Manmade or Mother Nature?

Archaeologists working in southern England recently made a startling discovery. Using a magnetometer, an instrument that measures magnetic fields in soil, they found nine gigantic concentric rings. The pattern was clearly not a product of nature, but had to be an elaborate, manmade structure, thousands of years old. How can scientists tell whether something comes from a natural or an intelligent source? As Phillip Johnson explains in his new book, Defeating Darwinism, this question gets to the heart of the creation-evolution debate. How can we tell whether life originated by natural causes or was created by an intelligent being? Think for a moment of some common analogies. Imagine we are touring Egypt and suddenly see huge white objects rising out of the sand. Immediately we recognize the work of an intelligent agent. No one would mistake the pyramids of Egypt for a natural phenomenon. This ability to distinguish human workmanship from the products of nature is crucial in archaeology. Digging through the dust in Mesopotamia, the archaeologist has to decide whether he has found a chunk of rock or a chunk of broken pottery. It's true that the physical world can produce a regular pattern—like the sound of the surf pounding on the beach. But what nature cannot produce is complexity. Imagine we're walking along the beach and come across a small square box bellowing, "I Want to Hold Your Hand." Immediately we recognize a different level of order from the surrounding noise of the surf—what scientists call complexity. Or imagine we're looking up at the sky and see something that looks rounded and white like a cloud—but across the middle of this object is the word "Goodyear." Without a doubt we conclude that this is no cloud, and we may even wave to the people riding in the blimp. You see, common everyday experience gives us a good idea of the things nature is capable of creating by itself—and the things that can be created only be an intelligent source. So what does that tell us about the origin of life? At the core of life is the DNA molecule. Geneticists tell us the structure of DNA is identical to a language. It acts like a code—a molecular communication system within the cell. In other words, when geneticists probed the nucleus of the cell, they came across something analogous to "Goodyear" or "I Want To Hold Your Hand." Of course, DNA contains a lot more information than these simple phrases. The average DNA molecule contains as much information as a city library. So if "Goodyear" had to be written by an intelligent being, how much more the DNA code. You can learn more about the debate between evolution and intelligent design by reading Phillip Johnson's book, Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds. You don't have to have a sophisticated knowledge of chemistry and genetics to respond to challenges from evolution. Based on common experience—and after all, science is supposed to be based on experience—you can argue logically that life was created by an intelligent agent. Which is exactly what Christians have always believed.


Chuck Colson



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