in this site by: Wernher von Braun, Wernher von Braun, Sir Arthur Eddington, Robert Gange, Paul Davies, Stephen Hawking, Isaac Newton, Michael Denton, Fred Hoyle, Fred Hoyle, and Hubert Yockey.

10.30 Is it unscientific to infer design?

-- The chief criticism of IDT

IDT, as amenable as it is to both theistic and non-theistic worldviews, is not without its detractors. Those critics tend to be materialists whose central complaint, I believe, is that the inference of design goes against science. They basically argue, "It's unscientific because it cannot be tested by prediction and observation. Therefore, a design agent cannot be inferred."

Such an argument has merit only to the extent that the nature and identity of the design agent cannot be tested by prediction and observation. We certainly cannot conjure up God or some alien progenitor race in a laboratory test tube to prove from whose design we came (just as evolution cannot be proven). Yet it is completely legitimate, even in naturalistic science, to infer a causal agent such as a designer.

For example, in the analogy earlier about skywriting, if we saw the letters VTOE appear in the sky, would it be improper to infer there was a causal agent involved even if we didn't see a plane or pilot? Or in the analogy about a motherboard washing ashore, is it scientifically illegitimate to believe such an object was designed? Common sense tells us that naturally these things had their causal agents/designers. So the question is, "Does this common sense approach have legitimate scientific justification?"

-- The scientific justification for design inference

Within science, an invisible, otherwise untestable influence or causal agent may be inferred if it is required to explain that which is visible and testable. This is logical inference based upon the knowledge of cause-and-effect.

For example, in astronomy, dark matter (and other theoretical objects or effects) are often inferred to explain movement or phenomena that are visible such as the motion or speed of stars or galaxies. Or in anthropology, if you had no knowledge of your great, great grandmother, then it is not unscientific to infer that your great grandmother came from a mother herself.

When dealing with information-intensive objects, such as DNA, the legitimacy of inferring an intelligent causal agent makes even more sense. Stephen C. Meyer explains,

Because mind or intelligent design is a necessary cause of an informative system, one can detect the past action of an intelligent cause from the presence of an information-intensive effect, even if the cause itself cannot be directly observed.

...Intelligent agents have unique causal powers that nature does not. When we observe effects that we know only agents can produce, we rightly infer the presence of a prior intelligence even if we did not observe the action of the particular agent responsible. Since DNA displays an effect (namely, information content) that in our experience only agents can produce, intelligent design (and not apparent design) stands as the best explanation for the information content in DNA. 99

Cause-and-effect is a standard form of reasoning employed in science. Thus design theorists are well within the realm of science when inferring a prior intelligent cause when the evidence so warrants.

-- Religious implications of a non-religious theory

In closing, remember that IDT is a manner of study which seeks to evaluate whether or not a given subject is the result of intentional, intelligent design. IDT does not entail theological conclusions. By not ruling out the possibility of an intelligent design agency, like the rigid presuppositions assumed by more closed-minded thinkers, IDT is far more open to freedom of inquiry than the eighteenth century atheistic materialism currently monopolizing public education.

Of course, if you have design, you can imply purpose. And along with purpose come, not theological conclusions, but theological implications. It is the thought of confronting these things in biology, cosmology, etc., that really causes materialists to see red. I am not speaking immodestly of my own confrontations, but those of noted anti-Christian non-Darwinists like Sir Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe:

our writings have been greeted with a wall of silence. The reason very likely is that every expert biologist has seen from the beginning that sooner or later the word purpose would appear, and to involve purpose is in the eyes of biologists the ultimate scientific sin, worse even than to express doubt of the validity of Darwinism. 63

And of more IDT-friendly scientists like Michael Behe:

…the reviewers are not rejecting design because there is scientific evidence against it, or because it violates some principle of logic. Rather, I believe they find design unacceptable because they are uncomfortable with the theological ramifications of the theory. 100

IDT does not identify the nature and identity of life's possible designer and that admittedly leaves the door open to many possibilities. How unfortunate it is that materialists condemn IDT for just that: for not barring the door to a conclusion they do not want to reach. Namely the possibility of a nonmaterial source having something to do with origins, the accompanying implication of purpose, and the possibility of accountability to that source.

I believe it was Sir Francis Bacon who is credited with starting to narrow science to only those things which are material and measurable. Prior to that, there was less of a dividing line between science and theology. Though both the science and theology of the Middle Ages had their problems, starting with the next section on creation science (and the quote below from Dr. Wickramasinghe) we'll see that to the concept of uniting the different disciplines of learning we may yet one day return:

But the universe doesn't respect the boundaries between different disciplines. The differences between biology and astronomy and chemistry and so on, these are man-made artifacts of thinking. I think the whole system is doomed unless one decides that all these barriers are cleared. And I will go further to say that even the interface between theology and the other disciplines is necessary. 101




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NEXT: PART 10) Creation science

See also:

Where did the earth come from?

Where did the universe come from?

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IDT has much to say about the origin of the universe. You'll find it here, as well as sprinkled throughout the previous chapters on the origin of the universe.

The reasoning behind the legitimacy of design inference is also discussed below.

(Books on the apparent fine-tuning of the universe and other evidences for design.)