by: Margo Diann Abshier, ND
Lee Strobel, former investigative legal journalist and editor for the Chicago Tribune, documents his journey from boyhood Lutheran catechism class, through high school science classes, undergraduate journalism school, followed by Yale Law School, and onto faith in atheistic, naturalistic Darwinian theory. The conversion was complete. But, life took Lee down some different roads than he ever intended to travel. Little did he know that Jesus was in hot pursuit of him.
After the shock of reality hit, and he discovered the personal God of the Christian faith, he decided to backtrack and look for the evidence for God. First, he investigated the fourteen most frequently asked questions regarding the reliability of the Bible and the historicity of its accounts. That investigation resulted in the book The Case for Christ. Second, he investigated the eight most common reasons people pose for rejecting the faith option. That became the book The Case for Faith. He then decided to reinvestigate his former beliefs in Darwinism to determine the scientific validation for its generalized acceptance within the scientific community. That book was just recently released and is entitled The Case for a Creator.
The Case for a Creator is compelling and fast moving. 340 pages in length, Strobe cites 437 references, refers to 40 separate resources with confirmatory information, and includes in-depth interviews with eight top scientists and theoreticians. The format of the book probes into the wealth of scientific discoveries from theoretical and philosophical inquiry, through in-depth scientific evaluations of the most recent data regarding cosmology, physics, astronomy, biochemistry, biological information within the DNA, the origin of life, and the enigma of consciousness.
For those of you who like to look at the end of the book before buying a copy, here are some of the conclusions that he has drawn from the detailed evidence gathered in the first 300 pages. But, don’t let that information keep you from reading the whole book. You wouldn’t want to miss a single piece of evidence, it’s just too good.
Lee Strobel is the author of The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith, and The Case for a Creator.
Book Review: The Case for a Creator by Lee Stobel, © 2004, Zondervan Press, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530ISBN 0-310-24144-8″Chapter 11: The Cumulative Case for a Creator”
“…having spent over a year reevaluating and updating the case for a Creator by interviewing experts on the latest scientific discoveries… I was amazed at how new findings in physics, astronomy, biochemistry, and other disciplines have added so much to the pool of scientific knowledge. As I considered the evidence afresh, I tried to honestly weigh which hypothesis — Darwinism or Design — best accounted for the most current data of science.
POSSIBILITY #1: THE DARWINISM HYPOTHESIS:
To start with, I considered how the facts fit the hypothesis that all of life can be explained by the undirected, purely naturalistic processes of evolution. “Like all other scientific theories, Darwinian evolution must be continually compared with the evidence,” said biologist Jonathan Wells. “If it does not fit the evidence, it must be reevaluated or abandoned-otherwise it is not science, but myth.” Looking at the doctrine of Darwinism, which undergirded my atheism for so many years, it didn’t take me long to conclude that it was simply too far-fetched to be credible. I realized that if I were to embrace Darwinism and its underlying premise of naturalism, I would have to believe that:
* Nothing produces everything
* Non-life produces life
* Randomness produces fine-tuning
* Chaos produces information
* Unconsciousness produces consciousness
* Non-reason produces reason
Based on this, I was forced to conclude that Darwinism would require a blind leap of faith that I was not willing to make. Simply put, the central pillars of evolutionary theory quickly rotted away when exposed to scrutiny. For example, naturalistic processes have utterly failed to explain how non-living chemicals could somehow self-assemble into the first living cell. Not only are there no viable theories, but none are on the horizon. Biochemist Klaus Dose, one of the leading origin-of-life experts, conceded: “At present all discussions on principle theories and experiments in the field either end in stalemate or in a confession of ignorance.”
… Stephen C. Meyer pointed out in my interview that there are insurmountable hurdles involving the origin of biological information that simply cannot be resolved by more research and effort… To me, this constitutes the Achilles’ heel of evolutionary theory. As biochemist Michael Denton observed, the idea that undirected processes could somehow turn dead chemicals into all the extraordinary complexity of living things is surely “no more nor less than the great cosmogenic myth” of our times.
In addition, the overall fossil record has stubbornly refused to confirm the grand claims of Darwinian transitions. Despite innumerable discoveries since Darwin’s day, “the intermediates have remained as elusive as ever,” said Denton. Rather than harmonize into a consistent case for Darwin’s theory, the fossils are a discordant cacophony that cannot reasonably account for the monumental leaps Darwinism must make, for example, between fish and amphibians or amphibians and reptiles.
The most glaring deficiency of the fossil record is biology’s Big Bang, the Cambrian explosion. The majority — or, according to some experts, all — of the world’s forty phyla, the highest category in the animal kingdom, virtually sprang forth with unique body plans more than five hundred million years ago. The sudden appearance of these radically new life forms, devoid of prior transitions, has turned Darwin’s Tree of Life on its head…
…Darwin predicted that new discoveries would explain away this quantum leap in biological complexity. In reality, they have only made matters worse. The excuse that the transitionary creatures were too soft or small to be fossilized withers under examination. Alternate theories, like Stephen Jay Gould’s “punctuated equilibrium,” dash themselves on the rocks of reason. Darwin’s assessment is still accurate more than a century and a half later: the Cambrian explosion is “inexplicable” under his hypothesis. This remains, in my opinion, a fatal shortcoming.
