“We are just grown up germs, jumped up apes! There are no gods, no purposes, no goal-directing forces of any kind. There is no life after death. There is no foundation for ethics, no meaning to life, and no free will for humans either.” Richard Dawkins and William Provine.
God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, … and He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men … so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ … But now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” Acts 17:24-31
(The Apostle Paul at the High Court in Athens.)
The question of our origins is at the foundation of all our thinking about what we are, where we are going and why we are here. Our civilisation and national tradition has been built on the belief that we are not simply pointless accidents but we are made in the image of God. We have a maker who cares for us and to whom we will one day have to give an account of our lives. Over the last 100 years or so we have been wrestling with the question of what happens if we abandon this idea of our origins. We used to tell our children that they were designed by God and will have to give an account to Him. We now tell them that we have learned the truth and that we have discovered that they are just another kind of animal. They are here by chance and that they have no real purpose and soon the whole confusing mess will be over anyway. Not only are they doomed to an empty death but so is the whole universe! I wonder if you can see what I see? Are these ideas bringing us to a really happy life and society? Are they making our country a safer and happier place? Do they match with what we know deep down in our heart? Jesus said “By their fruits you will know them” He meant us to look at the consequences of different teachings before we embrace them. Perhaps even more importantly we need to ask are these evolutionary ideas actually right ? Are they backed up with good factual evidence? Are the scientists really justified when they tell us that we should scrap the Bible and follow Darwin?
The arguments for design in nature are very ancient and are not only in Christian and Jewish traditions. Even the most aggressive challenger of design today, Dr. Richard Dawkins accepts that there is an “appearance of design” in nature. Is it real evidence of real design or is it simply an appearance of design? One of the most famous writers who has written about design was William Paley.
He became the Archdeacon in Carlisle in 1782 and chancellor of the diocese in 1785. Suppose as I walked on the heath … I found a watch … I would not say that for all I knew it had been there forever. I would conclude that the watch must have had a maker. The intricacy of the parts and the fact that they are all together working for a coordinated purpose shows that the watch was designed for a reason.
William Paley made a good argument for a designer from the structures in biology visible to the naked eye. The last 50 years has seen biologists investigating the detailed structures of the smallest units of life … living cells. Darwin thought that cells were rather ordinary blobs of a jelly like substance. He could not have been more wrong! In turns out that living cells are stacked full of microscopic technology that makes the most elegant watch look very clumsy.
This is a picture of a cell which is about a thousandth of a millimetre across:
- It has an information storage and retrieval system that is much smaller and more effective than our best computers, hard drives and DVD’s
- It has an integrated transport and messaging system that works better than Royal Mail!
- It has a carefully controlled and integrated energy system
- It has machinery for producing copies of the whole cell from very simple raw materials.
All of this is contained neatly inside a tiny container so that all these things are needed in the same place at once before life could even begin!
One of the most remarkable pieces of this amazing array of miniature technology is a tiny propeller found in some bacteria. This little motor is so small that you can fit 20,000 of them in a row in 1mm! It spins at about 17,000 spins per minute and can change direction in half a turn. This tiny little motor is causing many scientists to ask serious questions about how such an elegant machine could possibly happen by chance. The answer is that it couldn’t!
Sir Anthony Flew had been an atheist since he was 15. He became one of the most prominent philosophers to argue against the existence of any kind of creator or designer. Recently he has become convinced that the amazing order and information within even the simplest living cell points unmistakeably to an intelligent origin. He has not converted to the Christian God who is revealed in Jesus Christ but he does acknowledge that the facts of biology point beyond accident to design. We are not alone in this amazing universe.