Considering the Evidence

One of the most controversial and stimulating ideas to surface in scientific circles in the last twenty years has been the idea that the universe shows evidence of having been designed. And perhaps the most remarkable thing about the idea is that even those who oppose intelligent design no longer can dismiss it outright, as was the case just decades ago. They have been forced to take it seriously. In Designer Universe: Intelligent Design and the Existence of God, Jimmy Davis and Harry Poe examine why the idea of intelligent design has re-emerged as a serious philosophical understanding of the origin of the universe after it had been buried by Darwinian naturalism for over a hundred years. Davis, a professor of chemistry, and Poe, the first appointee to the Charles Colson Chair of Faith and Culture, both teach at Union University. This book demonstrates why Union has developed such a strong academic reputation in recent years. Designer Universe describes how advances in scientific knowledge during the twentieth century have raised new questions. There once was a time when materialistic naturalism seemed to answer all the questions about the universe -- but no longer. Now consider just a few of these new ideas that Poe and Davis explore in Designer Universe. Until the twentieth century, western science accepted the teaching of Aristotle that the universe had always existed. But in the light of the evidence of the Big Bang and the expansion of the universe, more and more cosmologists are concluding that the universe must have had some original beginning. Design had no place in an eternal universe, but if the universe has a beginning, that opens the door for the inevitable question of where it came from and what (or Who) began it. Many have attempted to dodge this conclusion with the notion of infinite regress. Since the time of the great Enlightenment skeptic, David Hume, naturalists argued that the universe doesn't need a first cause. Instead, they said, the universe is explained by an infinite series of finite events -- which, on its face, is a preposterous concept. But an expanding universe with a beginning doesn't allow for an infinite regress. If the universe had a beginning, it had a first cause. Finally, scientists for a long time assumed there was nothing particularly significant about our little planet. Here we are in a backwater spot in an ordinary galaxy. And they concluded life probably exists on as many as 100 billion planets. But by the 1990s, scientists began to realize how unique the earth really is and how many complex factors had to be absolutely fine tuned for life to appear. This is called the anthropic principle. If earth were a bit closer to the sun, water would boil away -- life would be impossible. Or if it were a little further away, it would be too cold for life -- everything would freeze over. Similarly, if gravity were slightly greater than it is, the earth would implode -- and so forth. This fine tuning didn't happen by accident, but must have occurred under the watchful eye of a Designer. Intelligent design is being taken seriously and provides a powerful apologetic. When we raise these kinds of issues, any honest scientist or skeptic has to say, "I've got to look at the evidence." For a good overview of that evidence for intelligent design, Designer Universe is a readable and worthwhile introduction. For further information: Jimmy H. Davis and Harry L. Poe, Designer Universe: Intelligent Design and the Existence of God (Broadman & Holman, 2002). William Dembski, "Skepticism's Prospects for Unseating Intelligent Design," BreakPoint Online, 24 June 2002. (Talk delivered at CSICOP's Fourth World Skeptics Conference in Burbank, California, on 21 June 2002.) Roberto Rivera, "Gods and Peanuts," BreakPoint Online, 22 May 2002. Learn more about intelligent design by visiting the Discovery Institute. The Intelligent Design and Evolution Awareness Center (IDEA) fosters conversation about intelligent design among students, educators, and other interested parties. On August 2-5, 2002, the American Scientific Affiliation is holding a conference at Pepperdine University, titled "Christian Pioneers in Science," on the roles of faith and science. Registration is available here (requires free Adobe Acrobat Reader). You may also call 978-356-5656, or fax 978-356-4375; e-mail; or mail: P.O. Box 668, Ipswich, MA 01938-0668.


Chuck Colson


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