When I examined these and other deficiencies of Darwinism as objectively as I could, I became firmly convinced that evolution is a confirmed fact — as long as it’s defined as the micro-evolutionary variations we see in the animal and plant world. Undeniably, a considerable amount of change and diversification has taken place over time. However, there is simply insufficient evidence from which to draw the radical conclusion that large-scale, macro-evolutionary transitions have occurred.
As award-winning author Roger Lewin, a former editor with Science and New Scientist magazines, summarized a historic scientific conference on macroevolution: “The central question… was whether…the mechanisms underlying microevolution can be extrapolated to explain the phenomenon of macroevolution. At the risk of doing violence to the position of some people at the meeting, the answer can be given as a clear, No.”
In short, the amount of faith needed to maintain belief in the most sweeping and controversial claims of Darwinism far exceeded what I believed was reasonably warranted by the hard evidence of science. On top of that, naturalism has absolutely no credible explanation for how the universe came into being in the first place. This failure of the naturalistic and Darwinist ideas opened the door to considering the other hypothesis — that both the universe and the life it contains are the product of an intelligent designer.
POSSIBILITY #2: THE DESIGN HYPOTHESIS
“A big, fundamental question, like belief in God (or disbelief), is not settled by a single argument,” said physicist-turned-theologian John Polkinghorne. “It’s too complicated for that. What one has to do is to consider lots of different issues and see whether or not the answers one gets add up to a total picture that makes sense.”
That’s the approach I took in my investigation. I probed six different scientific disciplines to see whether they point toward or away from the existence of an intelligent designer.
When I opened my mind to the possibility of an explanation beyond naturalism, I found that the design hypothesis most clearly accounted for the evidence of science. The “explanatory power” of the design hypothesis outstripped every other theory. Consider some of the facts that were adduced in my investigation:
* The Evidence of Cosmology:
Thanks to scientific discoveries of the last fifty years, the ancient kalam cosmological argument has taken on a powerful and persuasive new force. As described by William Lane Craig, the argument is simple yet elegant:
First, whatever begins to exist has a cause. Even renowned skeptic David Hume didn’t deny this first premise. In fact, atheist Quentin Smith’s contention that “we came from nothing, by nothing, and for nothing” seems intuitively absurd.
Second, the universe had a beginning. Based on the data, virtually all cosmologists now agree the universe began in the Big Bang at some specific point in the past. Craig stressed that even alternate theories for the origin of the universe require a beginning…
The conclusion then follows inexorably from the two premises: therefore,. (third).. the universe has a cause. Even once-agnostic astronomer Robert Jastrow conceded the essential elements of Christianity and modern cosmology are the same: “The chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply, at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy.”
* The Evidence of Physics:
One of the most striking discoveries of modern science has been that the laws and constants of physics unexpectedly conspire in an extraordinary way to make the universe habitable for life. For instance, said physicist-philosopher Robin Collins, gravity is fine-tuned to one part in a hundred million billion billion billion billion billion.
The cosmological constant, which represents the energy density of space, is as precise as throwing a dart from space and hitting a bulls-eye just a trillionth of a trillionth of an inch in diameter on Earth. One expert said there are more than thirty physical or cosmological parameters that require precise calibration in order to produce a universe that can sustain life.
Collins demonstrated that chance cannot reasonably account for this “anthropic principle” and that the most-discussed alternative — that there are multiple universes-lacks any evidential support and ultimately collapses upon the realization that these other worlds would owe their existence to a highly designed process.
This evidence was so powerful that it was instrumental in Patrick Glynn abandoning his atheism. “Today the concrete data point strongly in the direction of the God hypothesis,” he said. “It is the simplest and most obvious solution to the anthropic puzzle.”
* The Evidence of Astronomy:
Similar to the fine-tuning of physics, Earth’s position in the universe and its intricately choreographed geological and chemical processes work together with exquisite efficiency to create a safe place for humans to live.
For example, astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez and science philosopher Jay Wesley Richards said it would take a star with the highly unusual properties of our sun — the right mass, the right light, the right age, the right distance, the right orbit, the right galaxy, the right location — to nurture living organisms on a circling planet. Numerous factors make our solar system and our location in the universe just right for a habitable environment.
What’s more, the exceptional conditions that make life possible also happen to make our planet strangely well-suited for viewing and analyzing the universe and our environment. All of this suggests our planet may be rare, if not unique, and that the Creator wanted us to be able to explore the cosmos.
“If the universe had not been made with the most exacting precision we could never have come into existence,” said Harvard-educated astrophysicist John A. O’Keefe of NASA. “It is my view that these circumstances indicate the universe was created for man to live in.”
* The Evidence of Biochemistry:
Darwin 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.” Biochemist Michael Behe has demonstrated exactly that through his description of “irreducibly complex” molecular machines.
These complicated, microscopic contraptions, such as cilia and bacterial flagella, are extremely unlikely to have been built piece-by-piece through Darwinian processes, because they had to be fully present in order to function. Other examples include the incredible system of transporting proteins within cells and the intricate process of blood clotting.
More than just a devastating challenge to Darwinism, these amazing biological systems — which far exceed the capacity of human technology — point toward a transcendent Creator. “My conclusion,” said Behe, “can be summed up in a single word: design. I say that based on science. I believe that irreducibly complex systems are strong evidence of a purposeful, intentional design by an intelligent agent.”
Behe’s argument has proven impervious to challenges by skeptics. While obviously there will be future discoveries in biochemistry, Behe pointed out that they will not be able to negate the complexity that has already been discovered — and which is best explained by a Creator.
* The Evidence of Biological Information:
The six-feet of DNA coiled inside every one of our body’s one hundred trillion cells contains a four-letter chemical alphabet that spells out precise assembly instructions for all the proteins from which our bodies are made. Cambridge-educated Stephen Meyer demonstrated that no hypothesis has come close to explaining how information got into biological matter by naturalistic means.
On the contrary, he said that whenever we find a sequential arrangement that’s complex and corresponds to an independent pattern or function, this kind of information is always the product of intelligence. “Books, computer codes, and DNA all have these two properties,” he said. “We know books and computer codes are designed by intelligence, and the presence of this type of information in DNA also implies an intelligent source.”
In addition, Meyer said the Cambrian explosion’s dazzling array of new life forms, which suddenly appeared fully formed in the fossil record, with no prior transitions, would have required the infusion of massive amounts of new biological information. “Information is the hallmark of mind,” said Meyer. “And purely from the evidence of genetics and biology, we can infer the existence of a mind that’s far greater than our own — a conscious, purposeful, rational, intelligent designer who’s amazingly creative.”
* The Evidence of Consciousness:
Many scientists are concluding that the laws of chemistry and physics cannot explain our experience of consciousness. Professor J. P. Moreland defined consciousness as our introspection, sensations, thoughts, emotions, desires, beliefs, and free choices that make us alive and aware. The “soul” contains our consciousness and animates our body.
According to a researcher who showed that consciousness can continue after a person’s brain has stopped functioning, current scientific findings “would support the view that `mind,’ `consciousness,’ or the `soul’ is a separate entity from the brain.”
As Moreland said, “You can’t get something from nothing.” If the universe began with dead matter having no conscious, “how, then, do you get something totally different — consciousness, living, thinking, feeling, believing creatures — from materials that don’t have that?” But if everything started with the mind of God, he said, “we don’t have a problem with explaining the origin of our mind.”
Darwinist philosopher Michael Ruse candidly conceded that “no one, certainly not the Darwinian as such, seems to have any answer” to the consciousness issue. Nobel Prize-winning neurophysiologist John C. Eccies concluded from the evidence “that there is what we might call a supernatural origin of my unique self-conscious mind or my unique selfhood or soul.”
THE IDENTITY OF THE DESIGNER:
As I reviewed the avalanche of information from my investigation, I found the evidence for an intelligent designer to be credible, cogent, and compelling…
But who or what is this master Designer?… As Craig explained… the cause of the universe must be an uncaused, beginningless, timeless, immaterial, personal being endowed with freedom of will and enormous power… The evidence of astronomy, showing that the Creator was incredibly precise in creating a livable habitat for the creatures he designed, logically implies that he has care and concern for them…
Not only do biochemistry and the existence of biological information affirm the Creator’s activity after the Big Bang, but they also show he’s incredibly creative. Evidence for consciousness, as Moreland said, helps establish that the Creator is rational, gives us a basis for understanding his omnipresence, and even suggests that life after death is credible…
…Ockham’s razor shaves away the multiple gods of polytheism, leaving us with a single Creator. In addition, the personal nature of the Creator argues against the impersonal divine force that’s at the center of some New Age religions.
In contrast, however, the portrait of the Creator that emerges from the scientific data is uncannily consistent with the description of the God whose identity is spelled out in the pages of the Bible.
* Creator? “In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.”
* Unique? “You were shown these things so that you might know that the Lord is God; besides him there is no other.”
* Uncaused and timeless? “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”
* Immaterial? “God is spirit.”
* Personal? “I am God Almighty.”
* Freedom of will? “And God said, `Let there be light,’ and there was light.”
* Intelligent and rational? “How many are your works, 0 Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.”
* Enormously powerful? “The Lord is… great in power.”
* Creative? “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
* Caring? “The earth is full of his unfailing love.”
* Omnipresent? “The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you.”
* Has given humankind purpose? “For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible… every thing got started in him and finds its purpose in him.”
* Provides for life after death? “He will swallow up death forever.”
As the apostle Paul wrote two millennia ago: “For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, that is, his creation, so that men are without excuse.”…
…To me, the range, the variety, the depth, and the breathtaking persuasive power of the evidence from both science and history affirmed the credibility of Christianity to the degree that my doubts were simply washed away.
Unlike Darwinism, where my faith would have to swim upstream against the strong current of evidence flowing the other way, putting my trust in the God of the Bible was nothing less than the most rational and natural decision I could make. I was merely permitting the torrent of facts to carry me along to their most logical conclusion.”